October Memories

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Wisps of clouds and soft colors defined a warm and peaceful sunrise

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Natural rhythms were interrupted by unusually warm, dry and erratic weather patterns

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Early leaf drop and muted colors in woodlands shifted attention to the landscape underfoot

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The Harvest Moon reminded all of the landscape overhead

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Harvested fields were crowded with hungry geese

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Gulls as well as geese foraged in dense, low fog on cold mornings

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Searches for fall landscapes led to familiar haunts, like the old mill pond

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Driven more by photoperiod than the tricky warm weather, a mature male beaver prepared for winter by harvesting an aspen tree and stashing branches at the family lodge

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Staghorn Sumac was on fire!

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A large ash tree, dead for many years, returned to life. An impressive mass of “Chicken-of-the woods” fungus fruited on the base of the snag and lit up a drab woodland scene.

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October reflections

Photos by NB Hunter (October 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

 

Rainy Days

Wind, rain and dark skies have settled in, arriving at the tail end of a beautiful display of flaming foliage in the countryside. I’m searching for the silver lining — while monitoring storm water and the erosion control practices on my woodlot.

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Photos by NB Hunter. All Rights Reserved.

Autumn 2016: “Best of Show”

The maple-dominated woodlands of Central New York have been beautiful this week! Sugar Maple and associated deciduous trees are presenting their true colors in a flaming palette of warm and vibrant colors.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”   – L. M. Montgomery

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Landscapes in Central New York

Aided by warm sunny weather and the absence of strong winds and precipitation, fall foliage colors were brilliant last week. I love this season and cherish the moments when everything comes together – colors, lighting, moisture, stillness – to support the many “flaming foliage” festivals and “leaf-peeping” activities that occur throughout the Northeast. This type of ecotourism can be simple, cheap and highly rewarding outdoor recreation.

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This year’s theme came to me as I drove the back roads of Central New York, admiring the rural landscapes that still characterize much of the region. These landscapes are not held in the public trust as “forever wild”. They are private lands, lands that are vulnerable to development and changing rapidly. Natural scenes with high visual quality are, in fact, an endangered resource that is disappearing virtually overnight. Hence, my theme: preservation and advocacy via a photographic record.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Leaves and Landscapes

Recent wind, rain and falling temperatures have added a sense of urgency to my fall photography. The oaks and aspens are approaching peak foliage color, but many deciduous trees and shrubs now have a late fall, November look, i.e. bare or mostly so.

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Eastern Chipmunk caching food in its den under a pile of rotting firewood in a woodlot

I’ve created this gallery of images, past and present, in an attempt to capture and share the splendor of autumn in the Northeast.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Fencerows and Edges in Autumn

Forest edges, roadsides, swamp borders and fencerows are all ecotones, places where different communities come together. Ecotones may be large or small, with transitional areas that are gradual and extensive or abrupt and barely noticeable.

The transitional area between communities is often relatively rich and varied due to the presence of organisms that prefer edge habitats as well as cohorts from “each side of the fence”. This natural phenomenon, called “edge effect”, enhances visual resources as well as biodiversity. The variety of trees and shrubs and the good lighting associated with ecotones can result in several layers of colorful foliage capable of transforming a drab landscape scene into wall-hanger.

The rural countryside of central New York is a superb example of the nature and value of localized ecotones. The goal of this post was to capture ecotones in rural landscapes, beginning first with panoramic views, then zooming in to view foreground details. All of these images were taken in central New York within the last few days.

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Dairy farm

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Dairy farm and the headwaters of the Chenango River

 

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A large, fencerow habitat adjacent to cultivated fields

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A closer view of the fencerow in the previous image; the colorful, 5-10 foot tall shrub layer is Staghorn Sumac, a native, thicket-forming species.

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The colorful, feathery leaves of Staghorn Sumac; see my “March Robins” post from March, 2013 for the fruit and wildlife value of this shrub.

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The fall foliage and male flower buds of American Hazelnut, a native shrub

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The ripened fruit of American Hazelnut, encased in bracts that look like dried leaves (the squirrels still find the nuts!)

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Single fruit of American Hazelnut

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Witch Hazel, a native shrub, has the unusual habit of flowering in the fall (the yellow, strap-like petals); see a recent post by “Naturally Curious with Mary Holland” for more photos and a detailed explanation

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The harvested field next to the featured fencerow came alive in the 70-degree sun. At least three species of butterflies – Cabbage Whites, Sulphurs and Variegated Fritillaries – were nectaring on the flowers of residual weeds and legumes.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Autumn Scenes

Peak fall foliage, fall foliage festivals and leaf-peeping tourists characterize the Northeast landscape in September and October. In reality, I rarely see an actual peak where all of the stars align and the foliage colors are all brilliant and in sync. This year, for example, many of the Sugar Maples lost their leaves early, without fanfare, or are more brownish yellow than golden yellow. A warm dry spell followed by wind and rain is their excuse.

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I ventured forth to do some leaf-peeping myself, mostly concentrating on rural landscapes, and have a few images that escaped the delete button.

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Photos by NB Hunter. ©  All Rights Reserved.

A Cow and Her Calf

I suspect that some of my friends and followers, upon seeing my title, are expecting wild things, maybe a cow elk and her calf in a remote setting. On the contrary, this is about human-modified environments where elk disappeared long ago.

I have a soft spot for farm scenes in autumn. In Central new York, many farms are relatively small dairy operations, with varied topography, cover types and substrate. Intensely managed fields are typically interspersed with small woodlots, swampy habitats, fallow fields and non-tillable sites. All of this leads to rich, colorful landscapes when the foliage changes.

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Morning fog

Over the next few weeks I plan to photograph and post some rural scenes. If I can capture and publish half of what is visible to my mind’s eye, I’ll consider the effort to be a success.

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A cow and her calf (1 of 2)

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A cow and her calf

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.