Following nature step-by-step
How would you like a personal guide to lead you step-by-step through the changes occurring in nature as spring passes into summer? We’d like to offer you Jim Pomeroy, the retired site manager of Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield, Va.
Jim used his experience at the park to create an almanac that presents a pretty good picture of what’s going on at any given time in nature at the park. You can use the almanac, with a little adjustment, to learn about things that are happening in your own yard or in a nearby park.
Hidden Pond’s monthly almanac is kept up to date on Hidden Pond’s website. We’ll get you started here with Jim’s notes for May 2017.
Almanac for May, 2017
Natural events and fearless predictions based upon 30 years of observations at Hidden Pond. Your observations may vary. Hidden Pond is not responsible for errors, erratic behavior or other whims of nature.
The bright object in the east after sunset is the giant planet Jupiter. Red admiral butterflies now pass through on their way north. Leaves are usually all the way out by now. Maple leaves as big as your fist signal it’s safe to plant corn. Our local marsupial, the possum, has as many as 13 young that emerge now from mother’s pouch. Pink lady’s slippers are in bloom. These plants may live 100 years, though they are nearly impossible to transplant. Black locust trees bloom with white pea-like fragrant flowers. The call of the gray tree frog, a ragged, drawn-out chirp, can be heard coming from tree tops.
There’s a full moon on May 10. Spectacular luna moths emerge from the cocoons in which they spent the winter, mate, lay eggs on walnut, persimmon and hickory trees, and then die. Young cardinals and robins have fledged (left the nest). Not yet able to fly, they are vulnerable to cat attack. White-eyed vireos have arrived from South America. Heard more often than seen, they seem to say “Quick, under the window Chip,” or something like that. Spring ephemerals (wildflowers that appear briefly) have withered and been absorbed into the forest floor.
Snapping turtles lay eggs in sunny places, sometimes hundreds of feet from water. The sex of baby turtles is in part determined by the temperature of the site; warm sites favor females, cooler sites favor males. Ox-eye daisies are in bloom. White pine trees release clouds of pollen, which is carried from tree to tree by the wind. Tiny American toads about one centimeter long, the result of this year’s spawning, leave the water. Many, no doubt, will be eaten by birds.
Honeysuckle and multiflora rose, two invasive but fragrant plants, fill the air with perfume. Mountain laurel is in bloom. Shad bush berries ripen; robins and catbirds seem reckless in their determination to eat every last berry. The first lightning bugs (beetles, actually) appear at nightfall. They include movement with their flash, which for some species gives the impression that the beetles are constantly ascending.
Bull frogs lay eggs. Their tadpoles will take a year to develop into adult frogs.