May 2021 Nature Almanac

Coral Bells (Heuchera species)
Coral Bells (Heuchera species) blooming in my garden.

Here in Philadelphia…

Happy Beltane and the natural calendar’s first day of summer!

The Columbines, Golden Alexanders, Creeping Phlox, and Coral Bells are in full bloom. The plants have grown so much in the last two weeks. I am still working on filling in the pollinator flower bed. I added Lavender Hyssop. It’s another butterfly, hummingbirds, and pollinator attractor. I am adding more hummingbirds plants just in case they return to my garden. I didn’t see any in my garden in 2020.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera) in bloom in my garden.

I am finishing up the first draft of my guide to butterfly gardening in a small garden. I focus on the plant families that deliver the most butterfly host plant and nectar bang for the buck. I think if you start with a basic collection of plants that provide the bulk of your butterfly needs, then you can add those few plants that round out your garden plan. I’m aiming for a late May release.

I spent a morning weeding my local environmental center’s native plant garden with other volunteer weeders. Chickweed and Incised Fumewort (Corydalis incisa) were my targets. I had never seen Fumewort before. I’m used to Corydalis with yellow flowers, this one has purple flowers.

The Maryland Invasive Species Council named this plant, “Invader of the Month” in May 2017. https://mdinvasives.org/iotm/may-2017/.  Incised Fumewort looks like Bleeding Heart, with similar shaped leaves. No one planted this plant in the environmental center’s native plant garden. Sigh. The fight continues. No photo of this plant, I was way too busy trying to get rid of it. Click the link above to see a photo.

Spring Birding

May is the peak period of spring migration of land birds. I’ll have to bird alone or with a masked friend or two. Or another fully vaccinate person. My local Audubon chapter isn’t holding any field trips, nor are the local environmental centers. Maybe by fall, we’ll be birding in groups again.

 

Sunrise
Watching the sunrise and listening to the birds sing (Dawn Chorus)

Did You Know…

…that in the breeding season male birds sing at dawn, called the Dawn Chorus? “The birds with the larger with the larger eyes, and can see better in the first dim lights; thus robins sing before house sparrows.” (The Nature Handbook by Ernest Williams, Jr., section 6.7 – Amazon affiliate link)

I woke up at 4 a.m. yesterday morning. Being awake so early, I had hoped to hear the dawn chorus. The birds were singing as the sun rose, but there weren’t nearly the number of birds there were ten years ago. Ten years ago it was like listening to a performance at the Academy of Music here in Philadelphia. So many trees are gone. No place to nest. No nesting and breeding birds.

See also Birding by Ear: Learning Birds Calls and Songs

 

Spring and Early Summer Key Happenings

Spring Equinox – March 20, 2021 at 5:37 a.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. On the natural calendar, this is the mid-point of Spring.

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.

Spring lasts 92 days, 19 hours until the Summer Solstice

 

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)
Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) in bloom in my garden.

In the Sky This Month:

May 3rd – Last Quarter Pink Moon

May 11th – New Corn Planting Moon or Flower Moon.

May 19th – Firs Quarter Corn Planting Moon or Flower Moon

May 26th – Full Corn Planting Moon or Flower Moon

This month’s moon is the “Corn Planting Moon” because this is the time to plant corn. It’s also called the “Flower Moon” because so many flowers bloom and filled the woodlands and fields. The woodland flowers are blooming before the trees fully leaf out and shade the woodland or forest floor.

Algonquin Moon Names (with video)

“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. May 11th – 26th is when this month’s moon is waxing or growing larger.

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

Stars in the Spring 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 Constellations

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

Meteor Shower in the Sky – The Eta Aquarid Showers are in in the predawn originating in the southeastern portion of the sky. May 4th is the date for the maximum number of meteors of about 10 per hour. The best viewing is in a dark sky with little light pollution. The meteors are associated with is Halley’s Comet.

Meteors are fast, moving falling stars. Comets are slow-moving balls of ice and dust.

Nature Study and Nature Journaling Activities

Nature in Spring: A Table of Contents

Spring Nature Journal and Prompts

Nature in Summer: An Overview 

Summer Nature Journal Prompts

Citizen Science Events to take part In

Project Budburst (year-round)

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

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

Happy Nature Journaling!

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