Thank you to long-time Afton State Park volunteer Nina Manzi for sharing her observations!
Note: Additional facilities at the park have recently been reopened, including camping. Visit the park website for detailed information about visiting.
Look for Venus in the east before sunrise.
On the prairie, look for bluebirds, tree swallows, meadowlarks, bobolinks, and for turkey vultures circling overhead.
Near the water look for herons, egrets, ducks, and geese. Geese are losing their flight feathers and will be grounded for the next few weeks until they grow new flight feathers for this fall’s migration.
American goldfinches will be nesting soon. They use the fluffy seeds of thistles to build their nests. And here’s a photo taken last week at Afton of a rufous-sided towhee, courtesy of John Schultz. Thanks, John!
Animals active primarily in the daytime, like squirrels, are called “diurnal”. Those active mostly at night, like bats, are “nocturnal”. And those active at dawn and dusk, like skunks, are called “crepuscular”.
Amphibians and reptiles
The evening chorus of frogs and toads will continue for a few more weeks. Western chorus frogs sound like running your finger over a comb; they are not as vocal as they were a few weeks ago. Tree frogs make a very loud short trill that many people mistake for a bird, and American toads make a long high-pitched trill. Look for tadpoles in still water along Trout Brook and the St. Croix River.
Turtles and snakes bask in the sunshine. Turtles have started laying eggs; watch out for them crossing roads and trails near the water.
Monarchs have returned, and you may see their larva on milkweed plants.
Another species to look for is the red-spotted purple. The red-spotted purple and the white admiral are the same species of butterfly. At Afton we often see the intergrade between the two forms. Fifty miles or so north of us it takes on the color pattern of the white admiral.
And it’s a good time to look for dragonfiles and damselflies. Here are some species you might see in June.
Look for early-blooming flowers on the prairie.
Milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies. Both common milkweed and swamp milkweed live at Afton and will bloom soon. Common milkweed has rounded leaves while the leaves of swamp milkweed are more pointed.
Here are some weather observations for this week from past years.
|Friday, June 12||2013: Thunderstorms and heavy rain|
|Saturday, June 13||2001: record rainfall of 2.37”|
|Sunday, June 14||2012: 3⁄4” of rain through day|
|Monday, June 15||2018: record high of 95°|
|Tuesday, June 16||2013: sunny and 80s, with thunderstorm in afternoon|
|Wednesday, June 17||2014: muggy with high in 80s|
|Thursday, June 18||2013: sunny with a high in the 70s|