So look around and see if you are noticing anything unusual this fall!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
|Yellow-rumped Warbler with Poison Ivy berries|
|mixed blackbird flock|
Raptors are also on the move. Although the hawk flight tends to be slower in November than earlier in the season, it is the time when Red-tailed Hawks really start migrating and species like Golden Eagles and Northern Goshawks begin to pass through. Keep an eye out for any migrating raptors, as these are important signs of late fall.
|migrating Red-tailed Hawk|
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I saw the first Dark-eyed Junco at our feeder at the Osprey House at Lehigh Gap (northern Lehigh County) on 27 September, but it was only one or two at a time and was likely juncos visiting our feeders from high up on the ridge where they seem to be breeding in very small numbers. I didn’t see any juncos at my feeder near Lehighton in Carbon County until 24 October and saw large numbers of juncos at Lehigh Gap on the same date.
Then there are the Red Maples. (By the way, maples that are red all summer are not native Red Maples, Acer rubrum. Those are either Japanese Red Maples or a variety of Norway Maple called Crimson King.) I started seeing a few red/orange/yellow leaves on Red Maples at my home in early September, but most of the leaves on most of the trees were still green.
There is a great deal of variation in Red Maple colors and phenology – some turn early, some late. Some turn yellow, others orange, still others bright red. Some are almost bare while others retain most of their leaves with some still green. So I decided to select two Red Maples and photograph them every few days throughout their color change. I did not know what was going to happen.
The two trees, both in my back yard, and are from different genetic stock. One was planted as a sapling after a friend received it in the mail in return for a donation he made. The other grew up naturally from seed. We will call the imported sapling tree “A” and the local tree “B.” A is on the left of the photos where both are shown, B is on the right.
Here is what both trees looked like on 30 September. Both trees are still very green, but the local Red Maple B (on the right) is beginning to show some autumn color.
By 10 October, B is showing lots of red leaves, while A is still green.
Meanwhile there were other local trees that had lost most of their leaves already, including this one near my yard that had turned yellow. (10 October)
By 17 October, tree B was nearly completely colored while A was still nearly all green.
In just three days, tree A had turned yellow, while tree B was orange (20 October).
By 23 October, B was past its color peak and tending toward brown, while A was still at its peak of yellow.
Here are two other Red Maples in my yard on 23 October – one almost bare and the other bright orange. And here is another specimen that was still partly green on that same date.
One week later, a freak early blizzard hit us and that was the end of the leaves on both tree A and B. Here they are on 30 October, the beautiful sunny morning after the Nor’easter.
(That's snow all over the ground!)
A discussion with Diane and Corey Husic on Saturday led to an investigation we will pursue next year. Red Maple flowers have similar color variation in spring as the leaves do in autumn. We wonder if trees with red blossoms have red leaves, and those with yellow blossoms have yellow leaves in fall. Stay tuned -- or do the investigation yourself and let us know what you find.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The first flower on a Witch Hazel was seen here on October 10th, and they are in full bloom now, but covered in wet, heavy snow today. So much for getting good pictures of the flowers.
We saw the first junco on our property on October 9th, but over the past week, we have seen greater numbers of them. Dan at the Lehigh Gap reported the same thing. Juncos first showed up in various locations across the Lehigh Valley this past week. It is likely that the earliest Juncos were ones that stay relatively local to breed but move to higher elevations over the summer. The larger numbers showing up at feeders now may have migrated down here from areas farther north.
Below is some October phenology as reported by Karen at Big Pocono State Park:
Yesterday, my research student Anna and I took a drive through Cherry Valley along Lower Cherry Valley Road and then came back on the south side of the Kittatinny Ridge along State Road 1020 and West Bangor Road. We have been doing surveys of invasive plant locations and pervasiveness.
There was a significant difference in terms of how many leaves were still on the trees on the south side of the mountain as compared to the north side. The oaks were holding their leaves on the north so the woods on the north had that late-autumn gold/rust coloring. The trees on the south side of the Ridge were just barely past their peak color. For contrast, in Bethlehem, the leaves were just approaching the peach color this past week.
|The fall colors of Sumac against the backdrop of the north face of the Kittatinny Ridge|
October 28, 2011 Lower Cherry Valley Road
|Multiflora Rose "hips" (an invasive plant species) and Goldenrod (Soldago sp.) in seed.|
Birds like both types of seeds, which serves to propagate native and invasive species alike.
|A pond along Lower Cherry Valley Road|
|Note the color in the understory - all the invasive Japanese Barberry along a creek.|
|A prolific year for Oriental Bittersweet seeds. |
This invasive vine can grow so large and heavy that it can take down trees.
Birds help spread the plant by eating the seeds.
|A forest view on the north side of Lower Cherry Valley Road|
|A creek along Lower Cherry Valley Road.|
Note the lack of leaves left on native saplings.
|Forest and farm field along the northern corridor of the Kittatinny Ridge.|
Note the lack of understory growth. Overbrowsing by deer, perhaps?
|A fall scene in the Kittatinny Ridge corridor.|
|More roadside invasives - this time along the south corridor of the Kittatinny Ridge.|
|What a difference a day makes!|
Kunkletown, PA (Chestnut Ridge) on Otober 29th.
The large silver maple had just reached peak color this week.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Yesterday brought the first junco to our property in Kunkletown. There were reports on the PA Bird Line of others seeing them this past week. Let us know if you have seen them in your property yet, and if not, when you do start seeing them. White-throated sparrows have returned and many people are reporting Yellow-rumped Warblers. For almost two weeks now, I have seen flocks of Canada Geese flying. I haven't heard the Yellow-billed Cuckoos north of the ridge on our property for awhile now, but on Friday (10/7), I heard one along National Park Road just south of the Ridge in the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area property. We still have Eastern Phoebes hanging around - the first flycatcher to appear and apparently the last to leave.
|Entering the National Recreation Area along National Park Road (10/7/11)|
|Hawk Watching at Bake Oven Knob|
|A native dogwood along Tott's Gap Road (10/7/11)|
|Dogwood shrubs (perhaps Grey Dogwood) along National Park Road (10/7/11)|
|Virginia Creeper taking over a Rhododendron. |
This vine is a native, but can be a nuisance!
There are flower buds on the Witch Hazel; keep an eye on when those flowers open as this is a good fall phenological indicator.
|The extent of fall color on Chestnut Ridge, Kunkletown (10/10/11)|
The Sassafras trees are the most brilliant now and
many Black Walnut trees have already lost their leaves (front right).
|The north face of the Kittatinny Ridge on 10/10/11 - the color is just beginning to appear|
Lots of butterflies can still be seen: Cabbage Whites, various sulphurs, Common Buckeyes, Pearl Crescents, Peck's Skippers, and Monarchs. I have yet to see a Milbert's Tortoiseshell. They like the aromatic asters (Aster oblongifolius) and a perennial mum (that resembles a pink daisy; I think it is Dendranthemum 'Pink Sheffield' ) -- the buds on the latter are just about to open.
|A perennial mum about to bloom - a favorite of fall butterflies|
|Aster oblongifolius accompanied by some marigolds that seeded themselves!|
|An amazing burst of fall color from aromatic aster|
From Judy in Saucon Valley on 10/5/11:
The walnut trees have competed about 95% of their leaf drop and in some cases 100%. Some of the nuts are still holding on, but generally there are walnuts all over the grounds. We need to wear a hardhat at this time of year if we are working under the trees. We are starting to see a little color on the spicebush and a few of the other trees. However, the woodlot overall is dominated by green.
The Virginia Creeper has been showing color for at least two weeks.
Today I was drawn outside by the large black caterpillar that was distinctly in view from my window because it was so big. From my reference books I have tentatively identified it as a Giant Leopard Moth, - but I am a real amateur at this, so maybe I am wrong.
|Any moth caterpillar experts out there who might confirm the identification?|
From Karen at Big Pocono State Park:
9/8/11 - 9/8/11
From Mike on 9/19/11:
From Mike on 9/22/11:
Some other fall scenes from Chestnut Ridge on 10/10/11 showing the extent of autumn's progression:
|The late colors of 'Autumn Joy' Sedum|
Friday, September 23, 2011
In eastern PA this week, the return of warm humid evenings has the katydids still "singing". We are interested in when you *last* hear these for the season at the place where you live or enjoy nature.
Late last night, our driveway was filled with "glow worms" - bioluminescent larvae. Does anyone know what species these might be in PA?
Sunday, September 4, 2011
|The KIttatinny Ridge is in the background but the high humidity |
causes a haze that really reduced visibility over the past two days.
|Above and below - the first hints of color in the leaves of Silver Maple.|
|Burning bush starting to live up to its name|
|Hints of red along the roadside (above) and in a |
young Dogwood below
|Oriental Bittersweet berries|
I am seeing fewer Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars, but finding a number of Monarch chrysalides and fall webworm nests. Monarchs are nectaring in the habitat garden; some look as though they have started to migrate as they fly as if they are "on a mission".
|Caryopteris sp. (Blue Mist Shrub - love the color and this plant |
really attracts bees)
As seen below, the Autumn Joy Sedum is not yet quite in full color.
This was an accidental pairing, but I love the combination of colors.
|Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) - the berries have recently appeared|
|Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia sp.)|
It is surprising that this species grows in our yard (technically
zone 6a, behaving like 6b) -- at least to this height.
In front is a Spirea shrub.
|This Crape Myrtle tends to die back more over the winter than the one|
in the previous photo, so stays about 3 feet high but blooms perfusely in
You can Google this insect to see the beautiful caterpillars.
|Despite the hurrican there is still a lot of color (even if many plants|
are more horizontal than normal) and a lot of insect and bird activity.
In other gardens, the groundhogs are causing problems but they
leave this one alone.
|The Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) seemed to flower late this year.|