Thursday, July 20, 2017

#Phenology: brought to you by the letter "P"

Sometimes I wonder if blogging has preternatural psychic powers. Yesterday, after writing about the paucity of sitings of young critters, I went downstairs to let one of the dogs out. There, picking their way through the droppings from the sunflower feeder on the deck, were three turkey hens and about a dozen or so poults. Of course, the dog had to wait while the ladies and their charges hustled down the hill, around the trees and away. Have you noticed that in any family gathering of goslings, ducklings or poults, there always seems to be one, bringing up the rear, running like crazy to catch up, going "please, wait for me!"? (The poult photo is from early August, last year.)

turkey hens and poults
turkey hens with poults
Photo by J. Harrington

July is a tough month for phenology. The Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission's phenology calendar for July [2016 edition] lists only "Eaglets fledge; jewelweed pods ripen; blueberries and raspberries ripen." Of course, we know that in our North Country, July is the peak month for blooming wildflowers. The phenology problem with that, as I see it, is that the plentitude of blooming plants makes it pretty hard to pick out new ones in the profusion of blossoms.

monthly wildflowers blooming
monthly wildflowers blooming

July begins to provide hints of the upcoming season. According to the Aldo Leopold Foundation's 2011 "PhenoCal," from now through the end of the month, in addition to flowers blooming, there's only two "First Occurrences" to watch for:
  • Tree Swallows Flocking; and,
  • Big Bluestem in Pollen
Although goldfinches are native to Wisconsin, the aforementioned "PhenoCal" doesn't mention that late July is when they may start nesting.

A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky

Lewis Carroll, 1832 - 1898

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

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Please be kind to each other while you can.