This week I have noticed more signs of larger frogs. As we walk along the edge of the pond we only occasionally hear the frogs leaping into the pond. It seems more often now that we notice the tall grass that frames the pond and grows up from the water wiggling back and forth as what I assume is a large frog making its way back into the pond. I predict that in the next week or so, twitching grass near the edge of the pond could indicate that a baby duck is hiding.
The apple tree that sits near the pond has blossomed. The pure white blossoms are accompanied by the buzzing of large bumble bees in their pursuit of nectar. The blossoms also offer a lovely fragrance as we walk around the far edge of the pond. I have noticed different scents emerge this week as well. The smells change and merge as we walk around the trail. At the end nearest the house the breeze brings a sweet fishy smell, that I have noticed on other waters and I always assumed was fish, but now I realize it makes more sense that fish smell the way they do because of the water. I wonder if certain vegetation give the water it’s pleasant odor? As we progress around the pond, the air is filled with the aroma of pine. Red pine trees form the border of the pond path on one whole side and they smell absolutely heavenly this time of year. Finally, as we round the far edge the fragrance of the delicate apple blossoms is detected and mixes with other smells as the path opens up and is bordered on this other side by lawn and fields that offer no wind break and thus allow air to flow freely.
This was an unusually hot week in northern Maine. The temperature reached 90 which is practically unheard of in May in Maine let alone in northern Maine. I enjoy the warm weather and the bugs don’t bother me so I spent a great deal of time near the pond this week. On Tuesday afternoon as my children and I were looking for frogs, we heard a “ka-chunk” off in the distance. The unmistakable sound of the American Bittern. We have had them visit the pond in the past and we even have a had a nesting pair. We were somewhat disappointed but relieved as the week progressed and we didn’t see the bittern. Bitterns are fun to watch. When they feel threatened they point their beaks to the sky and move their necks back and forth to look like a weed swaying in the wind. They eat frogs, and small fish, so they aren’t necessarily a friend to someone that wants to keep a stocked pond. In the past we have sent the kids out to scare them away and much to their frustration and our humor the bitterns just fly a little ways and then land again, thrusting their beaks toward the sky pretending to be weeds. I think that the crow ate all of the grackle eggs or perhaps the baby birds. The grackle flits around seeming lost. I just now watched a cow bird leave the area where the grackle has its nest. Cowbirds are often held in contempt by bird lovers for their habit of laying their eggs in other birds nests. The cowbird eggs and babies are often larger than the other baby birds and the parent will take care of the cowbird to the detriment of her own offspring. I wonder in this case though if an egg deposited in an empty nest can be considered a blessing. I am excited to keep an eye on the nest to see if I am correct.
We also noticed dragonflies for the first time this week. I watched one hunt. It hovered low over the pond and then dipped into the water head first creating tiny ripples, a bug smaller than itself its prey. One of the most fun, and one could argue the most terrifying things, to find near a body of water is the spent casing of a dragonfly nymph. Dragonflies start their lives in the water. After a year or sometimes more of living under the surface they will crawl up onto the land and attach themselves to vegetation or other objects and the adult dragonfly will emerge out of the back of the nymph exoskeleton. When my daughter was very young we happened upon the emerging of several dragonflies. When they first break free of their casing their wings are curled. It takes time for the wings to straighten out and the body to harden before the dragonfly is able to begin exploring its new world. I wonder if they can tell what the weather is? It doesn’t seem as if it would behoove them to try to emerge and dry their wings on a cold rainy day. Another exciting discovery this week was a goldenrod crab spider eating a honey bee. I didn’t have my camera for that observation either, but I ran quickly back to the house to get it. I did some research and learned that this type of spider can change colors according to its surroundings. I didn't know that spiders can do that and when I come across another one, I plan to do some experimenting. Unfortunatly, it isn't often enough that we see moose on our property. This past Friday morning though, was an exception. This time of year the mother moose are getting ready to calve and they will drive away last year's young in anticipation of this year's. The moose we saw appeared to be a victim of this custom as he kept turning and looking behind him. He seemed somewhat unafraid of us and confused as he ambled through the field toward Canada. To start his new life as a Canadian moose, I presume.
This next week is predicted to have more seasonable temperatures. I am wondering if the blossoms will be gone from the apple tree by week’s end. Its a shame that the existence of these beautiful flowers is so short. I guess it reminds us to enjoy what the present has to offer. I am also wondering if the smells that have been so apparent this week will not be as noticeable this coming week as the humidity and hot weather subside. The peepers are still loud in the evening but I think that with the cooler weather they will quiet some.