Sunday, October 15, 2017

A sunflower

A heavy fog lingers in the wetlands into mid-morning today. It will warm to high 70s, and, by the looks of the 10-day forecast, no frosty temperatures in the near-term. Bumblebees are still gathering nectar, although flowers are harder to find this time of year. A late-blooming sunflower in our backyard offers a colorful target for a few insects. This is a reminder to self to plant some annuals late in the summer to provide pollinators more options, as the growing season grows longer. I think this lone sunflower was planted by a squirrel.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Still No Frost

October 14th and still no frost in our yard. This past week I have seen three species of snakes still out basking: northern water snake, garter snake, and brown snake. Sadly, the number of road-killed snakes, chipmunks, and skunks spiked this week too.

Northern water snake shedding its skin.

Monarch butterflies are still flying about. These late summer/fall adult monarchs are different than those emerging earlier in summer. Instead of a 2-4 week lifecycle, the fall monarchs live up to nine months—these are the super monarchs that fly all the way to central Mexico to overwinter. Peak migration in our area is typically mid-September. Whether the monarchs that are still flying around here in October are destined to fly south is unknown. The consensus is that this has been a pretty good year for monarchs.

Many other species are preparing for winter too: blue jays—not just squirrels—are gathering and storing acorns; flocks of Canada geese are flying south; witch-hazel, a forest understory shrub, is just now sporting its yellow, spidery-like flowers. It’s a beautiful time to be out in the woods. 

Witch-hazel flowering