Significant snow hasn’t arrived yet, giving us a fleeting opportunity to appreciate the full palette of colors in late November landscapes. I love the stark contrasts and simplicity of these scenes.
I hoped to find turkeys, but this cold, dark and wintry morning found me sitting roadside, watching hundreds of geese foraging on waste grain in harvested fields. They’d probably been feeding for an hour or more so it wasn’t long before they left, en masse, to roost on a nearby reservoir. Their exit was deafening and seemingly chaotic; geese being geese.
Unprecedented numbers of Painted Lady butterflies fluttered about in fields of goldenrods and asters this month. They were everywhere, sometimes two to a flower cluster, presenting ample opportunities for environmental portraits. On more than one occasion they actually photo bombed a monarch shoot!
Warm sunny days are fueling carpets of wildflowers in abandoned fields. Nectaring butterflies – monarchs, painted ladys and others – complete the scene as they dart, flutter and glide about in a continuous and purposeful manner. It all seems right. And September is a wonderful time of year to be alive.
Non-consumptive recreation activities associated with white-tailed deer peak in late summer and early fall. Deer feed continuously and are often visible in good light. Fully developed antlers are on full display, more visible than ever while still covered in velvet. Regardless of your recreation choices – binoculars, conventional cameras, motion-detecting trail cameras, or simply viewing for pleasure – it is the best time of year to observe, appreciate and learn about these magnificent members of the deer family.
PS: These deer are in various stage of molting, a process that insures thermoregulation, and some camouflage as well, through the seasons. The thin, reddish-brown summer coat is giving way to a thick, dark winter coat that features hollow hair and a thick underfur.
In recent days the life cycle of monarch butterflies has unfolded before my eyes. My post on late summer white-tails will have to wait.
Monarch caterpillars are feasting on the leaves of milkweed, with several sizes or instars visible. This one is actually on a milkweed pod, in search of a fresh leaf to chew on.
After feeding, growing and molting for about 2 weeks, the mature caterpillars pupate. This chrysalis was discovered in a large patch of milkweed plants at the edge of a field.
The pupal stage may last another 2 weeks, but it’s worth the wait. The emergence of the last generation of monarchs in late summer is a defining moment. Their field trip to wintering grounds in Mexico is a miracle.
Monarchs fluttering over fields of goldenrods bring fitting closure to the wildflower season and offer a heart-warming prelude to autumn colors on the horizon.