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.