Friday, April 7, 2017

Finally, Sun! And flowers.

After over a week of relentless rain rain rain (and chill) we finally have some sun, and it looks like it's here to stay for a while.  
In the world of trees... some tiny leafies are starting to peak out -- especially on crabapples (pictured here) and lilacs.  
Also, red maples are flowering so brightly red, they're earning their name this week!
And some early magnolias have started flowering, but mostly they're just quite swollen.

In the prairie, not much happens this early, but prairie smoke is in that "almost" stage:

In the world of bulbs, quite a few daffodils are blooming, but most are still not there yet.

I also noticed some early hyacinths flowering. Oh, and periwinkles, which are not bulbs but we'll group them here as cultivated non-native flowers.

This violet photo is actually from last week -- on 3/31 I noticed them flowering, but I was too lazy to do a post for just that.

Many, many interesting ducks migrating through this time of year.  I don't carry binoculars or a bird book or a good working memory of duck ID, so... you'll just have to trust me that they're interesting.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Four days into official spring (the equinox came and went while I was in Atlanta, where spring is much further along than it is here!), we have one nice, warm day before we go back to chilly for the next week.  The frogs are taking full advantage, singing their comb-plucking song loudly in the wetlands.  
Here are other things I noticed:
Forsythia is blooming:
The pussy willow catkins have greened up with pollen: 

The Siberian elms are flowering (I know, the photo is terrible.  They're high up; I'm short.)  This is the first step that will lead to me pulling tons of tiny elm seedlings from all over my yard later this year.  Yea.

Cornelian cherry dogwood flowers have bees buzzing all around them -- I managed to get one in a picture!

And, at some point recently, the "pine" tree (it's not a pine but all the kids call it one, I believe it's a spruce) at the old homestead nearby has fallen over.  This large tree marked the site of the front yard of an old farmhouse that was razed in the 70's.  The tree was a favorite of students, so it's sad to see it fallen!  RIP, spruce/pine tree.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


I just went to post some updates from today (3/24), and saw this in drafts... It was from 3/13.  My bad!  I thought I posted it... I'll just pre-date the post. 

At any rate, on 3/12 night through 3/14, we got quite a bit of snow.  After no measurable snow in January or February, we got snow AND cold as March moved in.  FUN!  So here's a photo from then... 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Purple Post

We are in the midst of 3 (so far) days of incredible, relentless wind.  And by incredible, I mean it is literally hard to actually believe that is has been this windy for this long.  Makes being outside rough.  
Still, finally got out for a walk yesterday afternoon and discovered these new flowers:

Spring is marching on!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In like a Lion...

Happy March!  

I spent a lot of time looking down today on my walk.  There were several reasons for this.  First, it was extremely windy and also spitting rain.  Also, last nights torrential rains and thunderstorms left puddles to avoid and also WORMS! all over the pavement.  Definitely something to avoid, as a person.  I did enjoy watching 2 robins hop around and pick them up, though. 

Looking down, I got to see a lot of bulb plants poking their foliage up through the soil... The rounded still fingers of daffodil leaves, the wide pointy tulip leaves... Every yard has its signs of spring emerging.  Still, I was pretty surprised to see this actual purple crocus poking through!  (This same yard had many purple and a sprinkling of yellow crocuses, all in this stage of bloom.)
At one point when I did look up, I was taken by how much the aspen catkins had changed in the past few days -- and how wet and sorry they looked, like a soggy dog!
BTW... glad I got out for a little walk before this happened:
This was the afternoon view out my office window... thick, whirling, swirling snow.  I guess Baba Marta has some dirty carpets.  (Explanation: today at school we celebrated Baba Marta day, which is a Bulgarian holiday to welcome and encourage the start of spring.  Grandmother March is very temperamental and gets angry or sad and then happy as the March weather quickly changes.  We were told than when it snows in March, that's Baba Marta cleaning the dust out of her carpets.  We all learned something new today!)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It turns out... is actually still winter.  We didn't get a lot of snow, but significantly, it was cold enough for what we did get to stick on the ground for a while.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

More Flowers People Ignore

Actually, this catkin -- which is a pussy willow -- is the one catkin people don't ignore!
Today the American Hazel catkins are starting to loosen up!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flowers People Ignore

Many trees and shrubs flower well before they leaf out, and most people don't notice it happening at all because the flowers are often small and/or green and/or lacking in petals.  I reported on a couple yesterday, and there are a few more that will be popping tomorrow or the next day, but here's today's batch:

Alder catkins were tight brown clusters yesterday, but today were significantly swollen and dangly with their green pollen showing.  Unfortunately, it was a pretty windy day and things that hang down to catch the wind are not easy to photograph up close in those conditions, so here's a further-out view:
This tiny and vibrantly pink thing is the female flower of the American hazel.  Though it's brightly colored, they are only about 2-3 mm in size, so get little notice.  (The male flowers are catkins, smaller and lighter-colored than the alder ones, but otherwise similar.  Generally speaking, they and the female flowers bloom around the same time within a population, but NOT at the same time on a single shrub, so as to increase genetic variability by prohibiting individuals from pollinating themselves.  In the cluster of 6ish shrubs that I passed, I found female flowers, but no catkins had swelled/released pollen yet.  Usually you see that first, but... I guess the ladies are going to be lonely for a little while!  Or perhaps there's other hazels nearby to pollinate them.)
PS -- It's supposed to get all cold again tomorrow.  It's come to that -- a predicted high of 46 deg. in February is what I consider "all cold" -- 32 on Saturday, though.  That's actually wintry!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Still Warm...

Today we took an after-school walk, and for a good 10 minutes there was a cloud of gnats surrounding us.  That certainly didn't seem wintry.  Just saying. 
These aspen catkins have been peeking out for a while, but they definitely got bigger and fuzzier over the weekend.
And the vernal witch hazel is flowering, its tiny but bright orange petals uncurling from their buds. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Semi-Tropical Weekend

The most clear and obvious sign of spring, or climate change, over the long weekend, was certainly the weather.  It hit 70 on Saturday, and was in the 60's Sunday and Monday.  The next 2 days, at least, promise to be as warm.
Here are some other signs of spring that I saw this weekend:
Showdrops -- these have probably been up for quite a while, I just haven't looked.
Photo 2/18/17
It was probably a great weekend for birders.  Even as a not-birder, I noticed that there was a lot of activity... things that are here all winter were just active and noisy.  I saw robins (which used to be a harbinger or spring) and killdeer abounded.  We are technically in the summer range of the killdeer, according to Cornell, but we're so close to the year-round range that seeing them now isn't necessarily hugely significant.  There were ducks, mallard and otherwise, swimming in the open waters.  Red-wing black birds were all over, their calls piercing the air.  (I know that photo isn't clearly recognizable as a RWBB, you'll have to trust me on that!)
Photo 2/18/17
Silver maples always have early-swelling buds, but these ones are definitely opening and letting their flower parts show:
Photo 2/18/17
I also saw my first woolly bear of the spring.  I also saw a millipede, and we had a little cranefly in our house.
Photo 2/20/17

Friday, February 17, 2017

Welcome Back!

Yes, it's been a while... over two months that I've been remiss in reporting the weather oddities of this winter.  Here's a brief overview.  December was actually quite snowy and wintry.  We never had a school-cancelling type of precipitation event, but we had several 6-inch snowfalls at regular intervals.  And then, over the holidays, it melted on a couple of 50 degree days... and it never came back!

January was a month of interesting records, some of them official.  We had the least amount of snow (that is to say, we had no snow).  It rained several times, so I can't say it was the driest January, just the least-snowy.  January also had a strong of days in the double digits long where we didn't see the sun at all.  I believe it was the cloudiest January... it seemed like it, at any rate.  (Except for women's march day -- that day was sunny and lovely and warm!) 

February has just been mild.  We've had some lovely sunny days, some warm days... this crazy winter has made regular winter days seem unbearably cold.  Every once in a while we have a day in the 20's, which would be a normal winter day in any other winter, and everyone (including me) carries on like it's the coming of the next ice age.  And then after a day or two, it's in the forties again.  OR the fifties, or the sixties.  Today it hit 63, and it's supposed to be in the sixties for the next 3 days.

What prompted me to get out my camera was open water.  The ice hasn't been safe for a while, but it's been covering most of the lake.  Yesterday it was well over 50% covered.  Today:  
Mostly open water!  I'm sure what's still left will be gone soon, what with the predicted warm weekend.  I'll be honest, the weather is disturbing, both in the short term and in the big picture, but you can't change the weather (in the short term, anyhow). So I'm going to try and focus on enjoying it rather than worrying about it!