Monday, May 30, 2016

Approaching Summer

It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of Summer, and we've had very Summer-like weather lately, including the season's first official heat wave (three days of temperatures at 90º [32º C] or above) and a tropical storm moving up the East Coast. I took a walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park yesterday to look at the signs of approaching Summer; here are the highlights.

The Multiflora Roses are blooming profusely and making the park smell wonderful
There are lots more Blackberry blooms like these; it looks to be a plentiful crop this year
Mama Red-winged Blackboard making sure I'm not a threat
Yellow Wood Sorrel is springing up all over the park
The grass in the upland meadow is chest high; time for the year's first haying
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Walk In the Woods

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.”  ― John Muir

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This Morning's Walk

I went for a nature walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park again this morning. We're in the midst of yet another stretch of overcast, damp, misty, drizzly, and slightly cooler than normal weather, yet the greening and blooming is going full blast. So are the bird migrations. The Orioles are back; several were singing away high in the forest canopy, and I saw a couple here and there flitting around outside camera range. The migrating Warblers are also here, heard but mostly unseen; they're small birds and hard to see when the foliage is full. I heard a couple of Yellow Warblers, plus several indistinguishable Warbler calls, and one Black and White Warbler who landed on a branch next to me but took off again before I could raise the camera.

I did manage to capture three birds. The Brown Thrasher is in the Mockingbird family, but where the Mockingbird repeats each song it imitates three times, the Thrasher only repeats it twice. And the two Sandpipers were very interesting. The Spotted Sandpiper is native to the area, and even though Sandpipers are mostly identified with the seashore, there are inland Sandpipers, and this is one of them. The Solitary Sandpiper is a different story, though. It, too is an inland, freshwater bird, but it winters in Central America and summers in the Arctic tundra. Right now they're migrating north and can often be seen resting by streams and pools; this is one of them, making it a rare sighting. Whee!

A Brown Thrasher singing away by the Dykeman Walking Trail

Dame's Rocket growing along the Dykeman Walking Trail

The forest floor along the Dykeman Walking Trail

Philadelphia Fleabane in the Dykeman Spring wetland

A Solitary Sandpiper on the creek in the Dykeman Spring wetland

A Spotted Sandpiper by the north duck pond

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, May 06, 2016

May Flowers

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers.
– Thomas Tusser

Ground Ivy
Sweet May hath come to love us,
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
The very clouds move on.
– Heinrich Heine

White Campion
Among the changing months, May stands confest
The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.
– James Thomson

Dame's Rocket
Hebe's here, May is here!
The air is fresh and sunny;
And the miser-bees are busy
Hoarding golden honey.
– Thomas Bailey

What potent blood hath modest May.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Swamp Buttercups
Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.
– Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Photos © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Soggy May Day

It's May Day! In Europe this was the holiday that welcomed the full blooming of the Earth as Spring slowly becomes Summer. It's a holiday that celebrates fertility and marriage; June weddings in the old days were often the result of May Day meetings dancing the May Pole dance. The contemporary May Day is descended from earlier Spring celebrations, most notably the Celtic Beltane, where we get the distribution of May (a flowering shrub) branches and the dance around the May Pole. It's a time of great merriment and fun.

Here in Shippensburg, though, our May Day is gloomy and rainy; if there's a May Pole anywhere about it's liable to be a bit bedraggled. Still, a walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park shows evidence of all that burgeoning fertility!

The guest house at the McLean House, showing off the flowering Dogwoods
Raindrops on the leaves along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Mama Goose sitting on her nest in the Dykeman Spring wetland
A Mallard family outing on the north duck pond
A strange tentacular fungus on a Red Cedar on the upland meadow
There were lots of Earthworms up on the meadow in all this dampness
Looking across the meadow toward the hill to the west

In Great Britain the Morris Dancers usually put on a show to celebrate May Day, and this carol is the centerpiece of that celebration. Let's all sing along!

Photos © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger