A beautiful, bright Kickapoo sunrise greeted me this morning. Sunrise is always a wake up call and jump starts my day. Most of the early mornings have been wet with dew and fog lately, so itís nice to have a clear morning once in a while.
The turkey family is out and about already this morning looking for crickets in the short grass. The young turkeys are all feathered out but noticeably smaller than their mother, who raises her head high, watching for any danger.
A group of starlings sit next to each other on a power line. Iím sure they know what theyíre talking about, but it all sounds like gibberish to me. I didnít get a very good picture of them, but it was good enough to be able to see that they were getting their gold spotted winter plumage already. Starlings are nervous birds by nature and itís sometimes difficult to get a picture of them before they fly off.
The large, yellow and black garden spiders have begun to appear in the meadow. How striking they are as they center themselves in the middle of their beautiful round webs. Almost as though they are showing off. They are able to vibrate the whole web when they think they are in danger. There are a lot of grasshoppers this year, and the spiders are taking advantage of the extra food. Donít know if it will mean there will be more spiders next year, though. Iíll have to wait and see.
The old robinís nest appears from under the prickly ash and grape vines. It had been hidden from view until some of the leaves began to fall. The nest looks like it did its job but is now looking a little weathered since the robins have moved out.
The lovely bottle gentians are in bloom in the meadow. Their pretty blue, cone-shaped flowers stand out about a foot and a half above the ground. I was happy to see them, because I wondered if they would make an appearance this fall because it was such a hot and dry summer. I walk carefully through the grass when the gentians are in bloom, Iíd feel bad if I should step on one. Not far away there are more blue gentians only these are a smaller variety called Ďstiff gentians.í Their pretty baby blue flowers grow in showy clumps about ten inches from the ground and are also in danger of being stepped on. Gentians are one of my favorite autumn flowers. All I have to do to see them is take a short walk in the meadow.
There are many different kinds of goldenrod that grow in the meadow. The most common is the tall Canada goldenrod. It can grow in such thick patches that it crowds out every other plant. Of all the native goldenrods, I think the brightest yellow belongs to the flowers of the showy goldenrod. The bees are feasting on the tall, yellow blooms. I donít think I would know goldenrod honey if I tasted it, but the bees must be making a lot of it.
Iíve been seeing the pair of adult red-tailed hawks every day in the valley, but havenít seen or heard their two young hawks for a few days. Late Friday afternoon, the young female soared over me as I walked along the stream bank. What a beauty she is with her long brown tail streaming behind her. Sheís still hanging around, but she isnít so dependent on her parents to bring her food. I no longer hear those begging calls each morning like I did for two months.
This is the time of year for watching hawks as they begin to migrate through. You never know what you might see if you look skyward a little more often in autumn.
Another large bird has been hanging around the yard lately, and I always hear him before I see him. A pileated woodpecker has discovered that the old locust tree in the front yard is home to a colony of ants and visits the tree several times a day. His loud calls always tell me to look out the window if I want to get a good look at him. He sounds like a very loud flicker as he flies off: ďkik-kik-kikÖkikkik-kik-kik.Ē
The morning gloryís beautiful show was outstanding this year. You never know who will be at one of the lovely purple bells. This morning a speck of bright yellow caught my eye on one of the pretty dark flowers. A closer look showed me a fancy little spider known as a yellow crab spider. Iím sure he thinks itís a good place to catch a small insect that is drawn to the flower. Often called Ďgoldenrod spiders,í they are nearly impossible to see against the yellow goldenrod flowers since they blend in perfectly. I wonder if he realized what color flower he was sitting on, because he certainly wasnít blending in on the morning glory.
Pettie the robin is still with us! Well, most of the time, anyway. Thursday morning I let him out for the day and gave him his first ration of food. I went in the yard every hour and called, but there was no sign of him. Finally he came flying down from the woods when I called his name around 4:30 p.m. Heís definitely catching some of his own food but tends to spend much of his time under the cover of trees and shrubs.
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