Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Phenology: July 11. 2011

Posted by Kirk
This is summer. I'm delighted. I love the weather from cool beautiful days to sweltering heat and all the thunderstorms in between. The elementary school down the street has a message spelled out on their large notice board out front. It reads, "Does this make up for winter?"

Yes, yes it does.

The sun rose this morning at 5:37 am and set as I was putting the finishing touches on this at 8:59 pm. Not to be a downer but here's your friendly reminder that today was 1 minute and 21 seconds shorter than yesterday. This is it people, this is what we wait for. Get out there and soak up the sun. We've lost a little over 7 minutes of sun since the solstice. Daylight's burning.

Here's what I noticed this week:

Monday I enjoyed July 4th by starting the day off with a family hike around Lake Como in St. Paul. The milkweed was in full bloom around the lake and a solo double crested cormorant was busy fishing. The baby mallard ducklings are coming along nicely and there were many of them out on the lake in family groups.

Tuesday I returned to work and noticed that the Eastern Phoebes we monitor via CCTV cameras have hatched out their second brood of eggs. There were five eggs on Friday and the assumption based on when they were laid is that the eggs hatched on Saturday while no one was there to see it happen. This seems to always be our luck. Friday I found an eggshell under a different phoebe nest near the lake so there are probably a lot of newly hatched second broods of phoebes around the metro.

Wednesday I noticed a lack of mosquito larva in the pond at the nature center. I had a group of younger kids this past week learning all about water. We spent all morning dip netting in the pond and didn't find a single mosquito larva. It should be wildly full of larva based on past experience but I didn't see a single one. Very strange. I'm not complaining.

Thursday we took on a larger body of water and dip netted in the lake. I noticed a distinct lack of dragonfly larva though this was far easier to explain. Careful observation of vegetation along the shore revealed many exuviae i.e. the discarded exoskeletons of larval dragonflies that have hatched out. The dragonflies weren't really missing, they were flying all around us. It was interesting to see how different it was from dip netting with school groups in the spring where we catch many dozens of dragonfly larva each session. I wondered if perhaps all of the mosquito larva had hatched out as well but it was quite pleasant at the pond with virtually no mosquitoes. Perhaps they were all eaten?

Friday was the first day I really noticed daylilies blooming. They were suddenly everywhere! I know they can be terribly invasive but is sure is nice to have some large colorful flowers around.

Saturday I spent time identifying an interesting caterpillar larva my students had found at the end of the week. It turned out to be some sort of Lappet moth. I wrote up a post will all the details.

Sunday I spent over an hour clearing a mountain of thistle from my garden. Later while working in the garden my 3 yar old son asked what that noise was. He had heard the first cicada of the year. Way to go little phenologist.

What to watch for next week.
Watch for increasing biting flies. They can be awful this time of year. With all the rain lately, it should be a fabulous time to get out and look for all kinds of interesting fungi and slime molds as well. Tell me what you find!



Abbie said...

I heard a cicada today and posted it on my phenology blog! Kudos to your son on a good observation!