NATURE NOTES

This first report of the week is brought to you by William from Waconia Middle School - Purple Group. 

During our trip to Long Lake Conservation Center October 10th through the 12th, we were awash in Garter Snakes. They were everywhere, all of them soaking up the sun’s warmth and heading toward their hibernaculum. We followed them and found the entrance to their den, and even saw a few of them poking their heads out and looking at us. That the Garters are staging and moving into their hibernaculum is a sign that colder days are fast approaching. A few Milkweed pods broke open and the silk that carries their seeds have been seen drifting on the breeze. It’s only just started because most pods are still closed. The Asters and Golden Rods have gone to seed, and their poofs (not an official science term), like the Milkweed are spreading on the wind. In the Bog, we found AND ATE what was left of this year’s cranberries, and noted that the Pitcher Plants are turning purplish red. In other sightings, our group found a Stinkhorn…gross, one of Long Lake’s naturalists saw a porcupine in the parking lot, a Bald Eagle flew over the lake, and Wooly Bear and Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillars are still out and on the move. We also found a few Boxelder Bugs, Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, and a really cool Grass Spider in a funnel web.

The trees are all colorful, and lots of leaves are falling. It’s a great time to explore nature and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside and to… LIVE CONNECTED.

This second report of the week is brought to you by Maggie and the students from Waconia Middle School - Gold  Group

During our trip to Long Lake Conservation Center from October 12th through the 14th winter arrived. The first official snowfall of the year happened on Thursday, October 13th, close to the average date of first snow. As the temperatures dropped we watched the Garter Snakes leave their forest territory and head to their hibernaculum for the winter. On Wednesday Dozens of Garter Snakes were spotted approaching and nearby the hibernaculum on Wednesday, with many clustered and seen entering it. When our group peered into the opening of the hibernaculum, a baby Blue Spotted Salamander came out of the hole. Is it normal for Salamanders and Garter Snakes to share the same hibernaculum? Other sightings included the arrival of a flock of Juncos and a large group of Blue Jays. In the bog, the Tamaracks have now turned about half gold in color and some of their needles are starting to fall off. Many of the Pitcher Plants have turned completely purplish red, and during our Bog trek we saw two voles. Our Naturalists tell us that this is the first sighting of voles in the bog in a while.  More Milkweed pods have burst open, but many are still closed. Oak trees have joined the autumn fun, and are now full color, and leaves are falling as fast as the snow. It’s a great time to explore nature and we want to remind everyone to unplug, get outside and to… LIVE CONNECTED.

Great job! Keep Exploring!