Journal for April 7, 2015

It’s raining!  It’s so nice to hear rain on the roof.  The last of the snow – we hope – disappeared just a few days ago.   The winter birds are heading back north, and the spring birds are arriving.
This is the time of year when we have beautiful snowfalls, but the snow only lasts a day or two.  This one came on March 23, after at least a week of snow-free landscape.

snow - 3-23-15


A few days later, and the snow was nearly gone.  It was gone completely on the east side of Indian Grass Point.

Indian Grass Point half snow


Looking the other way – down Center Valley from Indian Grass Point. There was still some snow on the hillsides.

Indian Grass Point half snow 2


One of the things I like about warm spring days is the way the lichens and fungi soak up water from the melting snow.  Their colors are so much brighter than any of the colors I’ve been seeing for months.

lichens and fungi


Scarlet Painted Cup fungus – we see a lot of these in the early spring

scarlet cup fungus


A flying squirrel has been visiting the bird feeders at night

flying squirrel


And a mouse – also coming to check out the birdseed.



The bears are waking up – we’ve seen a few on the trail cameras in the last week.

4-4-15 1 bear


Another trail camera photo – a bobcat on the driveway

4-7-15 bobcat 1


We’ve had one 70 degree evening, and I had more moths at my bait than I’d ever seen.

moths on bait 4-1-15 1


Here are a few of the most interesting ones:

Lithophane sp.  ‘near disposita’ – an undescribed species that’s most common in the driftless area

Lithophane near disposita 4-4-15 1


Bethune’s Pinion

Lithophane bethunei 4-1-15 1


The Half-wing

Phigalia titea 4-6-15 1


Dot-and-Dash Swordgrass

Xylena curvimacula 4-1-15 1


Pearly Underwing

Peridroma saucia 4-1-15 1


We’ve been working on our first clearing project of the spring – a  bluff prairie hillside on the new land we bought last summer.  I don’t think it’s been grazed much, but it’s very overgrown with huge sumacs, prickly ash, black cherry, honeysuckle and aspen.   Since most of the rest of our land was heavily grazed, I’m hoping this prairie will have some new plants once we let the sunlight in.

Here’s the way it looked before we started – scattered larger trees, but lots of brush in between.

Braehm Valley Prairie 4-4-15 1


Now the brush has been cut, but it’s lying on the ground.  We were exhausted – that’s all we could do that day.

Braehm Valley Prairie 4-4-15 4


The next day we came back and hauled all the cut brush down the hill and piled it out of the way.

Braehm Valley Prairie 4-5-15 1


Here’s a panorama of the whole area we worked on.  We still plan to cut some of the small trees – mostly Black Cherry.  There are too many, and they’ll shade the prairie.  And we’ll keep making the opening larger.  But a lot more sunshine can get in now.

Braehm Valley Prairie 4-5-15 3


This is looking back at Center Valley and our house, from the new land.  It’s fun seeing it from a different perspective.

center valley from maple hill


Now it’s time for the next big spring project – Garlic Mustard.  Garlic Mustard is an aggressive invader in our woods that I battle every spring.  I can spray some of it, but mostly I have to pull it before it goes to seed.

garlic mustard


This is one of my favorite day-flying moths.  It’s called The Infant – maybe because it’s often the first moth seen flying in the spring.

The Infant 3-14-15 1


And one almost-flower.  It’s called Sand Cress, and it’s one of the first non-tree flowers I see in the spring.  It grows on sunny, dry prairie hillsides.  If we get another sunny day, the flowers will open.

Arabis lyrata 4-2-15

Happy Spring!