Gilford Public Library


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Nature Corner: Summer Storms

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 7/2/2024

While we can experience thunderstorms throughout the year, they are more prevalent during the warmer months, especially during the summer. 

 

There are three “ingredients” needed for a “thunder boomer” to develop: moisture, instability in the atmosphere and movement.

 

  1. Moisture: All clouds are composed of moisture which lead to precipitation. While thunderstorms are more common in the south during the winter in the warmer months, there is more moisture in the air in the north.
  2. Instability (Atmospheric stability): Rapidly rising air is necessary for a thunderstorm. When the atmosphere is unstable, the buoyant warm air near the surface of the earth rises rapidly into the higher and colder air. The warmer the air combined with the colder air leads to an atmospheric instability.
  3. Motion: For a thunderstorm to develop, there needs to be some type of a catalyst that causes movement. This can be a front created by heat from the sun or colder air above. In summertime, thunderstorms are usually precipitated in the afternoon, when the ground is the hottest from the sun. When the atmosphere is unstable, warm air rises, producing clouds, rain and ultimately lightning.

 

To discover more:

Understanding Lightning: Thunderstorm Development

 

To stay safe during a thunderstorm:

Be Prepared For a Thunderstorm, Lightning or Hail


Nature Corner: Mud Puddles Aren't Just for Kids

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 6/25/2024

Have you ever noticed butterflies hanging around mud puddles? There’s a reason for this behavior called “puddling” (a.k.a mud-puddling) and it’s not the fun of jumping in puddles.

 

Puddling is a life giving behavior where butterflies gather around mud puddles, damp soil, and even animal scat. They use their probiscus (mouth part shaped like a tube) to suck up and absorb essential nutrients. 

 

Reasons for puddling:

  1. While butterflies primarily get their energy from the sugar in the nectar of flowers, it lacks the nutrients such as amino acids, salts and sodium which are critical for the insects’ survival, reproduction and overall strength and health.
  2. These nutrients are especially important for male butterflies, who transfer them to the females during the mating process, leading to to healthier females and ultimately, healthier progeny.
  3. Hydration is critical for butterflies like all species, and puddling will often provide sources of liquid.
  4. Social gatherings at the local “watering hole” offering opportunities to attract and meet future mates.

 

To discover more in depth about this fascinating phenomenon:

Puddling: A Butterfly’s Secret Garden of Delight


Nature Corner: Avian World Record Holder

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 6/18/2024

If you venture outdoors on any given day during this time of year, you will more than likely hear the bold and beautiful songs of this tireless singer, the Red-eyed Vireo, a small olive-green and white songbird. In fact, this diminutive bird holds a Guinness world record of singing 22,197 songs in a single 10-hour span of time. That adds up to over 2000 songs per hour! 

 

Each male has a repertoire of more than 30 different songs. To make it even more astonishing, there have been over 12,500 different variations recorded.

 

Fun facts: 

  1. The namesake of “red-eyed" doesn’t come to fruition until the end of the birds first winter. Some believe that the distinctive eye, which ranges from brick red to crimson, is a way to attract females.
  2. During the summer, vireos hunt for caterpillars and insects in tree tops. In autumn, they head for the Amazon basin where they will feast mostly on fruits and berries. Depending on their fat stores, vireos will either cross the Gulf of Mexico, or if leaner, will migrate along the coastline.
  3. While the male sings accompaniment, the female builds the nest, gluing the plant components (bark strips, pine needles, grasses, twigs, plant fibers and wasp nest paper) with spider-web adhesive.

 

For more information:

Red-Eyed Vireo Overview

Red-Eyed Vireo

Most songs recorded for a species of bird


Nature Corner: What's in Bloom?

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 6/4/2024

 

The beautiful weather over this past week has encouraged a blossoming of new spring wildflowers. While you might be lucky enough to spot a few lady slippers still blooming, the new arrivals spotted on a walk this week are: Bluets, Starflowers, Canada Mays, Birdfoot trefoil, White Campion, Meadow Hawkweed, Meadow Buttercup, and Blackberry Blossoms.

As pretty as they are, wildflowers are blooming to produce seeds for future plants... some like Buttercups are prevalent, but others like Lady Slippers take a long time to bloom.

 

 

 

To discover more about the beautiful blossoms that are emerging daily during this blooming season:

 

Beaver Brook Association

 

US Wildflower Database

 


Nature Corner: Perfect Lawns or the Health of Humans, Pets, and Wildlife

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 5/28/2024

Although we have visions of emerald green lawns and bug free backyards, the use of lawn chemicals/pesticides have a significant and negative impact on wildlife, impacting the smallest of insects all the way up the food chain. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports the usage of lawn chemicals causes the highest amount of wildlife poisonings. Birds are in particular, highly at risk, mistaking the chemical granules as food.

 

Lawn chemicals are not only dangerous to wildlife, but to humans as well. In addition to the danger of being absorbed through the skin, inhaled or swallowed during application, they also can float onto our clothing, pools, toys, and nearby waterways. Research has shown that chemical poisons on our grass can negatively impact our pets as well, with the pets of chemical users having a much higher risk of lymphoma.

 

What can we do?

  1. Read labels on lawn chemicals carefully and always apply products sparingly.
  2. Try using compost or organic lawn chemical alternatives. Composting creates an organic, slow-release fertilizer and soil- enhancing material.
  3. Landscape with native plants, grasses and flower species whenever possible. A natural lawn reduces or eliminates the need for lawn chemicals.
  4. Use caution on slopes and lawn edges so fertilizer will not wash into nearby storm sewers or waterways.
  5. Allow proper drying time for liquid chemicals, and never use lawn chemicals before a heavy rainfall is expected.
  6. Test the soil for nutrient deficiencies before using lawn chemicals.
  7. Contact your county extension service for more information on lawn chemical use. Extension phone numbers can be found here.

 

We have been placing wood chips around the perimeter of our property and spraying it with cedar oil, which has been an effective deterrent to ticks, ants, etc. Cedarwood oil does not impact bees and pollinators.



To discover more:

MARC Lawn Chemicals