Nature News

Nature News

Since the last issue, spring continues to unfold, with frog choruses and sightings of various birds stopping on their way farther north.

March 28 — Sunny and crisp day in the 40’s. Adam Thada said there is a loon on the lake, and when I went out, sure enough, there was a solitary bird out there. Then Adam appeared with his tripod and scope, and we were able to see it up close as it swam west. Eventually it reversed direction and we lost sight of it. My first sight of a loon — beautiful markings. The branch out over the water on the northwest corner of the lake attracts turtles as a place to sun themselves.

April 1 — I caught sight of a poison hemlock plant just starting in the first rain garden. It looks a lot like Queen Anne’s Lace but comes up earlier and is deeper green. In recent years it grows rampant by roadsides and ditches, probably the result of other benign plants like chicory and milkweed being eliminated by herbicides. Of course, “benign” is a debatable description. The Grounds crew has since removed the imposter. The lake level is starting to recede, but the pier is still buckled and off limits. Eight to ten bank swallows, “black and white, smaller than barn swallow,” are swooping all over the lake, almost to the water, then up high, finding tiny insects. There are green shoots coming up all over the shoreline recently maintained by burning and cutting small trees, mostly alders. Past the little white bridge, to the left of the walk, there is a circle about 18 inches in diameter of some kind of daisy. It comes up every year and they begin to bloom in late April. I recognize the circle of leaves and will look for the flowers.

April 4 — A dozen or so turtles sunning on that long branch. You can see the shiny domelike shells, different sizes. Then I saw some activity in the water. I kept watching and then saw a small head swimming my way, unaware of my presence. I thought muskrat, then I saw the flat tail: a young beaver.

April 6 — Behind the Villa, there are downed willow trunks out over the water with a lot of freshly gnawed-off wood. Beaver or deer?

April 10 — Sunny, breezy, warm. Many dandelions blooming in
the grass, and turtles out on the branch. The lake level is gradually normalizing despite rain and mist.

April 11 — Watched a muskrat for a long time chewing on a fallen sapling, then swimming west along the shore, then return. I watched for a long time until I could see the tail and be sure it was a muskrat, not a small beaver. A very active flock of black and white warblers were flitting around among the alders, a stopping place on their way further north.

April 16 — Exquisite sunny day. A wild turkey was running along the lakeshore from the first rain garden to the campfire area where I lost it.

April 17 — Easter. The great blue heron was standing in shallow water fishing! My guests and I watched it fishing a long time. I was glad to see it made it back!

April 18 — Woke this morning to everything white with snow.

April 21 — Bright, sunny, warm, snow all gone. Men fishing from a boat along the lake. Turtles out on the branch sunning. A honeybee visits dandelion flower. Past the little white bridge, the circle of daisy flowers is opening up. Dear Marilyn is out picking up sticks and making those convenient piles so easy for the Grounds crew to pick up!

April 23—The magnolia is blooming behind the Villa. In the grass around the Maria Center portico the blue periwinkle flowers and white
violets can be seen.

A grand prize of up to $1000 and teams of any size and age to compete in our family course with prizes to be won throughout. So now your next incredible question may be HOW? How do I sign-up, how and where do I show up, and maybe you don’t want to race but would LOVE to volunteer, how do I let someone know I want to help?

Well again, all excellent questions and it’s your lucky day because I know all those things too! You can sign-up by simply visiting and dropping down to the Donaldson Dash feature through the donate tab, where you can find all the information you need to form a team, register your family, volunteer for the day, become a sponsor, or just come and have some fun in our Dash Village.

That’s right, there is even MORE, if none of these things appeal to you but you would like to come and support our ministries, local vendors, or cheer on the participants. We have a whole village offering music, food trucks, ministry vendors, and so much more. So, if you are looking for some weekend fun in August and are available on the 27th between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. come “dash” with us!