Journal for May 5, 2007

The flowers and birds are coming so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Every day there are new flowers in bloom and new birds returned. And there are endless projects.

Last weekend Martha came down to visit and to help with some clearing projects. One day we cleared some more birches on Hidden Oaks Point. The next day she and I made a path to Stargrass Opening, so it’s easier to get there without walking on all the good plants.

The hill on the way up to the opening is covered with Rue Anemones. I think I’m going to have to make that hill a clearing project. The ground layer doesn’t seem to be too disturbed by logging, and there are some big old oak trees.

Rue Anemones (Thalictrum thalictroides)

The Wood Anemones (Anemone quinquefolia) are just starting to bloom.

All the violets are in bloom – in the woods and on the prairies.

Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens) and Prairie Violet (Viola pedatifida)

Small White Violet (Viola macloskeyi)

I collected my first seeds of the year this week. Jackie said I could collect seeds from her Pasqueflowers, so I went over there on Thursday. Most of the seeds were ready to harvest, but some were just coming out, and I found a few flowers still in bloom.

Late Pasqueflowers (Anemone patens)

Pasqueflower seeds

There’s a family of foxes living under the step to Jackie’s cabin, so I stopped to visit. The adult fox growled at me, and then headed up the hill – leaving the kits to fend for themselves. She (or he) sat on the hill and watched – she didn’t seem too upset – she yawned and scratched herself and acted pretty relaxed. The kits weren’t afraid of me at all. They lounged around and watched me take pictures.

Here’s the adult watching me from the hillside.

These are the kits.

The aspen is ready to girdle, so for the next few months my main project will be aspen. I started working on these aspens on the knife edge point. There are lots of good prairie plants growing under the trees, so removing those trees should be a big help.

It’s been pretty windy for the last few days, so the butterflies have had a hard time. Here’s an old, battered Mourning Cloak – it probably spent the winter in a brush pile and now it’s at the end of its life.

This is a Spring Azure – newly hatched.

And a Red Admiral feasting on animal scat.

It’s not just the native flowers that are blooming – the dandelions are out too. The first few years of our prairies always produce good crops of dandelions. After the prairies get going there aren’t as many. This is the part of Western Prairie that I planted the winter before last.

The Wood Frog eggs have all hatched in our neighbor’s pond – now there are thousands of tadpoles. Without the Snapping Turtle, there may be more survivors this year.

This is a nest of Eastern Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum).

They make their nests in early spring and emerge as moths in the summer. The nests are probably for protection from birds – the caterpillars live there until they’re full-grown. Then they leave the nests to pupate, and emerge as small brown and white moths. A few weeks ago we watched a Chickadee devour caterpillars in one of these nests – so they don’t afford complete protection.

I did some Aspen girdling in the woods below Big View Prairie and found a Red-tailed Hawk feather. I could hear a Red-tailed Hawk screeching above me the whole time I was working.

Here are a few more spring plants.

Different kinds of ferns emerging.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis)

Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis) in the planted prairie in our front yard.