The Notes of Fall

September 24
The seed and mast crop is prolific this year. Ash and apple trees are loaded with their seed pods and fruit. So many walnuts crashing to the ground, I should wear a hard hat when I cut the lawn. Our large white oak tree has already produced over 1,000 acorns. Deer, bear and other wildlife will go into winter with a large fat reserve.

September 28
Capturing multiple images of gray fox on the trail camera. No photo of red fox in months.

September 30
Haven’t seen a hummingbird at the flowers for days. They’ve probably headed south for the winter.

October 2
Went fishing at sunset. No fish, but it was great to be on the water on such a beautiful evening.

Had an unusual sighting of a Red-necked Phalarope among a flock of Ring-billed gulls. They were feeding on flying ants that had landed on the surface of the lake.

October 12
Heard the trill of a screech owl just after dusk.

October 13
Folklore says, if the woolly bear caterpillar has more orange coloring than black the winter will be mild, and if the black dominates – beware! Entomologists say, however, that older woollies simply have more black. I like the folklore version. The woolly bear caterpillar is the larval stage of the Isabella moth.

October 18
Saw one monarch butterfly migrating today. It’s the first one I’ve seen in weeks. Their numbers are rapidly declining. Scientists believe it is because herbicide use has killed much milkweed, their host plant. The monarch is the only butterfly that migrates.

October 24
First frost of the season was light. None of my plants were killed. It’s a beautiful October with brilliant color.

October 25
Trail camera report: grey squirrels, raccoon, rabbit, gray fox, opossum, and crows. An 8-point, a 6-point, and one buck with 6-inch spike antlers still in velvet. Usually velvet is shed in early September.

October 29
28 degrees last night. Some garden plants and flowers were frosted, but quite a few survived. Still some nice colors left.

October 31
Chipmunks and blue jays at the feeder, stuffing their cheeks with sunflower seeds. Looks like they both have toothaches. Jays fill their gullets and then store seeds under leaves and in tree crevices. Chipmunks cache their food for when they awaken on mild winter days from their state of torpor to feed. Both are highly vocal this time of year – chipmunks are constantly chucking and jays are squawking.

by Bill Banaszewski

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