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: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L823643
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.