Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday Phenology: August 22, 2011

Posted by Kirk
Maybe it is the days getting shorter, maybe it is the lack of sleep I got last night, maybe it is a latent case of Lymes Disease, maybe all three but I can barely keep my eyes open as I type this. Let's make it short and sweet shall we? The sun rose this morning at 6:22 AM and set at 8:08 PM giving those of us in the Twin Cities 13 hours 45 minutes and 24 seconds of daylight.

Here's what I saw in said daylight:

Monday I noted that the leafcutter bees are still active in my yard making trips in and out of the hole they made in the rotted wood of my deck railing. This time of year they are no longer bringing back leaves for nesting. Large amounts of Monotropa uniflora or Ghost Plant is still flowering in the woods but it won't be around long. Last year I made a video of the amazing abundance of this peculiar flower in our woods. There are almost as many this year as well.

Tuesday I noticed that very few berries remained on the dogwood bushes at work. I did some averaging, there seemed to be around 50 or so berries per bunch and about 2-3 remained per bunch. When I averaged it out over several bunches there appeared to be about 3 to 4% of the dogwood berry crop remaining. Many of these have been eaten by cedar waxwings and other fruit loving birds. With resources dwindling, many birds are thinking about migration. I noticed the first lighter colored White Oak leaves today. Their green color is starting to fade. On the forest floor, Hog Peanut is turning distinctly yellow.

Wednesday was our last day of the year with 14 full hours of daylight. Many of the summer dragonflies are no longer around. White-faced meadow hawks are an exception. They can still be found in good numbers. I even saw one in my yard in St. Paul. Green Darners are now hatching soon to be followed by saddlebag dragonflies. These are the migrating populations that will be heading south next month.

Thursday I remembered to write down that the Amur Maples are showing a lot of color compared to other trees. They are planted as wind-breaks along my commute to work. They showed hints of color earlier in the week and are progressing nicely.

Friday it was clear that fall continues to march on.  Honey Locust trees are sporting bright yellow leaflets, especially on the outermost leaves. The mix of green and yellow is beautiful.

Saturday I took some kids out canoeing and noted that a lot of the aquatic plants such as northern water milfoil are turning brown. It won't be too much longer before some of these plants start to sink to the bottom of the lake. Lilypads are turning red as well. I didn't see migratory shorebirds as I was accompanied by a noisy group of kid but I am seeing increasing reports of shorebirds migration ramping up around the state.

Sunday I worked in the garden and noticed for the first time there were hints of red welling up in the leaves of the euonymus a.k.a. burning bush in my yard. Bring on the Anthocyanins!

What to expect this week:

Watch for increasing fall colors. As leaves are cut off from the trees and bushes, the green chlorophyll dies off exposing the yellow carotenoids of the leaves. Any sugar left in the leaves is chemically changed into red and purple anthocyanins. Watch for pretty much every deciduous tree species to show at least a few changing leaves by the end of the week. Some maples turn earlier than others and you should be able to find some maples displaying lots of red by the end of week as well. Migratory shorebird number will steadily increase this week and it will be a good time to get out and identify them.