reddish oak leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long

Naturalist News – Fall 2013

reddish oak leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long
reddish oak leaves. Photo by Donna L. Long

A refreshing blast of crisp, cool air. The comfort of warm sunshine on my face and taking long walks in the woods. These are some of my thoughts as the year turns into autumn. I like summer but, in truth, I am never sorry to see it go. Ah, autumn, I am so glad to see you.

This year, August was cool and gentle. I loved it. The days were in the low 80s and the nights were even cooler. I felt invigorated and energized. Hot weather seems to sap my strength and desire to do anything. But, cool weather returns and I am ready to go.

pumpkin harvest in autumn. Photo by Donna L. Long
pumpkin harvest in autumn. Photo by Donna L. Long

What Does Autumn Have in Store for Us?

Birds: migration southward begins

  • the majority of Pennsylvania’s songbirds are migrates who will travel south for the winter
  • birds no longer sing – except for a lone maverick; birds flock to prepare for migration
  • hawk migration begins in late August; most birds have lost their dramatic breeding plumage are not as colorful as in spring
  • late September and October are hawk watching time (Fort Washington State Park; Cape May, NJ)

Plants:

  • leaves turn color on deciduous trees and shrubs (why leaves change color)
  • seeds develop on flower heads
  • mushrooms – fall is great mushroom hunting season

Insects:

  • butterfly migrate
  • dragonflies migrate
  • insects enter their winter hibernation forms to live out the cold weather

Food:

  • nuts are ready for harvest – hickory nuts, beech nuts, walnuts, acorns, sunflower seeds
  • corn, beans and squash are ready for harvest
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra). Photo by Donna L. Long
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra). Photo by Donna L. Long

Did You Know?

Oak leaves remain on the tree through out the winter?

gill mushrooms. Photo by Donna L. Long
gill mushrooms. Photo by Donna L. Long

Some Past In Season Blog Posts on Seasonal Events

Bird of Prey Facts: What Makes a Raptor a Raptor?

Watching Birds of Prey

Drawing Nature in Autumn

Autumn Photography Tips

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

brilliant yellow leaves and dark tree trunks. Photo by Donna L. Long.
brilliant yellow leaves and dark tree trunks. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Interesting Information on the Internet

Nature Detectives: Autumn Activity Sheets to Download – primarily for kids but ideas can be used by adults, too. (UK organization)

Migration Basics (US National Park Service) – an informative articles about the different types of migration

Pa Mushrooms – a website focused on photos of Pennsylvania mushrooms

Kennet Square, PA Mushroom Festival, September 7th and 8th – Kennet Square is called the (cultivated) mushroom capital of the world)

Dragonfly Migration: A One-way Ticket” (Washington Post)

Migratory Dragonfly Partnership – a website by scientists studying dragonfly migration

autumn_colors_Clopper_2_Lake_Seneca_Creek_SP.noaa.gov

Seasonal Calendar

Lughnasadh -Beginning of Harvest  – August 1 (or begins at sunset August 7 for 2013)

Full Green Corn Moon – August 21

Full Harvest Moon – September 19

Autumnal Equinox – September 22

Full Hunter’s Moon – October 18

Samhain – End of Harvest, beginning of winter – October 31 – November 1

Full Beaver Moon – November 17

Full Cold Moon – December 17

Winter Solstice – December 21

  • Remember – Full moons always rise near the time of sunset
vibrant autumn colors of local trees
vibrant autumn colors of local trees. Photo by Donna L. Long

Citizen Science to Participate In:

Nature’s Calendar Survey – for the UK 

Record the signs of the seasons in the United Kingdom.

Dragonfly Migration

Help scientists study the spring and fall migration of five main migratory species in North America.

Track Invasive Species

Help the US Forestry Service predict the spread of invasives

That’s all for this issue. Look for the next Naturalist News at the beginning of winter.

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