Journal for May 26, 2015

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.

first Monarch 5-22-15


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.

Dusted Skipper 5-19-15 2


The beavers have built a dam in the creek that’s created a huge lake behind it.

beaver dam


We’ve been seeing lots of activity there – beavers, muskrats, and ducks.  The dam is still getting higher,  so the lake is growing.

beaver lake


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.

draw knife


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.

knife edge girdling


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

Galearis spectabilis 5-17-15 3


Yellow Lady’s Slipper – buds just before blooming

cypripedium 1


Yellow Lady’s Slipper – in full bloom

Cypripedium 3


I can’t resist taking flower photos in the spring – so here are a few more.

Prairie Smoke – in bloom

Geum triflorum


Prairie Smoke – seed heads

Prairie Smoke


Jacob’s Ladder

Jacobs Ladder
Wild Geranium with bee

bee on wild geranium





Blue-eyed Grass

blue-eyed grass


Indian Paintbrush

Castilleja coccinea


Cream Wild Indigo

Cream Wild Indigo



Uvularia grandiflora 5-17-15 1


Prairie Phlox



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.

columbine on Indian Grass hill


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.

Valeriana edulis 1


And Hill’s Thistle – a threatened plant in Wisconsin.   It grows in dry prairies, so I hope it will be happy here.

Hills Thistle 1


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.

Snake Point Savanna small 1


They also have a beautiful woods, full of blooming Mayapple and Trillium.

big woods


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.

White-dotted Prominent

Nadata gibbosa 5-21-15 1


White-ribboned Carpet

Mesoleuca ruficillata 5-21-15 1


White Furcula

Furcula borealis 5-21-15 2



Actias luna 5-21-15 2


Indian Grass Savanna

Indian Grass savanna


Looking south down 3 Finger Valley

3 finger valley