The landscape of the mountains has changed in the last two weeks from brilliant colors of reds and yellows to a copper tone of the beech leaves both on the trees and on the ground. I know when most of the leaves are down when I can see the street lights shining out on the road from the house. There don’t seem to be as many leaves on the ground as normal and I thought there would be more with all the rain we had but I guess with the lack of sunshine there are fewer.
The tamaracks are still holding most of their yellow needles making the shorelines of some lakes and some swamps very colorful. A good rain or windstorm will have most of them on the ground. The ones around my pond are still holding their needles this morning. They will be naked soon and they don’t seem to have many cones for the winter birds to eat. The pine, hemlock and tamarack cones ripen earlier than the spruce and balsam cones. This year there seems to be a lack of cones on all these trees which might mean a lack of winter finches in this area. They don’t just eat at your feeders, and they work for seeds in the evergreens and birch seeds when not at your feeders. These birds are very nomadic, and they travel until they find a natural food supply which keeps them happy. Some of these northern visitors also work on some of the berry producing shrubs and trees. I saw Robins in my crab apple trees just this morning. Last year the Crows and Blue Jays worked in those trees until all the fruit was gone or on the ground and there, the turkeys found what fell. Some of the smaller birds must pick the bigger berries apart but the bigger birds like Robins and both species of Waxwings put the fruit down whole.
Last night I went out under the full moon and hardly needed my head lamp to put up the owl nets as the moon was so bright. A flock of Brant flew over talking to each other to keep in contact. They mostly fly just at treetop level in smaller groups than the Canada Geese. The night before when I was putting up the owl nets a pair of Barred Owls were hunting not far away and that means no owl catching that night as Northern Saw Whet Owls are prey for the bigger owls especially when they talk to each other. I have never heard the smaller owls calling their toot, toot calls as they travel but they do whine at the tape player and sometimes get caught. That didn’t happen in the last three nights but last year I caught them until the fifth of November.
A couple new birds showed up yesterday, a White Crowned Sparrow and a Fox Sparrow. You really had to look for the Fox Sparrow as it blends right in with the beech leaves. Its movements as it scratches in the leaves are about the only thing you can see. This is a big sparrow, and they normally stop by on their way going both north and south. I believe I banded five or six this spring as we were around when they came through and not down south soaking up some sunshine.
During the warm weather I had a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly down by the pond and later in the week the Half-banded Toper dragonflies were still chasing after bugs around the edge of the pond and laying eggs along the shoreline.
Just after I sent in my column last week Hurricane Otis hit Acapulco on the west coast of Mexico. It went from a tropical storm in the Pacific Ocean to a category 5 hurricane in a matter of hours giving this resort town winds of more than 165 MPH which took down nearly every power pole in the town. Looking at pictures it looked much like Sanibel Island after the hurricane hit there more than a year ago. So far 48 people have been found dead and about that many still missing. With still a month left in hurricane season we aren’t out of the woods yet.
The mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine left 18 dead from two locations; a bowling alley and a local bar, and 13 others injured. The shooter 40-year-old Robert Card II was searched for three days before being found dead from suicide about eleven miles from the shooting scene. An AR-15 was used in the shooting and found in the shooter’s car not far from where he was found dead with two other guns. Over 560 mass shootings so far this year in the US, with a couple more just this weekend, some at Halloween celebrations. The ban on these assault weapons will come up again with this tragedy. This is not a hunting weapon, it is a person killing weapon.
A couple of frosts killed most of my flowering plants so seeds from many of these were collected and stored in the garage in envelopes after being dried. These will be used to start my many plants for next year. Other plants that come up from tubers and bulbs were also cut back. Many of the plants have roots that will over winter in the ground and come up next year. I give them some fertilizer which gives them a head start next spring. Some seeds were scattered just like they fell from the plants, and they will come up next spring but not bloom until the following year just like they do in the wild.
Deer and moose are on the move so be aware while traveling both night and day but that’s another story. See ya.
Photo above: Little buck