My camera had to be sent off for repairs. So thereís only one drawing of a Cooperís hawk this week. Since the fall colors are peaking now, itís a rotten time to be without a camera. So much for timing. Hope you enjoy the Cooperís hawk, though.
Itís a bright, sunny day with blue skies and temperatures around 60 degrees. The warm sun felt good on my back as I transplanted some hostas from one place to another. There had been another hard frost the past two mornings that pretty much did in what remained of the perennials. I knew the frost was coming, so I picked several bouquets to dry. Itís nice to have some colorful summer flowers around when everything is winter white.
The honeybees and bumblebees are still busy collecting pollen, and the New England asters are alive with the buzzing insects. A few large dragonflies zoomed over the garden, their long clear wings sparkling in the sunlight. I was surprised to see a few butterflies visiting the autumn flowers and wondered where they spent the past two nights to avoid the frost. Iíll enjoy them while they are still here. Before long, they will be just a pretty memory.
I was not surprised to see several frogs along the creek in the meadow. They usually stay active well into October as long as there are some insects to eat before it gets too cold. I reached down to pick up a small, six inch-long Garter snake. I had nearly stepped on him but saw him move before my foot came down. These young snakes are only a few months old, and itís good to know that the adult snakes had a productive summer. Letting the little snake go into the tall grass, I wished him sweet dreams through the winter. Maybe Iíll see him again next summer.
Turtles are on the move now, and they often have to cross the road to get to their winter homes after spending the summer in the river. Itís time to hibernate in the murky mud of the marsh. Sadly, their path to their winter place has turned into a dangerous obstacle course. Slow turtles and fast cars donít usually turn out well for the turtles. To avoid hitting turtles or any other wildlife, it helps a whole lot to simply slow down.
The white tailed deer are starting their courtship season now, and they, too, are moving around a lot more, especially at night. Driving slower at night will help you avoid a car/deer situation. The speed limits were made to fit the pace of human lives. Like the roads themselves, neither considers the space and pace of the wildlife. Some 45 thousand white tailed deer are killed on Wisconsinís roads every year. That figure doesnít include the many does that die with unborn fawns in their wombs.
There was no frost on the ground Monday morning, but there was a heavy, wet dew. At first light, I saw the first Juncos Iíve seen since mid-April. There were six of them on the ground under the bird feeder. The Juncos spend their summer as far north as Newfoundland and Alaska, then they may move south in the fall to spend the winter in the Midwest. They seemed to have returned a little early this year, which is okay with me. I love having them around, even if they do remind me that winter is approaching.
I always know when a hawk is nearby because the songbirds sound the alarm and fly for cover. Thatís exactly what happened Sunday morning while I was hanging out some things on the clothesline. The goldfinches in the nearby sunflowers all flew up together and dove into a nearby brush pile. When the blue jays went ballistic, I looked up to see a swift, gray/blue hawk flash from the woods and tail chase a red cardinal into the brush pile. The cardinal narrowly escaped the Cooperís hawkís sharp talons. The beautiful hawk stood on top of the brush pile and roused its feathers before zooming off toward the dark confines of the woods. I donít think it even saw me standing motionless by the clothesline, half-hidden by a pillowcase. I was in the right place at the right time to witness that 30 second drama in the lives of the birds.
But being outside is always the right place to be at any time. Iíve often wondered how much I miss while Iím in the house. Then again, I find it hard to go in the house on these wonderful autumn days.
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