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.


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


Marbled Orbweaver spider, building a web


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.


Woodman Pond and resting geese


Woodland ferns and a hint of autumn


Chenango Canal and the canal towpath trail


Sulphur butterfly on asters

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


Goldenrod Meadows and Summer’s End


Goldenrod honey in the making


White Admiral


Cabbage Whites planning ahead


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



Monarchs: a species at risk; one of two


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!



Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.



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.