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Deep Portage Blog

Cold, northwest winds out of Canada swept across northern Minnesota within the last week giving us our first two frosts of the fall season! Leaves are changing colors quickly and birds are heading south. However, those pesky mosquitoes still refuse to call it a quits!

Around campus, oak trees are dropping acorns at a rapid pace, prairie grasses are seeding out, deer fawns have lost their spots, a small flock of pine siskins has moved in, and Bass Pond water temps are back into the lower sixties. We have not seen any ticks yet, but rest assured they should be right around the corner this time of year.

Looking at the long term forecast, it seems Deep Portage is heading into a beautiful fall weather pattern with highs in the sixties and lows in the forties. Who can complain about that?! Deep Portage is having a Fall Colors Tower Hike on October 3, please come check it out!

Hunting seasons for ruffed grouse and bow-hunting for white-tail deer both open on Saturday, September 19th. Please be mindful of hunters who use the reserve for hunting It wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw on an article or bright blaze orange clothing. No hunting is allowed around the main campus area and trails. See map for details.

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Finally, it has rained! It has been so dry, even our prairie plants have been complaining! Native prairie plants are drought tolerant (due to deep root networks) but have been showing signs of wilting and stress for the past two weeks. Deep Portage installed a native prairie on campus 20 years ago. It has gave way to its own micro-habitat amongst the tall pines and dense hardwood stands that surround campus.

Native prairies usually give off new blooms every other week of so, but July is always the most colorful month. Prairie flowers blooming in our prairie at the moment are: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, yarrow, hoary vervain, black-eye Susan, purple prairie clover, white prairie clover, boneset, and wild bergamot. Different late summer favorites like goldenrods and blazing stars are putting all their energy into flowering within the next few weeks. Come check out the prairie, its full of color and full of the wonderful aroma of wild bergamot!

July public day programming is underway as well. Check out the full schedule here: . If you have a bigger family/household group that would like a private session, give us a call at 218-682-2325 (ask for Lindsay or Neal) for more info!

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High temps in the upper 80s (two days in the 90s!), loud thunderstorms, swarms of mosquitos, and pestering deer flies have kicked off the summer time buzz at Deep Portage. The forest is alive with young animals! White-tail deer fawns have been spotted around campus, an adult porcupine with its porcupette were taking a stroll down the driveway, and grouse and turkey broods are staying close behind their mothers. While these animals can be cute to look at, remember to give them space and respect. White-tail deer mothers will leave their fawns for hours at a time, while the fawn lays still in the grass. If you come across a lonely fawn, let it be! Its mother will be back shortly.

The prairie scape around campus has been taking shape with the increasing heat. New to bloom in the prairie this week is large beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus). Inside the flower are dark purple stripes that act as a runway for its pollinators; these are called nectar guides. We have also noticed at large amount of blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) blooming along many Cass county ponds and wetlands. Keep an eye out for more lake shore and prairie plants to bloom in the coming weeks.

On May 30th and June 6th, Deep Portage staff members and friends went on birding “Big Days.” A Big Day is an event where birders search for as many birds as they can find in one day. Each time, we spent a couple of hours at Deep Portage then took off into different parts of Cass county. The highlights for both trips were: roughly 95 species each day, 48 species at DP on June 6, a rare Ruddy Turnstone at Sugar Point beach on Leech Lake May 30th, and Semipalmated Plover and Semipalmated Sandpipers at Longville sewer ponds June 6th. You can check out the checklists on the DPLC eBird hotspot website:

The buildings remain closed due to COVID-19 but our trails are still open to use, so please come out for a hike and explore! We are starting to plan for summer public programming opportunities to stay tuned for those. The driveway gate will be closing at 4:30 pm each day. You can still walk the trails around campus after it is closed, but no parking beyond the gate after 430pm.

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