June 2021 Nature Almanac

Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis)
Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) in bloom in my garden.

Here in Philadelphia…

My garden looked absolutely beautiful this May. The native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) has seeded itself all over the place. The plant is a hummingbird plant. I didn’t see any hummingbirds. I have a feeling they were around but I was off doing something else and didn’t see them.

mammals_Female Eastern Gray Squirrel in my garden eating sunflower seeds.
Female Eastern Gray Squirrel in my garden eating sunflower seeds.

The squirrels. Can’t live with them and can’t live without them. They dig, they chew through plastic fencing meant to protect plants, and they uproot newly planted seeds and seedlings.

But I feel sorry for them. They have cut several large canopy trees down in the area. There is less and less habitat for them. This past week, they cut a large oak tree down at the end of my driveway. It had been there since I played outdoors with my childhood friends. I live in the house I grew up in.

When the tree was being cut down, the big violent sounds of the chainsaws hurt my spirit. I had to close my windows and move to a part of the house where I couldn’t hear them. The tree was large, lush, and healthy, but its roots had displaced the sidewalk and were a tripping hazard.

 A big Black Locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) was cut down about eighteen months ago. It was a “Johnny Smoker “ tree. As children, my friends and I would collect the long brown pods and pretend they were cigars.

I grew up in this house, on this street, in a corner of Philadelphia. My world was filled with large Oaks, Sycamores and Sugar Maples. There were birds galore. And the Dawn Chorus serenaded us on spring mornings.

My heart aches for the deeply shaded sidewalks and driveways where we used to play. My spirit mourns the losses.

black swallowtail butterfly feeding on parsley
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar feeding on a parsley plant in my garden.

Butterfly Guide Update

My guide to The Small Butterfly Garden is in the final read through stage. I hope to release it in the next few weeks. I didn’t want a guide with long lists of native plants. I never found books with long lists of plants helpful. So, I focused on the native plants most popular with butterflies. Even though it has a MId-Atlantic-Northeast focus the principles I lay out are blueprints for butterfly gardens in different regions.

 

Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd ed.
Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd edition by Clare Walker Leslie

Did You Know?

I received the third edition of Clare Walker Leslie’s Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd edition this week. I am reading my copy and enjoying the new content. This edition is written entirely by Ms. Walker.  Mr. Charles Roth died awhile ago. This edition is a smaller, more compact size. The layout is a fresh change from the previous editions.

This edition has two parts. Part 1 is “Getting Started” nature journaling. the Four chapters detail why keep a nature journal, setting up your nature journal, an introduction to drawing and keeping an ongoing journal.

Part 2 focuses on “Journaling Explorations”. The sections are “Seasons and Sky”, Flowering and NonFlowering Plants”, “Trees and Leaves” , Birds, Beaks and Feathers”, Mammals, Domestic and Wild”, “Amphibians and Reptiles”, “Insects and Others”, and “Landscapes”.

There are new illustrations from both Ms. Walker and from students who took her nature journaling workshops.

I have all three editions of this book. And each one has something different from the previous ones. I just started reading it but I like it. I would highly recommend it to new nature journal keeping. It has new ideas to keep us veterans happy, too.

Keeping a Nature Journal on Amazon.com (affiliate link – FAQs)

 

Monarch butterfly on Zinnias. Photo by Donna L. Long

Summer’s Key Happenings

Summer Solstice – June 20th at 11:32 p.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. For natural-living people this is summer’s mid-point not a beginning.

Annular (Partial) Eclipse of the Sun

June 10th – visible form northern and northeastern North America beginning at 4:12 am EDT and ending at 9:11 a.m. In an annular eclipse the Moon doesn’t fully cover the Sun.

Summer lasts 93 days until the Autumn Equinox on September 22, 2021.

 

A bountiful strawberry harvest from my cottage garden.
A bountiful strawberry harvest from my garden.

In the Sky This Month

June  2nd – Last Quarter Corn Planting or Flower Moon

June 10th – New Strawberry Moon

June 17th – First Quarter Strawberry Moon

June 24th – Full Strawberry Moon

This month’s moon is the “Strawberry Moon” because indigenous strawberries are ripening now. The fresh strawberries are some of the first fresh fruits since last year. No more dried and stored fruit! We also called it the “Hoeing Moon” because now is the time you should use a hoe (a tool to remove weeds) from the cornfields and vegetable beds. 

“The Moon’s path across the sky changes with the seasons. Full Moons are very High in the sky (at midnight) between November and February (winter) and very low in the sky between May and July” – The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2021, p. 102.

Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

Best Fishing – When the Moon is between New and Full. June 10th – 24th is when this month’s moon is waxing or growing larger.

 

Stars in the Summer Sky

Circumpolar Constellations – from latitude 40 degree north – these constellations are always in the sky: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus, and Camelopaedalis. link to post

Spring/Early Summer Constellations

Leo, Bootes, Virgo, Corvus, Crater, and Cancer are in the night sky.

 

baby robin at bird bath
Robin chick at a birdbath in my garden.

Summer Birding

June is the peak of the nesting season. Birders stop actively searching for birds. This is to allow the birds to rais their young undisturbed. Backyard bird watching is the best activity because the birds come to you. The parents may even reward you with by bringing their young to your feeders and water.

Female Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Female Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) eating black sunflower seeds in my garden.

Observing Animals in Summer

Learn something new about squirrels. In instead of cursing them under my breath, I observe their routes and wonder what they are finding to eat now that so many big canopy trees are gone.

Observe the butterflies in your area. Keep records on when and where you see them. Perhaps you can include their hostplants in your garden. Or add more nectar plants.

Try to identify the pollinating bees and flies that visit your garden. Can’t tell a bee from a fly?  See this post, Bee or Fly?

 

Liatris and Rudbeckia 'Goldstrum' in bloom in my garden.
Liatris and Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’ in bloom in my garden.

Observing Native Plants in Summer

Summer is butterfly season. The Liatris and hyssop are getting ready to bloom in my garden. Now is the time I decide what plants I need to add or take away from my pollinator/butterfly garden.

 

Land and Weather Observations

Sky watching is an enjoyable activity now. We had our first thunderstorm of the season two nights ago, with thunder booms and roars. Thunderstorms follow a pattern. See this post to learn about it.

 

Nature Study and Nature Journaling Activities

Nature in Summer: Table of Contents

The Summer Nature Journal

Nature in Summer: An Overview

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of June.

If you have a comment or suggestion, as always leave a comment below.

Happy Nature Journaling!

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