Backyard Almanac

Phenology with local naturalist Larry Weber every Friday morning at 8:20 on Northland Morning. Have a question for Larry Weber? Email us and you might hear his answer on the show!

 

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Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

This is the final weekend of summer, what with next weekend's autumnal equinox and all.

The BWCA was named, not just the newest dark sky sanctuary but the largest

Lots of migrants passing through Hawk Ridge, but non-winged ones (like snakes) are on the move as well.

Plus some suddenly develop wings (giant water bugs), infant snapping turtles are out, and it's color, color everywhere.

Eltjo Poort/Flickr

The autumnal equinox isn't until next week, but Larry says frost on the pumpkin - or spider web - and temperatures in the 30s means fall.

But stay on the lookout for birds, butterflies, and dragonflies at Hawk Ridge; insects buzzin' in the goldenrod; apples, high-bush cranberries and more getting ripe; mushrooms and yes, tiny, tiny snapping turtles.

©Lisa Johnson

It's that time again.  If you're not distracted by raptors and Canada geese and nighthawks streaming overhead, maybe you'll pull your car over to the side of the road and take a stroll through the goldenrod, where you can find a wide variety of insects and bees ... and maybe even Larry Weber.

Answer:

The rain this week has been inconsistent. Larry says the National Weather Service in Duluth reports 3" of rain while he clocked 7" at his place a little further south.

But  whether it's thousands of nighthawks flowing by Hawk Ridge this week, flying ants, or avoiding falling acons, Larry says there are all kinds if changes consistently taking place in the natural world, as we get ready to say goodbye to Awesome August.

Kilarov Zaneit/Unsplash

The start of school is coming.  It's unavoidable.

Summer is winding down.  It's unavoidable.

But these days, dubbed "the Sad Days" by a school-age Larry Weber, now bring countless delights.

Gale Oxley/Minnesota Mycological Society

Could it be?

We're halfway between the June solstice and the autumnal equinox?

Peter M. Dziuk/Minnesota Wildflowers

Much cooler weather seemed strange and remarkable this past week, but Larry Weber says, that's because temperatures dropped down to "normal" from nasty hot.

Lisa Johnson/JR Kelsey

July has lost its crack at record-setting heat for the month, and its regained a couple of inches on the rainfall deficit.

But what it's losing in hours of daylight and birdsong in the morning, it's more than making up for in young birds and animals, the next batch of wildflowers, and, of course, berries.

Jim, the Photographer [via Flickr]

Larry Weber observes that if this month's weather continues as it has, we'll have one of the wettest and hottest Julys on record. But the rain has benefitted the many ripening berries around the region.  Basswood trees are in bloom right now which some beekeepers say creates the best honey.  Many late summer flowers are beginning their bloom cycles as well, including tall sunflowers.  Canada thistle is starting to seed, providing food and nesting material for American goldfinches who mate later in the year than many other songbirds.

Tricia Galvin/Unsplash

As of yesterday, we've gotten twice the normal amount of rainfall we usually get in July.

That 2.83" is almost the same amount of rain as we got in April, May and June.

As our 90° temps cool into the low 80s, it's the perfect time to celebrate the 84th anniversary of 1936's "heat week;" the coolest temperature recorded that week (these were recorded by the lake, by the way) was 95° and the 106° on July 13 is the hottest temperature ever recorded in Duluth.

Sankax/Flickr

Vernal ponds are drying up.

June will go down as one of the top five driest Junes in 150 years.

And now ... big spiders.*

Perhaps this quote from Dorothy Molter, the "Root Beer Lady" sums up these days best:

  "When it gets to be July, I look forward to the long cold nights of November."

*A note about this photograph

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Remember that 21-inch snowstorm we got last Thanksgiving?

You know; the one that shut everything down and people had to work from home and school was closed and we were shut up with our families and couldn't get out ... wow.

Brad Smith/Flickr

For one thing, temperatures have dropped from the 80s and 90s to the low 70s here in the Northland. 

But Larry is still concerned about the rainfall amounts: we're 2" behind where we should be at this time of year.

Lisa Johnson

Next week at this time, we'll be celebrating the longest day of the year with almost 16 hours of light, and the first day of summer.

If you want to celebrate now, though, go ahead; Larry calls it summer when the wildflowers out in the open outnumber the ones in the woods.

Trees are blooming, birds are raising babies, infant turtles are being threatened by infant racoons, love is in the air for mink and green frogs ... now if it would just rain.  About five inches worth would catch us up nicely - just not all at once.

©Lisa Johnson

For June to stay on track, precipitation-wise, we'd need to get about an inch of rain per week, and that's not counting the deficit we're carrying over from May.

The not-great news is that some vernal ponds are already evaporating due to the dryness.

The good news?  Fireflies and lady's-slippers!

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