Summer is very much in evidence at the Nature Park. The season of blooms is behind us and most of the plants are now putting their energy into producing seeds or berries. The park is clothed in every shade of green imaginable as the plants have crammed on as much leaf cover as they can. The long summer days mean that the plants are at full capacity for photosynthesis – growing, setting seeds and buds for next year and storing sugar for the long dormant season ahead. The deciduous trees in the park responded to June’s hot dry weather by dropping leaves – a natural phenomenon, but a hint that the trees know fall isn’t so very far away.
Wildlife has entered summer mode, too. There is still a lot of hummingbird activity at our feeders but the birds we’re seeing now are females and this years juveniles. The males, here early in the spring, left for the mountain meadows long ago. We can expect all of the hummingbirds to start their southward migration by the end of the month. If you still have a hummingbird feeder up in your garden you should plan to take it down at the end of July to encourage “your” hummingbirds to head south, too.
This is insect season. The ponds and adjacent ditches offer good habitat for all stages of the dragonfly life cycle. The nymphs that spent the winter under water have emerged and are now patrolling over the waterways – guarding their territories, looking for mates and feasting on small flying insects like mosquitoes. Watch for the cardinal meadow hawk – a brilliant red dragonfly often seen at our main pond.
Insects are the food source for many wildlife species. By day you may see swallows darting after insects over the waterways. In the woods, a host of little birds is busy gleaning insects to feed their babies. On the forest floor, little mammals like shrews take advantage of the abundant insects too. When the sun goes down bats take over the night shift to go hunting. It’s been estimated that a little brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes an hour. Bats are harmless to people and their appetite for flying insects makes them a very good neighbour.
There are lots of summer programs offered through the Richmond Nature Park this summer. There are a variety of nature programs for children, family events like the upcoming Reptile Show, out-trips for seniors and fundraising events like the Blueberry Sale. Check the link for program listings and schedules.
Posted by Kris Bauder
Nature Park Coordinator