Journal for October 23, 2014

It’s been a spectacular fall – wonderful colors and beautiful weather.

This is Hidden Oaks Point – part of the remnant savanna that we started clearing about 10 years ago.

Hidden Oaks Point 1


Looking south along the path

Hidden Oaks Point 2


Oaks along the edge of Buffalo Ridge Prairie

Buffalo Ridge


A view of the wetland and Maple Ridge – the newest part of our property – looking down from Sumac Prairie.

Sumac Prairie


Our friends Jon and Susan came for a beautiful fall walk in the prairies.

2014 10-12 jon and susan


Mike and I have been working on a couple of big clearing projects this fall.  One is enlarging the cleared savanna area on Indian Grass Point.  Last year we cleared the area to the left of the path – now we’re working on the area on the right.

Here’s what it looked like when we started.

Hidden Oaks savanna 10-5-14 2


And this is about half done – still with brush piles to move.

Hidden Oaks savanna 10-10-14 2


The other clearing project is to join Hidden Oaks Meadow – a mesic prairie remnant – with part of the Narrows Prairie – one of our planted prairies.  Right now they’re separated by a thin line of shrubs and small trees.  This is the ‘before’ photo – we’ve started cutting, but don’t have any good ‘after’ photos yet.

Hidden Oaks meadow before


There are still a few late flowers blooming.

New England Aster

NE Aster


Canada Hawkweed

Hieracium kalmii


Frost Aster

frost aster


Field Thistle

Field Thistle





And a few late butterflies

Orange Sulphur

Orange Sulphur 10-9-14 1


This Gray Comma sat on our driveway for 3 days.  We finally moved it to the grass at the edge of the driveway, and it wriggled itself down between the grass stems – maybe finding a place to spend the winter.

Gray Comma 10-19-14


Red-tailed Hawk

RT Hawk 10-19-14 1


I’m not seeing many moths these days, except one species – Linden Loopers.  Female Linden Loopers are wingless and I’ve never seen one.  But males are common and come to my lights – a few nights ago I counted 150 individuals on my sheet and the surrounding walls of the garage.  Here are a few of them – showing some of the variation in coloring.

Erannis tiliaria 10-16-14 1


Erannis tiliaria 10-16-14 2


Erannis tiliaria 10-16-14 3


I’ve been checking on my little colony of Northern Flower Moths – the rare moths I found last month on Sumac Prairie.  Here’s one of the moths I saw then – on Sept 18th.

Schinia septentrionalis 9-18-14 9

I’ve been back twice since then, looking for their caterpillars.

Here’s a tiny caterpillar – it was inside the flower, down where the seeds were developing.  9/29/2014

caterpillar from aromatic aster 9-29-14 1


On 10/9/2014 I found a larger caterpillar in the same part of the flower – eating the mature seeds.  As soon as I pulled the flower apart, the caterpillar crawled away down the stem.

10-9-14 3


Here’s a close-up of that caterpillar.

10-9-14 4

I don’t want to disturb the caterpillars too much – I’m not sure how many there are, and I want the colony to survive.  So I’ll leave them alone until next year.  They should pupate before winter, and then emerge as adults in late summer – they only have one generation a year.


We’ve been enjoying the Sugar Maples across the road – now our Sugar Maples!

Maple Hill 1


Hidden Oaks Savanna

Hidden Oaks Point 3


Sumac Prairie – the two parts of the prairie are slowly becoming one as I clear brush and kill the invading birches.

Sumac Bluff


Evening view from the Knife Edge

view from the Knife Edge