Tuesday, September 25, 2007

First Day of Autumn

September 24 - the first full day of autumn and it was a humid 84 degrees outside. I sincerely hope this was the last day for 2007 that I had to run the air conditioner!

This is the post I would have done yesterday if we hadn't gotten that severe thunderstorm with lots of lightning last night!

There was lot of monarch butterfly activity in my wildflower garden late in the afternoon, so I decided to try and catch some for tagging since I have quite a few unused tags left yet from the monarch ranch. I managed to catch and tag only 2, but spent some enjoyable time around the wildflower garden (despite the heat and those really tiny black bugs with a painful bite).

I have so many asters blooming in beautiful colors in this garden and that's what the monarchs were there for (the bumble and honey bees love these flowers too).
The asters are mostly in shades of pink and purple. (I'm glad I took these photos yesterday because the wind and rain last night really battered some of the blossoms.)

They grow profusely throughout the garden and it's nice to have all this color late in the season when most of the other flowers are done blooming.

There are still some other flowers blooming too: Brown-Eyed Susan

One Purple Coneflower (amongst the already dead ones where finches have begun eating the seeds)

There's lots of bird activity in the wildflower garden--mostly goldfinches, but I believe I also saw the Eastern subspecies of the Orange-Crowned Warbler (according to what I read in my Stokes Field Guide to Warblers). This little bird is very similar in size and appearance to the goldfinches right now in their drab olive-colored plumage. I spotted this little warbler in amongst the stems of the purple coneflowers. According to the Stokes Field Guide, they "feed mostly low in underbrush, weedy fields, and understory." I also noticed this little bird had a split whitish eye-ring. There were no other wingbars or distinguishing features. Of course, I didn't have the camera with me and when I ran into the house to get it, by the time I got back the bird had disappeared. (I spotted it again this afternoon, but still no camera for a photograph.)

Our apple trees are so weighted down with apples that some of the branches are dragging on the ground. The apples on the south and west side of the trees are much redder from getting the sun all the time. (you can see here how red they are with branches hanging right down into the asters)
These apples are huge and quite delicious. We've been sharing one for lunch each day and I picked a bunch for one of my co-workers.
this is not a trick photograph--some of the apples are actually this big!

I still saw a couple of hummingbirds at the nectar feeders yesterday, but since the storms blew through the weather has cooled down considerably and no hummingbirds have been seen yet today. According to the nature diary I have kept since 2002, the next 10 days or so are when the last hummingbirds are seen and by the 29th, I may begin seeing juncos coming back for the winter.

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This is a picture of a deer "Bed & Breakfast" we discovered near our deer hunting area. It's between the cornfield and the woods and all the grass is flattened because this is where the deer bed down after eating in the cornfield. There are lots of does and fawns in this area and it's an nice sheltered spot for them--away from the road and no people living nearby.


Susie said...

Sounds like quite a storm. All your flowers are still quite colorful. When I worked outside today, I noticed that many of ours are also dying back.
Our junkos are also a year round bird, but I'm thinking our beautiful orioles are gone. Haven't seen them in about a week.

Anonymous said...

we didn't have as good of an apple season. Hey love all your flower shots and I two needed to turn my AC on at work today!

Maud said...

Lovely pictures! And quite a lot of goldfinch activity on the feeder in the sidebar!

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures of the flowers, it's the last hurrah of summer and one of the prettiest.
Enjoyed the deer B&B, I can just imagine them there. I've seen where the deer have bedded down before it's always so cozy and well sheltered so no one can see them, it is their secret place.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I've been over-run with goldfinches too. Today about 30 chipping sparrows spent the morning under my backyard feeders. I really love it when the sparrows come. I need to get some tasty millet to toss on the ground for them! I've seen deer beds before but the one in you photo is really big.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Did you see Sharon's hawk banding posts? I can't wait for Saturday!

Mary said...

You have such a colorful yard! It's amazing what a little rain can do to brighten things up, isn't it?

We have the goldfinches all year but I'm seeing more of them lately and I had forgotten about the juncos! I'm taking notes this year so I know what to expect next Fall.

Ruthie, I only have two (maybe three) hummingbirds left. I guess they'll be heading south soon :o(

KGMom said...

I love the photos of all the flowers--but the season is drawing to a close.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Susie,
We got about 2.5 inches of rain from the storm and there was LOTS of lightning. I remember seeing the Oregon juncos when visiting my brother in Antelope, CA a couple years ago. I loved watching their Western scrub jays also.

Hi Mon@rch,
It must have been our good weather in early summer because I've heard almost everyone around the area with apple trees has a bumper crop this year.

Hi Maud,
The sidebar goldfinch picture is from last season. I don't have quite as many this year, but still plenty to make them fun to watch.

Hi Mom,
I'm thinking it's the last hurrah also.
The deer bedding spot is quite secluded. I doubt that we'll ever be able to catch them there, but there's usually fresh "evidence" anytime we walk past that area.

Hi Lynne,
You must really get a lot of birds in your yard! I have seen maybe 6 chipping sparrows at one time--they're so scrappy, but fun to watch.

I too, have never seen a deer bedding area this large--usually just a few mashed down areas where a few deer have laid down separately.

Hi Mare,
I got the idea for my nature journal after seeing someone else's. It's just a small notebook, spiral-bound notebook....hey, maybe I should do a blog posting about it some day!

I saw no hummingbirds yesterday or today....I think mine have left for the season (boo hoo)

Hi Donna,
It was a good summer and I guess here in Minnesota winter is inevitable. I'll have to look back at these pictures when I start getting tired of snow and cold.

Jayne said...

Yummy Ruthie! I'll take some of those apples...lol. The asters and other flowers are so pretty. I am so ready for some cooler temps here as well.

RuthieJ said...

Gosh Jayne, I was sorry to hear you guys are still "frying" down there. It was 42 yesterday morning when I filled the bird feeders--my short jammies didn't provide much warmth! But I haven't had to turn the furnace on yet, so that's good too.