July 2017

Photo of a large mushroom on the forest floor Photo of small bright red and white mushrooms on dark gree moss The phone is five and a half inches tall.

Photo: Dave Ehnebuske

With ample rain at least once a week and few days above ninety degrees, July was comfortable and pleasant. Frequent downpours assured an abundant crop of mushrooms. Many reports of fungi and slime molds were shared.

7/1     We had seen pictures of it before, but this was our first chance to witness it. We did not want to miss anything, so we did not try to take pictures. A red-tailed hawk was flying high against a beautiful blue sky, its red tail gloriously gleaming in the sunshine. Then, a much smaller bird, an eastern kingbird, began harassing the hawk. The kingbird actually landed on the back of the red-tail’s neck and took a ride for five seconds! This performance was repeated over and over, at least ten times, as the annoyed hawk soared in a circle before they both sailed out of sight. Birding is so much more than making checkmarks on a list.  — Carena Pooth, Herb Thompson

7/3     The milkweed has begun to bloom in the fields, mixing its pink flowers with the yellow of sulfur cinquefoil and St. John’s wort, the violet of Deptford pink and crown vetch, the white-and-yellow of ox-eye daisies and daisy fleabane, and the purple of cow vetch, sometimes blurred under a haze of common bent.  — Nelson D. Johnson

Photo of milkweed in bloom
It must be mid-summer. Photo: Beth Herr

7/3     Went looking for butterflies, where have they all gone? The annual North American Butterfly Association annual counts report extremely low numbers of butterflies.

Photo of a great spangled fritillary
Great spangled fritillaries, Batman! Photo: Doris Balant

7/4     A fine fourth of July – Ice pond was packed…and warm.

7/5     I found these here in Scarsdale while walking Stan. I just look for curled up leaves on Sassafras. Spicebush Swallowtail is their English name although I never find them on Spicebush. The false eyes are visible from many angles to provide the most protection.  — Harry Zirlin

Photo of Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) caterpillars showing their eye spot camouflage
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid! Photo: Harry Zirlin

4/6     At the first of the KCAC sponsored Nature Detectives at the Kent Library, youngsters delighted in forest finds: white Indian Pipes pushed up the leaves, curled millipedes hid under logs, sky-blue bird egg shells and flying squirrel-eaten hickory nuts all told their stories.

Photo of a group of children and instructors inspecting a decaying log in the forest
It’s always surprising what you can see in nature…if you look. Photo: Keerthi

7/7     A morning downpour drenched and quenched the verdant landscape of Kent. Clouds were low, mountain tops hidden. By afternoon a different story unfolded. The clouds lifted as the breeze shifted. Skies cleared, sweeping in a warm, sunny summer afternoon to witness Kent’s wonderful outdoors.

7/8     Guess what I found under the tree that held the red-shouldered hawk’s nest this spring: snake bones! The larger one seems to be from a black snake since there a small bits of black skin still attached. The smaller one may be a garter snake. They are intact except for missing ribs and skull.  — Tore Heskestead

7/8     As a part of the Putnam County Breeding Bird Survey, we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail at Fahnestock State Park for nearly four hours. We counted 52 species. Some we only heard, but we had a look at nearly all of them. Highlights were ten species of warblers, flycatchers (including the Acadian flycatcher – this is a great trail for this species), herons, vireos, thrushes, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole. In addition we came across beavers sunning themselves, and spotted Canada lily and Indian pipe wildflowers.  — Larry Trachtenberg, Charlie Roberto, Kyle Bardwell

7/11     Hummingbirds are truly a present in the garden, coming back every summer to buzz the bee balm, and sometimes even the photographer for meddling in the daily search for nectar. My backyard visitor puts on quite a show, performing magnificent acrobatics, hovering, zooming up, down, forwards and backwards. The secret to getting a good image of these little creatures is being very patient, paying close attention, on purpose, without being overly joyful or judgmental with unpredictable comings and goings. The gift to me was a reminder to be fully present in the garden, being connected to where I was because that’s where I was. Wasn’t thinking about past celebrations or neglected dreams. Nor future plans or worries. A gift indeed.  — Charles Daviat

Photo of a hummingbitd hovering in front of bright pink beebalm blossoms
Yes, it’s called beebalm, but hummingbirds really like it, too! Photo: Charles Daviat

7/12     Thankfully, another afternoon downpour came along to cool things down.

7/17     While on a hike today, I couldn’t help noticing that the recent rain really encouraged the mushrooms. They had popped up everywhere! Two groups really caught my attention. [See the photos at the beginning of this issue.] The big one of the first pair is taller than any I’ve seen in our local woods. Standing just short of eight inches, it was quite impressive! Then a little further along I came across the second, much smaller pair whose red and white color was really remarkable, especially set as they were against their dark green home.  — Dave Ehnebuske

7/18     Two young Cooper’s hawks have been honing their hunting and vocalizing skills lately. All day they call back and forth on the piney hilltop near my house on Horsepound Road cruising with ease through dense forest. Cooper’s hawks have nested nearby for the last 15 years. It is good to hear their strident squawks and know that birds of prey can survive in my neighborhood.

7/20     Babies! First, a mother turkey walks right by me with her two chicks, 10 feet away. Then, while I’m watching a hummingbird 15 feet away and watching a male cardinal watching me 20 feet away, a hawk lands on a branch 25 feet away. Then I got real close to a nest of baby cardinals. Two hungry ones and one egg. The parents were out feeding so I did not disturb them. This place is going to the birds … and I love it!  — Tore Heskestead

Photo of a nest of two cardinal hatchlings. Mouths open, of course.
Taking care of babies is a lot of work. They’re always hungry! Photo: Tore Heskestead

7/23     The early evening sky over Storm King Mountain turned midnight black. From the rumbles across the river we could hear that thunderstorms were not far off. We hurried our hauls with an eye on the sky as a drip, drip, drip began to fall. As has been the case in recent days, the shallows were filled with young-of-the-year – YOY – striped bass 41-43 millimeters [mm] in length. We lounged in the warm river (81° Fahrenheit) as long as we dared before gathering our gear to make our escape, but not before the skies opened up.  — Tom Lake, T.R. Jackson, B.J.Jackson

7/24     The heavy rain overnight, and a cool cloudy morning provided a sigh of relief from the heat. Almost an inch of rain saturated soil and reenergized streams. No doubt mushrooms are soon to follow. It’s been a good summer for moisture and the numbers of slime molds and mushrooms have been steady.

Photo of yellow slime molds growing on decaying wood
Nature’s recyclers can be beautiful. Photo: Beth Herr

7/26     Now that I no longer go birding on the Outer Banks or on Monhegan Island, I’m finding equal pleasure and interest watching birds in the garden, especially at our feeders. In the early breeding weeks, everyone came to feed: finches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, catbirds, even orioles. Then, during nesting time, just casual visitors. But now fledglings know how to get their own food, emptying the feeders almost daily. And the old regulars, chickadees, titmice and an occasional woodpecker, are starting to resume their visits.  — Doris Ballant

7/31     The dawn chorus has ended and the morning has gone so quiet. During the day, young song birds beg for food and young hawks practice screeching. There is an occasional trill from an indigo bunting and the goldfinches twitter in time with their swoops, but the rich sweet song of spring has been silenced. Most birds have begun to molt and prepare new feathers for migration.

7/31     I spied something yellow. Yellow tongues coming out of the earth!  — Lisa Ameijide

Photo of golden spindles (Clavulinopsis fusiformis) mushrooms on forest floor
Like frozen tongues of fire, these golden spindles are aptly named – really golden and really spindle shaped. Photo: Lisa Ameijide

In August

  • Watch the skies for the Full Green Corn Moon, on August 7, the Perseids Meteor Shower on August 11 and12, and more than a bit of the solar eclipse on August 21
  • Listen for cicadas during the day, the katydids at night, and the crickets all the time
  • Notice the roadsides glow golden with sunflowers and goldenrods and grow purple with loosestrife, ironweed, and asters
  • Look at overhead wires for gathering families: shorebird migration begins by the first week, swallows gather and leave mid-month
  • Notice how quickly twilight fades and how soon the reds of Virginia creeper, sumacs, and red maples blush