At the beginning of this month the air felt like fall but most leaves were still green. Western Road on October 6 – this trail follows our Western Valley.
Red Maples are some of the first trees to change color.
The same Red Maple a few days later.
Even in the cooler weather we’re still seeing a few butterflies – most are Clouded Sulphurs like this one from October 9.
A late migrating Monarch – October 3
And another – on a Field Thistle seed head
Great Spangled Fritillaries were looking pretty battered by the end of the season – October 6
There are a few flowers still blooming….New England Asters
More New England Asters
October Ladies Tresses – a late blooming native orchid
We had our first snowfall on October 14, but it melted away by the end of the morning.
Sugar Maples on Maple Ridge
The day after the snow on Western Road – fewer leaves with more color.
The weather has been good for being outside – real winter isn’t here quite yet – so we’re still working on fall projects.
I like to work on the brushy edges of prairie remnants each year. My goal is to clear an 8 – 10 foot width. If I do narrow strips the cleared areas recover and become part of the existing prairie without a lot of extra work.
This is part of the west facing slope of Hidden Oaks Point. I’ve cleared the upper parts of the slope in past years. Here’s the way it looked when I started this year.
And this is the way it looked after I cleared my narrow strip. I cut and treated sumac, honeysuckle, buckthorn, gray dogwood and prickly ash.
There are always prairie plants growing at the edges under the brush. My best find was Autumn Coral Root – a delicate little orchid that blooms in early fall. By the time I found it, it had already gone to seed. The plants have no chlorophyll – they get their nutrients from soil fungi.
We’ve been doing a lot of work on the savanna above Big View Prairie and the prairie area below it. Getting to Big View Prairie means a long trip through Western Prairie – our largest planted prairie. It’s a beautiful drive in the early morning.
A few times I’ve been able to get to the top of the point just before the mist disappears from the valley below.
The upper savanna is a group of huge old oaks just above the prairie remnant. Our friend Todd cut most of the smaller invading trees a few years ago, and now Mike and I are getting rid of fallen trees and logs so it will be easier to take care of in the future.
Erik from Kule Region Forestry has been using a mulching machine to grind up some of the brushy parts of the lower savanna, below Big View Prairie. This photo shows the machine in one of the honeysuckle thickets he was working on. The day before this was taken the whole area in the photo was a honeysuckle thicket.
This shows the front of Pine Point, with the area Erik mulched, the lower savanna above it, Big View Prairie above that, and the fringe of trees at the top where Mike and I have been working.
The view from Big View Prairie
Another project is keeping the beavers from building a dam inside the culvert that goes under our driveway. They’ve built a dam downstream from the driveway that makes a beautiful big lake.
And they’ve piled their winter food supply upstream from the driveway.
We’re fine with all that, but if they build in the culvert they’ll flood the driveway. So every day we tear out their work, and carry their building materials away. It seems to be working – every day there’s less construction from the night before, and today I only had to take out two sticks.
Sugar Maples on Maple Ridge
Eagles have come back to their perch at the top of Maple Ridge.
Morning mist over the wetland
Every year we see and hear huge flocks of migrating Robins in the woods. This year we were lucky to be sitting on our birding bench in the Glen when a migrating flock came by. There were hundreds of birds – sitting in the trees, bathing and drinking in the stream, and probing for bugs between the stones. Here’s a one minute video of their activities. There are a few other birds here too – Blue Jays and Cedar Waxwings.
More fall prairie pictures….
Indian Grass Point looking into Center Valley
Twisted Oak Savanna
A small remnant prairie opening surrounded by Twisted Oak Savanna
This is looking north into the savanna from Indian Grass Point. The first photo is from long ago – when all we’d done was to mow a path so we could get to the point. The second photo is from this month – after many years of clearing projects. (Drag the arrows to see both photos.)
Afternoon sun highlighting leaf colors in the shadow of the hillside.
Hazel leaves and Bottlebrush Grass seeds
Hidden Oaks Point
Hidden Oaks Point looking down into 3 Finger Valley
This shows the changes that have happened in the savanna behind Hidden Oaks Point. In 2004 the trees were so thick you couldn’t see through them from the point. We cleared out brush and smaller trees that fall. The left photo shows what it looked like before we started, the middle photo was taken right after we did the clearing work. The photo on the right is from a few weeks ago.
The Knife Edge Point – still one of my favorite views
Goldenrod – still blooming on October 30
An Eastern Comma warming up on the driveway – October 31.
Western Road – October 31