Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photos from the Maplewood Nature Center:

A Pair of Wood Ducks in a small pond along the Heron Loop

Shot of the Boardwalk going over the pond

A lot of wildlife along the boardwalk as migratory waterfowl returned to the pond in search of food and a quiet place to nest among the cattails and swamp grass; here a Canadian Goose eating a lily pad stem.

Tree Swallows wheeled over the surface of the pond, nabbing insects, pausing now and then to perch and sun themselves on the boardwalk

A Yellow-rumped Warbler perched along the boardwalk

The trees and reed beds were alive with the "rusty wheel" call of the Red-winged blackbird.

A photo of a Red-winged blackbird belting out its call. Eager to get at their nesting grounds, these are one of Minnesota's earlier Spring migrants, and can often be seen picking away at seed feeders in the late winter before shifting over to insects and cattails as the snows reside.

The MNC is always interesting. Such a unique location, with its shallow pond and handsomely maintained woodlands bordered by busy streets and suburban houses. It looks like the first pond lilies are starting to spread their buds, the elms begining to spread their budding leaves, and the earliest Marsh Marigold just about to pop.

On a short walk, we spotted or heard:
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Canadian Goose
  • Grackle, Common
  • Grey Squirrel
  • Mallard Duck
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Robin, American
  • Tree Swallow
  • Wood Duck
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

No egrets or herons, though I have seen them in the park along 35W just North of Hugo. Weather is warm and sunny; pushing 50's in the morning. Spring Peepers and Chorus Frogs heard last night as the overnight temps slowly climb.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Drove down from Brainerd area yesterday afternoon. There was still snow in the ditches and forested spots all the way down to Foley, but it tapered off entirely before we hit Cambridge. Down in the upper 30's again last night, could only hear the Spring Peepers on the pond.

Got a hammer drill (thanks Dad) over the weekend, which I used to take another major step towards having a presentable pond garden. Used a 5/8" masonry bit to carve a hole in the bottom of one of my 18" ceramic pots. Caulked generously around the hole and inserted a garden hose repair fitting (threaded male on one end, barbed on the other). Tightened it up by attaching a small section of garden hose to the barb and battening it down with a small muffler clamp; worked just like a nut on a machine screw. Screwed a bubbler on to the male coupler so the pump fills the pot, allowing the water to splash artistically over the edge instead of just gushing from the end of the hose, arching over a good part of my intended stream and wasting a good deal of my pond to splatter. Will add it to the top of the waterfall later this week. In retrospect, I suppose I would have used a 3/4" bit so I could give the hose more purchase by fitting it through the hole cut in the pot, but really, this makes for a tighter fit with less leakage.

A few scattered flakes on the drive down to the cities this morning with temps hovering in the mid 30's.

Some photos of the (unfinished) waterfall and pot bubbler. Thanks for the interest, Lynn!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Near Lake Edna in Nisswa, MN

Just when we thought it was over and the first of the Eastern Bluebirds arrived, the snows roll back in -- six inches in the Brainerd Lakes area, a little over in an inch down in the cities, with temps holding in the thirties overnight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saw a small flock of goldfinch perched among the Wild Bergamot in my garden this morning, picking the seeds off the heads between preening dunks in the pond.

Maples are blooming; short red affairs with long pistils that many mistake simply for budding leaves.

Also emerging in the garden is the Purple Pasque Flower, a hardy, perrenial native whose downy stems can often be seen breaks the soil before the last of the snows are gone. It was likely helped along by the soil-softening downpour we got yesterday; about .5" of rain in the gauge in around an hour and a half. Have also noticed the native ferns starting to unfurl their way through the mulch.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Heard the first loon this morning. Though temperatures pitched down into the 40s this weekend from the 60s earlier this week, the Wood Frogs have been noisier than ever. They call late into the night, and have a very distinct, "quack"-like call. As a child, I would hear Wood Frogs outside my bedroom window and think a flock of Mallard Ducks had landed on the pond.

Took a walk with the dog in Linwood Forest as the temperatures pitch into the upper 60's. Chorus and Wood Frogs were almost deafening. Snow is out even in the deepest parts of the forest, and off the smaller ponds, though it is still present on Typo Lake among other larger bodies of water in the area.

Plants Emerging:

  • Columbine

  • Prairie Smoke

  • Goldenrod, Showy

  • Goldenrod, Woodland

Wildlife Spotted this Week:

  • Black-capped Chickadee

  • Blue Jay

  • Canadian Goose

  • Crow, Common

  • Dark-eyed Junco

  • Goldfinch

  • Grey Squirrel

  • Loon

  • Mallard Duck

  • Mourning Dove

  • Northern Cardinal

  • Nuthatch

  • Pileated Woodpecker

  • Purple Finch

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker

  • Red-shouldered Hawk

  • Red-winged Blackbird

  • Robin, American

  • Sandhill Crane

  • Virginia Opossum

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two firsts for 2008; buds on the Gooseberry bushes (this morning), and first call of the chorus frog in Linwood swamps (last night). Temps in the 50's.

Update: first Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs heard this evening.

Friday, April 11, 2008

1.5" of snow on the ground as of this AM. Don't think it's at all representative of the amount of accumulation we've gotten, as with temps hovering above the freezing mark and the snow shifting back to rain, the bulk has already compacted or melted away.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

35W Northbound in the mess.

Winter storm warning... up to 10" expected by Saturday and just over an inch on the ground (and a good layer of ice underneath it) now. Roads were wet around 4:30 when it was bordering on the chunky side of rain, but the traffic was awful.

0.25" of rain in the gauge before it turned into snow.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The maple flowers are opening, and the ground-clinging Prairie Smoke has almost all of its base foliage. Supposed to get another winter storm between Friday and Saturday.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just as we thought winter was over, the temperatures shifted into the thirties and the rain into snow; 1&1/8" on the lawn as of this morning. Birds are just going mad; saw two Blue Jays working over the peanut feeder this morning and over a dozen gold and purple finches either on the thistle and seed feeders, or lining up on the hanger to get to them.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The birds are just loving the first rain of the season. Counted the calls of the Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbird, Blue Jay, Cardinal, Chickadee and Robin within the time it took me to let the dog out on his lead. The ice is a good halfway off my pond, which means it's almost time to start on this season's improvements. Rain started as a drizzle over the morning, and since picked up into a light but persistent patter. 1/4" in the gauge so far, with temps holding in the mid 40's.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

2.25 inches of fresh snow by this morning, which means about 1.25 inches of powder between last night and this morning. Appears that the majority of it melted when it hit the ground, so we're probably talking about what would have been 6-10" if it had fallen in the middle of winter. A real boon for the lakes, ponds, and aquifers!