Journal for February 29, 2024

This has been another amazingly warm month.   We’ve only had two small snowstorms.   The mornings have been frosty, but the afternoons are mostly warm and snow-free.

This was a wonderfully misty morning – warming as the sun came up, and with clouds of mist rising up from the valleys.


The Narrows


Indian Grass with dew


Grasses and Round-headed Bush Clover


Buffalo Ridge


More frosty mornings


Early morning sun over the wetland


Sumac Prairie, Sheep Hill Bluff Prairie and the wetland


Here was our mid-month snowstorm – not much snow and it didn’t last long.


Sunrise through the pines


Creek with frosty bushes


The weather has been so warm that I’ve been working outside – mostly finishing up my project on Pine Point.  Until a few years ago, this area was a thicket of honeysuckle, wild cherry and buckthorn – so thick and tall that we couldn’t walk through it.   Erik – from Kule Region Forestry – used his big mulching machine to mow it down.   Since the stumps weren’t treated, they resprouted vigorously.    This is the way it looked last fall – with some prairie flowers blooming, but also fountains of sprouts from each cut stump.


This is the way it looks now – after cutting and treating all those sprouting bushes.  Beyond it is a hill with one of our small bluff prairies: Corner View Prairie.


The warm sun is bringing out a few early bugs.  I saw lots of these False Milkweed Bugs on Pine Point crawling around in the cut stems and wood chips.  Their favorite food is Oxeye (Heliopsis helianthoides) but this early in the spring they’re less picky.


We saw our first spring butterfly – an Eastern Comma.


And when I put up my moths lights on one of the warmer nights, they attracted about 15 moths of 4 different species.

This one is a male White-spotted Cankerworm – a terrible name for a nice moth.  The females of this species, like several other overwintering moth species, are wingless and look more like bugs than moths.  Since they don’t fly to my lights, most of the ones I see are males.


Clemens’ Agonopterix – in this species, both males and females have wings

All these insects overwinter as adults so they can take advantage of warm days, but go back into hiding if it gets cold again.


Except for the frosty mornings,  the landscape is still very brown.


Sheep Hill Bluff Prairie


The Glen – the view from our bird-watching bench.


But the Silver Maple buds are almost ready to open.


And we’ve been seeing flocks of Trumpeter Swans flying overhead – more this year than we’ve seen before.  This group was heading up the creek past Sumac Point.

It looks like an early spring is almost here.