The Great Outdoors in September, 2018

There are seasons, and then there are seasons within seasons. The final three weeks of summer that define the month of September provide vivid proof of the latter.

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Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar, the larval stage of a tiger moth

Sulphur butterflies probing for nutrients in the wet, trampled soil of a cow pasture

Chicken of the Woods fruiting body (fried in butter by the landowner after I captured it alive!)

Monarch caterpillar feeding on Common Milkweed

A “fresh” Monarch nectaring on New England Aster (a September staple) in a weedy meadow

A good crop of Red Oak acorns has this squirrel busy all day long!

A young cottontail, now about half the size of its parents

Gray Dogwood, a favorite fuel of migrating birds like robins and catbirds

Most bucks rub their antlers free of dried velvet during the first three weeks of September, an event triggered by decreasing day length and increased testosterone

Foraging wildlife in a hay field in fading light (September 18 – the same date and location as the previous image)

Lastly, a message from my friend’s milk house kittens: Thanks for visiting!!!

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

Deer Update

I’m observing the local deer herd several times a week, hoping to learn more about their behavior in response to the changing seasons.

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Most of the bucks have rubbed and polished their antlers……….

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But not all. There is more variation in the timing of velvet removal than I realized, especially with respect to mature bucks like this one:

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We usually watch deer in fields, because we can, which doesn’t always tell the whole story. In wooded areas, acorns and other hard, dry fruits are a highly nutritious and desirable food source that can be critical for winter survival and fawn production. A doe and her two fawns frequent the Red Oak trees at the edge of my property at least once a day (after they’ve foraged on my wild apples!):

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“Button buck” fawn eating Red Oak acorns

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Red Oak acorn

This adult doe is an “urban” deer, feeding on Red Oak acorns at the edge of a golf course, within sight of noisy patrons:

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.