- May 29, 2012 at 11:29 am
I've been a student naturalist since my freshman year. I didn't realize that I was signing up to write the last Arb notes of the term several weeks ago when I picked this date. It seems fitting, though, that I, rather than one of the younger naturalists, should get to have the last word of the year. It also gives me an opportunity to reflect on how the Arb, and my perceptions of the Arb, have changed over the last four years.
- May 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm
On a bright and surprisingly warm Saturday morning, 19 intrepid adventurers gathered at the Arb Office at 6am to partake in the decade-long tradition of the Annual Arboretum Bird Count. Initiated in 2000, this rite seeks to record the populations of the long-term and the migratory birds that frequent the Arb. At 17 spots throughout the Arb, the volunteers recorded the species they saw or heard in a designated 2-minute span. Over the years, the number of species recorded has ranged from 58 to 73 species.
- May 15, 2012 at 11:08 am
Last week Arb Naturalists had the pleasure of walking Spring Creek in search of river mussels. If you've only ever encountered the sea dwelling mussels found on your local menu, you might consider taking to the rivers in search of these magnificent creatures. It might surprise you but these animals have some adaptations as innovative as some of our own.
- May 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Last week, Arb Manager Matt Elbert found a rare Wood Turtle basking on a sandbar in the Lower Arb. These reclusive turtles are observed only once or twice each year in the Arb and are considered a “threatened” species in Minnesota. As its scientific name, Glyptemys insculpta, implies, Wood Turtles have ornately patterned shells that resemble wooden engravings and distinguish them from the more common Painted Turtles also found in the Arb.
- May 1, 2012 at 11:13 am
Mreakkk mreakkk. If you wander near Kettle Hole Marsh, it is nearly impossible to avoid the enveloping the racket of the chorus frogs. The western chorus frog is the smallest frog species in Minnesota, but you wouldn’t know that from their boisterous noise-making! They aren’t the only frogs in the Arb, there are gray tree frogs, Cope’s grey tree frogs, bullfrogs, green frogs, and the northern leopard frogs.
- April 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm
While running, jogging, or walking through the pine plantation in the northern tip of the arb, one might not realize the obstacle it poses to restoration. Covering 30 acres, the dense pine forest holds quite a bit of wood. The pines aren’t native to this part of Minnesota. They occupy land that should bear oak forests or prairie. They shade out native plants, they spread pine trees to neighboring savannas, and prevent managers from balancing these nearby plots with prescribed burns. They’re also starting to die. As the pine population slowly turns to a stand of dry snags the risk of them snapping in a windstorm increases, making upkeep more time consuming and costly. In short it's time for the pines to go.
- April 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm
All non-freshman will remember the abomination that was last year’s springtermnospring. This spring term has been far more comfortable, with temperatures over the last month averaging fifteen degrees warmer than during the same time period of 2011. Swimming in the Cannon, barbequing, disc golf, and half-heartedly doing homework on the bald spot are worthy fair weather pursuits, but if you want to have some real fun, go for a walk in the Arb and enjoy looking at some spring ephemerals.
- April 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm
Nearly every morning and evening during April and May, the Arb plays host to an elaborate spectacle as the American Woodcock performs its annual rendition of the “sky dance.” With stubby legs, a plump body and a long, unwieldy bill that is used to probe the soil for worms, this clumsy-looking bird hardly looks the part of a celebrated dancer. Nevertheless, when trying to attract a mate, male woodcocks put on quite a show.
- March 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Winter often brings with it to the arboretum a sense of calm, stillness, and tranquility. The snow has fallen, the trees lay bare, and often the only noticeable sound is the wind whipping over the frosted prairies. The frequent chirping of birds is absent as the prairie longs for their song. But even in its silence the arboretum is deceiving. After all, not all birds fly south.
- February 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm
Have you ever stood in the prairie in the Lower Arb and imagined that you were seeing the land before European settlement, that it stretched in all directions, and that if you walked over the next hill, you might see a herd of bison?
- February 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm
Two weeks ago, when the Arb naturalists were joined by retired Arb Manager Myles Bakke for a winter turkey-tracking outing, I also, for the first time, bore witness to some remodeling undertaken by a family of beavers.
- February 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm
Not everyone thinks of it while walking or jogging through the Arb, but managing 880 acres of restored land takes a lot of dedicated work. Each Fall and Spring 40 students are employed by the Arb, and the work they do covers just about everything.