Bird list & other natural events, July 2013

This July really ought to be discussed in two parts. The first 3 weeks or so, it was seasonal to warm and really dry: we only recorded 0.25″ of rain through July 20. That’s worse than the equivalent period in July 2012, in the midst of the brutal drought. We were getting really worried about a growing repeat of that year, especially given the less than two inches recorded in all of June.  As we noted in last month’s natural post, “With some reasonable rain soon, we could be primed for a nice summer”. It took another three weeks, but then two and a half inches in the last ten days turned things around and got us headed into August with wonderfully seasonal to cool temperatures. All in all, we’ll look back on this month with fondness, now that we know how it ends. Still, only 2.71″ total compared to a monthly average of 4.37″ means we remain in a dry spell that could quickly turn problematic again.

Dragonflies have been really active this month, with clouds of them hovering over the field, presumably vacuuming up all sorts of crop pests. Same for birds; we always enjoy the diversity of insect-eaters that congregate among the crops, flitting about through the plants and trellises while using the fences as hunting perches. It’s an ecological vibrancy we find very rewarding. We managed to photograph some especially interesting creatures:


Above: Mating Luna Moths.july_natural_2

Above left: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Above right: Caterpillar of the Cecropia Moth.

Japanese Beetle populations have been the highest we’ve ever experienced (though we’ve heard account & seen photos of much worse). Wild grape & wild rose have been hit pretty hard, and our young apple trees have suffered the most damage of domestic crops. Otherwise, insect pest populations levels haven’t been terribly problematic. However, we did find two insect pests that we don’t recall previously finding here: 1) Whiteflies set up shop on eggplant & potatoes in July and 2) we found a single Harlequin Bug in on of the young brassica plantings.

Wild Turkeys have been a major presence this month, with a large flock using our north pasture on a near-daily basis. There’s a stretch of wheat nearby which we never finished harvesting, and they’ve been grazing on that every day while roosting in the pasture trees. Eric sees them almost every morning when he goes out to do animal chores; the highest one-time count has been 5 adult hens and 14 young. On to the bird list:

RECORDED IN JULY (45 species, 2 new relative to June, 12 unobserved since June).

Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk (killed a rooster 7/12)
Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great-Crested Flycatcher
Red-Eyed Vireo
White-Eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Wood Thrush
Grey Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Northern Parula
Blue-Winged Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush [likely here, but failed to record]
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-Breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brown-Headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch
Chimney Swift
Northern Mockingbird

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