Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anti-freeze with Butterfly Wings

Photo by Lisa Brown, Flickr

What: A mourning cloak butterfly landed in the sun and remained still long enough for me to notice its wings were faded with tattered edges. (Though maybe not quite as damaged as the individual pictured above.)This observation made me wonder about this butterfly's life cycle and here's what I found out. . .
Mourning cloak adults can live ten to eleven months, making them one of our longest-lived butterflies. The adults we see in early spring have spent the winter in a kind of hibernation state. To stay alive through the Minnesota winter, they find a protected place and produce a chemical like anti-freeze. When temperatures warm (say 50 degrees or so), these individuals revive and look for a mate to begin the next generation.
Where: Bryn Mawr Meadows
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 28, 5:10 pm

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winged Insects

What: While this observation might garner only disbelief, I tell you that I saw a mosquito. A single individual.
Where: This mosquito was in the mud room/vestibule space at my home, landing for moments at a time on the window pane or the door's moulding.
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 11:33 am
Conditions: 56 degrees, overcast and virtually windless.

What: Butterflies! First, I see this orange one, whose wings had a distinct shape making me think it might be a comma. Later, I saw what I think was a mourning cloak.
Where: Outside my home
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Conditions: Sunny

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flowering Trees

You've probably noticed many trees' branches are not so bare as they were a few weeks ago. Here's just one particularly beautiful example, spotted in a park a few miles from the Walker. If you get a chance, bend a bough close to your eyes and examine what's happening!
What: Flowering tree, unidentified species
Where: Basset's Creek Park
Observer: Abbie
Date/Time: March 20, 2012 at about 5:30 pm
Conditions: Overcast

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Poking up through the Earth

What: Tiny, firm, green spires poke up through cracking soil. Examining the ground more closely, we spot a few three-petaled white flowers, low-to-the-ground and nodding. Other plants bear tiny clusters of blue-green buds, which I interpret as future hyacinth blooms.
Where: In the Arbor that forms the north border of the Sculpture Garden.
Observers: Rachel and Abbie
Date/Time: March 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm
Conditions: Without snow for a week or more, the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear.

What: A 13-lined ground squirrel, the first I've seen this year.
Where: By the leafless lilac trees that form a backdrop to the Lipchitz, the solitary squirrel stands upright to survey the scene. Then it scurries across the gravel path and disappears into the gaps in the low, granite block wall.
Observers: Rachel and Abbie
Date/Time: March 15, 2012, at 3:45 pm
Conditions: Apparently warm enough to rise from hibernation, emerge from the burrow's depths, and greet again the outside world!

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Killdeer

Photo by Dan Dzurisin, via Flickr 
What: A pair of Killdeer, early arrivals.
Where: Bryn Mawr Meadows Park (just west and a little north of the Walker Art Center, on the other side of Highway 394). The grassy field was animated by about 12 American Robins, bobbing about, tugging worms out of the soil. And then these two Killdeer, who moved with the swift, smooth locomotion characteristic of plovers.
Observer: Abbie, biking to work
Date/Time: Monday, March 12, 8:30 am
Conditions: Overcast, a little hazy and cool

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Melospiza melodia

What: I'm thrilled to hear the first Song Sparrow (click to listen) of the year!
Where: Duluth Road, Golden Valley
Observer (listener): Abbie
Date/Time: Sunday, March 11, 9:30 am
Conditions: Overcast