Journal for May 4, 2021

We had some very warm weather – in the 80sF – early in April, then it was cool and cloudy for weeks, and now the warm days are back.  Everything is very dry – we had a little rain yesterday but not enough.

The early heat brought out early flowers and butterflies and bees.

Compton Tortoiseshell


Eastern Comma


Sand Cress – usually the first non-tree flower I see


Wild White Violet – another early flower on a savanna hillside


Honeybee on Pussy Willow.  Normally we don’t see honeybees until late in the summer.  The early warm weather may have pushed the bees to travel farther from their hives to find pollen and nectar.


This spring I noticed the flowers on American Hazelnut for the first time.  The male flowers are catkins so they’re easy to see.


But the female flowers are very small and subtle – tiny red styles poking out of buds at the ends of some of the branches.


A Garter Snake looking fierce.


Snow showers on April 13.


Here’s Mike’s newest minivideo – a celebration of the sights and sounds of spring.  (Click here to see more of his videos.)


Juncos have been migrating through – heading north for their summer breeding areas.   They gather in large flocks on our driveway.


I spend most of April and May battling Garlic Mustard.  Some places get better over the years, but I always find new infestations.   Fortunately, since the weather has been so cool, most of it isn’t blooming yet, so I still have time left to work on it.


Our valley is usually several degrees cooler than the surrounding countryside.  When we drive out we see flowers and trees blooming that haven’t started blooming here.  Finally now some of our flowering trees are blooming.

Downy Serviceberry in the woods


Downy Serviceberry


A new Serviceberry that I’d never noticed before.  I think it’s Low Serviceberry – (the taxonomy of Serviceberries is complicated).


Wild Plum

These tree flowers are very fragrant – their scent fills the air on warm still days.


More spring flowers are blooming now.



Rue Anemone


Bird’s Foot Violet


Wood Betony leaves and buds are red when they first come up.


Wood Betony in bloom – now the leaves have turned green.


Yellow Violets


Prairie Blue-eyed Grass


Prairie Smoke


New aspen leaves in the afternoon sun


Male cones of Red Cedar


This is a long narrow puddle with cattails and duckweed next to the road where we hear Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers.


It’s hard to sneak up on them, but this Wood Frog sat still to be photographed.


I found an early spring Tiger Beetle on our driveway – Twelve-spotted Tiger Beetle.  This species isn’t very common in Wisconsin.


One other project I’ve been working on is building steps up the hill behind our house.  The path started as a deer trail, but now we walk it so often that it’s eroding and steps seem to help.


One of our favorite spring places is Cabin Creek – a tiny stream that’s really the overflow from a small spring below the cabin.  It’s a favorite place for migrating birds.  Yesterday we watched Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows bathing in the stream, a Northern Waterthrush wandering through it, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitting in the branches above it.


This shows the color change from the beginning of the month to the end.

Willow Bend on April 7


East Center Valley on April 28