Summer is how many people imagine Maine and July is the heart of summer here.. This year’s July was a little too hot, a little too wet , and a little too foggy at times – but we wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the month. Among other things, it usually was a fine time to stroll under clouds in open space, travel country roads, or walk beside streams under a forest canopy.
July is when new-born fawns are strong enough to come out of the deep woods with their mothers.
This year, because of an unusually wet and cold June, some of our natural cycles were delayed. In July, young Ospreys were still staying close to the nest, although they would take test flights every now and then. Male Song Sparrows, Common Yellow-Throated Warblers, and Bobolinks were still singing their hearts out.
The Bee Balm plants peaked in July, which meant an invasion of female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. (Most of the males of this species, which are the only ones with ruby throats, mate in May or June and continue migrating north.)
Hummingbird imitators also are at their peak during July. Here we see Clearwing Hummingbird Moths doing everything that hummingbirds can do to Milkweed.
Although not as agile as Hummingbird Moths, our butterflies probably do a better job of pollinating the flowers. They have to get down on the flowers and get dusted by pollen. Among our most common butterflies are White Admirals and Tiger Swallowtails.
Of particular interest and concern are our Monarch Butterflies, which have had their ups and downs recently. We saw good numbers of Monarchs this July and plenty of Monarch Caterpillars on the Milkweed leaves — the only leaves that these finicky insects will eat.
July also is the month to see Dragonflies, Damselflies, and Turtles in and around our freshwater ponds. Below we see a Twelve-Spotted Dragonfly approaching some Cow Vetch and some Painted Turtles unsuccessfully trying to change species and play leapfrog.
We move now from freshwater to the salty sea and bays that surround our peninsular. Naskeag Harbor, below, is a working harbor as well as a recreational one.
The fishing vessels here usually start setting lobster traps in early June, but this year weather delayed them also. They still were setting traps out in mid-July.
Our Great Cove is the place to see plenty of coastal cruising schooners in July. Here we see the Stephen Taber coming in and going out of the Cove. She’s a 110-footer that was launched in 1871.
Another frequent visitor is the Mary Day in which the passengers help raise the sails and the yawl boat before she hoists anchor. Mary was built for the tourist trade in 1962 and is 125 feet long overall.
The yellow-hulled Heritage is the youngest of the schooners, having been built for the tourist trade in 1983. She’s a 145-footer.
The American Eagle was launched as a fishing vessel under a different name in 1930. After some hard times, she was renovated on 1986 into this sleek tourist schooner:
July was a good month for diversity in Great Cove. Among the more interesting vessels were Salty Paws and Tugnacious, a matched pair of Lord Nelson Victory Tugs; Little Bear, a yacht that is a sardine carrier replica, and Norna, a high-sterned wooden cutter built in Denmark.
Nonetheless, for sheer July fun, nothing seems to beat the WoodenBoat School’s 12-and-1/2-foot sailboats, which dart around like water bugs most of the time.
Of course, boats are built and reconstructed In July at WoodenBoat in fascinating workspaces:
It may surprise some to hear that Down East Maine also is a gardener’s heaven with famous public gardens. (Brooklin has had a garden club since 1935.) The wet spring seemed to help many garden flowers, including these local Peonies,Poppies, and Roses putting on July faces:
Where garden flowers prosper, wild ones usually do as well. And, that was the case in July for many wild flowers. Among others, Day Lilies burst open, Wild Irises (Blue Flags and Yellow Flags) were robust in wetlands, and Queen Anne’s Lace appeared. Hawkweed, Crown Vetch, and Butter and Eggs were all over the fields and borders. Water Lilies first appeared in July to grace many ponds
Two annual July Brooklin events are worth remembering. Our Independence Day parade/concert/picnic is one of the best small town celebrations. The annual Small Reach Regatta is one of the most unusual events: it’s for small sailing vessels of any heritage and they sail in Eggemoggin Reach. This July, the wind was a sometimes-thing, which meant that there was some rowing going on — and it was hot.
Lack of wind on a hot day is not always bad, however.. That usually means the sea is still and the horizon hazy, which can produce visual delights:
(All images above were taken in Brooklin and neighboring Blue Hill, Maine, during July of 2019.)