Loon chicks are hatching now, so your lake explorations might be rewarded with the sight of a fluffy, charcoal gray loon chick riding its swimming parent’s back. While loons have had millions of years to adapt to life on and in the water, they have not had as long to adapt to the loud noises of fireworks.
Mayflies are aquatic insects belonging to the scientific order of Ephemeroptera, derived from ephemeral, or short-lasting. They are insects of fresh water, and while they are most often seen as elegant winged adults, they spend most of their lives in their nymph stage crawling along the bottom of these water bodies feeding on decomposing leaves and vegetation.
Blue flag irises are actually a collection of species native all over the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada with the exception of the desert southwest. Even here in Maine, what is typically called blue flag iris is actually a couple of species such as Iris versicolor and the ever so rare Iris prismatica. Our blue flag irises are plants of wet places, so are often found in soggy patches of meadows and fields, marshes, swamps, ditches, and shorelines.
Swallowtail butterflies are a group of large and colorful butterflies that exist all over most of the planet. As we start to head to beaches in late spring, so do they. Sandy beaches, gravel, mud, and puddles are ideal places to look for groups of these butterflies now, engaging in a behavior called “puddling.”
For such a small, elusive frog, their call is anything but elusive. The call of the gray tree frog is one of the loudest calls of all North American frogs. They breed later than most other local frogs, so we start hearing them after the clacking of the wood frogs has ended and once the chorus of peepers in the evening is no longer a novelty.
Hawthorns are a group of large shrubs or small trees which grow across most temperate regions of the world. This time of year, they are draped in the flowery trappings of white and blush pink.
It is hard to miss this shrub this time of year. If you see a large splash of bright pink in wet or disturbed areas, like roadsides or bogs right now, you can be pretty confident that it’s rhodora.
Large clusters of hobblebush flowers can be found now. Not only do hobblebush flowers trick pollinators into landing on them, but the plants really do trip walking animals and careless hikers more than your average shrub—hence the name hobblebush.
Common nighthawks are part of the nightjar family, which includes whippoorwills. Birds in this family are all a bit strange-looking, with flat heads, stunted bills, short necks, big eyes, and feathery whiskers—a generally mousy appearance. These long distance migrants, which may have spent the winter somewhere between Mexico and Argentina, are one of our last migrating birds to return in the spring, so they are a clear reminder that summer is near.