Early Autumn 2016

“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower.”   -Albert Camus

In the fall we track the changing colors of foliage much the same way that we follow the sequence of bloom with spring wildflowers. Leaf peeping is a big event! Early autumn (late September and the first week or so in October in Central New York) is a time of excitement and anticipation, with everyone gazing into a crystal ball to predict peak foliage color and schedule outdoor activities.

A recent trip to my childhood home 400 miles southwest of here reminded me that wishful thinking has no influence on Mother Nature’s timetable! The river bottom watersheds in western Pennsylvania were still very green, leading me to explore the more detailed landscapes in front of my nose.

kiskiriver3oct165930e2c3x5

Kiskiminetas River, viewed from the Roaring Run Recreation Trail; Apollo, PA

spider3oct166039e2c5x7

Marbled Orbweaver spider, building a web

caterpillarmushroom2oct166070e3c8x10_edited-1

A tussock moth caterpillar on the move

After returning to Central New York, I began to see a bit more color but summer greens were still dominant. Warm temperatures, plenty of sun and the absence of a hard frost have resulted in a gradual transition from summer to fall, with a pleasing overlap of the seasons.

woodmanpond7oct166212e2c8x10

Woodman Pond and resting geese

ferns5oct166151e3c5x7_edited-1

Woodland ferns and a hint of autumn

chencanal7oct166257e2c4x6

Chenango Canal and the canal towpath trail

sulphur5oct166138e2c5x7

Sulphur butterfly on asters

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

Goldenrod Meadows and Summer’s End

HoneyBee3Sept16#4673E2c8x10

Goldenrod honey in the making

WhiteAdmiral1Sept16#4456E2c8x10

White Admiral

CabbageWhites10Aug16#3484E3c8x10

Cabbage Whites planning ahead

SpiderCabbageWhite3Sept16#4616E2c8x10

A Cabbage White butterfly caught in the web of life; one of two

SpiderCabbageWhite3Sept16#4617E4c8x10

Monarch2Sept16#4551E2c8x10

Monarchs: a species at risk; one of two

Monarch2Sept16#4567E2c8x10

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Swamp Rose Visitors

I follow the bloom of a group of wild swamp roses along the edge of a swamp. They appear to be thriving in several inches of water and muck, their feet wet year-round; an incredible display of site adaptation and tolerance.

Bees swarm the blossoms, presenting a target-rich environment for my favorite Arachnid: the Flower Spider. Also called Goldenrod Spider or Crab Spider, they’re an impressive ambush predator with a deadly toxin that immobilizes prey instantly. Bees are common prey, but I’ve photographed Flower Spiders with kills as large as the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and Hummingbird Moth (Clearwing) in their grasp!

SwampRose13July16#1907E4c8x10

FlowerSpiderSwampRose13July16#1924E6c5x7_edited-1

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Arachnids!

A cool morning with drizzling rain led me to think I might find deer feeding on apples well past daybreak. I saw a buck at close range, but he stayed in the shadows in dense undergrowth, just beyond the wild apple trees. Another half mile and I was in a brushy meadow bordering an old apple orchard. This time there were no deer to be found, so I checked the goldenrod and knapweed blooms for something of interest.

Today’s discovery was a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), a common Arachnid of gardens, field edges and similar habitats.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.