This week's phenology report is brought to you by Alex, Claire and the students of St. Francis of the Lakes School in Brainerd. 

Our trip to Long Lake started out sunny and in the 40’s, and ended with a coating of wet snow. In between we saw lots of amazing nature. More than a dozen garter snakes were seen under the entryway floor grate. They were in a slithering ball, emerging from their winter slumber. We left them there safe from foot traffic.

Otters were seen in three open holes on the lake and on the shore. We were told that it was the first time they have been spotted since January 3. One otter was seen eating a big, juicy frog. It was one of several frog-sicles seen being eaten. It was a good day to be an otter, but not so good for the frogs.

There were so many red polls at the feeders we could not count them all. Bald eagles, hawks and swans were also spotted, along with the normal collection of Chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Our group trekked into the bog and were surprised to see a bunch of small white moths. We also saw a pitcher plant full of liquid peeking out of the snow, and got to eat leaves from the Labrador plant.  

Our school tapped maple trees, and collected the sap. The sap was flowing, but not very fast. We only collected a few gallons so far, but think with warmer weather ahead, the flow will pick up. The porcupine stayed up in the tree through the snow storm and was seen Wednesday morning covered in snow, matching the rest of the tree.