Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Phenology: April 9, 2012

Posted by Kirk Mona
I was sure this week I would return to the audio recording of Monday Phenology. Alas, a family emergency has prevented me from sitting down to record the podcast. So, here's my written phenology notes for the week. Thanks for reading. I hope everyone is well and enjoy.

Nature's Week in Review:

Monday our site manager came into work and said he'd seen a Blanding's Turtle in the prairie. I headed out and it was still there. The turtle was one of the turtles we've been tracking since the 1970s. I could tell by distinctive marks on the shell that this was a female we call Hera. She still had a radio transmitter on her shell from two summers ago. I removed the transmitter but did not have the epoxy with me to attach a new one. Hopefully she'll stick around where we can find her so we can attach a new transmitter. While in the prairie I also say my first of the year Northern (yellow-shafted) Flicker. My rain gauge showed .34 inches in St. Paul. It sounds like some parts of the metro actually saw hail and thunder. I missed that! Then again I was sick and went to bed early.

Tuesday night the planet Venus in the sky was brighter than any time I can ever remember seeing it. I've heard people say that the planet is sometimes confused for a UFO. That always seemed like such nonsense. I get it now though. It was so bright I had to really watch it for a while to make sure it wasn't an airplane. I looked online and Venus was at magnitude –4.5 which is quite bright. When I came home from work I took a close look at my lilac bushes. They are covered with a profusion of purple flower buds. A couple of them had opened into blooming flowers so we officially have blooming lilacs in the Twin Cities on April 3. I heard from Beth in Highland Park that she spotted the first of the year Syrphid fly hanging out in her garden. Syrphids are very cool flies that mimic wasps and bees. Beth also reports that she saw a Red Admiral butterfly last week, March 27th.

Wednesday it got cold over night and especially when I got north of the cities up near Marine on St. Croix there was some frost on the ground in low-lying areas and northern facing slopes of hills. We put the docks in the lakes at work. That was about two weeks earlier than last year. While we put them in, large migratory Green Darner dragonflies were patrolling the edges of the lakes. It was the first I'd seen them this year though I hear they first arrived earlier in the week.

Thursday was a volunteer training day at work. While teaching about birds there were both Fox Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows hopping around on the ground under the bird feeders. It was the first time I'd seen a white-throat this year so that makes 91 bird species so far. Down at the lake we did some dip netting. All of the usual species were in the lake such as dragonfly larva, water boatmen, crawling water beetles, water scorpions and scuds. It was nice to see the sun again after a string of gray days.

Friday the tulips were blooming at work. We have some planted along a wall that has a nice southern exposure. The side of the building there is dark brown cinder block that really heats up and creates a microclimate.

Saturday morning I awoke to the sound of the first House Wren of the year singing outside my window.  We got .19 inches of rain in the Como Park neighborhood of St. Paul.

Sunday I visited my aunt and uncle in Eagan and their Rhododendron was in full bloom. There were two very large bumblebees working over the blossoms. Those are the first bumblebees I've seen this year. 

Sorry, I don't have any phenolgy to watch for this week due to the aforementioned emergency but I hope to have some things to watch for next week.

~Kirk




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