September Meadows, 2019

September meadows showcase a lengthy sequence of bloom and the nectaring insects  attracted to the floral display. Goldenrods dominate early, followed by a beautiful palette of asters. This season, monarchs and red admirals were the most common butterfly visitors.

Monarch on goldenrod

Red Admiral on goldenrod

By mid September, the goldenrod bloom begins to fade as flowers go to seed and earth tones replace the golden yellow of fresh blossoms.

Sulphur on the fading bloom of goldenrod

The aster bloom seems to occur overnight, magically, in places where you didn’t even know there were asters. It is a fitting finale to the summer wildflower season and a timely food source for countless insects.

Aster, standing tall in a sea of goldenrod

Monarch approaching an aster to feed

Monarch on aster, with a background of goldenrods

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Dew-covered aster on a chilly September morning

An anglewing on aster

Photos by NB Hunter. © All rights reserved.

Late Summer Gold, 2019

Wildflowers are the perfect bookends to the growing season! Spring ephemerals like trillium and bloodroot introduce spring, while late summer beauties like the goldenrods and asters provide a colorful transition into the dormant season.

Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) dominate fallow fields, forest edges and waste places. There are dozens of species and variations in size and form, some as tall as seven feet. In full bloom, showy clusters of tiny flowers form plumes, wands, clubs and spikes, depending on the species.

The goldenrod bloom creates endless photo opportunities as it frames, attracts and enhances subjects of interest in a single glance. These examples made me smile, and illustrate why I embrace seasons of change.

As August gives way to September, chilly nights and the approach of autumn, the uniform sea of golden yellow is enhanced by the arrival of a vivid palette of asters. And summer’s curtain call is complete.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All rights reserved.

 

 

Zooming in on Early Autumn

Early Autumn. A visual definition!

The spectacular bloom of goldenrods and asters fades as plants age to drooping stalks and earth tones.Cool nights give rise to morning dew…. and wet feet. The once daily encounters with cold blooded creatures – bugs, snakes, toads and the like – gradually disappear. Birds and mammals take center stage, competing for nature’s bounty as they instinctively prepare for winter.

Nutritious acorns and other “hard mast” are wildlife magnets and a critical food source for winter health and survival.

Wild turkey hen and her young foraging for seeds and bugs in a hay field.

Antlers free of velvet and polished, this mature whitetail will soon reach his peak weight and be ready for the physical challenges of the rut, the hunting seasons … and winter

Fungi thrive in the warm, wet weather of September. Fruiting bodies are everywhere, appearing quickly and unpredictably in the moist, organic habitats of woodlands.

Happy Autumn!!!

Photos by NB Hunter (September, 2018). © All rights reserved.

Wetland Visits

A small, shallow pond and wetland a few miles south of home supports a variety of wildlife in late summer: shorebirds, herons, turtles, muskrats and, occasionally an egret. I haven’t been on site early enough to beat the Great Blue Heron and Great Egret to their feeding grounds, but have had some interesting observations and encounters.

Stump viewed through a patch of Joe-Pye Weed in full bloom

Green Heron

Broad-leaved (Common) Arrowhead; wetland wildflower

Foraging Muskrat

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Meadow Macros

Flower Spider (Goldenrod Spider, Red-spotted Crab Spider) on Knapweed

Sulphur on Chicory

Red-tailed Bumble Bee on Goldenrod

Wood Nymph on Knapweed

Jewelweed (Touch-me-not)

Sulphur on Goldenrod

Cucumber Beetle on Aster

Viceroy on Goldenrod

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Late Summer Rambling

Ramble (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary): “to wander around in a leisurely, aimless manner; to take a course with many turns or windings, as a stream or path”. Recently, in the absence of major field trips and photo projects, I’ve taken to rambling to break up the routine. This usually involves short, exploratory walks not far from home; streams, meadows, woodlots, roadsides, the backyard – just about any natural area will suffice. For the most part, the flora and fauna in this post are very common and images of them are everywhere. On the other hand, every image is unique, and some are even worthy of redundancy!

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American Toad

All of the images in my gallery are recent, with the exception of two: the butterflies (same time of year, 2012). They are few and far between this year.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.