Redwing Blackbird and Cows

moon phase Week of 08/15/2004 Favorable days to plant flowers.

The saga of the cool summer weather continues. Today's high reached only 64 degrees, after a low last night of a very chilly 44. Mid-August, one would expect some 80-degree plus days, but none have come close.

Redwing Blackbird and Cows

Many cornfields in the area have tassled out and look pretty good, but there are other fields where the corn is only chest high. The hay looks pretty good, but because of the cool weather many farmers are having trouble getting it in. In some cases, the cut hay may need to be raked 2 or 3 times before it is cured enough to bale.

On a morning walk just after sunrise, I saw a flock of about 100 blackbirds rise from a field of tall grass. The sunlight caught their wings as they flew together in a tight group and circled around me. I could easily see their plumage was that of this summer's juvenile birds - not the dark plumage of adult blackbirds. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was September.

These lush wooded river valleys have been foggy and wet with dew. The fog rises as large, steamy clouds and is gone half an hour after sunrise each morning. It's a beautiful sight, and one of the benefits of having extra cool nights. It reminds me that there's always some good that comes form a bad situation - even the weather.

Nonetheless, in the cool I miss the nighttime songs of the crickets and katydids. The fireflies too have put out their lights. I'm wondering where all the insects are.

The nights have been unusually quiet lately. I haven't heard the whip-poor-will's song for several nights, and I'm thinking they moved to a place where there are more insects to eat. The frogs have finished their courtship songs, but there should still be an occasional deep "croak" from a bullfrog, or a birdlike "peep" from a Gray tree frog. I think they are out there, but they aren't singing.

There are usually several yellow and black garden spiders spinning webs that span the path through the tall grass of the meadow. I haven't seen a single one yet this summer. In fact, there seem to be very few spider webs of any kind. I'm hoping some warm weather will bring them out, along with lots of flying insects for them to eat.

I've only seen 6 Monarch butterflies so far this summer. The milkweed that grows near the creek shows no signs of being eaten by larva, and I've yet to see a single chrysalis.

At sunset each night, I watch the flower gardens for a while, hoping to get a glimpse of hawk moths feeding. They look like tiny hummingbirds as they move from flower to flower. They too are missing so far, and will hopefully appear with some warmer weather.

Activity at the bird feeders has slacked off, as the rose-breasted grosbeaks and cardinals have mostly left. The robins, too, have dispersed to other areas. There have been a couple of towhees coming for seed each day, though, and goldfinches have brought color to the feeders with their rich yellow feathers.

The cool weather has kept me from swimming as much as usual, but I still get outside. There's plenty of other summertime things to do: canoe down the Kickapoo River, or bike along one of the many wonderful country roads. A campfire at night is always a great way to visit with friends. Even when it's cool, there's no better place to spend your summer than outdoors.

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