Backyard Almanac

Phenology with local naturalist Larry Weber every Friday morning at 8:20 on Northland Morning. Have a question for Larry Weber? Email us and you might hear his answer on the show!

 

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Less than a month ago, there was still ice and snow on the ground.

Which means, despite a weekend forecast of mid to upper 80s, the season for spring ephemerals is a little more ephemeral than usual.

green heron: Tommy P. World/Flickr, sora: Becky Matsubara/Flickr, bittern: cuatrok77/Flickr

Who woulda thunk, in the midst of the April 15 blizzard, that a month later we'd hit a record-breaking 88 degrees?

In fact, who woulda thunk on Wednesday that we'd plummet from 88 to 52 by Thursday?

Yup.  It's May in the Northland.

Susan Worner [via Flickr]

Naturalist larry Weber observes that following the 5th coldest April on record we moved into a warm start to May, then colder again.  Some much needed rain finally arrived (not much, but a good start), and many plants and blooms are beginning to emerge.  We've now reached over 15 hours of daylight.  Frogs and turtles are awakening, and many birds are returning.

©MN Department of Natural Resources

April left and took the snow with her, says Larry Weber.

But the lack of moisture in many spots, plus the breezy conditions, means a high fire danger.

Larry Weber with a wrap up of April stats (three times as much snow, but precipitation still below normal), the migrants who've shown up just in the last week, and happy news on the frog front.

©Tone Coughlin Photography. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The first half of April ended in a most dramatic fashion: record-breaking (low) temperatures, high winds, crashing waves and a record snowfall.

And while it certainly wasn't appreciated by everyone, Larry Weber says it was still fascinating.

Northlanders rejoiced when we hit an official high temperature of 47 degrees Wednesday.

Trouble is, that's supposed to be the average temperature for this time of year.

Mumes World/Flickr

How does that meme on Facebook go?

"April showers bring snow plowers"?

Leave it to Larry Weber to remind us just how important these April snows are.

Torn between longing for signs of spring and the excitement of a winter snowstorm, Northlanders can find a little something to make everyone happy.

Larry Weber returns from his peregrinations with a look into the future at The Spring To Come ... and marvels at February: it's only the second time in 40 years that it's been the snowiest month!

©Sparky Stensaas. Used with permission.

Two years ago at this time, the Northland was bracing for a foot of snow.  29 years ago, it was -12 in Duluth.

We're looking at temps in the 40s and 50s this weekend; perfect time to scout out some Gray Jays building nests or watching Red Crossbills enjoying this year's bumper crop of pine cones.

©Laura Erickson. Used with permission.

It's March, and things are startin'!

Clinton Nienhaus, head naturalist for the Friends of the Sax-Zim Bog says it's the intersection of a lot of different things, actually.

Love is in the air for ravens, crow, gray jays and others ... some waterfowl have begun returning to the area as well as some raptors ... and still other birds bid adieu to the Northland because - the weather is too nice?

Paul Downey/Flickr

Larry Weber says, until now, only once in his forty years of keeping records has there been more snow in February than January.

After this weekend ... make that twice.

Birch Trees
Joshua Mayer Flickr

With clear skies and sunlight this February, birch trees are creating tree wells, or tree circles, as Larry Weber calls them. Find out what else is in store the rest of February and join Larry tracking this Sunday, weather permitting of course. 

©Lisa Johnson

Today marks the 12th straight day of below-zero temperatures and 40 days of them so far this winter.

Despite that, the low angle of the sun means we have wrap-around sunrises and -sets, we're up to ten hours of daylight, and Larry Weber is leading a Critter Walk as part of the Sam-Zim Birding Festival!

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