Journal for November 30, 2023

Cold winter weather has arrived, though so far we don’t have much snow.

Maple Ridge – afternoon sun lighting the last of the color in the oaks


The Knife Edge Prairie


This is a photo – and video – of Winter Craneflies left over from October.  (I forgot to include it in last month’s post.)  In the fall we often see mating swarms of males dancing in the late afternoon sunlight.  We’re still seeing some now – in late November – but only a few individuals and they stay closer to the ground.


A closer view of a Winter Crane Fly.  They spend the winter as adults, hiding in sheltered places.  They will often come out during warm spells and I find them walking on top of the snow.


There’s at least one Barred Owl in Western Valley.  We hear it calling at night and I’ve seen it a few times during the day.


It’s very calm.  It flies high into a tree when I drive by, but after we stare at each other for a few minutes, it sits still on its perch while I slowly – and as quietly as I can – drive on.


The crows make their afternoon trek north across our land every afternoon.  We’ve thought about trying to count them, but there are at least hundreds, maybe thousands.  They make stops along the way – big noisy flocks in the trees.   Then something starts them flying again and the whole group continues on its way north.   We see – and hear – them come back south again in the mornings just as the sun is coming up.


One day it seemed like all the Sandhill Cranes were migrating.  We’d seen a few flocks on other days, but that day the flocks kept coming and coming, one after the other.


There are still some days when it’s warm enough to do outside work.  I’ve found several of these mushrooms hiding under fallen leaves in the woods – Waxy Caps.


And I found the yellowing leaves of several Pasqueflower plants.   I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll bloom next spring.


We don’t often see interactions between different kinds of animals on our trail cameras.  But this time we were lucky – 3 raccoons met up with an opossum.  (Two short videos)


Be sure to turn the sound on for this one…  Several folks who know a lot about wild mammals have suggested that the sounds are probably coyotes.  That may explain why the opossum left in such a hurry.


Oak Woods along the Cabin Trail


Hidden Oaks Bench –  It looks inviting, but on most days it’s been too cold to sit for long.


Edge of the savanna on Indian Grass Point


I’m getting the seeds ready for this winter’s planting in the wetland.  I’ll start planting once we have a little snow on the ground.  The seeds in this picture are Cup Plant, Wild Iris, Blue Vervain, Michigan Lily and Golden Alexanders – with a few others around the edges.


Sun rising behind the pines


Winter is coming closer – with leaves and grasses turning brown.


A frosty morning in the wetland


Sunrise over Center Valley


The evening sky over Western Prairie