Nature Notes by Bonnie Dundas
Warm, sunny days with blue skies have alternated with periods of cooler, rainy weather. The leaves began to turn color in earnest last week and there is a smell of autumn in the air. The last few days have brought some much-needed rain to our gardens. It is beneficial for perennials, trees and shrubs to have a few good soakings before winter sets in.
We have three new chickens: two Rhode Island Reds and one Ameraucana named Esmeralda. They have assimilated well into the flock and have started laying their eggs. The Ameraucana is laying blue-green eggs which are a hit with our young friends. All the chickens are still in their summer building, but will soon be moved to the barn for the winter.
Dick has been busy making salsa from our last tomatoes and hot peppers. Next will be his family’s famous kale soup. Our friends the Daughtons tell me their fall peas are covered with flowers. I admire anyone who can think about planting more in their vegetable garden in August! By then, I am ready to throw in the towel for the year.
Dick found the first Wooly Bear caterpillar (Isabella tiger moth) here at home. It had a wide brown stripe in the middle so that is one indication for a milder winter. Ed from Wallingford told me the Wooly Bears from further north are just the opposite with narrow brown bands. I will be interested what other people find with their Wooly Bears.
White-crowned and white-throated sparrows and two juncos are coming to our feeders. Fox sparrows will soon appear. A red-bellied woodpecker and a Carolina wren have recently shown up at both the suet and sunflower seed feeders. Ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers have been probing branches of shrubs and trees for food. Robins and cedar waxwings drop by now and again to see if the crabapples and wild grapes are ready to eat. We need a good freeze before the fruits become most edible.
On clear nights find orange Mars in the east right at dawn and Venus in the west at dusk. Saturn is below Venus and is more easily seen with binoculars or a telescope.
Get out your warm sweaters and take a walk. Enjoy the colors, sniff the air, feel the bark on different trees, listen for sparrows twittering. 802-447-7433 firstname.lastname@example.org.