Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Red sky at morning--fail

The morning sky at Roundtop was attempting to be a “red sky at morning” kind of sunrise, but the overcast was too gloomy for that to be very convincing.  June is ending as it began—with cloudy skies and the chance of storms.  I can only hope for July to bring some better weather.

Right now it appears unlikely that I will be able to see the near convergence of Jupiter and Venus tonight.  They are supposed to appear so close as to look like a double star.  For those who may live where the sky will be clear, look to the west just after sunset.  Don’t wait until it is fully dark but look while the sky is still a twilight blue.  The two are only 1/3 of a degree apart, and the view is improved with binoculars or a scope, with both planets in the same field of view.  Perhaps I will try tomorrow night—they two won’t be quite as close then, but they will still be close and I can only hope the sky will be a little clearer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rain go away for a while

As far as rainy weather goes, this June was the rainiest ever, with nearly 7” of rain.   That makes up for the lack of rain in the traditional month of April.  It has also made for some mid-level flooding, not to mention a lack of outdoor fun.

Saturday was another full day of rain, often with heavy rain.  And rain is expected tomorrow and again on Thursday.  Nothing gets the chance to thorough dry out very much.  Yesterday was a clearing day—that’s about as good as this June has been. It never actually fully clears, but it gets to the point of clearing weather.  Perhaps that’s why I saw a nice buck in velvet in the early afternoon.

The buck’s antlers were well above his ears and just starting to branch.  He and a lady friend were cropping grass at the edge of the woods. Perhaps they were tired of being soaked in the thick underbrush, too.  But they were out of the woods, in the field, munching away and likely drier than in the woods itself.

I am ready for a little more pleasant weather, that’s for sure. I have a new chicken run that I haven’t had a free or rain-free day to put together for several weeks.  Fortunately, the girls don’t fully need this new run at the moment, but I’d like to get it constructed and ready for them.  And I wouldn’t mind putting the rain jacket away for a few weeks, either.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Leopard spots, Indian pipes and red!

All the rain and storms here on Roundtop have wiped out any rain deficit from a dry spring. Now, it’s turning into a wet and stormy summer, and that is producing some interesting fungi.  Summer is not usually the time I look for fungi.  Summer is usually time for wildflowers and grass turning brown.  Not this year.
Who knew that fungi could masquerade in a fashionable leopard skin? I have no idea what this fungi is, or rather was.  The leopard spots are really the fungus disintegrating, but the effect is pretty neat.

I’m not sure about the name of the red fungus.  It may be an older Salamander Fungus but I’m not sure.
The Indian Pipes fungus is the first fungus I could name, learned back when I was girl.  It’s still one of the most distinctive fungus around locally, in my opinion.  Sometimes these can grow rather tall, likely nearing a foot tall, though this nice bunch of them was smaller, perhaps half of that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Adventure camp begins!

Silver spotted skipper looking for nectar on a pink sock

The first week of adventure camp for this summer has already come and gone.  I had the usual batch of kids who know little to nothing about the outdoors.  They need to be reminded not to throw sticks and stones, not to shout constantly, not to toss the catch nets or twirl them around like batons.  Most have never seen a crayfish, though apparently they have eaten lobster, as that’s the first thing they mention when they see a crayfish.  They do like to watch the crayfish fight, though.

This past week, in addition to the usual stream denizens, we were visited by several flying insects.  A dragonfly of some species perched on someone’s head for a minute or so.  A silver-spotted skipper came to perch on someone else’s shoes and socks.  Later, I discovered this species likes blue and purple flowers, so I’m thinking it was attracted by those brightly-colored socks.

As always, the kids seem to have a good time, for which I am grateful, and they catch crayfish big and small.  This group preferred the tiniest crayfish, while most other groups argue over who’s caught the largest one.  We had a few sightings of salamanders, but none made it into my buckets.  Before the kids arrived, I fed the local minnows and small fish a few pieces of bread, but this batch of kids was way too impatient to have any luck netting the fish.

I can only hope that somewhere along the way, before too long, that these kids develop a much more nuanced relationship with their environment.  Right now, the best I can say is that at least they are enthusiastic once they get outside.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

First brown-eyed susan of summer

It’s the first and so far only brown-eyed susan of the year.  That’s a sure sign of summer here on Roundtop.  I’m not a person who cuts wildflowers, though this one always tempts me.  What keeps me from doing so is that I’ve read the flowers are toxic to cats, and with my cats they certainly couldn’t be trusted to stay away from any I’d bring into the house.

Butterflies and bees alike enjoy the pollen of brown-eyed susans, and the plants are lovely in a wildflower garden if you have full sun.  Mid to late June is when I first see them, and my latest photo of one that I posted on Roundtop Ruminations was on November 5.  That one was looking pretty ratty.

Today’s photo is actually the earliest, by three days, that I’ve posted a photo.  That may not mean they are blooming early this year, because unlike with the earliest of the spring ephemerals, I’m not standing around anxiously anticipating their first bloom.  July is the month when I see large rafts of them, and I may well have waited until there was more than one before I posted a photo.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer's here and so's adventure camp

Adventure camp started on Monday, with my stint down at Beaver Creek with a gaggle of nature-deprived kids set for Thursday.  I just saw the weather forecast and am not optimistic.  Heavy rain in the morning and storms in the afternoon doesn’t sound promising, though perhaps the forecast will change over the next 48 hours.  I hope so.

The weather is hot and very, very humid, barely cooling down at all overnight.  Yesterday, the chickens were panting, but it didn’t keep them out of the forest, and I don’t think it slowed them down very much.  They don’t like heat and humidity very much.

At the moment, the only one who appears to be slowed by the weather is me.  The foxes are still out at night, barking at all hours. I could sleep through that barking, I believe, but when the foxes bark so does my own pack of canines, and I can’t sleep through that.

I have yet to see the young blue jays that hatched in the crook of the American beech tree that borders my driveway.  I know they are there—the parent birds are vigilant about any would be intruders. I saw them chase a squirrel the other day, when I’m pretty sure the squirrel was without nefarious intentions and was only on a mission to reach the other side of the driveway.  Maybe even squirrels want to take short cuts when it's so hot.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hazards of the forest


The forest is starting to dry out after that last spate of rain.  It’s a riot of greenery right now, a veritable jungle.  It’s the kind of greenery that’s almost dangerous as I discovered this morning when

I nearly stepped into an invisible groundhog hole that was well hidden by foot-high grass.
Even after I thought I saw a hole, I had to stoop down and brush aside the grass to be certain I was seeing what I thought I might be seeing, only to discover I was standing right on the brink of that hole. Another inch and.., well, it sure wouldn’t have been pretty.

As a result of that near-miss I am staying to visible paths and not attempting to travel cross-country through the woods—at least not where I can’t see the ground.  Adventure camp begins next week, and I need to be able to walk for that!

As you can see by today’s photo, in addition to the every-present greens of summer, the honeysuckle is blooming now.  I was attempting to reach the bush for a closer view when I was deterred by the groundhog hole, so until I find a patch not guarded by a woodchuck, this photo will have to do.