Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Phenology: April 30, 2012

Posted by Kirk

The sun rose this morning at 6:56 AM and set again at 7:39 PM. That should give us a lot of nice warm sun but cold winds seemed to dominate the week at least from where I was standing. Today we got 12 hours, 42 minutes and 28 seconds of sunlight. We're still gaining three minutes of daylight each day.

Here's Nature's Week in Review

Monday I went down to Lebanon Hills Regional Park for the Birds and Beers annual Woodcock Tailgate. We got nice views of the sky dance. The park is a pretty easy place to see them. They call and fly from the high hill to the north-east of the visitor center parking lots.

Tuesday it got real nice and warm. Up to the low 70s. I moved the lawn in the evening and it was overdue. Rabbits looked to be setting up shop in the grass. We had to open our windows at night to let in some cool air. Forecast called for a storm later but it was unsleepably hot in the house.

Wednesday morning at 3:30 am my wife and I were both awoken when the storm hit. The winds were very strong as the front rolled though and we had to get up and close all the windows. Rain gauge didn't show a lot of rain, about .16 inches. It got up to 73° and that was the last 70° day for the week. Incidentally, we finally crossed into 14 hours of daylight on Wednesday. We'll cross into 15 hours on May 19th. We don't make it to 16 hours. The most we get in the Twin Cities is a little more than 15 and a half hours at the solstice.

Thursday morning we installed bees in our new observation hive at work. The fact that it was so cold out kept them nice and calm. I'm curious to watch them and learn more as they are fascinating. The hive is inside the building and the bees have to go though a twisting tunnel to get outside. It took them a little time but they finally figured it out.

Friday morning I took the day off and tried to find some birds. I was woefully unsuccessful. I started at the Old Cedar Ave Bridge. Now to be fair, I did see a good number of birds. I saw Wilson's Snipe, both yellowlegs, myrtle warblers, wood ducks, teal, etc. What I didn't see or even hear was a Sora which was what I had gone to look for. I didn't see a Virginia Rail either. I see on ebird other people saw them, my timing must just be rotten. It was damn cold that morning too. I had my winter had on but I was wishing I had gloves. Maybe the birds were semi-frozen. I headed to another site after that where I had a line on some Merlins. I heard one calling briefly but it flew off before I could locate the bird. I didn't see it fly off, I just heard the call fading into the distance. So, from a target species perspective the day was a bust.

Saturday it rained and I ended up with .23 inches of rain in the gauge. I rested up for my big morning on Sunday. The sun rose at 7:00 am Saturday which was the last day of the sun rising in the 7 o'clock hour this spring.

Sunday I woke up at 4:45 in the morning and headed down to the Tiffany State Wildlife Area in Wisconsin. I was there for the Birding by Mini-Train event. There were around 60 other birders. It ended up being a nice day. I added three birds to my year list but overall I was a little disappointed in the total number of birds. I saw 38 birds, I think the group total was more like 41. Apparently last year they say 76 species. That's no small difference. We didn't see a single warbler nor a single shore bird. I think the trip was scheduled too early in the spring for maximum species.

What to look for next week:
Did I say Chimney Swifts would show up last week? Hmm, let's try that again. Chimney Swifts will show up this week. Also keep your eyes open for the first Blue-grey Gnatcatchers and Clay-colored Sparrows. On the insect front I expect to see a few swallowtail butterflies this week. If you see any of these things or something else interesting I'd love to hear about it so be sure to leave a comment.