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.

 

Autumn Foliage: the Encore

The flaming foliage that fueled the tourist industry a month ago is now in the business of soil enrichment. The thick layer of leaves on the forest floor is already decomposing and adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. The annual cycle is nearly complete, and all will benefit, from fungi and amphibians to the massive oaks and the wildlife that depend on them. Is there a better example of recycling? Doubt it.

Fortunately, Mother Nature is kind enough to return with an encore performance, giving nature lovers one more peak at colorful leaves before winter. Several tree species, the beeches, oaks, aspens and larches included, don’t show off their fall colors until late October and early November. This past week I photographed Quaking Aspen and American Beech in local woodlots to illustrate.

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Mature Aspen

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Aspen

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Beech, with a background of aspen

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Aspen along the edge of a small stream

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Beech on aspen

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Aspen leaf adrift in the surface film of a small stream

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Mature aspen, with years of snow and ice damage reflected in an irregular crown

Photos by NB Hunter. © 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 Scenes, Near and Far

Red Oak leaves in the morning sun

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An aging Sugar Maple tree. Well beyond its economic prime, but priceless as a visual resource

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The third, and final, cutting of hay for the season

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The colors and contrasts of dairy farms, active and abandoned

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The Hunter’s Supermoon, a rare October treat!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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.

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

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Marbled Orbweaver spider, building a web

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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.

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Woodman Pond and resting geese

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Woodland ferns and a hint of autumn

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Chenango Canal and the canal towpath trail

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Sulphur butterfly on asters

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Aspen Accents

In Central New York the bright yellows and golds of aspen leaves are most vivid around Halloween. I captured this stand along a favorite walking trail just before peak color, fearful that the weather might rule out a return visit and second chance.

Municipal trail; “Rails to Trails” program; Oriskany Falls, NY

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Happy Halloween!!!

Frosty mornings, foraging critters, flaming foliage, a bright moon lighting up the night sky, corn harvesting, piles of pumpkins, scary stuff…..yikes! There are so many choices for my photo journal and Halloween greeting from Central New York. I’ll present these fresh images, for no particular rhyme or reason. It just feels good!

Hunters’ Moon, early evening; 26Oct2015

Farmer and his truck, both a little tired

American Beech on fire, over a background of Red Oak

A chunky chippy, pondering the challenge of getting a 10-inch pumpkin into the 2-inch entrance to its underground burrow

Hunters’ Moon, late evening; 26Oct2015

Zombie White-tail

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Flaming Foliage: the Peak!

Deciduous trees like White Ash, Red Maple and Yellow Birch initiate our fall foliage spectacle, while Quaking Aspen, Red Oak and others bring down the curtain – often aided by a thin but heavy layer of fresh snow. “Peak” foliage color, that brief period when panoramic views are most colorful and appealing to tourists, occurs somewhere in between. In Central New York, the timing and intensity of peak color is driven by one dominant species: Sugar Maple.

Locally, Sugar Maple foliage in the hills and farm woodlots peaked October 11 – 17, the approximate time frame that these images were recorded. Last night, a half inch of wet snow forced many leaves to the ground and moved us a bit closer to the next stage in the foliage festival: oak and aspen at Halloween!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Red Maple

Red Maple, also called Swamp Maple or Scarlet Maple, is now in peak fall color and deserves a post all its own to showcase its brilliant palette.

“Red Maple is the light that brightens the fall color sky throughout the northern midwestern and northeastern states……the fall color can be so dazzling and ….. paints a picture that no master could duplicate…”   from the “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by M.A. Dirr

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.