If you’re up early this week, about 45 minutes before sunrise, you can see FIVE planets. From lower left to upper right, see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in their actual order from the sun. As a bonus the crescent Moon joins them; it will be below Saturn on the 18th, below Jupiter on the 21st, and to the right of Mars on the 22nd.
Welcome summer with the solstice on Tuesday, the 21st. “Solstice” means “sun stands still”. From here on earth we have watched the location of the sunrise and sunset swing northward along the horizon since the winter solstice on December 21st. On the 20th the sun will appear to stand still at its northernmost point on the horizon, then begin slowly moving south, reminding us that winter will come again.
Robins are having a second brood of babies. Watch for young robins following the parents around and begging for food. They have spotted breasts for camouflage to hide them from predators.
Ducks and geese are having second broods, too, so you may see ducklings and goslings in calm water along the river.
The Red-Spotted Purple butterfly is on the wing at this time of year. The red-spotted purple and the white admiral are the same species of butterfly. When one species takes on two different appearances the two forms are called “conspecific”. At Afton we often see either the red-spotted purple or an intergrade between the two forms which lacks both the blue coloring of the red-spotted purple and the white band of the white admiral. Fifty miles or so north of us you will see almost all white admirals and no red-spotted purples.
The Skimmers are an extensive family of dragonflies and like to hunt around ponds and still water. Widow skimmers, White-faced Meadowhawks, Belted Whitefaces, and Hallowe’en Pennants are all members of the Skimmer family.
The three main body parts of the dragonfly are the head, the thorax, which is where the wings attach, and the abdomen, which we might think of as the tail. Male Widow Skimmers have grayish-white abdomens, and white spots on their wings; the females have yellow abdomens, and lack the white spots on their wings. Male Belted Whitefaces have whitish abdomens; while the females have yellow and black abdomens.
White-tailed deer fawns are born with reddish coats. The adults grow in a reddish coat for summer, and a gray coat for winter. The red color gives better camouflage in summer, and the gray in winter. By this time of year, the adults have grown in their red coats.
Some flowers to look for this week include Foxglove Beardtongue, Butterflyweed, Leadplant, Yarrow, Giant Blue Hyssop, Wild Columbine, Wild Geranium, Goat’s Beard, Long-leaf Bluets, St. John’s Wort, Great St. John’s Wort, and Tall Meadow Rue.
All photos copyright Nina Manzi, except:
- Dean Lokken: second Red-spotted Purple, Robin on nest; Robin fledgling, White-tailed doe, White tailed Fawn
- John Watson, trail camera: White-tailed doe and fawn
Here are some weather observations from past years.
|Friday, June 17||2020: muggy and near 90°|
|Saturday, June 18||2020: record 1.37 inches rain|
|Sunday, June 19||2014: record 4.13 inches rain; 2015: partly cloudy, 70s|
|Monday, June 20||2020: dark skies in the morning with a half-hour of rain, then sunny and 70s|
|Tuesday, June 21||2002: record rainfall 2.95 inches; 2016: 60° in the morning and pleasant|
|Wednesday, June 22||2015: stormy morning with 5/8” rain before noon.|
|Thursday, June 23||2020: high in the 70s, light rain in the late afternoon|