Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Phenology: August 8, 2011

Posted by Kirk
This is the first full week where were into the six o'clock hour for our sunrise times.  Last week we still had Monday and Tuesday in the 5:00 hour but that all went out the window on Wednesday. The sun rose this Monday morning at 6:06 AM. By next Monday it will be rising at 6:14 AM. When you take later sunrise and earlier sunset into account we lost over 17 minutes of sunlight last week. Keep your chin up. Sunset tonight is at 8:30 PM.

The week in review:

I was stuck in the office all day which was just as well as it rained with thunder and lightening all day.

Tuesday I headed out in search of a cerulean warbler and found buckets of rain instead. I was completely unprepared and I would have stayed dryer had I jumped into a pool. There was lightening, thunder, torrential rains and falling branches. There was also an Acadian Flycatcher calling away nearby but I could barely see a few feet in front of me let alone an elusive bird. I climbed out of the ravine I was searching and made it back to my car looking like a drowned rat. I immediately broke out in laughter. I'll try again tomorrow. At work my co-worker Paul and I spotted newly fledged American Redstart out the window.

was the first morning we broke into the 6:00 hour for sunrises. The sun rose at exactly 6:00 in the Twin Cities. The big blue stem in our prairie continues to grow and is now over 6 feet tall. This didn't surprise me as much as the goldenrod. I found several spots where the goldenrod was close to 5 feet tall! There seemed to be lots of Giant Swallowtails out and about. I wish I had my camera. I'm seeing large numbers of them this year. They seem to have exploded in number overnight. I did see one Tiger Swallowtail as well in the prairie.

Thursday I headed out into the woods to set up a new Geocache course and things were pretty quiet except for the mosquitoes.

Friday I mowed the lawn expecting to be gone all weekend. With a newly sharpened blade I clipped along right over the top of yet another rabbit nest. That's the second time this summer.  None were harmed. Soon the baby bunnies wil leave the nest and the parents will take them around the corner and the followong converstation wil take place.

"This my children is thegarden of plenty. Here grow soybeans, green beans and many other tasty plants."

"But mommy, the best parts of the plants are already eaten! There are only stems!"

"Yes, your older brothers and sisters have eaten all the good parts. Go ahead and finish them off though. Next year there will be a fence around this garden."

I packed up the car and headed down to La Crosse, WI. There were many opportunities long the way to stop for sweet corn, picked fresh from the field. Fresh corn on the roadside is one of the best phenology sightings of the year.

Saturday we went to Black River Beach and I immediately noticed the Cicadas when we stepped out of the car. I noticed them because they were distinctly different sounding than those we have up in the twin cities. The sound I tend to associate with cicadas sounds like this clip from a University of Michigan cicada site. This is the "dog day" cicada, Tibicen canicularis. The cicadas at the river were similar but with a slow pulse to them. I can't come up with an ID but it sure was interesting.

Sunday I spent much of the day driving home from La Crosse. We came up the river route and I only spotted a handful of Bald Eagles. I did see a nice kettle of about a dozen Turkey Vultures.

What to watch for this week:

If we get clear skies this week it will be nice for some stargazing. The sun is starting to set a little earlier, it looks like it won't be too hot and there are still lots of summer stars out. If you've never taken the time to look for the summer triangle get out there to find it. You'll discover Vega, the brightest star in the summer sky, Altair a yellow star like our own sun and Denib, a personal favorite of mine and part of the constellation Cygnus the swan. These stars are a gateway to their respective summer constellations. Denib, as mentioned is in Cygnus, Altair is in Aquila the Eagle and Vega is in Lyra the lyre. Fun factoid, the term "Summer Triangle" was coined by H.A. Rey, the author of the Curious George books. He also wrote books on astronomy. Google "summer triangle" for maps showing the positions of the stars if you need to. They are the three brightest stars in the summer sky.

As noted above, the second crop of cottontail rabbits will likely emerge from the next the end of this week or perhaps early next week.