Summer sizzles with things to do

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — Wildlife is thriving during this soon to be summer season. Young goslings from several nests gathered together at Sand Lake to feed on grasses, bugs and when swimming, found additional insects at the water’s surface. The geese parents keep a watchful eye on any threat to their young. As for plentiful cottontail rabbits, their young will soon become more visible after they leave the shallow ground hollowed out nest that the female rabbit excavated with her feet. The adult rabbit also has large eyes to easily spot any threat to itself or the young rabbits she is caring for in her secret secluded nest.

Summer season will officially arrive on June 21. Summer marks that celestial position of Earth in its orbit around the sun whereby the northern hemisphere has its axis tilted as far toward the sun as it will be all year.

The axial tilt is approximately at an angle to the plane of orbit of 23.44 degrees. Sunlight is striking the northern hemisphere at its most direct angles at this time. Slowly and inevitably our day lengths will begin to shorten by the end of the month, and continue to shorten all the way until Dec. 21.

Us humans at 42 degrees north latitude notice that summertime means warm air temperatures, maybe even intermixed with periods of hot air. Rainfall events may rumble through darkening skies every so often.

Yes, the wind will blow hard, or not, and outside activities will have increased to a new threshold. We could call summer the time to get outside as often as possible to enjoy special times with family and friends or taking summer strolls around area lakes, forest or prairie trails, will be additional summer activities. Or to go fishing.

Plan a family vacation to a unique destination, or just read a book while lounging in a lawn chair.


June happenings, according to our Iowa history, point to these tidbits of data. First off, the line is the data about day lengths.

June 1, we observed sunrises at 5:37 a.m. As per usual, on June 30, sunrise will also be at 5:37 am, not much change. Only three minutes difference happened on June 21, summer’s first day with sunrise at 5:34 a.m. Sunset has a similar minor change from the first of the month watching the sun set at 8:39 p.m. and by June 30, it sets at 8:50 p.m.

Sunset on June 21 will be at 8:49 p.m. Day length was 15 hours and 1 minute on the first, and by the end of June, it will be 15 hours 13 minutes.

Astronomers note that the longest day lengths are 15 hours and 15 minutes from June 19-25. Just for fun, People living in Fairbanks, Alaska, on June 21 will see the sun rising at 2:57 in the morning and setting at 48 minutes after 12 “midnight” for a day length of 21 hours and 50 minutes.

These long time frames are typical of a spherical shaped earth, northern hemisphere, as one travels farther and farther north, and at the Arctic Circle is that latitude where the summer sun never really sets at all, just grazing the horizon line for a few moments before ascending again.

Back in Iowa, June has these historical notes to note. On June 16, 1673, as Native Americans watched from the western bluffs high above the Mississippi River, explorers Marquette and Joliet paddled their canoe into the Mississippi River across from what we now call Pike’s Peak. A diorama display at the natural history museum at the University of Iowa depicts this scene. Explorers were slowly learning what kind of lands were west of the Mississippi River.

June 1, 1833, 160 years later, the Iowa Territory was officially opened for settlement. What was found across Iowa was a land rich with tall prairie grasses (85 percent), forested areas (13 percent), primarily in hilly terrain or along river courses, and water (2 percent).

Those waters were in streams and rivers, prairie pothole shallow depressions left over from Iowa’s long glacial history, and many large glacially dug lakes of northern and northwest Iowa. The book titled “A Country So Full of Game” by James Dinsmore details how the westward exploration/settlement of Iowa advanced from its eastern counties all the way to the Missouri River. The words of Dinsmore’s book help paint a word picture of Iowa’s natural heritage uses and abuses.

Other June events, just like clockwork, will keep on happening according to natural cycles. Early June will see water temperatures warmed to just the right amount for channel catfish and largemouth bass to spawn.

Other fishes will find similar cycles to their liking. June 8 is a good point to note the hatching of eggs from wild turkeys and Bobwhite quail. Turtles of several species will be digging holes in special soils where the females will lay a clutch of eggs.

Then she will cover them with the same soil she excavated, and leave. In due time, those eggs will use warming soil temperatures to incubate that new generation.

Speaking of new generations, Canada Geese goslings, by the end of June, will be at a vulnerable stage. They are not yet flying, but are close to adult size.

For sure their legs and feet are fully grown, and at this time, wildlife biologists will begin during late June a capture program to leg band an allotted amount of young geese. Green Castle is one site where this capture and leg banding will take place.

With enough notice, the public can come out to attend, to watch, and to help with the handling of the geese. Hint: wear old clothes if you plan to assist in handling the geese.

June weather can be mild or a bit wild. We do live in an area where strong winds and even tornado storms may develop. A strong super cell thunderstorm on June 14, 1998 near Atlantic dumped an incredible 13.18 inches of rain in a single storm! And on June 13, 2008, the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids flooded to a new record, shattering previous floods of 1851 and 1929.

Wet years with flooding events are interspersed with years of moderate rains or other years of drought-like conditions. These natural cycles come and go and all we humans can do is adapt. Record drought years were in 1977 and 11 years later in 1988. There is a close correlation

with sunspot cycles to help explain this, as just one major factor but not the only influence.

The Iowa River’s record flood in Marshall County happened on July 2, 2014 with a peak height of 22.25 feet and a flow rate of 24,500 cubic feet per second. Other notable floods of the Iowa River took place in 1993, 2008 and 2013.

Many more moderate or low level flood events can be found in the historical data.


Here is a conclusion to note about conversations you and others may have regarding any weather predictions.

“There is little correlation between winter weather (temperature or precipitation) and summer weather. This is consistent with the view that, beyond seasonal tendencies, weather is very difficult to predict over time horizons longer than a few weeks.”

So said officials at the University of Illinois after conducting an analysis for Illinois and Iowa to see if there was any relationship between winter temperatures and the following summer average temperatures with respect to corn yield.


June 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. lunch hour time frame, you can attend a free program at the Grimes Farm and Conservation Center. The title of the presentation will be “Nuts for Trees.” The guest speaker will be Jeff Jensen, a Trees Forever Director of Community Programs. He will talk about nut trees and specifically the Iowa Hazelnut Project.

Do call the MCCB in advance at 641-752-5490 or email them at mccb@marshallcountyia.gov before June 14. Have fun learning why Jeff considers “the future of Iowa is nuts!”


“Tomorrow is the most perfect thing. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself into our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” — John Wayne, Actor.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today