Journal for September 2003

9/13, 9/14, 9/15/03
Only a few painted Ladies (there are hundreds in St. Paul right now – I counted over 100 in our front yard on Friday – they’re coming up from the south; people have been seeing over 1000 in Illinois and Iowa).

I weeded the Queen Anne’s Lace out of the wet part of Pine Point Prairie – looks nice.  I found lots of prairie plants – and some Closed Gentian blooming!  Especially lots of Blue Lobelia and Indian Grass.

Nelsons had a grass fire last week, up on their hay field.  It moved across the fence to Tork’s CRP field, and then they stopped it.  They said they were worried that it would get into our “wild prairie”, but I think they mistook Torks’ field for a prairie.

I counted painted ladies on the walk along the driveway this morning and counted 43, including 3 in the garden.  Not huge numbers, but more, by far, than any of the other butterflies.  I’ve seen a few Monarchs, and sulphurs and one or two commas and one blue – that’s it for the whole weekend.  Most of the monarchs I’ve seen are migrating – high and pretty definitely heading south.

Jackie and I walked on the eastern end of her land today – looking for hickory nuts.  We found lots of hickory trees, and 4 nuts – the animals must really love them.  We saw plenty of Painted Ladies on the clover along the bottom of their valley – we guessed at 200 or so, and Monarchs too, although not nearly as many – maybe 40.

The bats are still here – or at least one is – it’s hard to see because it’s cooler and they stay farther inside the house.  Maybe it should be moved to the end of the porch that gets the most sun – or we could make the other bat house, and have 2.

9/20, 9/21, 9/22/03
It’s cold this weekend, for the first time in a while.  Dan and Jackie said they had a little frost on Saturday morning.  We had nearly 2 inches of water in our rain gauge when we got here – from Thursday’s big rain.  We really needed it.

Mike mowed firebreaks in East Center Valley Prairie.  And we both worked on mowing Reed Canary Grass in the wetland.  In a few weeks I’ll spray it, and we’ll see if that works.  The area we did last fall is looking better, more diverse, but I think it may need to be sprayed again.

I saw the first few purple finches of the year at the feeders.

9/27, 9/28, 9/29/03
Cold and cloudy and windy, with fast moving clouds and short moments of sun.  Still no hard freezes yet – but we may get one tomorrow night.  I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk chasing and being chased by blue jays in the elms and box elder trees near the house.  The goldfinches completely disappeared for quite a while.

There are big flocks of chickadees, white-throated sparrows, and ruby crowned kinglets in the woods.  I was worried about West Nile Virus, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the chickadees, or blue jays or crows around here.

The hummingbirds are really gone now.

Sunday night – a hard freeze – the fields were all white – but I don’t think the woods above the house froze.  My zinnias are gone, but the Verbena bonariensis is still blooming.  Several Painted Ladies are nectaring on it.