Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday Phenology: April 23, 2012

Posted by Kirk Mona
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The sun rose this Monday morning at 5:35 AM and set at 8:44 PM which gave us a whopping 15 hours 9 minutes and 8 seconds of daylight. I'm loving it. While we're still gaining daylight the pace is slowing. Starting this week we are now gaining less than 2 minutes per day. What was going on in all that daylight?

Here's Nature's Week in Review:

Monday morning the predictions were correct and there were snow flurries. It was incredible to look outside in the morning and see it coming down. It looked like a fast dense snow fall but it was so warm out the flakes melted instantly upon touching the ground. In northern Minnesota they got up to a foot of snow!

Tuesday I was back at work and got to go on a long overdue hike. I noticed the pusseytoes were in full bloom, especially along the mowed trails through the old meadows. Painted lady butterflies were out in good numbers. The really impressive thing to see were the large numbers of myrtle (yellow-rumped) warblers. The trees seemed to be full of them. From what I could see they were feeding primarily on small clouds of midges. Dark-eyed Juncos were still around. We approached a small pond and I saw my first Blue-winged Teal of the year as a pair flew off. While looking at the pond I spotted a pair of Green Darner Dragonflies mating and laying eggs. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers were actively doing territorial drumming in the woods. I'd seen the first of the year sapsucker last Saturday and had heard them in the woods a few days before that. Their drumming is distinct in that it starts out rapid and decreases in frequency. Da-da-da--daa---daaa----daaaa-----daah. Late Tuesday evening a thunderstorm kicked though. My co-worker Paul spotted the first of the year Belted Kingfisher on the property.

Wednesday morning the rain gauge showed .36 inches of rain. That was one of the highest readings in all of the metro. We had the first sighting of Red-bellied Snakes out at work.

Thursday I headed down to the Old Cedar Bridge to check out a sighting of a White-faced Ibis people have been reporting. I was with my mother as we had just come from her brother's funeral. It was nice to get out and celebrate life by looking for some beautiful birds. I saw a number of first of the year birds such as Belted Kingfisher, Wilson's Snipe, Green-winged Teal and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. There were also Canada Geese, Northern Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal, American Coots, Swamp Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and Bald Eagles. We were able to see the Ibis. It was beautiful and a lifer for both of us.

Friday I headed out for a hike at work to set up some trail cameras and maintain some bird houses. Both Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds were quite busy at the bird houses. Some of the bluebird houses had eggs. I got a good look at a Krider's Red-tailed Hawk as it was harassed by a pair of Common Ravens. A flock of 55 American White Pelicans gracefully migrated overhead as well.

Saturday morning there was just a tiny amount of rain in the rain gauge. We had 0.2 inches. The Eastern Phoebe at work laid the first egg of the spring. It started to rain late in the evening and got fairly heavy. I also received reports of a Sedge Wren and Palm Warbler in Northern Washington County.

Sunday morning there was an additional .38 inches of rain in the gauge.

The week ahead:

Predicting what comes next has been a challenge during this crazy mixed up spring. My money is on Chimney Swifts arriving in the Twin Cities at some point during the week. We might also see Black-and-white Warblers, Northern Waterthrush and Orange-crowned Warbler. Most of the other warblers are still too far south to show up soon in any real numbers.

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