Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday Phenology: February 27, 2012

Posted by Kirk
The sun rose this morning at 6:55 AM and set at 5:57 PM. That means for the first time since October 15th we finally got 11 hours of sun.  Bring on the spring.

Nature's Week in Review

Monday was beautiful in the morning with sun, it was actually warmer in the afternoon as temps hit 36 or so but by then the sun was gone and snow was on the way. Light flakes started to fall in the twin cities by dinner and by the time I went to bed the snowplows were rumbling down the street. I heard from Jim Fitzpatrick, the director of Carpenter Nature Center that he first saw Horned Larks down in the Hastings area last week. This increases my hopes that they will show up soon north of the cities.

Tuesday morning I measured snowfall both in St. Paul and out at the nature center in Marine on St. Croix. In both locations we had 3.75 inches of snow. We lost half an inch of snow by the end of the day due to melting and consolidation. I thought I caught a glimpse of a horned lark on the way home.

Wednesday the snow in rain gauge melted. Turns out the snow that fell on Monday night contained 0.4 inches of water. On the way home I got a very nice view of a horned lark.

Thursday the springtails a.k.a. snowfleas were out in great numbers.

Friday I had the day off from work so I figured, what the heck, and drove up to Duluth to look for gulls with Erik Bruhnke. Erik is great at gull ID which is an area I am woefully uneducated. I picked up my first Herring Gull and Ring-billed gulls of the year. There were also two lifers on the trip. I saw a number of Thayer's Gulls and both races of Iceland Gull. When we first arrived, Erik spotted a migrating Northern Goshawk heading north. Erik is a professional birding guide who leads personalized and affordable birding trips. He knows his stuff any anyone looking for a guide in northern Minnesota should check him out. He's especially knowledgeable about Sax-Zim Bog and is the guy to call if you are looking for boreal species. You can get more information at his website.

Saturday I headed down to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha with the volunteers from work. At the southern end of Lake Pepin I spotted my first Common Mergansers of the year. As we quickly drive by I counted around 20 but I'm sure there were many more just our of sight. Eagles were not as easy to see as in other years due to the lack of snow and ice. An official count this winter put the population numbers around Wabasha in the thousands but we counted fewer than 20 the entire trip. There is a lot of open water which means the eagles are not as concentrated together this year.

What to watch for in the week ahead. 

I've seen just a couple reports of Kestrels so far this year and more should come out this next week. Keep your eyes open for the early birds. Within the next two weeks we should see more of them. An end of the winter storm might bring snow to parts of Minnesota but it looks like rain for the Twin Cities.