Phenology

Phenology is the study of the cyclic natural phenomena of plants and animal life often due to seasonal local weather as well as larger planetary changes to our climate. Some plants and animals use the hours of daylight to guide their activity, others use temperature. If you are a light based critter but your food supply is based on temperature, a late spring can leave you scrounging for food. To learn more about the variations in seasonal cycles of plant and wildlife, visit the National Phenology Network website at www.usanpn.org. Be sure to check out their citizen scientist Nature’s Notebook project.

Keeping a nature journal of the seasonal activity around your property is a fun way to get the whole family involved in slowing down enough to watch the planet come alive around us each Spring and begin to hibernate each Fall.  We’ve started keeping track of certain annual milestones in nature at IBK; the first woolly caterpillar predicting the winter, when the geese start gathering in formation for practice flights, the first wildflowers of spring, the first killing frost, the last bluebird clutch, and much more. We’ve just added this IBK Phenology Log page to our website where we hope to collect observations from others. To keep it simple in the future, we’ll be focusing on the months of March and October. Send us your observations using the comment field below and we will be sure to add them too!

Spring 2017

It’s sad but true that with climate change what usually are Spring-related events are now occurring in Winter.  So we are starting our Spring log in January.

  • May 16 – Monarch butterfly cocoons or pupae are appearing early this year.
  • May 15 – Tiny green caterpillars float off the oak tree leaves in the wind.
  • May 14 – So great to see milkweed blooming all around Innsbrook.
  • May 13 – Paddlefish seen swimming just below the water’s surface. Perch begin fanning gravel in lake shallows to lay their nests.
  • May 12 – Sadly, dozens of blue bird chicks have died in their nest during the past 2 weeks. It is thought the heavy rains and wet nests must have taken a toll on their food supply and health.
  • May 10 – Barred owls heard hooting it up in mating calls, sounding like chimps.
  • May 9 – Woodchucks are seen inhabiting last year’s fox den.
  • May 1 – Nearly 7 inches of rain fell on Innsbrook this weekend turning dam spillways into white water rapids. Yet another extreme weather event that brings record 500-year level flooding to Missouri every 2 years.
  • April 25 – The floral orange fragrance of Locust tree flowers fills the air on hikes.
  • April 24 – It starts to rain down Oak tree fronds, also called catkins, the exact same day as last year.
  • April 23 – The Konstanz Trail reports over 29 bluebird chicks in 10 nests. They are the size of a big thumb but their mouths seem to be 90% of their little fragile bodies.
  • April 18 – The forest trees and plants have become so lush that you can no longer see through the forest to the floor.
  • April 17 – A sea of white dandelion seed heads have sprouted all over just one night.
  • April 16 – Beetles have appeared, more turtles sunning themselves on logs, every tree in the forest is now blooming, and the morning forest is so loud in the cacophony of birds celebrating Spring on this Easter Sunday.
  • April 15 – Dogwoods are at their peak this weekend, and this year they have been more bountiful and beautiful than recent years.
  • April 14 – So many young small squirrels are seen in the middle of the road, oblivious to the danger
  • April 12 – The first butterflies and flying insects have appeared
  • April 11 – Tall stately mature forest oaks now blooming
  • April 11 – Some forest floors are now covered in a sea of mayapple umbrellas.
  • April 10 – First morning where pollen had collected and covered in the coves and corners of our lake.
  • April 10 – The forest is full of delicate white blooms of flowering hawthorn and dogwoods, seemingly competing with other understory flora that usually bloom after these early Spring leaders.
  • April 9 – First wild forest mushroom spotted, a shiitake.
  • April 9 – First box turtle of the season observed crossing a road.
  • April 8 – First baby snake seen
  • April 7 – Foxes heard yipping in the middle of the night
  • April 6 – First bass and carp seen near the lake surface.
  • April 4 – The forest understory is just days from exploding in new growth and color
  • April 3 – Walnut, willows and hickory buds have appeared, along with a few young oaks who don’t yet know the wisdom of their elders in waiting just a bit longer.
  • April 2 – Umbrella looking mayapples begin popping up in the forest; morel mushrooms won’t be far behind!
  • March 30 – Wild onions on forest floors are particularly plentiful this year.
  • March 26 – First white dogwood blooms seen after much-needed rain.
  • March 25 – First redbud trees blooming with magenta buds.
  • March 23 – First spring peeper frogs heard singing across Innsbrook on our morning walk
  • March 21 – First snails are spotted crossing the roads of Innsbrook. Tops of some forest trees are budding.
  • March 20 – First day of spring feels like first day of summer with a record breaking 85 degrees. I wonder and worry how flora and fauna survives the drastic ups and downs like those of the past week.
  • March 18 – First yellow dandelions spotted along shoulders of roads
  • March 17 – Purple wild vinca flowering
  • March 14 – A cold hard freeze with a temp at IBK of 13 degrees has surely done damage to so many blooming plants and trees that experienced a February with April like weather.
  • March 12 – First tick of the season found on pet
  • March 11 – One of the few snows of the winter comes late along with much colder temperatures expected the next few days that threaten to damage so much of the flora that bloomed too early.
  • March 10 – White spirea blooming.
  • March 9 – Knockout roses start to leaf out
  • March 6 – Many forest understory plants and bushes are budding along with a few trees.
  • March 4 – Bush honeysuckle is blooming (but we wish it wasn’t).
  • March 3 – First bluebird house on Konstanz Trail being prepared by its new inhabitants almost 2 weeks ahead of last year.
  • March 2 – Because there was so little heavy snow and moisture to pack down the fallen leaves this winter, the forest floor is still thick and crunchy with leaves from last fall. Squirrels running across it still sound like a moose!
  • March 1 – February has ended as being a record warm month. It has also been a winter without the winter. We have only had 1 inch of snow up to now.
  • Feb. 28 – Our garden daffodils are now blooming. Snails seen on the roads. Colder weather of the weekend may have slowed tree budding, which is a good thing.
  • Feb. 26 – Wild forest edge daffodils are blooming at least 3 weeks earlier.
  • Feb. 20 – Record warm for Feb. continues. We broke a record today that was broken just last year. Green stink bugs are out a month in advance. I wonder what bugs or birds that eat them, and keep them in check, are messed up by the strange weather?
  • Feb. 19 – Forest edge and understory bushes are starting to bud. Wild onions in the forest have sprouted. Bulb flowers now 2 inches high. Moths and flies are out. This is so unreal for winter, but maybe the new Missouri norm with climate change.
  • Feb. 18 – Record winter warmth continues.
  • Feb. 17 – I feel the forests and animals moan from the anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt being confirmed as head of the EPA, nominated by a President who said climate change was a hoax and that we should dismantle the EPA.
  • Feb. 14 – Just in time for Valentine’s Day I witness the first set of geese pairing up on Lake Konstanz, almost a month ahead of last year.
  • Feb. 13 – Skunks have come out of the winter abode and are on the prowl leaving their foul.
  • Feb. 11 – Record temperatures in the 70’s across the area. Annual bulb flowers are already 1 inch tall above the beds as the ground has not been frozen in weeks. Croci are seen blooming! Moths and gnats are flying around.
  • Feb. 6 – Still only 1 inch of snow for the entire winter so far
  • Jan. 21 – With the unseasonably warm and wet weather, we saw worms on the road in January and flies buzzing the windows.

Fall 2016

  • Nov. 19 – Honeysuckle plants till green and full of berries that have not frozen or fallen off yet
  • Nov. 18 – Unreal, some forest plants are growing new leaves!
  • Nov. 17 – Another record high of 80 deg,
  • Nov. 13 – Nearly all the forest leaves have dropped except for bush honeysuckle which are still green with red berries, making this the perfect weekend to hack it out
  • Nov. 12 – And now a hard freeze we hope stops the growing season for good
  • Nov. 11 – Finally, a hard frost with temperatures just at freezing this morning
  • Nov. 10 – For some reason, there have not been hoards of flying asian beetles this Fall on the last warm days
  • Nov. 9 – Grass still green as the knock-out roses are still in bloom this late
  • Nov. 6 – First night of the season with temperatures in (upper) 30’s
  • Nov. 5 – Turkey families seem more scarce this Fall, perhaps because there are more foxes we wonder
  • Nov. 4 – Weird, some of the many fallen acorns are sprouting open on the ground due to warm wet weather
  • Nov. 3 – With most leaves down, squirrels running around on the forest floor sound like elephants!
  • Nov. 1 – Another near record day of mid-80 degree temperatures at Innsbrook
  • Oct. 31 – Wild Iris flowers are blooming due to warm weather, unbelievable
  • Oct. 30 – Nursery stock maples just now peaking
  • Oct. 29 – Record high of 86 degrees today
  • Oct. 28 – Forest colors seem to have peaked today, especially with many leaves now falling
  • Oct. 26 – Foliage color slowly peaking with warm weather
  • Oct. 25 – Still no frosty nights, more than 10 days after the average first frost date for our region
  • Oct. 23 – First few Japanese Lady Beetles seen swarming
  • Oct. 22 – Perfect weather for our fall group hike, but foliage colors 10 days behind last year with the warm weather
  • Oct. 21 – Coyotes heard howling across Tyrolean Valley
  • Oct. 20 – Still no nights in the 30’s nor close to a frost
  • Oct. 18 – Yellow foliage of lower-level forest maples nearing peak
  • Oct. 17 – What must be record Fall heat of 87 degrees.
  • Oct. 16 – Fall colors definitely later this year with near record heat of 85 degrees today
  • Oct. 13 – Tops of wise old forest oaks just starting to turn bronze
  • Oct. 12 – Nursery maples turning red
  • Oct. 10 – Forest maples turning yellow, seems like is just happened overnight
  • Oct. 9 – Sycamore trees near creeks and in valleys turning gold
  • Oct. 8 – Sumac and Dogwoods along forest edges turning many shades of rust and red
  • Oct. 7 – First night with temperatures in the 40’s
  • Oct. 5 – Fall tree color seems to be behind last year by a week
  • Oct. 3 – First hints of Fall color in the forest understory near edges
  • Sept. 20 – Acorns and hickory nuts are raining down in masses rarely seen
  • Sept. 6 – First wooly bear caterpillar spotted crossing the road
  • Sept. 5 – Acorns seem to be falling early this year
  • Sept. 4 – Many forest oak and maple leaves falling due to summer diseases like jumping gall

Spring 2016

  • June 12 – Deer fawns born in May are seen waddling across roads and yards
  • June 8 – First butterfly friendly milkweed plants blooming
  • May 25 – Giant paddlefish seen just underneath lake surface
  • May 8 – Ornate box turtles seen crossing the roads almost every day
  • May 2 – White flowers of black locust tress in full bloom
  • May 1 – Gosslings make first appearance in the water on Lake Konstanz
  • April 30 – Snails crossing the roads, turtles must not be far behind!
  • April 24 – New Oak tree leaves dropping their fronds and blowing in the wind covering decks like snow
  • April 24 – Wind sounds different through the trees with leaves
  • April 23 – Lakes covered with green pollen
  • April 22 – Dandelions in full bloom
  • April 20 – Fox kits spotted playing outside their dens
  • April 19 – First tent moth caterpillars seen in small trees
  • April 17 – First box turtle seen along a trail
  • April 16 – Elder forest oaks leaves now appearing in top canopy
  • April 15 – Forest dogwoods all flowering white
  • April 11 – Nearly all the forest understory is now budding or blooming.
  • April 10 – First colony of bats spotted out at dusk
  • April 9 – Late freeze with overnight low of 28 degrees dampens some delicate blooms
  • April 4 – Tiny red leaves emerge from nursery-stock maple trees, much earlier than wise native maples
  • April 3 – First snake seen along road sides
  • April 2 – Mayapples spotted rising up from forest floor
  • March 29 – Spring peeper frogs singing from ponds
  • March 26 – First tick of the season found on a pet
  • March 25 – More frogs and little lizards spotted
  • March 24 – First worms seen crossing the road
  • March 22 – Magenta flowers of Eastern Redbud in bloom
  • March 21 – Delicate flowers of White Spirea in bloom around Innsbook
  • March 20 – Spring begins with one of the few snows of the winter, which was the warmest on record for much the planet. Total snow at Innsbrook over the winter was less than 6 inches.
  • March 19 – First violet wild vinca (periwinkle) flowers blooming
  • March 17 – First forest dogwood seen blooming
  • March 15 – First day over 80 degrees, and a record at 84 even though it is still winter!
  • March 14 – First worms and dandelions spotted along a roadside walk. Catkin on pussy willow blooming.
  • March 13 – First pair of geese seen pairing up on Lake Konstanz
  • March 11 – First mosquitoes out
  • March 10 – First frog seen
  • March 9 – First snails crossing wet roads, first wild onions on forest floor sprout up, and first buds of forest understory bloom, unfortunately some are invasive Bush Honeysuckle
  • March 8 – Daffodils and Crocus in bloom all across Innsbrook
  • March 7 – Moths emerge early, and bats which eat them are expected to follow soon
  • March 6 – First insects, flies, and spiders emerge on a sunny spring-like day
  • March 5 – Forest is alive in the mornings with the chirps, calls, and singing of birds
  • March 4 – Bluebird pairs cavorting near their houses
  • March 3 – Daffodils and other annuals are now rising 5 inches above mulch nearly 2 weeks ahead of last year

Winter 2016

  • Feb. 22 – Daffodils are already rising 2 inches above mulch beds
  • Feb. 20 – Record high of 78 degrees brings out the first insects and flies of the year way too early
  • Feb. 1 – With unseasonable warm temperatures annual flowers are already starting to sprout up through our mulch beds
  • Jan. 30 – Near record warm temperatures bring Bluebirds out checking on bird houses for the spring
  • Dec. 12 – Record warmth brings back dandelions and ticks rarely seen in December
  • Nov. 21 – The first hard freeze of the season with first temperatures in the 20’s
  • Nov. 8 – The first freeze of the season; nearly all the leaves are down
  • Nov. 4 – Temps are unseasonably warm near 70 and we have still not had a hard frost or below freezing temperature

October 2015

  • Oct. 5 – Forest maples start turning yellow
  • Oct. 10 – Tops of only a few oaks turning bronze
  • Oct. 11 – First leaves falling on a windy day
  • Oct. 12 – Nursery stock sugar maples turning red
  • Oct. 13 – Many leaves falling immediately after they turn due to mild drought
  • Oct. 14 – Coyotes heard howling and yipping across Alpine Lake
  • Oct. 15 – First night in the 30’s
  • Oct. 16 – First frost on the pumpkins
  • Oct. 17 – First woolly caterpillars sighted crossing the road with very wide brown bands!
  • Oct. 19 – Swarms of Japanese Lady Beetles seek sunlit siding and open doors to enter for the winter
  • Oct. 20 – Another day of warm and dry 80 degree weather
  • Oct. 21 – Most old forest oak leaves now bronze, rust, or gold in color creating a second peak wave of color
  • Oct. 22 – Temperatures near record high in mid 80’s for the end of October
  • Oct. 23 – Old oaks at peak color; most other leaves have already fallen to the ground
  • Oct. 24 – Skunks on the move and crossing roads; thousands of dead Japanese Lady Beetles cover decks and sidewalks
  • Oct. 26 – Many Poison Ivy leaves have turned red helping with identification
  • Oct. 27 – Most leaves have fallen by now with recent wind and welcomed rain

March 2015

  • March 6 – First bluebird spotted atop their new home
  • March 9 – First moths fly on the first day above 70 degrees and on the very same day the last lake ice melts
  • March 10 – Squirrels cavorting in the forest canopy
  • March 11 – First geese pairing up on Lake Konstanz
  • March 12 – First bat spotted of the year
  • March 13 – First wasps and flies come out
  • March 15 – First bluebird nest appears
  • March 16 – Spring peeper frogs heard singing
  • March 17 – Daffodils pass 2 inches tall
  • March 18 – Worms crossing roads en masse overnight after the first day above 80 degrees
  • March 22 – First crocus flowers emerge
  • March 27 – Daffodils in full bloom coinciding with the last snow and freeze of the season
  • March 31 – Fogs crossing roads overnight in the rain and some get left behind
  • March 31 – First wild dogwoods bloom in the forest
  • April 4 – First mayflowers emerge on the forest floor

April 2014

  • April 2 – First geese pairing up on Lake Konstanz
  • April 4 – Deer resistant Daffodils in full bloom
  • April 6 – First Bluebird eggs in a nest on Lake Konstanz Trail
  • April 12 – Dogwoods finally blooming weeks later than recent years
  • April 19 – First snails and earth worms seen slowly crossing the road
  • April 20 – First bluebird chicks hatched, but they were slackers who took an extra week to fledge
  • April 20 – First kayaking on the lake to see grass carp surfacing from the deep
  • April 22 – Caterpillars by the hundreds emerge from their tent colonies
  • April 27 – First turtle, an Ornate Box Turtle, spotted madly rushing across a road
  • April 30 – a Red-eared Slider turtle seen this day
  • May 7 – Turbocharged green beetles (Calosoma Scrutator to be exact courtesy of Keith Thompson’s identification) are racing everywhere in hunt of caterpillars

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