It’s that lovely late-spring season when the air is warmer, more flowers are blooming, and we’re seeing insects and birds everywhere.
We saw our first Monarch butterfly a few days ago.
On cool days there aren’t as many butterflies, but the ones we see are much more willing to be photographed.
A very friendly Dusted Skipper.
The beavers have built a dam in the creek that’s created a huge lake behind it.
We’ve been seeing lots of activity there – beavers, muskrats, and ducks. The dam is still getting higher, so the lake is growing.
We finally finished the annual Garlic Mustard project. I think we pulled most of the infestations from the middle of our land. There are still some big areas at the edges that are harder to deal with because the plants continue onto our neighbors’ property. Mike helped me this year because there was so much of it – I never would have gotten so much done without him.
The next project is girdling – aspens, birches and walnuts that are invading our remnant prairies and savannas. I’ve got a new tool that helps a lot – a draw knife. It has a sharper edge and better handles, so it’s much easier to use than the homemade knife I had been using.
This is a grove of walnut trees I’m working on. Once the walnuts are gone, we’ll have a few big, old oaks with savanna plants underneath.
There’s been plenty of rain, so the mushrooms are doing well. This was an especially large clump of morels.
Some beautiful fungi on a dead log
Showy Orchis – the first of our native orchids to bloom
Yellow Lady’s Slipper – buds just before blooming
Yellow Lady’s Slipper – in full bloom
I can’t resist taking flower photos in the spring – so here are a few more.
Prairie Smoke – in bloom
Prairie Smoke – seed heads
Cream Wild Indigo
This is a prairie hillside that I worked to clear of brush last year. It’s just starting to recover, and Columbine are often the first plants to bloom once more sun can get in.
A friend gave me some native plants that he grew from seed. This is Valerian – a wet/mesic prairie plant in it’s new home.
And Hill’s Thistle – a threatened plant in Wisconsin. It grows in dry prairies, so I hope it will be happy here.
We visited some friends in Pepin County last weekend who have done a lot of restoration work on their savanna hillside. It’s a spectacular place. Now we’re inspired to start working on some of our steeper hillsides.
They also have a beautiful woods, full of blooming Mayapple and Trillium.
There haven’t been many good nights for moths, but now that it’s getting warmer, I’m hoping for more. Here are a few of my favorites from the last few weeks.
Indian Grass Savanna
Looking south down 3 Finger Valley