Jupiter and Saturn continue to rise earlier and earlier. Saturn comes up in the east around 8:45 pm, and Jupiter around 10:30 pm. August 11th is the Full Sturgeon Moon, which promises to wash out the Perseid Meteor Shower this year.
Some Robins have raised not one, not two, but THREE broods of young this year. The last fledglings have left the nest by now, and they are forming flocks so the young birds can practice their flying in advance of migration. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds like to nectar on red flowers and also pale purple bergamot. If you’re wearing a red shirt they may approach you to see if you are a flower! Hummingbirds are the smallest bird in Minnesota; adults weigh just over half an ounce. It would take more than 150 birds to weigh one pound! Although hummingbirds are small, they are very fierce; the Aztecs believed that warriors who died in battle would be reincarnated as hummingbirds. And keep a look out for Gray Catbirds along the edges of the woods. They are gray birds with dark gray caps; their most common call is a raspy mew that sounds rather like a cat.
Amphibians and reptiles
Sunny days are a good time to watch for turtles and snakes basking. Reptiles are “ectotherms”; they don’t generate as much internal heat as do mammals, which is why they are active in the summer and not in the winter. The warmth of the sun also helps turtles digest their food. If you see them basking on a log or rock please watch them quietly from a distance.
Some of the many species of butterflies on the wing at Afton include the Tiger Swallowtail, the Painted Lady, the Peck’s Skipper, and of course the Monarch, our state butterfly!
Look for grasshoppers jumping and flying short distances. They come in many colors! The Katydid is also a grasshopper, and is sometimes called the Long-Horned Grasshopper. Ever wonder why you seem to start seeing grasshoppers leaping and flying in July and August, and not earlier? Grasshoppers hatch from eggs in the springtime, and as they grow they molt their exoskeletons, and a new soft one underneath hardens. Each successive version of the grasshopper is called an “instar”. Grasshoppers have wings only after the last time they molt; that is why you see grasshoppers flying short distances in the late summer and fall, but not in the early summer.
The parade of wildflowers continues! Look for Rough Blazing Stars, Prairie Onions, both Yellow and Purple Coneflowers, Cardinal Flowers, Butterflyweed, and Common and Swamp Milkweed. Butterflyweed, Common Milkweed, and Swamp Milkweed are all members of the genus “Asclepias”, which is named after the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios. People used milkweed in the past to treat lung diseases and to remove warts.
Here are some weather observations from past years
|Friday, August 5||2015: sunny and pleasant, temperature in the 80s|
|Saturday, August 6||2001: Record high of 99°; 2020: partly sunny, 70s|
|Sunday, August 7||2001: Record high of 98°; 2015: ½ inch rain|
|Monday, August 8||1894, 1914, 2010: Record high of 96°; 2014: high in low 80s; 2020: skies dark through day but only a few sprinkles|
|Tuesday, August 9||1947, 2010: Record high of 95°; 2020 thunderstorms off and on through day|
|Wednesday, August 10||2010: Record rainfall of 2.47 inches; 2020: 3/8” rain overnight|
|Thursday, August 11||1968, 2004: Record low of 47°; 2007: Record rainfall of 1.73 inches|
All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except:
- Jim Brandenburg, MN Conservation Volunteer: Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Dean Lokken: American Robin, Painted Turtle
- Jane Williams-Petersen: Katydid