By Boak Wiesner
“Why do Snowdrops blossom first?” I was asked upon entering the Arb on the most recent warm day. The only answer, really, is that those that didn’t blossom now didn’t survive, that is, evolution has caused some plants to bloom early in the yearly cycle of things, and other plants to bloom last. There’s only so many pollinators like bees to go ‘round, so to spread out their blossoming lets a lot of plants get pollinated. Other plants use the wind, like these Cattails.
To look for relationships between factors and phenomena is scientific thinking. As I walked, I wondered: why is the area along the boardwalk devoid of calling frogs, while the east side of the same wetland has them in abundance? Is the factor the temperature of the water? Its pH? That the east side is closer to woods? If nothing else, some time for quiet thought let me not appear too threatening to a pair of Mallards who must be nesting close by.
Male frogs are calling now to attract mates. Chorus Frogs have rapid, staccato calls while Woodies sound like small ducks quacking. I even heard a Cricket Frog, which sounds like someone hitting the flat of a quarter with another quarter.
Chorus Frogs were the most common animal apparent today, auditorily, at least, but not easily seen. For a long while I sat by the edge of one of the many wetlands that dot the grounds during these days of melting looking through binoculars and didn’t see nary a one. Their cousins the Wood Frogs were also doing their thing. The small “perched” wetland up the hill from Wood Duck Pond was chock full of both species.
The major happening this week, nature-wise, is a total lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning. The cold, high pressure that’s moved in will keep the skies clear so visibility should be outstanding. Peak time will be at 2:46 a.m. Bundle up!
Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist volunteer.