Afton State Park phenology, Oct. 8-14

More to see besides the beautiful fall colors as migration and hibernation begins.




3 minute read

Afton State Park in autumn (Iain/Flickr)

Note: Afton State Park volunteer Nina Manzi has been updating the phenology calendar in the visitor center with events and pictures for years. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Nina adapted by providing the information online, including sharing it with St. Croix 360.

Phenology is the study of recurring events in the life cycle of plants and animals, many of which are closely tied to patterns of climate and seasonality. Learn more at the Minnesota Phenology Network.

Astronomy: On Saturday the 9th look for Venus near the crescent Moon in the evening. On the 13th and 14th Jupiter and Saturn will be near the Moon.

Birds: Migration continues. Wood Ducks, Mallards, and Canada Geese follow waterways like the St. Croix River on their way south. Great blue herons and American Egrets keep near water as they move south, too. Look for large flocks of red-winged blackbirds and grackles, and smaller flocks of bluebirds. And you may see or hear some white-throated sparrows. They sing their “O Canada” song in the fall, though not as often as in the spring.

Mammals: You may still see bats flying in the evening hours, but they will hibernate soon. Raccoons are not true hibernators but they will become less active as the weather gets cold. Red and gray squirrels, in contrast, will remain active all winter long.

Insects: Be careful not to step on woolly bear caterpillars when you’re hiking at Afton. They are looking for a sheltered spot to curl up for the winter. Many insects overwinter as adults, including leaf-footed bugs, which gather in large numbers under leaves or tree bark. Many other insects migrate, including the northern populations of milkweed bugs.

Plants: Milkweed, thistle, and butterfly weed seeds all drift away from their parent plants on autumn breezes.

Weather observations

Here are some weather observations for this week from past years

Friday, October 8Record high of 87° in 2010
Saturday, October 92015: Mostly cloudy with high in the 50s
Sunday, October 102009: light snow overnight, sticking to lawns through mid-day
Monday, October 112015: Record high of 85°
Tuesday, October 122009: record snowfall of 2.5”
Wednesday, October 132019: alternating sunshine and flurries, with high in the 40s
Thursday, October 142011: Overcast and breezy, high in the 50s

Photo/Image credits:

All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except:

  • Keith Henjum: Raccoon
  • Dean Lokken: American Egret
  • Deborah Rose; Minnesota Conservation Volunteer: Bat
  • Gary Sater: Eastern Bluebird, Mallard Duck


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Afton State Park phenology, Oct. 8-14