Kaw Valley Almanac
Note from the Times: The Kaw Valley Almanac is a contributed piece that runs each week. Find more information and older editions at kawvalleyalmanac.com, and follow @KVAlmanac on Twitter.
this week’s Almanac
Kaw Valley Almanac for May 29 – June 4, 2023
Here is the wonderful zebra swallowtail, found in the eastern tier of counties in Kansas, including Douglas County where this photo was taken.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Feb. 13-19, 2023
Super Bowl sunset: The sky tipped us off who it was rooting for by flashing Kansas City’s colors right before the game began. Several flocks of geese honked in their support, too!
Kaw Valley Almanac for Feb. 6-12, 2023
You can identify many more prairie plants than you might suspect by their leaves. Wild indigo, featured in this photo, keeps its leaves on all winter long.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Jan. 30 – Feb. 5, 2023
This bald eagle was photographed hanging out in a cottonwood tree below the Bowersock Dam that is located on the Kaw River in Lawrence. Eagles overwinter up and down the Kaw and Missouri Rivers, and quite a few of them now make their nests in Kansas.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Jan. 23-29, 2023
Even though the snow was short-lived most places, it can record much animal activity that would otherwise go unseen. See if you can figure out which tracks were made by birds and which by mice.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Jan. 16-22, 2023
Even though the ground is damp on the surface in may areas, this swale at the Wakarusa wetlands shows shrunken pools with brown dirt shores, as drought conditions persist. This week’s rains, if you get some, will provide a chance to see fresh animal tracks along the receded muddy shoreline.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Jan. 9-15, 2023
Sycamores are white barked and easy to spot lining creeks, where this water-loving tree likes to grow. Another way to enjoy them is to see their smooth round seed balls that stay on the trees all winter long. They persist into the spring, when they can be pulled off and thrown at a wall, exploding into seeds.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Jan. 2-8, 2023
This milkweed pod had most of its seeds float away to points unknown, save 5 little seeds which, bereft of the fluff, or coma, will likely slip to the ground near this plant, perhaps to grow there.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Dec. 26, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023
Look closely and see some of the thousands of snow geese who flew west along the Kaw River Valley west of Topeka last week ahead of the snows and wind. Geese can read the weather pretty darn well.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Dec. 19-25, 2022
With super cold, snowy, windy conditions predicted this week, be sure to help overwintering songbirds survive by putting out plenty of bird seed. Don’t be surprised if you live in the country if wild turkeys, opossums and even a deer or two show up to grab a little snack to stay warm, too.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Dec. 12-18, 2022
Much of the state has experienced foggy weather of late, without much precipitation.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Dec. 5-11, 2022
Winter is full of unexpected opportunities for observing changes and scenes that you will never see in other seasons. Dress warmly and start looking around you!
Kaw Valley Almanac for Nov. 28 – Dec. 4, 2022
Poison ivy is easy to identify even after the leaves have fallen, distinguishable from other vines by the white berries, which are a much sought after food by many birds. Don’t try them, though: poison ivy berries will give you a rash!
Kaw Valley Almanac for Nov. 21-27, 2022
Milkweed seed is dispersed to the wind by tufts of hair called “floss.” During World War II, more than a million lifejackets were stuffed with the floss for soldiers, and it has also been used for coat insulation.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Nov. 14-20, 2022
These blackbirds are taking off after the sun has slipped below the horizon, having collected in this tree for at least an hour. It’s not uncommon to find flocks gathering in the same tree or stretch of powerline day after day, even year after year.
Kaw Valley Almanac for Nov. 7-13, 2022
Clear skies and trees cleared of their leaves after recent rains make it easier to spot migratory geese and other birds either passing through or leaving. Strong southerly winds may back them up as they wait for north winds to carry them south with less energy expended.