Photo by Corey Husic

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fall 2011 - an odd autumn

O.K. Is it just me or has this been a weird fall?  First, record rains, a hurricane, and then a tropical storm parks itself over Pennsylvania.  Then a freak snowstorm in October dumping 14” of snow at my house, knocking down tree limbs and trees and causing havoc for many who didn’t have power, phone, or internet for up to 15 days!

Since then, November has been unusually mild.  Today is November 20th and it hit 68° degrees north of the Kittatinny Ridge (Appalachian Mountain) today.  I heard spring peers (honest) and saw Sulphurs (butterflies) today.  Very odd.

A Rufous Hummingbird has been hanging around in a local state park for at least a week.  This is a Western species.  And rare bird sightings have been popping up around the country.  For instance see the recent report by Nate Swick for the American Birding Association (

Saw the usual cast of winter bird characters today, but also saw two Great Blue Herons, a Bufflehead Duck, lots of Bluebirds, Robins, Redtails, Turkey Vultures (but not north of the Kittatinny), and Mockingbirds.

The leaves are completely off the trees north of the Ridge.  Usually the oaks hang on to theirs quite late, but the snowstorm took care of that.  The Japanese Barberry (invasive) has stunning orange leaves making it easy to see just how pervasive this plant is on the lower north slopes of the Kittatinny Ridge and along stream banks.  If you see anything with green leaves (besides evergreens) around here it is either one of the invasive olives or honeysuckles or coltsfoot.  These plants are the first to get their leaves in the spring and the last to have them in the fall.  Yet another competitive advantage they have.

 So look around and see if you are noticing anything unusual this fall!