June 2017

Three photos of turtles: Snapper, Painted and Wood

Photo of a snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Photo of a painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) laying eggs Photo of a wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

It might not look like it, but we’re very busy right now. Photo: Doris Balant

6/1     This shy guy (a box turtle) paid me a visit yesterday. After his photo shoot, he – the indentation on his plastron indicates he’ a male – headed into the shade of the forest in search of a mate.  — Tore Heskestead

It’s late spring, so I’m on a quest. Photo: Tore Heskestead

6/2     While weeding the garden, a flutter nearby led to a nearby shrub. Tucked away in the foliage was a little bird nest will sky-blue eggs. After a while, momma bird returned and settled in. Soon there will be a family of chipping sparrows right outside my door.

6/3     While on a hike today to make a few repairs to the Hawk Rock trail system’s trail markers, I came across the first open mountain laurel blossoms I’ve seen this year. As you can see, there are many more to come. In the coming couple of weeks, our forests will be spangled with these lovely decorations.  — Dave Ehnebuske

Photo of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) early in its annual blooming cycle
An annual show that’s not to be missed!. Photo: Dave Ehnebuske

6/4     The local roads have been lined with dame’s rocket, a pretty invader from Eurasia. Its variation in flower color is thought to arise mostly from one or two genes, with dominant forms producing white flowers and recessive ones producing purple flowers.  — Nelson D. Johnson

6/6     Two days of dismal weather, cool and cloudy with rain off and on. Perfect weather for slugs, salamanders and poison ivy. But not so great for warm weather seedlings such as cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. Drew, of Claire’s nursery, said many folks complained of limp, rotting, mushy zinnias.

Photo of a misty pond
“What nice weather!” said the salamander to the slug. Photo: Beth Herr

6/6     It is 65° and sunny in Alaska today. Not fake news, look it up!  — George Baum

6/7     As I arrived home this evening with the humidity around 60% and the temperature unseasonably warm at 81°F, there was a wonderfully loud and raucous chorus of gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) in the neighborhood. According to The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State, male gray treefrogs call between 500-15,000 times per hour, expending so much energy for their small bodies that they often lose weight during the breeding season and need to skip the chorus every few nights to resuscitate themselves. This helps to explain the incredible sounds of trills that were carried across the summery night air.  — Laura Heady

Ed. note: Gray treefrogs are only gray sometimes. They can change from bright green to dark brown depending on temperature, light, or to match to bark of the tree they are resting on. I found one plastered to my soggy window and all I could see was a white belly.

I say it’s a window, and I’m sticking to it. Photo: Beth Herr

6/9     This red-shouldered hawk seems to visit our yard by Lake Tibet quite often. Seen here in the evening resting on a wire.  — Megan Joyce

Photo of a red-shouldered hawk perched on a wire
We’re lucky to have neighbors like this. Photo: Megan Joyce

6/10     “Three Turtle Day.” I saw a painted, a snapping and a wood turtle in the yard today. The snapper laid her eggs on the front lawn; we had to keep the dog in to prevent a nose-to-nose encounter.  — Doris Ballant

6/11     Hot and sunny. The lakes of Kent were the coolest places in town. The White Pond parking area overflowed, so twenty or more cars parked on the road. Boaters, sunbathers, swimmers, and floaters were surprised by the cool temperature of the water. But ah, what a relief it was.

6/11     The air temperature reached 95°F today, tying the record high for the date.  — National Weather Service

6/13     For three days they’ve been flying in low and crawling onto my arms, onto plants and on the ground. Tonight, they are flying up 20′, 30′, 35′ high. Flashing and courting. Lightning bugs! Fireflies! Summer is here!  — Steve Miller

6/13     I found a box turtle in my greenhouse. Somehow it got through the netting. This time it’s a female, perhaps looking for a mate or a place to lay her eggs. There is no indentation in the plastron (bottom shell). Males have them, females don’t. I put her on a shallow shelf in my greenhouse pond, not knowing how long she had been in the greenhouse and whether she might be in need of water (they are land turtles). She drank and, within two minutes, pooped. Then back to Mother Nature’s realm to find her future.  — Tore Heskestead

6/13     Day three of a heat wave, with temperature above ninety by noon. The humidity crept up with the thermometer. Gray treefrogs sang “rain, rain,” and sure enough two thunderstorms barreled through with rumbles and rain. Though the rain increased the humidity, it did cool things down by fifteen degrees.

6/14     I saw a coyote in the swamp – only my second in the last 13 years! I even got it on video which I posted to FB, if you’d like to see. Also saw a green heron and water snake along with the usual cast of characters!  — Diana Lee

6/14     I biked along Harlem Valley Rail Trail past hay fields and thickets, shady streambanks and sunny meadows. The bird song changed with the meters. Phoebes and catbirds, robins and orioles, yellow warblers and vireos. The sequence repeated over and over as the bike passed through different territories.

6/14     A new butterfly visited my garden flowers today.

Photo of an American snout butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) on pale purple flowers
An American snout butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) visits the garden. Photo: Doris Balant

6/15     Our driveway has billions of tiny black spheres and many curled up leaves. My wife suggested they were droppings from the many caterpillars that infested our trees. I sprayed and most have disappeared. Have any thoughts on this?  — George Baum

Ed note: Sounds like caterpillar frass falling; do you have a lot of oaks? It may just be a localized gypsy moth infestation. They should be finished and cocooning. And it’s early enough that new leaves will come out. It does stress the trees though. Any pics of caterpillars?

6/16     Here’s a picture of one of them.  — George Baum

Photo of gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) caterpillar on a leaf
A very hungry caterpillar. Photo: George Baum

Ed. note: Yep, a gypsy moth caterpillar.

6/16     A new high count of five purple martins were exploring the new nesting structure at Croton Point. The purple martin is the largest North American swallow. Here’s hoping they nest. This would be the only purple martin colony in Westchester County since the only other known colony, in Rye, lost its housing to Hurricane Sandy.  — Anne Swaim

6/16     Gloomy and cool, two lines of showers marched across Kent today but the rain gauge just showed trace amounts. Contrasting with the gloom, goldfinches – brilliant yellow with breeding plumage – brought color to the yard.

6/18     Most of the life (snails, water plants, fish, etc.) has bounced back well after the year-long construction project at White Pond. Not completely, though: snails and sunnies seem fewer, some shore trees dried up and partially died. Laurels, for example, still flowered though some had no leaves. The water is very clear, but small floating globs of algae are starting to appear. When I circled the pond late in the day, I didn’t see any turtles or muskrats. So far, the ensnaring water plants are far from the surface. Despite all the rain, water level is 2-3 inches below overflowing the dam outlet.  — Dod Chahroudi

Photo of lush new growth along the shores of White Pond
Coming back! But still a way to go. Photo: Dod Chahroudi

6/19     Two thunderboomers crashed through town, one 20-minute downpour left almost an inch of water in the rain gauge. It wasn’t hot, but at 100% humidity, it was an uncomfortable day. The frogs loved it; gray treefrogs sang all day and by dark the chorus was deafening. Turtles liked it too. Humid, warm weather with passing showers means good egg laying conditions. Reports are coming in, albeit two weeks later than usual, with many pictures of eggs and turtles.

6/20     It was a glorious day with fluffy white clouds sailing on westerly winds across a brilliant blue sky. The air was perfumed with wild rose and honeysuckle; butterflies skipped across gardens filled with colorful blossoms; and the sunlit greens glowed in the afternoon sun. Night was just as beautiful after a lingering twilight with fireflies adding sparkle and treefrogs providing accompaniment. A rare and delightful day in June.

6/21     We had our Saw Mill River Audubon Summer Solstice walk tonight atop the Croton Point landfill grasslands. Our walk offered not only spotting-scope viewing of three moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn, but interesting observations of three grassland birds singing at dusk: grasshopper sparrows, eastern meadowlark, and bobolinks. Five purple martins continued to visit and sing from the perches of their new martin nesting structure.  — Anne Swaim

6/30     The more I drive up and down the Route 684-Hutchinson River Parkway corridor, the more new osprey nests I see. It seems that just about every cell tower has a nest on it. I counted at least four. It’s great to see these birds so successful in such a heavily trafficked area.  — Rick Stafford

In July

  • In the forest, watch for white Indian pipes and mushrooms after rain
  • In the pond, look for flowers of aquatic plants
  • In the sky, don’t miss the Full Thunder Moon on the July 9
  • In the meadow, see chickory and queen anne’s lace in bloom
  • In the heat of sunny days, listen for the first cicada trills and the beginning of 24-hour cricket song, and notice how the birds go quiet