October 16 already!
We're heading into the chilly days of the Pumpkin Patch. Here's what to expect in the coming weeks:
- Migrating warblers are far south of us now, but sparrows are on the move. I saw my first white-crowned sparrow on October 3.
- Soon our lakes will be full of ducks. Gadwall, American wigeon, and northern pintail are already at Lake Erie.
- Yesterday's wind blew a lot of leaves off the trees but those that remain are green. Watch for bright red leaves on red and sugar maples and burnished red on oaks.
- First frost coming soon (if you haven't had one already).
- Pennsylvania hawk watches are counting lots of sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks. Golden eagle migration will peak at the Allegheny Front in about a week.
- Watch for big flocks of robins, grackles and crows at dusk.
- By the end of October, the sun will be up for only 10.5 hours.
- Hunting season has begun. Wear blaze orange and be aware of PA’s hunting seasons. You're generally safer on Sundays because there's no Sunday hunting.(*)
I'm going out today to see what the wind brought in. I'm sure I'll find sparrows, ducks and some colored leaves.
(photo of a white-crowned sparrow by Steve Gosser)
(*) By the way, the PA State Legislature is considering a bill (HB 1760) to allow Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. Keystone Trails Association (hikers) and the Humane Society are among groups that oppose it. There will be a legislative hearing in Harrisburg on Oct 27 concerning this bill. Contact your legislator if you have an opinion about it.
On the soap box: I hike on Sundays. My personal opinion -- which is my own, and does not reflect the opinion of WQED in any way -- is that I oppose Sunday hunting. Hunting seasons run almost all year in Pennsylvania depending on the prey. There are 12 million people in PA but only 1 million hunters. Without Sunday hunting, 11 million people have 1 safe day per week to spend outdoors hiking, biking, farming, horseback riding, birding, nature walking. With Sunday hunting, hunters will have 7 days; 11 million people will have none.