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Diary of a Phenologist

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By Margaret A. Haapoja | Oct 8, 2008

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Phenomenal Phenology

2/9/96 This is the time of year when deer begin to lose their antlers. Lisa Hesse of Brush Shanty Lake reports finding twin shed antlers. Possible explanation: Bounding onto the hard surface of the roadway caused both antlers to fall off simultaneously.

 2/14/95 Dances with wolves are taking place all over the north country this month. February is the month wolves mate. This is no secretive coupling in some out of the way place. No, the wolves gather as a group out on a lake and frolic in what must be reminiscent of a Roman orgy.

 5/1/07 Red elderberry are showing their flower structure. They look like bright purple broccoli heads about an inch across.

 5/29/07 The wind was fairly strong out of the south, and it was as if somebody had opened up a big box of monarch butterflies and dumped them out here. It had to be the leading edge of a migration. You’ve got to remember that those monarchs that show up here in the spring are the grandchildren of those that left here last fall.

 6/5/87 Loons on Deer Lake are proud parents of two babies. Loons are excellent indicators of a lake’s health. It has been suggested that they bond to their nest sites and that if one of the mated pair fails to return to a nest in the spring, the survivor will attempt to entice another loon to the area to continue raising young at that site.

 6/27/86 Mullein is a tall plant covered with small yellow flowers. The leaves are thick, hairy and quite soft. Local Indians used these cushioning leaves as liners for their moccasins.

 7/11/07 St. John’s wort has perforated leaves, which give the plant its scientific name, Hyperis perforatum. Pick a leaf and hold it up to the sun, and you’ll see little holes right through the leaf.

 7/17/90 Giant blue hyssop blooms. Crush the leaves, and you’ll smell licorice.

 8/2/96 Blue bead lilies are beginning to live up to their name. First maples seen turning red. Berries turning red on hairy Solomon’s seal. Big-leaved asters are blooming. This is a familiar plant to many who have ventured into the woods without toilet paper.

 10/5/85 Cool and cloudy, blustery day opens 1985 duck season. It was a day to warm a water fowler’s heart: strong northwest wind punctuated with rain squalls and snow flurries.

 12/28/97 As I went out to feed the birds this morning, I heard the chickadees singing their “fee bee” song. Can spring be far behind? Probably!

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