Photo by Corey Husic

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And as we transition into summer...

Many of us look forward to the seasonal changes that signal spring's arrival and it is, of course, hard to miss the glorious color display that we see in fall with the leaves changing color. But now that the hot weather has hit eastern Pennsylvania, there are many things to be on the lookout for.
Over the past few weeks, I have seen goslings ranging in size from small yellow fuzzy balls to the awkward gray-brown “teenagers”.  You may have noticed that some birds are quieter now – indicating that they may be incubating eggs or taking care of young.  You should start to notice other species of baby birds soon.
We haven’t seen or heard Empidonax flycatchers this spring.  Where are they this year?  Earlier this week (5/27), we heard the first Veery calls along Lower Smith Gap Road.
A lot of different butterflies have appeared – various skippers and the wood satyr; swallowtails have been around for a few weeks.  Yesterday (5/28) we saw the first adult monarchs in Kunkletown.

Turtles are sunning themselves along pond edges, we have seen snapping turtles (and other species) crossing roads, and yesterday, we saw a box turtle in the woods on Chestnut Ridge in Kunkletown. 

Today we heard the first cicada – apparently the periodic type, not the annual species common to the area (Swamp and Dog-day).  You can see the emergence of the periodic cicadas across the country at

Tibicen tibicen (Swamp cicada)
Today, we also saw the first blooms of Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium) and False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) and a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe).

Be on the lookout for the first fireflies!

From Judy in Center Valley along Saucon Creek:


The invasive Star of Bethlehem has been in bloom since last week and the invasive Dames Rocket is now sprinkled throughout the woodlot in full bloom. The Honeylocust trees are plentiful in this area and they are also in bloom. Our young Fringetrees are also showing off nicely.

What a scolding I got today when I tried to do some weeding. The Virginia Creeper that trails on our rail fence has a robin nesting in the shelter of the vine with four nice blue eggs in the nest. The Redbud tree is hosting a caterpillar and I think I noticed its presence soon after it shed the skin it had outgrown. Additionally, a family of fox is in residence along the creek and the adults are hunting regularly with success in my yard.  (In Kunkletown, we have been seeing a red fox on a pretty regular basis as well and I have seen several driving to Bethlehem in the farm fields lately.)


The four robin eggs that were observed last week in the nest under the Virginia creeper vine on our fencepost were all gone by Wednesday of this week. The predator could have been the squirrels, blue jays or even the snake.

Today predation was playing out on a smaller scale, as the lady bug larva enjoyed an aphid feast on the milkweed. I did not see the aphids last week when I inspected the plant, so the population explosion took place this week.

One of our resident ground hogs did the annual borrow spring cleaning earlier in the week. I remember last year about the same time seeing all the fresh dirt piled on the grass. Makes me think the groundhog is possibly Pennsylvania Dutch! I put our Christmas wreath around one hole every year to remind me not to step into the hole in spring. I count on the ground hog's appetite for dandelion flowers as part of our dandelion control - generally a good partnership, until more tasty plants emerge.

As always, Judy, thanks for the wonderful pictures and observations.

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