Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to see a master falconer and environmental educator at work. The program, “Talons! A Bird of Prey Experience” by Lorrie Schumacher, featured several species of hawks and owls, native and exotic. I locked in on one bird in particular, a Barn Owl, because it’s a native species that I have yet to see in the wild.
Meet “Oliver” the Barn Owl.
Lorrie, Master Falconer, and Oliver the Barn Owl
Barn Owls hunt open habitats at night for mice and other small mammals. Daytime retreats and nesting sites include natural cavities and abandoned barns, silos and other structures. Despite their worldwide distribution, they, like many wildlife species, are vulnerable to habitat degradation and loss.
Patrolling the airways with uncanny maneuverability and precision, foraging dragonflies provide entertaining insights into the world of insect predation throughout the summer and early fall.
Warm, sunny afternoons in August and September are prime time for Meadowhawk (Sympetrum spp.) activity. This one, perched on the tip of a blackberry cane, darted away so quickly that I couldn’t follow its flight. In a second or two it returned to the perch, munching on a tiny winged insect – in all likelihood a mosquito.
Our late summer sequence of bloom in the wild finds goldenrods going to seed as asters reach full bloom. Coincidentally, this is when I’m most likely to see migrating Monarch butterflies. In a field of goldenrods and asters, they’ll usually be found feeding on the latter.
Reptiles and amphibians are very active this time of year, foraging and searching for suitable wintering habitat. This morning I intercepted 4 toads, 2 frogs and a snake as I dug and hauled loads of coarse soil and stone for hardening the tread of my nature trail.
All of the toads were small; 2 could sit on the end of my thumb with room to spare. This one was less than 2 inches long and much smaller than a full-grown adult.
A small, shallow pond and wetland a few miles south of home supports a variety of wildlife in late summer: shorebirds, herons, turtles, muskrats and, occasionally an egret. I haven’t been on site early enough to beat the Great Blue Heron and Great Egret to their feeding grounds, but have had some interesting observations and encounters.
Stump viewed through a patch of Joe-Pye Weed in full bloom