June 2015

June was the month of babies, and while the real summer didn’t kick off until the third week, many flowers, trees, birds, mammals, and insects had produced their offspring already. Deer dropped their fawns, bluebirds raised one brood and started on a second, baby toads left their natal ponds, young coyotes practiced their howls and baby bears were seen.

6/1     Rain, rain, rain. How different this rainy day feels after a month without the clouds. Poppies, peonies and petunias lowered their heads with the heavy drops. All was soggy and wet. Over two inches of rain fell making up for the very dry month of May.

6/2     Red maple seeds helicopter down in great numbers; cottonwood trees let their seeds fly like snowflakes.

6/3     Millbrook: Back in the hardwoods, veery and wood thrush were alternately sending their incredible flute music out to us – compositions so clear as they echoed in the forest. We had to stand under the hemlocks and listen for a full fifteen minutes, even though we had another destination to get to – the performance was that compelling.  — Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson

6/4     While tying up the tomatoes in the garden I was surprised to find a fat caterpillar on the dill plants. The unmistakable color pattern, the choice of food plants, and the time of year said it was a first-brood black swallowtail butterfly larva.

Photo of black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar feasting on dill
Who are you? Photo: Beth Herr

6/6     We first saw fireflies here. We don’t have huge numbers of them but they are consistently present.  — Doris Balant and Anne Balant-Campbell

6/6     We have a nice birdhouse built by Tom Hard that has had numerous occupants. A bluebird landed on top, looked around and decided to peek in. Suddenly a wren came flying out from a nearby tree and landed a body slam on the bluebird worthy of a NY Ranger guard.  — George Baum

6/6     Here are photos of wildflowers that were not familiar to me, so I identified them. I had the most trouble with the “ragged robin.”  — Doris Balant

Photo of Clasping Venus's Looking Glass (Triodanis perfoliata) in bloom
Clasping Venus’s looking glass (Triodanis perfoliata). Photo: Anne Balant-Campbell

Photo of Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) in bloom. Copyright 2012 by Dawn Marsh https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Photo: Dawn Marsh

Photo of ragged robin in bloom. Copyright 2005 by Guido Gerding http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi). Photo: Guido Gerding

6/7     At our Seven Hills lake-front home about 20 feet from the edge of the lake, hundreds of tiny (about 1/4 inch) frogs were hopping around in the grass. What are they doing so far from water? Would a frogologist explain please? This little guy was in the road on my way back from a futile attempt to photograph one in the grass.  — George and Kaye Baum

Photo of a tiny American toad in the palm of a hand
It’s just a baby! Photo: George Baum

Ed. note: Your picture confirms that you found newly emerged American toads. Their eggs were laid last month, and the babies have already morphed from tadpoles to jumping toads.

6/7     A morning bird walk on the blue trail at Fahnestock State Park from Canopus Lake to Beaver Pond featured warblers including chestnut-sided, prairie, yellow, American redstart, black-throated blue, worm-eating, black-throated green, Louisiana waterthrush, and ovenbird – the latter almost too numerous to count. There were also many veeries, wood thrushes, a few hermit thrushes, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and scarlet tanagers.  — Larry Trachtenberg

6/7     I saw several flocks of non-breeding Canada geese heading north. This was the start of the annual north-bound molt migration of one-year-old birds that will molt their feathers anywhere from the Saint Lawrence River Valley up to northern Canada’s sub-Arctic region.  — Sal Cozzolino

6/9     Kayaking in the evening on a quiet Kent lake, I was startled by a close encounter with a nesting loon! It glared at me angrily with beady red eyes! I’d seen a loon in the area, this year and earlier years, but assumed it was in migration. What a surprise! I’ll keep an eye out for a family in the coming weeks.

6/11     I’ve been photographing flowers for many years – though not quite as long as they’ve been around, which apparently is more than a 100 million years. Their arrival on earth and subsequent total domination of the plant world is quite interesting but more about that later. What struck me as I clicked away, capturing scores of different irises, was how I became a little desensitized to their beauty, even though there were tremendous variations in shape, size, color, etc. A kind of habituation to visual splendor. But then I decided to try a different view, a bee’s perspective if you will, by moving in closer and closer. The result is shown below.  — Charles Daviat

Closeup photo of an iris in bloom
Bee’s-eye view of an iris. Photo: Charles Daviat

6/12     I took a break from chores today and sat on a bench in the woods behind my house. I was quiet enough that soon a barred owl landed on a branch quite near me. The handsome bird, with dark banding on its light breast, and black-as-coal eyes, was harassed and heckled by three brave and bold titmice. They even flew at the owl ruffling the head feathers. The owl kept an eye on me and seemed to plead for peace and quiet. Eventually it flew off, the titmice in hot pursuit. Too bad I didn’t have a camera.

6/12     There was a wren (?) nest in the arborvitae next to our deck. We have enjoyed watching a parent bring a mouthful of worms to the nest. The parent will stop on the gutter and look around to see if it is safe to quickly duck into the nest without giving its location away to a predator.  — George and Kaye Baum

Photo of a wren perched on the edge of a roof carrying food for chicks
Is it safe? Will he see me? Photo: George Baum

6/12     Sunny, hot and breezeless today, but was great for a paddle along the Hudson River just 14 miles as the crow flies from Kent. But it felt like a different ecology entirely to cruise along the shore: box elders, pitch pine, hackberry trees and shadbush covered in berries dominated the forest. And chestnut oaks – so common on Kent’s ridgetops – hug the low shore of the river. Wine berries and black raspberries abound.

Photo of wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) and black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)
Don’t forget to leave some for the birds. Photo: Beth Herr

6/13     Twenty-one hikers joined the 8-mile hike around Mount Nimham. It was a fine day for a long hike. The fire tower provided the perfect place for lunch. And from the top, the Freedom Tower in Manhattan was clearly visible.

One of the participants had a special question: they showed a picture taken on the deck behind their house. Little specs of green, eaten oak leaves littered the area. They said it sounded like rain when those little specs fell. The editor guessed it was evidence of caterpillars – likely gypsy moths had infested the tree. They were advised not to worry – the “rain” would stop as soon as the caterpillars morphed to cocoons.

Later that week, local papers featured stories about the “hot spots” of gypsy moth infestations. Oak trees were being defoliated. The editor wondered about her advice. But a week or so later, after rainy days and cool weather, most of the gypsy moth caterpillars were dead. They hung off the trees like upside-down “J’s”. The caterpillars had succumbed to a fungus: Entomophaga maimagia. End of infestation!

Photo of dead gypsy moth caterpillars on a tree trunk
Three cheers for Entomophaga maimagia! Photo: Beth Herr

6/14     Volunteers from CAC helped clean, weed and plant flowers around Arts on the Lake grounds for the upcoming summer concert series. Luckily three days of cool cloudy and rainy weather followed, giving the plants the perfect start. The next step is to design a maintenance-free, biodiversity-supportive, native planting.

6/17     One of the box turtles I have been tracking was found depositing her eggs in a tidy nest. An hour later the female patted and scraped the site so no evidence of the nest could be seen. If all goes well, the babies will hatch underground sometime in September.  — John Foley

Photo of nesting eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) with transmitter attached
Transmitter? What transmitter? I’m just doin’ my thing. Photo: John Foley

6/21     The longest day of summer marked the solstice. June is all about light. For a bit the sun rises higher in the sky in Kent than over the equator. A mere nine hours of daylight in December swells to fifteen hours this month. The twilight is long, and lovely.

Photo of St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) in bloom
St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) blooming on the summer solstice. Photo: Beth Herr

6/23     The first steamy day. Hazy, hot and humid weather sent folks to White Pond to kayak and swim. The parking lot was full.

6/25     Picked black-capped raspberries on the hill for breakfast cereal and on the way to feast I found a spring peeper happily perched on a peony.  — Judy Kelley-Moberg

Photo on a spring peeper perched on the petal of a peony flower
The sun feels good today. Photo: Judy Kelley-Moberg

6/25     We have a catbird nesting near the house.  — Doris Balant and Anne Balant-Campbell

6/27     Beaver-carved art discovered in Fahnestock State Park this morning, with owl feather found nearby. Out at 4:30am for breeding-bird survey and got to hear whip-poor-wills calling in the pre-dawn all along Route 301. Wonderful!  — Anne Swaim

6/29     I saw our probable Cooper’s hawk fly off with a snake in its beak. The snake most probably was a garter – we have a lot of them – and looked to be about 18 inches long.  — Anne Balant-Campbell

Bluebirds had been checking out our nesting box. They’re still around, but a pair of house wrens has taken it over.  — Doris Balant and Anne Balant-Campbell

6/30     While driving on Quaker Hill Road in Pawling I was delighted to watch a fuzzy little bear cub bound across the road in front of me. Mama bear was already across and the little one followed. There on the other side of the road, up in a tree, another cub watched and waited for me to move on. This family clearly wintered nearby. Again, no camera!

6/30     Bats are flying in our yard at night. We are still only seeing the larger brown bats. The small black myotis bats do not seem to have returned after they were killed off by the white-nose fungus disease a few years ago.  — Doris Balant and Anne Balant-Campbell

In July:

  • The Full Thunder Moon was July 3 and a Blue Moon will be on July 31
  • The forest becomes quiet as bird nesting season is over and many birds begin to molt their breeding plumage
  • The KCAC hosts its first annual butterfly count (see details) on July 18 at 10am
  • Pickerel frogs are active in lawns and uplands
  • Insect night chorus begins while meadow crickets chirp all day
  • Field wildflowers abound

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