Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Phenology, August 15, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
The sun rose this morning at 6:14 am. We've got a sunny day ahead and we'll see that sun set at 8:19 PM. We're losing a little less than 3 minutes of sunlight per day. Today we'll get 14 hours, 5 minutes and 17 seconds of daylight.

The Phenology Week in Review:

Monday: Believe it or not, some Staghorn Sumac is already starting to change over into fall colors. I'm not ready for this, not quite yet.

Tuesday:  According to Birdchick, Red-winged blackbirds are starting to stage along farm fields south of the cities. It was nice and cool out today as well. It didn't even reach 70°. As much as I am not yet ready for summer to be over I do love cool fall days. It is a bittersweet thing. I'm not a huge fan of winter but I love the coolness of fall. I look forward to fall but also dread that it will come because it means winter is close behind. On my commute home via hwy 36 I noticed they had just put up the new highway streetlights on the entrance ramp at Rice street. The Red-tailed Hawks almost immediately began to use them as hunting perches.

Wednesday, a Red-breasted Nuthatch showed up around the bird feeders at work. This may not seem like phenology but we don't usually see red-breasted nuthatches. They tend to prefer pine trees and we are in an oak-maple forest. Yet, looking at our yearly bird phenology log I can see that a single red-breasted nuthatch shows up around the feeders every year at the end of the summer. Very intriguing.

Thursday I taught kayaking as part of the last week of summer camp. I watched a Bald Eagle fly almost right overhead carrying an enormous fish. It headed straight to the nest where there was a lot of noise from the young eagles.

Friday I was planning on doing a class on dragonflies. We'd watched dragonflies earlier in the week as they hunted for insects. We headed out to the prairie only to discover a distinct lack of dragonflies. With 12 kids armed with nets we scoured far and came up with a few Calico Pennants, Halloween Pennants, and a lone Green Darner. The most numerous dragonflies at this time seems to be the White-faced Meadowhawks but even they are dwindling in numbers.

Saturday I spent a glorious day at Valleyfair riding on roller coasters and generally not paying attention to phenology and nature. Well, I did make note of the cicadas, the growing cumulonimbus clouds, the blooming flowers and the bees trying to get my soda. That evening I noticed large numbers of Canada Geese staging at the State Fair grounds parking lots and the U of M corn fields.

Sunday I noticed a lot of soft yellows creeping into the tree canopy. Yes, that's right, trees are already s trees changing color.

This week:
The numbers of Canada Geese staging will increase steadily as the week goes on. Hints of fall colors will become more obvious and some trees will be clearly showing colors by the end of the week. On Wednesday we'll lose 2 minutes, 48 seconds of sunlight and we'll drop below the 14 hours of daylight mark. Wednesday will only have 13 hours, 59 minutes and 41 seconds of sunlight.

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