We've been enjoying some beautiful early autumn weather this past week, here in the Kickapoo Valley. The fall colors have come a little early due to the effect of a hard frost more than a week ago. The lush green landscape is turning red, orange, yellow and gold—it hasn't peaked, but it's very impressive, just the same. Sunny days with warm breezes that send colorful whirlwinds of leaves tumbling across the sky. Already I've noticed the woods don't seem as dense as they were only a week ago. It gives me a hint of what's to come in less than 2 months, when these tree covered Kickapoo hills will be completely void of leaves. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the Autumn colors while they last.
I've been seeing some migration activity the past few days, coming from high in the cloudless blue sky. A steady breeze has been coming from the northwest, providing many hawks with a good reason to move south.
In the past three days, I've seen several Cooper's hawks and a couple Sharp-shinned hawks soar over as I was outside. It's time to keep an eye on the sky, in hopes I might spot a big kettle of hawks who are all moving south together. It's an amazing sight and worth the extra attention given to what's going on up above me.
Some of the summer birds that migrate south for winter don't mind a little early frost and will stick around until it gets colder. The Turkey vultures can hide their featherless heads under their wings while roosting at night. Later, in November, the daytime temperatures will get cold enough to make it uncomfortable for them, and they move south. The Swallows and Swifts have already had enough frost to suit them, and they are gone. Robins are kind of strange. Most of them have left long ago, and yet some will linger around until early December, and some may even stay all winter. The Bluebirds, who are thrushes like the Robins, act the same way.
The Goldfinches are showing up in greater numbers, as family groups start flocking together. This morning, there were some 60 Goldfinches and 20 purple finches at the bird feeders. Their little, high-pitched chirps are a delight to hear, and well worth the price of a few sunflower seeds. Besides, the finches love the seeds of all the wild sunflowers and cone flowers, so I always try to spread their seeds before the finches find them. I figure if I spread enough seed, eventually there will be enough growing to go around. It's working out pretty good so far.
I'm going to miss the beautiful show of Morning glory blue that was covering one wall of the shed. I've always been kinda partial to those big, old fashioned, Robin's egg blue Morning glories. As luck would have it, a few vines of the smaller variety survived the frost at the corner of the porch. They ran up one side of the window by the drawing table, and I was grateful for their lovely presence.
Wednesday morning a pair of pretty Hummingbirds paid a short visit, convincing me to plant Morning glories again next year. I haven't seen any Hummingbirds since Wednesday and they may have been the last ones I'll see until they return next spring.
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