May 2022 Nature Almanac

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) blooming in my garden.

Here in Philadelphia…

May 1 is by Earth’s Calendar is the beginning of summer. An it usually feels like it. Many peoples call this time by many names, but they all mean the same – summer begins, and planting begins in earnest.

May is the Flower Moon when wildflowers bloom all over. This is an example from the Earth’s natural calendar. When the flowers bloom in profusion, it is time to plant the warm weather crops and all danger of frost is past. On the Celtic calendar May 1st is Beltane.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) drumming.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) drumming and calling.

Update on Avian Flu

Avian Flu is back and spreading across North America. It has primarily affected industrial poultry flocks, but “wild” birds have also been affected. Here is an article on the Audubon Society’s website for a update.

North American Birds Face Their Own Pandemic With Latest Bout of Avian Flu 

Orange Sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) Whites and Sulphurs (Pierids) Family. Photo by Donna L. Long.
Orange Sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) Family. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Did You Know?

When butterflies engauge in Ascending Flight that it signals intense mating activity? I always wondered what butterflies were doing when you saw tow or more butterflies fly around each other as they ascended higher into the sky. I assumed it was a male butterfly attempts to coax a female butterfly to mate with him. I was right., that is exactly what is happening.

The female butterfly was mostly flying close to the ground looking for a place to lay her eggs. The male happens upon her and she not interested. He pursues her anyway. A female scenario among Earth’s species everywhere.

The more unreceptive the female is the more the male pursues, the higher she flies. Sometimes they fly so high in the sky, we can’t see they.

Ascending flight happens among the males of some species as they compete for territory. Males of teritorial butterfly species defend their territory by chasing off male intruders. These males also will chase each other in an ascending flight pattern.

Ascending flight is often seen among Sulphur butterflies in my area. Now you know.

Williams, Ernest H. The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 133.

My nature journal page layout sketch #1
My nature journal page layout sketch #1

The Nature Almanac

What to Observe, Draw, and Photograph Right Now

Nature Journal Page Layout: Try a New Technique

Butterflies. The cool of summer has given way to the warm days of May. Many butterflies should be flying now.

Birds. May is the height of the spring migration of land birds.

Here in the Delaware Valley, Warblers migrate in large numbers the first two weeks in May. In Late May the time of a Delaware Bay shorebird migration spectacular.

Follow the links to the hot spot websites.

Hot spots: John Heinz NWR at Tinicum, Carpenters Woods in Philadelphia, Delaware Bay beach area such as Reeds Beach, NJ in Cape May (for Shorebird Spectacular)

Arctic terns are arriving in the north after wintering in southern oceans.

Insects. The spiders, bees, and flies have awoken from winter hibernation. Now is a good time to plant plants to attract pollinators for our gardens.

Spring Blooming Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Early Spring Blooming Plants to Attract Bumble Bees

Golden Alexanders: Pollinator Magnet, Black Swallowtail Host Plant

Foraging Foods – Berries are ripening look out for blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries in the days to come. Tubers and roots can be dug. And the fishing is good with spawning fish returning from the oceans to their breeding grounds in lakes, rivers, and streams.

Season Dates

Spring Equinox – March 20, 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere. On the natural calendar this is the midpoint of Spring.

Summer Solstice June 21 at 5:14 a.m. EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. For natural-living people this is summer’s midpoint the beginning.
Spring last 92 days, 19 hours from Spring Equinox until the the Summer Solstice.

In the Sky This Month

This month’s moon is called the Flower Moon or Planting Moon is my area. The name “Flower” refers to the explosion of flowers that bloom during this moon. The “Planting” moon refers to the planting of the warm season crops of corn, squash, beans, and more.

First Quarter  Flower Moon or Planting Moon- May 8th

Full Flower or Planting Moon – May 16th

Last Quarter Flower or Planting Moon – May 22nd

New Strawberry Moon  – May 3oth – strawberries are ripe during this moon

  • New moon always rises near sunrise
  • First Quarter near noon
  • Full Moon always rises near sunset
  • Winter Full Moons are high in the sky
  • Last Quarter near midnight
  • Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

Meteor Shower

Meteor Shower – May 4th Eta Aquarid best viewed in the predawn hours. The meteors origin from the NE direction of the sky. May 4th is the day of the maximum number of meteors at approximately 10 per hour.

Total Eclipse of the Moon

May 15 -16 is a Total Eclipse. This eclipse is visible from North America except for the northwestern regions. The will be in shadow at 9:31 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on May 15th (6:31 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time). The Moon will leave the shadow at 2:52 a.m. EDT on May 16th (11:52 p.m. PDT) on May 15. So, that’s about five hours of viewing time.

Nature Journal Table of Contents

Citizen Science Events to Participate In

Project BudBurst

Journey North

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

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