Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weather Moves Back, Spring Moves Forward

Yesterday's emergence: midges, all over the school walls.  Thanks to Chris for the ID.  
I promised we'd get crabapple blossoms today, and here they are!  Though these are early adopters, most are still bursting at the seems, but closed.  Maybe they're waiting for the mercury to top 50. 
And look!  Golden Alexander is blooming.  Color in the prairies!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

History Repeats Itself

Last week began with a warm and beautiful Monday, followed by a cold and gloomy Tuesday.  This week has started identically... we broke 80 degrees on Monday, which was sunny and breezy and lovely.  Last night, a front came through -- it started with brief but violent storms -- the photo below is hail on my deck.  It only fell for about 5-10 minutes, but it was a loud and violent 10 minutes.  Overnight, the temperatures fell, and today we're looking at a high temperature about 30 degrees below yesterday's.  And it's not raining, but it's not dry, either... it'd be a good day to stay at home with a book or a puzzle, but that's not an option...
 Here are some other updates from the past 24 hours:
Leaf-out photos... above, basswood/linden/however you prefer to refer to Tilia species.  Below, silver maple, which is not only leafing out, but getting the famous samara "helicopter" seeds. 
Look at this fascinating fellow.  At one point in my walk yesterday, I brushed many of theses mayflies off my shirt.  They must have had an emergence in that area.
OK, I know this isn't the best photo, probably not even worth showing, but... look how YELLOW that goldfinch is in the center.  They just make me happy. 
And in the flower world... the first lilacs are starting to open...
...those redbuds have started to open...
...tomorrow I think we'll be showing crabapples opening, they're so so close!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekend Updates

We'll start with the Evil: Garlic Mustard is flowering....
Now we can move on to some of the good.   So much is happening it'd be impossible to note it all!
Virginia Bluebells blooming:

Jacob's Ladder blooming:

Redbud not blooming, but the buds are very red:

SO many things are leafing out... silver maples, some red maples, and this buckeye...

Anenomes blooming:

Troutlilies are carpeting the forest floors, and their flowers are in full bloom:

Magnolias are blooming:

Trillium blooming:

Friday, April 22, 2016


Wild strawberries.

Dutchman's breeches.
Creeping Charlie, my nemesis, flowering all over my yard.
Mayapples, not flowering yet. Just umbrella-info.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

O Pioneer!

This is the pioneer asparagus:
All the others are just poking their heads out of the earth... this one is already for my dinner plate!  (Or my appetizer plate, because that would be a small meal.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

State of the World

I've been failing in the end game for the last few days... I've been taking pictures and notes, but haven't managed to dedicate the computer time to getting blog entries actually published.  So here's the state of the world right now.  

The state of the world is lovely.  Warm and sunny and only lightly breezy.  This is the third day of perfect weather (and Friday was only a slight bit cooler) and I love it.  I can run and run and never think about the weather.  I can work in the garden -- and did I ever this weekend.  It's just... just... I can't even express.  Marvelous spring weather for the past few days. Here's just a bit of what I've been seeing...
  • The first tick was found (not my me) on 4/14.  YEA!  Now we get to feel false (and real) creepy crawlies whenever we're out in the prairie or woods for the next 2 months!
  • Pasqueflowers also reached their peak bloom on or around 4/14, when I took this photo. 

  • Dandelions have been blooming for a little over a week now, but I didn't photograph one until Friday. 

  • Crabapples leafed out -- this picture is from Friday, and by today they're even greener and leafier.  With them, the honeysuckles, the boxelder, and the lilacs (photo from today) leafing out, not to mention other shrubs like spirea, my blackcurrants... the understory has a definite green tinge to it. 
  • The Norway maples are flowering -- their green-ish flowers fool people into thinking they've leafed out, but it's flowers first.  Red maples are also flowering (have been for a while, actually).  Sugar maples haven't started yet.  

  • While we're on the subject of tree flowers, cherries have just started, and magnolias... they're in full and fragrant bloom, a full spectrum from whites and pinks to purples.  Really just a lovely treat. 
  • Less pretty, but cottonwoods are catkining and actually the catkins are already falling like rain when you stand under the trees.  Soon they'll be sending off seeds like snow! 

  • Celandine poppies started flowering this weekend...

  • In the world of bulbs... daffodils are at or just past peak bloom.  Tulips are just starting, only a few varieties open.  Hyacinths are in full bloom, too. 

  • In the insect world, I started seeing white butterflies all over this weekend.  Also ants, and those big fuzzy bumble bees.  And...
  • I saw my first green darner!  It's dragonfly season!
  • In the bird world, so much, and I'm not a good birder.  Wood ducks and yellow-rumped warblers.  Bob o'links.  Killdeer.  Buffleheads.  So much more...
OK, I think that'll be it for now... if that's not enough to process!
Happy Earth Week! (One day is not enough!)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Finally Sunny

Beautiful ice stick tulips 
And pasqueflower.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Really Not Amused...

By what I saw when I woke up today:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bird Day

Yesterday was a crazy bird day... First this red tail let me get about 10 feet from me before swooping down and flying to a nearby tree.  Diving ducks on the lake, but they all look like non-descript dots... I can ID buffleheads and mergansers, both of which I've seen in the past few weeks but neither of which there are... The most amazing bird happening was the tree swallows... Today and yesterday there were tons of them, swooping and diving all over the lake, skimming the water, grabbing... Something.  Very cool (but no photos at all of small fast-moving birds).
Almost pasqueflower... Almost prairie smoke, too...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Ephemerals Emerge!

OK, first, I would like to state that the weather is officially weird.  We came home from the Green Schools conference in Pittsburgh (note: 2 degrees latitude, and therefore about 2 weeks ahead, phenologically, of home) on Saturday.  That afternoon was cold, and the weather switched about every five minutes, from snowing -- almost white-out conditions -- to sunny and back again and back again.  The only consistent thing was extreme wind, which presumably was moving the rest of it along.  

Sunday dawned cold -- 26 degrees -- and topped out at 71 degrees.  This swing of 45 degrees is the 13th highest single-day warm-up in Chicago history.  (It was also... you guessed it... windy.)  And overnight, the cold came back.  Today's projected high is only 36!  Notably, it's breezy but not crazy windy, at least!

We were able to wander around my parents' yard  (about 10-15 miles south) during this brief mild period yesterday and saw... spring beauties:
and hepatica!!!
Seriously, isn't that a nice, healthy, beautiful bunch of hepatica?  Wow!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Catching Up With Home

Anemones blooming, and magnolias almost open.
Our yard is colorful with daffodils and Violet's and scilla all over; the weather's variable but it feels like spring!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Welcome Back to IL

Wind, snow and a big flock of cedar waxwings...