Note from park naturalist Linda Radimecky: Saturday, June 11 is a free park day – no vehicle permit will be needed to enter a Minnesota State Park. Afton State Park will be offering visitors a chance to participate in an archery program. The archery range will be open and instruction given on Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
Archery in the Parks is hands-on instruction from certified instructors – shooting a bow and arrow in a safe and supportive environment. Aim for family adventure with kid friendly equipment designed for beginners age 10 and older. Children age 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Personal archery equipment is not allowed. All archery programs are free with a Minnesota State Parks vehicle entrance permit (except on free park day). Held in the Upper Picnic Area.
The morning line-up of planets continues. Early birds can look for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in that order from lowest in the sky to highest. And Tuesday June 14th brings the Full Strawberry Moon. Time to outside and hunt for wild strawberries!
A “mnemonic” is pattern or sequence of words to help remembering something. Birding enthusiasts use mnemonics to help identify birds by their calls by coming up with phrases that sound like what the birds sound like. Summer is a good time to practice using mnemonic phrases to identify birds at Afton, since birds are more vocal in summer than in winter. Stop for a bit on a bench alongside the trail, close your eyes, and listen.
Baltimore Oriole: “here, here – come right here, dear”
American Goldfinch: “potato chips-potato chips-potato chips”
Rose-breasted Grosbeak: “cheer-up—cheer-a-lee – cheer—ee-o”
Brown Thrasher: “drop-it, drop-it, cover-it-up, cover-it-up”
Indigo Bunting: “fire, fire. where? where? here, here. see it? See it?”
Western Meadowlark: “hip! hip! hurrah, boys! three cheers!”
The Monarchs that recently arrived in our area have laid eggs, and you may see their caterpillars on the leaves of milkweed plants. And you may also see the caterpillars of Milkweed Tussock Moths on milkweed leaves! Another caterpillar to look out for looks a bit like a Monarch larva but is greenish in color with yellow and black spotted bands. This is the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly, and you will see it on carrot or parsley plants, not milkweeds.
Among the dragon and damselflies you may see in mid-June are the Common Whitetail, the White Faced Meadowhawk, the Bluet damselfly, and the Ebony Jewelwing damselfly. The dragonflies and damselflies are both in the order “Odonata”. The dragons hold their wings open when they’re resting, while the damsels hold them closed together. (There’s another group called the “spreadwings” but we’ll talk about them another week!)
Diurnal, Nocturnal, and Crepuscular are all words used to describe the time of day when an animal is most active.
Diurnal animals, like squirrels, are most active in the daytime. Crepuscular animals, like deer and rabbits, are most active at dawn and dusk. Mother deer may still leave fawns hidden in the grass while they browse, but more and more the fawns are accompanying their mothers. Nocturnal animals, like bats, skunks, raccoons, mice, opossums, coyotes and foxes, are most active at night, although many of these animals may also be crepuscular.
There are lots of flowers blooming on the prairie. You might see Blue-eyed Grass, which is not really a grass, White Wild Indigo, Butterflyweed, Leadplant, Yarrow, Harebells, Spiderwort, Black-eyed Susans, and Hoary Vervain.
And that’s not all! Some others you might see are Long-leaf Bluets, Common Cinquefoil, Golden Alexanders, and Hedge Bindweed.
Here are some weather observations from past years
|Friday, June 10||2011: ¼ inch of rain overnight, in the 50s to start the day; 2017: high in the 90s and windy.|
|Saturday, June 11||2008: 60s through day with dark skies, with a half-inch of rain by nightfall and another three-quarters by morning|
|Sunday, June 12||2015: sunny and 50s in the morning, rising into the 70s|
|Monday, June 13||2001: record 2.37 inches rain; 2009: sunny and warm, with a high near 80°|
|Tuesday, June 14||2011: sunny early, with a thunderstorm from late afternoon into early evening|
|Wednesday, June 15||2018: record high of 95°|
|Thursday, June 16||2020: hot and muggy, with a high about 90°|
All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except:
- Alan G. Nelson, Dembinksy Photo Associates, MN Conservation Volunteer: Striped Skunk
- Dudley Edmondson, MN Conservation Volunteer: Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting
- Michael Furtman, MN Conservation Volunteer: American Goldfinch
- Dean Lokken: Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, Ebony Jewelwing, Full Moon, White Wild Indigo, Whitetail Deer Fawn
- Bill Marchel, MN Conservation Volunteer: Brown Thrasher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Western Meadowlark