Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Aftermath of Rock

So yesterday was Rock the Garden, just south of the Sculpture Garden, and while this was certainly a good time for the human attendees, to the non-humans who were hanging about the area I'm sure it was mostly a lot of unbelievable noise and thousands of primates stomping about, alas. Such is the life of city-dwelling nature. The Garden was also heavily populated by humanity when I went out this afternoon; it's been one of the first nice, summery weekends of the year. As such, the animals were a bit more reticent than normal. Even the robins chirped away from behind bushes. The pond was where most of the action was that I saw today.

What: I've mentioned the mallard nest on the island of the Spoonbridge before. Today I couldn't see it immediately, though, where it was always very plain before, even yesterday morning. I think perhaps it's been flattened or lowered somehow? As though mother mallard is hunkering down. Didn't care for Bob Mould, maybe. Not everybody likes Bob Mould.
Where: The island where the cup part of the Spoonbridge rests.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Sunny and clear for a change

What: Abbie has mentioned the tadpoles. They were all but blackening the water along about 20 feet of shore; seriously, I don't think conventional mathematics has a number to express this many tadpoles.
Where: They seem to have migrated to the western section of the northern arm of the pond, where before they lived to the east. The eastern section was kind of filthy today, though, and perhaps that's something to do with it.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Delightful

What: Dragonflies and damselflies. The damselflies were green in the thorax and blue in the abdomen; the dragonflies had black wings with two white stripes apiece. Very striking. Sorry about the photo quality; they never came to rest while I was there, and dragonflies in flight are really, really hard to photograph.
Where: All over the pond.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Sunny and bright

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What: Black Locust trees are in bloom and the scent is intoxicating
Where: Along the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail by Linden Yard, there is a stretch of about 50 feet that is dominated by Black Locust trees. One is immersed in the scent and view their flowers provide.
When: 4:30 pm on Monday, June 10
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Clear and warm, a marked contrast to the cool overcast days that seem to be dominant of late.

What: Cottony seeds from Cottonwood trees
Where: The north edge of Bryn Mawr Meadows
When: 4:35 pm on Monday, June 10
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: A gentle breeze is perceived by trembling leaves and airborne specks

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain

It's okay, though, I've still got the recipe. Raining today in Minneapolis, as it has been doing at some point every day since what feels like the beginning of time. I went out to the Sculpture Garden in it to see what I could see; here are a few of those things.

What: A green heron. I am told - by this blog, actually - that such tried unsuccessfully to nest in the Garden last year; I don't know whether they're giving it another shot this year, but Abbie and I saw one last week, and I got an even better look today. Really handsome birds, the green herons.
Where: Northeast section of the park; just standing in the field at first, but then flew into the trees.
When: Sunday, June 9th, 2013, ~2:00 PM
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Raining! Lightly.

What: A broken, half-eaten egg, in the pond. My suspicion is that it was a mallard egg - there is a brooding female on the island under the spoonbridge itself. She was still brooding today, so presumably the nest is not entirely compromised, but in another part of the pond there was this egg. The fault of a raccoon, perhaps? Or even a rat? A crow? I suppose a number of animals might raid a duck's nest. It is also possible that this was a storebought chicken egg that ended up in the pond for some reason or other; mallard eggs and chicken eggs look fairly similar, and though it does not seem reasonable that someone would put an egg in the pond, less reasonable things happen in public parks pretty much constantly.
Where: Under water just off the shore, northwest section of the Spoonbridge pond
When: Sunday, June 9th, 2013, ~2:00 PM
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Still raining.

Other notes: Robins galore out in the rain; a number of adults looking for flushed-out worms - I saw one female with one in her mouth, still writhing and wriggling - and a lot of juveniles of various ages, looking generally put out. The tadpoles are getting bigger, and there seem to be a thousand of them. And the ground squirrel hole I saw getting dug the other day has been filled in! I do not know by what or whom.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Digging a Hole

Hi, everybody, I'm Matt, and I'm a gallery assistant at the Walker Art Center, and I'd like to thank Abbie for letting me take part in this wonderful thing of hers. I have a lifelong love of animals and nature that has, in my adulthood, regrettably become very armchair; this opportunity to go out and explore and observe has been simultaneously exciting and remarkably relaxing.

Please note that - well, elsewhere on this site Abbie has made mention of her amateur status, and that goes a hundredfold for me. Under ideal viewing conditions I am likely to be able to distinguish a house sparrow from, say, a dog, or a car. More should not be expected of me just yet, though I've been doing this for a little under two weeks now and it has been a speedy and remarkable learning experience.

My first report is about thirteen-lined ground squirrels, the 'gophers' (in a misidentification) of Minnesota mascot fame!

What: A thirteen-lined ground squirrel digging a new hole, or perhaps expanding an old one. Almost every day I go out to the sculpture garden I find new ground squirrel holes, which I'd been taking as a lack of prior attentiveness on my part - but perhaps the numbers are in fact growing, as today I saw a hole with dirt flying out of it, adding to a field of freshly-dug soil right outside of it.
Where: One of the raised areas with the trees on top of them, in the southeast section of the park; the ground squirrels seem to favor these areas when considering their real estate options.
When: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, noon
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Overcast and rainy, though not actually raining at this time

(Note that, in the picture, the ground squirrel is a little darker than the usual, filthy from its excavations.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Barn Swallow Sport

Photo courtesy Stephen Peterson, via Flickr
For additional information from the photographer, click the image then scroll down

What: If I hadn't seen it, I might not believe it. A softly drifting down feather, ~40 feet in the air, was an object of sport for five Barn Swallows. First, one individual caught the feather in its bill, then spontaneously released it midair. Within a second, another individual swooped in to catch and shortly release the feather. The swallows transferred the feather ~5 times before flying away.
Where: At the pond near the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture
When: Saturday, June 1, 9 am
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Sunny morning before the Walker's busy family day.