July moves on. It began with bird watchers gathering along the Outer Banks and Cape Lookout watching for the annual arrival of the Great Black-backed Gull. Meanwhile, black skimmers and plovers were already nesting along these remote beaches and barrier islands.
Summer's heat reminds the bog turtle to deposit its eggs in mountain wetlands. While squirrel tree frogs, eastern narrow-mouth toads, and oak toads breed in temporary wetlands after heavy summer thunderstorms, newly hatched alligators have emerged to control surplus salt-marsh populations.
Mid-July brings the peak migration period for our largest butterfly, the giant swallowtail, winging over the outer Coastal Plains. Black bear mating has peaked, and the indescribably delicious, sweet and cool Bogue Sound melons are ripe.
Black-eyed Susan, jewelweed and Joe-Pye weed, Indian pipe, morning glories and zinnias have opened in an assortment of colorful displays, while royal walnut and imperial moths join the eastern Hercules beetle, our largest beetle and heaviest insect, flying around lights at night.
Turk's cap, Michaud's and Sandhills lilies are in bloom. Fence lizard eggs are hatching, while garter and ribbon snakes give birth.
July ends with silent fireworks, as a series of meteor showers take dog days for a walk.