Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Phenology: June 18, 2012

Posted by Kirk
This is an abridged transcript of the Monday Phenology podcast. If you are reading via email you can click here to listen.  

 I'm back! That was a longer break than expected. Life's too short to spend all my time on a computer.

Monday I saw a Blanding's turtle on the side of the road on the way to work. My assumption was that this is a female on her way to lay eggs. I found a female painted turtle on the move over land on Friday. My morning commute also revealed a female pheasant with a bunch of little chicks. They were patiently waiting to cross the road. Speaking of baby birds, I haven't seen them personally yet but word has it that our resident Trumpter Swans have raised two cygnets down at the lake. Will they survive or will the eagles eat them for lunch? Time will tell on that one. A line of thunderstorms came though the metro late night and dropped half and inch of rain on St. Paul. Out at the nature center I was shocked to see downed trees and leaves littering the ground. Things must have been more intense out there. A lot of our storms so far this year have been tight lines of storms and damage seems to be very spotty.

Wednesday my big phenology sighting was actually the lack of something. The showy lady slipper orchids are done blooming.  

Thursday I headed into work, barely awake after only two hours of sleep the night before. I taught a short lesson on geologic history. It started to rain just as I finished up my and I brought the group inside. I then drove home in the rain and tried my best to sleep all day. That sleep was interrupted somewhat by the sound of quarter sized hail hitting our roof. Luckily it didn't get any bigger. We ended up with almost an inch of rain in St. Paul but that pails in comparison to the Cannon Falls area where they got enormous amounts of rain. A couple of sites reported over 8 inches and Stanton, MN had over 10 inches of rain!

Friday the Rose Pogonia orchids were in bloom in the bog at the nature center where I work. It looks like this will be a good year for them. I also saw a good deal of the carnivorous sundew plants. They are not flowering right now but their sticky "dew" covered leaves are out waiting to catch insects. The sundew won't flower until mid-july.

Saturday I went to the Twins game with my dad for some father's day fun. The Twins lost but in-between at bats and innings it was interesting to note some of the wildlife at the game. There were lots of Green Darner dragonflies but they were joined by the first Twelve-spotted Skimmers I've seen this year. Many of the flying insects were being eaten by the resident cliff swallows. Kirby the Kestrel was a no-show but a Turkey Vulture did fly low over the stadium before the storm front blew past. The wind picked up by the end of the game bringing some relief from the heat but no amount of wind could encourage the Twins balls to fly anywhere near where they needed to be for the twins to score.

Sunday I spent most of the day indoors taking a bonsai course at Como Conservatory with the Minnesota Bonsai Society. While on lunch break it started to rain and I saw a female mallard duck standing on the edge of the reflecting pool in front of the visitor's center. It looked like she was standing on top of something but I couldn't make out what it was. One she moved a little it beame clear it was one of her chicks. It was the only chick I could see. It looked like she was trying to shelter it from the rain. A minute later the duckling jumped into the water and began to swim of. The mother looked agitated and I looked up to see a Red-tailed Hawk flying very low over the area. I'm not sure if her initial behavior was to keep the duckling out of the rain, which seems kind of odd for a duck, or because she knew the hawk was in the area. There was a little more rain during the day and then more  in the early evening when I went to Boom Island for a father's day boat ride. The skies cleared just in time for our ride. We went up to the Xcel Energy plant and got a pretty good look at the Great Blue Heron rookery. This is the new nesting location for the birds displaced from Coon Rapids Dam after the tornado destroyed the rookery.

The Week Ahead:
Watch for Blue-flag Iris blooming around lakes. If you happen to see any Yellow-flag Iris, enjoy the beauty of this plant and then destroy it. It is a horribly invasive species in the state.