Afton State Park phenology, July 8 to 14

Mid-summer bounty includes lots of birds, blooming flowers, and interesting insects.




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Afton State Park prairie (Sharon Somero/Flickr)


Jupiter and Saturn continue to rise earlier and earlier. Saturn comes up in the east around
9:30 pm, and Jupiter around 11:15 pm. Mars isn’t far behind them, rising at about half-past midnight.
On Wednesday the 13th look for the Full Buck Moon.


Birds are everywhere at this time of year. On the prairie look for eastern kingbirds, tree swallows, ring-necked pheasants, and eastern bluebirds.

In the woods, along the edges of the woods, and in marshy areas you might see American Goldfinches,
Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

And near the St. Croix and Trout Brook look for the various members of the Heron family. You are most likely to see them wading in the water, hunting fish, frogs, crawfish, and insects with their long spear-like bills. You may also see them roosting in trees. Some species you might spot are the Great Blue Heron, the Black-crowned Night Heron, the Green Heron, and the Great Egret.


Two species of “lady” butterflies are on the wing at Afton in the summertime: the Painted Lady and the American Lady. Both are brushfoot butterflies. Brushfoot butterflies have six legs but the two front legs are very short and brushy so you will see the butterflies perched on four legs. The Painted Lady is more common at Afton. It has four small eyespots on its hindwing. The American Lady has two big eyespots. And if you think moths are all gray and boring, check out the Great Tiger Moth! Some of its host trees are cherry and willow trees, so you might spot this tiger at Afton.

Many dragonflies and damselflies are on the wing. Dragonflies rest with their wings held open. Damselflies rest with their wings together. As is the case with birds, the males often have more flashy coloring. The 12-spotted Skimmer has 12 black spots on its wings, and the male also has 12 white spots. The male ebony jewelwing damselfly has iridiscent black wings and a bright blue thorax and abdomen. The female ebony jewelwing’s wings are more dull, but it does have a white spot, called a stigma, at the end of its forewing.

Amphibians and reptiles

Tadpoles have metamorphosed into young toads and frogs. Look for them moving about on water near land. Tree frogs are still calling, though not as many and not as loudly as in past weeks. There are two species of tree frogs in the area, the gray tree frog and the Cope’s gray tree frog. Both species can change color from gray to green!


Look for Butterflyweed, Leadplant, Black-eyed Susans, St. John’s wort, Harebells and Hoary Vervain blooming on the prairie.

It’s berry time! Look for both wild strawberries and wild black raspberries. Tasty treats!!

Weather observations

Here are some weather observations from past years

Friday, July 82020: heat advisory, with high in the low 90s
Saturday, July 92000: record rainfall of 2.55 inches; 2020: thunderstorm in early morning, then clouds with a high in the 70s. Humid.
Sunday, July 102002: record rainfall of 1.93 inches; 2019: Scattered showers, high near 80°.
Monday, July 112021: low 80s, pleasant
Tuesday, July 122018: Humid and over 90°, with heavy rain in the evening
Wednesday, July 132013: record rainfall of 2.79 inches; 2021: steamy and in the 80s.
Thursday, July 142010: 75° in the morning and steamy, but with a breeze

Photo/Image credits

All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except:

  • Keith Henjum: Cedar Waxwing
  • Sherri Holliday-Sklar: Great Blue Heron
  • Dean Lokken: Eastern Kingbird, Great Egret, Silver-spotted Skipper, Tree Swallow
  • Gary Sater: American Goldfinch, Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, Green Heron, Ring-necked Pheasant, Song
  • Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Jane Williams-Peterson: Wild black raspberries


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Afton State Park phenology, July 8 to 14