Phenology Daybook: July 24, 2020


The cricket to the frog’s bassoon

His shrillest time is keeping,

The sickle of yon setting moon

The meadow mist is reaping.


John Greenleaf Whittier


Sunrise/set: 5:26/7:56

Day’s Length: 14 hours 30 minutes

Average High/Low: 85/65

Average Temperature: 75

Record High: 103 – 1934

Record Low: 50 – 1906



Today is almost always in the 80s: there is an 85 percent chance of that, and very little chance of 70s. Heat in the 90s occurs just 10 to 15 percent of the time, the lowest incidence of such heat since June 28th. That is an indication of the residual power of the third major high pressure system which has ordinarily just passed through Ohio; it is also another minor step on the road to winter. Rainfall is typically common on the 24th: four days in ten bring a shower on this date. But the sun shines on eight or nine days out of ten.


Natural Calendar

Seedpods are fully formed on the trumpet creepers. Milkweed pods are fat, many full size. White vervain blossoms reach the end of their spikes as wingstem, jumpseed, violet resurrection lilies and purple ironweed begin their seasons. Swallows and blue-winged teal start to migrate. Ducklings and goslings are full grown. Monarch and swallowtail sightings increase. Local farmers prepare for August seeding of alfalfa, smooth brome grass, orchard grass, tall fescue, red clover and timothy.



1982: First ironweed seen open today. Yellow sundrops in bloom along the freeway.


1983: Some burdock blossoming on the south side of the yard.


1984: Amaranth heading now. Motherwort ends its bloom cycle in the yard. Velvetleaf flowering in cornfields.


1986: Cicadas all day, crickets day and night, katydids all night.


1988: Upper Jacoby woods along the river: Following deer paths through nettle and avens gone to seed, the last fleabane, and new late-summer spider webs. Strong cicada song, through glades of young maples and box elders, with foliage floors of henbit and sorrel and moneywort and violets. Small-flowered agrimony, burned back in the drought, revives. The beans are long now on the catalpas, still green. I smell late corn tasseling three weeks out of season. Wingstem still young, June size, mullein and white sweet clover still in bloom. Most burdock budded but not flowering yet. Phlox scattered throughout the woods, giant monarda still strong. Hobblebush past its prime. Pokeweed half full bloom, half full of green berries. Japanese brome is brown, decaying. Tonight, the first katydids and city crickets heard.


1989: South Glen: The river is flooding, has come up above the bank at Sycamore Hole. A few feet away, it’s the peak of wood nettle, even seeding now. First bull thistle and Heliopsis seen in bloom out in Middle Prairie. The ironweed is all budding. Late yarrow and dogbane still flowering. Timothy has brown heads and stem. Late fleabane holding. Black walnuts seem to be full size. A field of daisy fleabane flowering as though it were June. Tall bellflowers holding. First blackberry eaten. Early great Indian plantain found. Parsnip seeds are loose, some falling. Thin-leafed agrimony and thin-leafed coneflower budding. Full bloom St. John’s wort. Some teasel done for the year. Burdock early full. Flock of gold finches seen on the way back to the car. Hundreds of feet up in the air, huge dragonflies hunt the skies like swallows, as I rock in the hammock, 7:30 p.m. A few fireflies hold on after dark. In the evening, no crickets, no katydids yet.


1991: South Glen: Swallowtails, blues, cabbage butterflies. A monarch pair mating as they fly along the path to High Prairie, perfect blending, harmony of movement in complex aerial give and take. High Prairie exotic and bright green, the rolling valley west and south, Osage, ash, oak, locust random through the open fields. At the upper west brook, no damselflies, but they appear in the valley near the Little Miami. Monkey flower is open in the swamp. Goldenrod heading. One red poison ivy leaf. Long patches of fog fruit on the trail, crickets crossing in front of me. Catbird calling. Germander by the side of the path. White bindweed everywhere, old mint, old wood nettle, old avens, some sycamore leaves fallen, the last tip flower of white vervain blooming, yellow multiflora rose leaves. And the beginning of second spring: Some of the first fresh garlic mustard has just sprouted, probably after yesterday’s storm (this year’s mustard stalks are skeletons, like hay scattered along the way).


1992: Red phlox are in full bloom, whites just open. Sweet corn has finally arrived in the farm stands; Indiana melons have been here for a week or two. Hollyhocks way past their prime at home, but seen full other yards. Most all Asiatic lilies gone, all except the turban tiger lilies. Gay feather half done. A few dark red volunteer four o’clocks are opening. Mallow waning, yarrow full and strong, coneflowers full. Second bumble bee of the summer found resting, drunk or exhausted in the zinnias.


1993: Zinnias and cosmos still haven’t reached full bloom. Violet mums start to open in the south garden; also seen on Phillips Street. One black walnut seen in the alley. Motherwort at its last flowers. No katydids yet, cicadas weak.


1995: This morning as I drove through the Glen, a doe followed by two fawns crossed the road in front of me. I slowed; they stopped and looked at me and then continued at a leisurely pace to the fence, jumped effortlessly over, disappeared into the honeysuckle.


1999: The mornings become quieter. The early morning is the most changed since June: total silence. Then the cardinals and crows start in about a quarter to six, but they soon move away or lose interest in any sustained conversation.


2000: Along the bike path north: tattered white sweet clover, full blown tall bellflowers, aging great mullein, old wild lettuce, second growth moth mullein, leaves dark with August. A formation of geese flew over me just before dark. At work (on my night shift) this morning, sporadic cricket, katydid, frog calls. Tiny pale green frogs seen on the back cement patio and holding to one of the windows. A cardinal was singing when I unlocked the kitchen door at 4:40 a.m.


2002: First burdock seen blooming. First monarch butterfly seen.


2003: Fishing with John at the reservoir, high pressure building after days of rain. No bites all day as we checked different locations, then a burst of activity around 4:00 p.m. at the dam, catfish hitting in the channel on worms and chicken livers. At home, the Turk’s cap lily has opened.


2005: Cardinals louder than usual this morning at a few minutes to five: almost like a robin chorus.


2006: Cardinal sang at 4:37 a.m. One tiger swallowtail, one black swallowtail, one red admiral (the first seen so far this year). From Madison, Wisconsin, Tat says that she has Japanese beetles in her garden for the first time ever. She blames global warming. Ironwood/Eastern Hop hornbeam tree identified near the school, its cone-like fruit clusters pale green, hanging symmetrically, neatly, seeds still immature. Beeflies common now, bothered Judy as we sat on the back porch in the sun this afternoon.


2007: In the alley, rose of Sharon and chicory, a few orange daylilies, small white bindweed, large purple bindweed, goldenrod, pigweed and amaranth all about six feet tall, some burdock has bloomed, some just budding. Weed locust trees have grown tall behind one yard. Euonymus berries bigger now, maybe half the size of a BB. Robins still singing through the morning, no migration language yet.


2008: Young blue jay on the bird feeder this morning begging for food from its parents. More blue jay whining at noon. And in the back trees, the whistling and clucking of starlings. First large beefly seen this morning. Panicled dogwood berries are fully round now in the alley. Some feverfew is still in full bloom, lilies declining at Frank’s. Lilies continue full in the yard. As I cut the grass this evening, I saw a young toad, an inch or so long, hopping away into the hostas.


2009: Gossamer webs in the grass this morning, heavy dew. Two hummingbird moths and a pale green hummingbird in the butterfly bush about 10:00 a.m. Long-bodied spider in a web above the pond this evening.


2010: More heat in the 90s and high humidity. The butterfly bush was filled with tiger swallowtails and then a spicebush swallowtail and a rare giant swallowtail. The adult deer came to the bird feeder this afternoon, and I saw her large fawn in the back lot – its spots still prominent. Robin vespers at 7:30 along Davis Street. Lots of robin peeping as I came home.


2011: Cardinals sang throughout my evening walk with Bella – about 9:00 to 9:15. When Jeanie and I went to bed, we opened the window: whistling crickets were steady and loud, the first katydids in the background


2012: Muggy, rainy morning, robin song starting at 4:40, a few cardinals at 5:00, but nothing like yesterday’s loud and steady calling. High static from the tree crickets. Robin vespers strong, field crickets a little before sundown. Katydids raucous after dark.


2013: Cool weather filtering into the Ohio Valley today, sun and dry. Fourteen lilies hold in the garden. At lunch time, a male tiger swallowtail, a sulfur, a hummingbird moth and several hummingbirds were sampling the blossoms of the butterfly bush. A dozen or so starlings were working the lawn, along with a large flock of sparrows (with fledglings begging to be fed). In the back trees, clucks and scrawing from grackles and their young. Three tiger swallowtails at the butterfly bushes late in the afternoon. One pale yellow water lily open in the pond, the first and probably the only one this summer. On the north trellis, the wisteria has small second-blooms

Into North Glen: Leafcup, tall bellflowers, wood nettle full bloom, many touch-me-nots, but relatively few blossoms. Fragments of late agrimony, wood mint, fleabane. Most avens to round burs. Lopseed all to green seeds tight to their stems. Enchanter’s nightshade complete, the burs sticking in Bella’s ears. The very first jumpseed flowers are open. Tall coneflowers budded by the skunk cabbage – the cabbage blackened with age. Cricket static in the trees.


2014: Light, cool, and steady north wind this morning as yesterday’s storm moves east. Flurries of yellow black walnut leaves swirled down in the breeze when I walked Bella down Phillips Street. Twenty-three lilies in bloom, including one new Stargazer. The zinnias reaching early peak, distracting from the emptying lily beds.

To John Bryan Park about 4:00 p.m.: Most of the wood mint flowers are done. Some scattered daisy fleabane along the path, one orange jewelweed blossom, a few white snakeroot plants with buds. I found what at first appeared to be one of the rare and elusive Triphora trianthophora (nodding pogonia or three-birds orchid): maybe a foot tall, clasping alternate, egg-shaped leaves, delicate flowers, white/violet, upper flowers in the axils of the leaves. In fact, it was a Lobelia inflata or Indian Tobacco in full bloom. Nearby, the very last flowers of several lanky, branched European Gromwells, Lithospermum officinale.


2015: Into South Glen, sun, warm in the upper 70s: The paths were completely overgrown, and I had a few problems finding my way. Mosquitoes were pesky except in the sun. In the wooded areas, I walked through micrathena spider webs every few hundred feet. (I counted my steps between webs. The spiders gave each other plenty of space.) The trail surface was often soft with smartweed, but it became thick with wood nettle in many places, and I had to move along with my hands in the air to keep from getting stung. Where the wood nettle thinned, wingstem became the dominant growth, and I waded through that as well for most of the way. Only a few of the wingstem plants were flowering, and my expedition took place at the very beginning of their bloom period. There was very little else besides wood mint and tall bell flowers open beneath the canopy; instead, the skeletons from Deep Summer: bare avens, honewort, lopseed, enchanter’s nightshade.

In the prairie plots, a few blackberries were ripe (I ate my first.), ironweed was flushed but not flowering, teasel and bee balm added violet to the plantings, black-eyed-Susans and wood mint scattered yellow through the grasses, and a magnificent pair of royal catchfly plants in full flower. I saw a few buckeyes and black walnuts close to full size. Sumac fruits were deep red, and some of the shrubs showed bright scarlet leaves. I came across an entire forest of pokeweed, green berries dangling down, huge, abundant. Swallowtail butterflies flew by from time to time, some yellow, some black. I saw a few damselflies by the river.

At home, twenty lily plants were in bloom. Silver-spotted skippers and an admiral played in the zinnias. I set out six showy coneflower plants set out in front of the lilies of the North Garden.


2016: Intense heat wave throughout the East. Three lily plants/four blossoms this morning. In the park, Jumpseeds were in bloom, late tall bellflowers, mint and daisy fleabane, very old agrimony, some heal-all. Cicadas throughout. This evening, a few field crickets, deafening high static from tree crickets, katydids all around the neighborhood.


2017: Seven lily blossoms on three tattered plants this morning. Resurrection lilies had opened all the way along Dayton Street. When I got home from work about 4:30, I walked out into the back yard to find a giant swallowtail in the circle garden zinnias. The July 23 cool wave came through all the way this evening with a soft breeze.


2018: Twenty-two lily blossoms on about a dozen plants this morning, sparrows chanting in heavy rhythm, robins making their phrases of peeps, instructions to their fledglings in the honeysuckles. This afternoon: two hackberry butterflies, one atop the other quietly mating on a fat violet dahlia. And a hummingbird moth in the faded monarda. Along Dayton Street: full blooming resurrection lilies and elderberries black and soft.


2019: Seventy day lily blossoms, seven ditch lilies, almost half of yesterday’s count, a dramatic change in the season. A pair of hummingbirds in steady randori for much of the morning. Cabbage whites, tiger swallowtails, silver-spotted skippers, one metalmark, two monarchs seen in the garden. Katydids calling in the distance at 8:22 this evening, full voice in the back yard by 9:00. Another heat wave in Europe, Neysa in Spoleto, Italy with 90s. From Portland, Oregon, Jeni sends a photo of ripe blackberries – about the same stage as here in Yellow Springs.


2020: Lily count: 74 day lily, 17 ditch lily blossoms. Rabbits and fauns with spots continue numerous throughout the village. One skipper and my first monarch of the summer around 5:00 p.m. At Ellis Pond, white vervain nearly done, a clump of prickly horse nettle blooming. Rick reports lots of milkweed on his property but only one monarch so far.



Think, bright Florella, when you see

The constant Changes of the Year

That nothing is from Ruin free,

And gayest Things must disappear.


Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1739


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