September 2013

9/1    This downy woodpecker was at home in our bluebird house in early September!  — George Baum

Downey woodpecker tail sticking out of the entrance to a bluebird house
Downies in the bluebird house – Photo: George Baum

9/8    Watch for cling-ons! These tick trefoil seeds, from plants along the bike trail, were so clingy they made good pant leg fasteners for the ride.

Tick trefoil seeds stuck tight to pant leg of bike rider
You can even use them to keep the real ticks out – Photo: Beth Herr

9/10    In Bedford, the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch, funded by the Bedford Aududon Society, counted 93 osprey, 253 broad-winged hawks and 85 sharp-shinned hawks. The count indicates birds of prey are taking their leave of our area and heading south during the day. They ride thermals and updrafts created by our Hudson Highlands. Keep your eyes to the skies. At night the songbirds move, flying in the dark, stopping to feed during the day. Keep your eyes on the berries.

9/11    Ninety-two degrees!

9/12    Mostly cloudy day with few hawks moving but 14 chimney swifts, 16 barn swallows, 2
tree swallows and 6 ruby-throated hummingbirds were reported by Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch.

9/13    Look what erupted from my flower beds! This stinkhorn mushroom shot up six inches in one day and lived up to its name!

Stinkhorn mushroom erupting in a garden

The stinkhorn mushroom lives up to its name. – Photo: Beth Herr

9/14    In Bedford at the Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch, we counted an amazing 1,539 broad-winged hawks today. I’ll admit that I didn’t think the pipeline was quite that flush with broad-wings. They were counted immediately upon our arrival with numbers ramping after midday. The American kestrel count, however, has been very disappointing, and the numbers we’re recording here (28) and at other northeastern sites so far this year are a bit worrying. Also counted were 8 common ravens, 97 cedar waxwings (5 flocks), 31 chimney swifts, 10 ruby-throated hummingbirds, and 1 monarch. Current selected season totals were 114 osprey, 1,801 broad-winged hawks, 133 sharp-shinned hawks.

9/15    Cricket song is loud and strong and katydids fill the night with their symphony.

9/16    In Bedford it was another amazing day with 8,587 broad-winged hawks counted at the
Chestnut Ridge Hawkwatch. As expected, morning migration was very minimal in the wake of a cold front that swept through earlier. But after midday, someone turned on the proverbial fire hose! Several very large broad-wing streams were seen, including groups of 466, 673, 762, and a dramatic wind-swept “wall” of 3,261 birds that passed in an unbroken stream north of the watch platform. Also counted were 8 ruby-throated hummingbirds. Current selected season totals were 11,053 broad-winged hawks and 285 sharp-shinned hawks.  — Gaelyn Ong, Tait Johansson, Chet Friedman

9/18    The nuts are plunking the car and bonking the roads: hickory, oak, and walnuts abound. This is a good mast year.

9/19    Full Hunter’s Moon shining so bright it floods yards and roadways.

9/22    The fall season begins. The autumnal equinox marks a day with an equal number of hours of day and night the world over: A hike today was a riot of asters and goldenrods; fall colors tinge the swamps. The dew this morning highlighted the spiders’ webs: doilies, orbs, and strings of diamonds in the meadows.

9/23    Wooly bear caterpillars (which become little brown moths in the spring) cross the sun-warmed roads, and blackbirds and starlings gather in great flocks. But mushroom numbers, usually so abundant in autumn, are low. A good rain is needed for a bloom of fungi.

9/25    Counting ducks as they fly to the Ice Pond wetlands for the night, I spied a muskrat grooming itself on a mound. They are packing their underground burrows with enough grass to last through the winter.

9/26    I spotted a praying mantis as it cruised, camouflaged among the field’s vegetation.

Praying mantis siting, beautifully camouflaged, on a stick
I see you. Do you see me? – Photo: Beth Herr

9/27    A crew of five volunteers helped paint the Mount Nimham fire tower cabin and base. A fine autumn breeze and cloud cover made for perfect painting weather. The mountain top is golden and the view from the fire tower cabin shows spots of red and orange as autumn comes to our valleys.

9/28    Town of Kent Open House at the town complex brought a few questions and anecdotes to the Kent CAC booth: “Do we have a tree ordinance?” “We have a pair of foxes living near our house and we see them every day!”

9/29    Swarms of the large, green darner dragonflies cruise the meadow in the DEP Horsepound Unit as they gather for migration. Great numbers of these can be seen at the Cape May Observatory (NJ) when they pass over the shortest route across open water.

9/30    Berries are ripening just in time for fall songbird migration. Look at the numbers of berries on the autumn olive and dogwood trees. Other berries to watch for (besides the non-native bittersweet and Russian olive) are the dark blue of the maple-leaved viburnums in the forest and the red-leaved vine of the Virginia creeper. My walk today ends with my all-time favorite flower, the fringed gentian. A true beauty, it closes up when clouds pass, but unfurls in the sun.

Dogwood tree in autumn with dogberriews on it
Dogwood tree advertises to passing songbirds – Photo: Beth Herr


Clump of vivid violet fringed gentian flowers
Fringed gentians announce a sunny day – Photo: Beth Herr


Autumn olive loaded with red berries

Win-win: The autumn olives feed the birds and the birds disperse the seeds – Photo: Beth Herr

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