Summer Thrills and Musings

In the midst of an oppressive heat wave with high humidity, even a trip to the extensive, unbroken forests of the Allegheny Mountains offered little reprieve. Cold, freestone streams remained cold, but the waters were low and the trout sluggish. A good rain would bring them out from their hiding places but it wasn’t to be!

Sunrise over the forested ridges and fog-laden valleys of the Allegheny Mountains

A freestone trout stream, protected from the summer heat by the canopy of a forested watershed

My attention quickly shifted to a world where heat and humidity were a blessing: wild flowers and butterflies. The trees and shrubs of deciduous forests provide a smorgasbord of host plants for the caterpillars of many butterfly species and the adults are apt to swarm floral blooms for nectar. Swallowtails are the main attraction.

Tiger Swallowtails on milkweed

Bee Balm (Oswego Tea; Monarda), escaped into wild places from cultivation and a favorite food source of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Spicebush Swallowtail on Bee Balm

The white variety of native Rhododendron, in full bloom in early July on a moist, shaded site near a mountain stream.

The limiting weather and stream conditions in the mountains led me to break  camp early and return to the comforts of home and the rich, natural world that I know so well. Summer is a time when everyone seems to let their guard down as they go about the business of nurturing young and foraging on Nature’s bounty.

Red Fox pups frolicking in a hay field and playing keep-away with food (1 of 2 images).

The resident groundhog (woodchuck) foraging on dandelion leaves.

A “bachelor group” of whitetail bucks in velvet, heading for a field of corn.

July is our peak butterfly month and they have no interest in the “golden hour”. Mid day is their time to flutter. Depending on the species, the goal might be flower nectar, tree sap or minerals in a carcass or mud puddle!

Sulphur butterflies “puddling” in the mud on a nature trail.

Photos by NB Hunter (July, 2020). © All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Summer Thrills and Musings

  1. Oh Nick, these are all incredible. Something about watching wildlife that soothes the soul. I have to admit to a special place in my heart for the groundhog since my birthday is 2-2! ❤

  2. A dreamy sunrise, wild flowers and butterflies, cute fox pups, bucks in velvet to our chubby groundhog~~July couldn’t be better. Nice post…

  3. Ha ha! That groundhog is CUTE!! My brother has a lot of trouble with them on the old farm place, but I always hope to photograph them when I am visiting. Your mention of “bachelor bucks” brings our orphan, Tukker, to mind. Just the last few days he’s been hanging out with a couple of older bucks. This is good news and a happy observation for me. I worried he’d never get interested in his own kind!!

    I look forward to seeing more of your work, Nick. Such a lovely representation of the wild things and the landscape they occupy.

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