Journal for April 30, 2024

Rain and warmer weather are slowly turning the landscape from brown to green.

April began with snow


and frosted branches in the early mornings.


Once the snow turned to rain the trees put out flowers and new leaves.


We saw a few more Pasqueflowers.  Several came out in the early warm spell we had in March,  but it was so dry that they shriveled up before they could open.  This one bloomed after the rains came and looks much happier.


Red Admiral butterflies don’t overwinter here, they fly up from the south once the weather warms.  Some years we see only a few, but this year we’re seeing them everywhere.  The males stake out and defend spots along paths and on top of hills where they watch for females.  They chase anything that comes by – including people.


Small White Violet – one of the smallest and earliest violets to bloom


Dutchman’s Breeches is an early spring flower that I’ve never found growing here.   It grows in shady woodlands, coming up and blooming before there are leaves on the trees to take advantage of the sunlight.  It does grow nearby, so I’ve been planting some on one of our cool shady hillsides.  This year I found just one stalk of blossoms.


But there are quite a few leaves, and it looks like the plants are spreading.


Pussytoes – one of the early prairie flowers


American Lady butterflies are closely related to Red Admirals.  They spend the winter as adults farther south, and then fly north in the spring to lay their eggs on Pussytoes and a few related plant species.


This is the first queen bumblebee we found this spring – a Tricolored Bumblebee.  It was a cloudy, cool day, so she was very cooperative – sitting quietly on a willow flower.  Later that day we saw another Tricolored queen searching for a nest site on the hill behind our house.


Spring prairie flowers are blooming…..

Bird’s-foot Violets


Hoary Puccoon


Prairie Smoke


We have two species of Serviceberry – very early blooming shrubs.  This is Smooth Serviceberry.


It’s growing in a tangled corner of Twisted Oak Savanna.


Another Serviceberry – I’m not sure of the species – on Hidden Oaks Point.


Several big branches broke off this old Bur Oak last winter.   We didn’t want to cut it down, but we wanted to move the broken branches so plants could grow underneath.  This is how it looks now – we removed all the branches that were on the ground, but left the ones that are still attached to the tree.  It’s fitting that it’s growing in Twisted Oak Savanna.


Wild Plum


As I walk in the woods this time of year, I sometimes disturb Woodcocks sitting on their nests.  This one didn’t fly until I nearly stepped on her.  I quickly took a photo of the eggs and then tiptoed away.


I heard and saw a new bird for the farm this week – an Eastern Meadowlark.  It called from a tree on the edge of Western Prairie, but then flew off across the valley and we haven’t see it again.


Most nights have been cold or windy or rainy, but there were a few good moth nights.

This is a new species for me – Lintner’s Gluphisia.  (I’m still counting the moth species I’ve seen here – I’m now up to 1033.)


And here are two favorites…

Bold-based Zale – a colorful species I don’t see often


Sigmoid Prominent


The landscape looks a little greener every day.

Center Valley


Hidden Oaks Point


Rainy morning


Sheep Hill Bluff Savanna – more open than it used to be, but not yet restored


This last photo is a link to a Turkey video from one of our trail cameras in late March.  At that time we were still seeing big flocks of Wild Turkeys – by now I think most of them have nests and eggs.   Be sure to turn on the sound – but not too loud.