October 2014

10/1     I observed a three-legged coyote loping along the edge of the garden on Nichols Road.  — Bill Buck

Ed. note: This wily coyote was likely trapped and managed to escape. According the NYSDEC, “About 30,000 New Yorkers participate in coyote hunting each year and about 3,000 participate in coyote trapping. All of upstate New York is open for coyote hunting and a small game hunting license is required to hunt coyotes. All of upstate New York is also open for coyote trapping and a trapping license is required.”

10/2     In Patterson we found a bobcat dead on the roadside, probably hit by a car. It was on the hill just past the railroad tracks on Cornwall Hill Road, very close to the Great Swamp WMA. I am attaching a photo. I reported it to DEC via their website. We also saw a live one last spring off Ludingtonville Road near the Route 311 Park-and-Ride.  — Anne and Bruce Campbell

Photo of a bobcat dead on the side of the road

Cars are hard on even canny and careful species. Photo: Anne Balant-Campbell

10/7     Nine of the sixteen raptors we counted today at the Chestnut Ridge Hawk Watch were sharp-shinned hawks, one of which was seen diving on a local red-tailed hawk. Broad-winged hawk migration seems to have ended. Also sighted were two merlins; a single monarch passed by as well. Current selected season totals were 6,096 broad-winged hawks and 922 sharp-shinned hawks.  — Tait Johansson, Christina Lupoli

At day’s end, and on into the night, the rain pattered against the leaves. This sound will be leaving us as the heavy one-inch rain will certainly bring down lots of color. It also brings out the color – spied a juvenile red-spotted newt out and about because of all the moisture.

Photo of juvenile red-spotted newt next to a hiking boot for scale

It seemed like a good day for a walk. Photo: Beth Herr

10/8-9     High winds whip up the leaves and send them flying. Blowing up from the west-southwest, the winds are incessant.

Something else is whipping up the fallen foliage. Leaf blowers are roaring and leaf piles on the side of the road are growing. Landscapers will be spending weeks collecting leaves and trucking them away. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Leaf mulching, or mulch-mowing, manages leaves right where they fall, leaving them where nature designed them to be. Leaf mulching is a great way to manage fall leaves, naturally feeding lawns and gardens, while reducing the use of leaf blowers so that we can enjoy a more peaceful fall – and reduce our carbon footprint.

A full Hunter’s Moon shone brightly last night, but by morning was occluded and so was the total lunar eclipse!

10/11     The Hudson River canyon is a major flyway in our region. Croton Point was active with sparrows this afternoon. Those identified included vesper, immature savannah, white-crowned, Lincoln’s, swamp, chipping, field, song, and white-throated sparrows. Also found were junco, towhee, American pipit, killdeer, northern harrier, kestrel, adult peregrine falcon, osprey and a good-sized cedar waxwing flock. The Point never disappoints.  — Larry Trachtenberg

10/12     Some good news about monarchs from Croton. We went for a walk this evening at Croton Park. The copious plantings, particularly the milkweed, were filled with feeding monarch butterflies. There were dozens and dozens spread out along the walkway.  — Stephen and Susan Butterfass

10/14     The ladybugs are back. Asian Ladybugs, newcomers to our region, gather on sunny warm eaves and peaks. They find a way through tiny crevices and overwinter in our attics. On some warm days in spring they also find a way inside our houses and become a nuisance. Because they have smelly defensive compounds such as harmonine in their legs, resist the temptation to vacuum them up.

10/15     Coming soon to a landscape near you: mile-a-minute, a boisterous invasive from Asia, was seen on the bikeway in Carmel. Easy to identify this time of year with its deep blue berries, this undesirable is easier that most to control. If removed once found, control is easier than other invasive plants as it is an annual. It has recurved thorns along its stem so just roll the vines and those thorns will secure the vegetation into balls. Other key identifiers: triangular shaped leaves, and distinctive circular, cup-shaped leafy structures, called ocreae, surround the stem at nodes (thus the name “perfoliata”). Best to fight this one when you first see it – before it covers your landscape.

Photo of mile-a-minute vine showing triangular leaves and bright-blue berries

Now you know what mile-a-minute looks like. Photo: Beth Herr

Other blue berries abound, as do red, green, and white. Seeds are blown in the wind or attach to pants and hitch a ride to a new location. It is seed season.

Photo of swamp dogwood tree branches with leaves and clusters of blue berries

Halloween treats for the birds. Photo: Beth Herr

Photo of milkweed pod bursting open and releasing its seeds

Preparing to feed next year’s monarch butterflies. Photo: Beth Herr

10/19     The sound of the chain saw and the wood-splitter tell of impending winter. Stacked wood becomes art then heat.

Photo of firewood split and stacked for the winter

Ready to go. Photo: Beth Herr

10/20     Acorns abound – plunking on car hoods, cracking on pavement, donking on heads, and providing food for mice, turkey, deer and squirrels.

Photo of fallen acorns with leaf and twig detritus

Somebody stopped by for a snack. Photo: Beth Herr

Even chestnut oak acorns are plentiful this year, notable because this tree usually produces a crop every four to five years. And unlike the other acorns, chestnut oak seeds have no dormancy and thus germinate right after they fall, assuring a head start next spring. You can find this type of oak on Kent’s ridge tops where they can tolerate the dry, acidic, and harsh condition of the higher elevations.

Photo of sprouting chestnut oak acorns

Just getting a jump on the competition. Photo: Beth Herr

10/26     Most of the tree leaves have fallen, but the beeches and oak tint the hillsides ochre and bronze. There are some yellows from the wild grape and beech, but look to the ground and there’s color to be seen among the dead leaves: wintergreen berries brighten the forest floor. The leaves are indeed green all winter, and the berries are loaded with pepsin, that wintergreen flavor found in Pepsodent, Pepto Bismol, and wintergreen lifesavers.

Photo of green wintergreen plant with bright-red berries

Also called “teaberry.” Photo: Beth Herr

10/27     I am repeatedly, utterly, slain by foliage colors in the fall. The many bright and deep yellows, the Halloween oranges, the shameless reds, all echo various versions of themselves. Colors are pure ineffable feeling. The colors of foliage in fall take hold of us and immerse us in an inner realm of pure and deep feeling. What else is like the immersion of fall color? So familiar, but unfathomable? Love? Fall color makes us swoon.  — Duncan Brine

Photo of bright read winged euonymus foliage

It’s red. Really, really red. Burning-bush red. Photo: Beth Herr

10/31     Halloween ends the month with light drizzle, sun and clouds, and cool weather. But still no heavy frosts. Only light frosts have hit the low-lying valley. That should end soon enough; snow is predicted this weekend!

In November:

  • The great constellation Orion, low on the eastern horizon, announces the arrival of the cold months
  • Bird nests become visible as trees and shrubs shed their leaves
  • Lichens, mosses and club mosses color the forest in the absence of green leaves
  • Look for the full Beaver Moon on November 5
  • The peak night of the Leonid Meteor shower is expected from late evening November 17 to the morning of November 18
  • Many animals have disappeared from meadows, but some, like shrews and voles, carry on as though autumn had never occurred
  • Some trees retain their leaves longer than most. Oaks and beeches (from the same family) and hop hornbeams still shake their leaves in the wind
  • Deer are in rut season. The evidence is scraped bare ground and bark from shrubs and small trees removed by antler rubbing
  • Watch for information in the next issue about a Kent Nature Photo Contest

3 thoughts on “October 2014

  1. Hi,
    I really like the photo that Beth Herr took of the teaberry. I am a painter of wildflowers, and am interested in doing an oil variation of it. I am a retired medical illustrator, but now I do paintings in my retirement. I would like to ask Beth if she would give me permission to work from her photo printed in your “Nature Almanac”.


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