The hardest thing to notice in Nature is the date of an absence. When did the last junco leave in the spring? When did the last groundhog go into hibernation?
Right now eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are busy gathering nuts to store in their underground burrows for the winter. As the season changes and temperatures drop they will disappear into their burrows to enter torpor, sleeping off and on through the winter.
The warm winters of climate change can fool them into not entering torpor but the result is deadly. Only 10% survive. Find out why in this vintage blog:
Meanwhile I will hope our chipmunks disappear and will try to figure when they do it.
Here’s how I notice an absence: I write down every day when I do see them and then scan my notes for days when I’ve not logged them anymore.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the link to see the original)
Migrating chimney swifts roost for the night in local chimneys and wake up when the sky glows before dawn. This morning the sun had not yet cleared the horizon when the swifts flew out of Cathedral Mansions chimney and circled the chimney over and over again, testing the air. It was 41 degrees F.
Though the sky is clear this morning and the wind is from the north, the swifts (probably) decided there were not enough bugs flying so there would be nothing to eat on their way south. They would be cold and hungry if they left now but the bugs will come out as the day warms up. They decided to wait for that to happen.
So they all went back to bed. Here’s a photo of them pouring back into the chimney. (They are just dots in my cellphone photo.)
(photos from Wikimedia Commons and by Kate St. John)
David & Neva Trail near Little Long Pond, Maine, 27 Sept 2022
Great Head seen from Ocean Path, Acadia, 26 Sept 2022
View of the sea from Ocean Path, Acadia, 26 Sept 2022
Striped gray and rose pink granite, Little Long Pond, Maine, 27 Sept 2022
Monarch butterfly migrating, Acadia, 26 Sept 2022
Somes Sound from Northeast Harbor, Maine, 25 Sept 2022
1 October 2022
Last week, after a four-year hiatus, my husband and I enjoyed revisiting Acadia National Park. The scenery was beautiful and even the fog was gorgeous, as shown in the slideshow above. Jordan Stream was in full flow after a long day of rain.
We also learned a few things about Acadia and ourselves in 2022.
The park is jam-packed with visitors even in late September. Labor Day used to be the the last big weekend — which is why we visited in mid/late September — but the number of people and cars on 23 September rivaled anything we’d seen in the past.
Four years ago we still climbed the mountains. This year we climbed a low one — less than 300 feet above sea level — and did not enjoy the challenging bits. Perhaps we are out of shape … but I think four years makes a difference at our age. Alas.
Seven days were too short for a vacation to Acadia because it takes so long to get there, even by air.
Acadia will be busy through Columbus Day weekend and perhaps beyond. Fall color still hasn’t peaked yet.
After wrecking a swath of Florida, Hurricane Ian popped out over the Atlantic Ocean, gained strength, and is bearing down on the Carolinas. Though Pittsburgh is quite far inland we will see the remnants of Hurricane Ian’s rain on Saturday.
These maps show total rainfall forecasts for the next three days as Hurricane Ian moves up the eastern U.S.
Quantitative Precipitation Forecast, Fri 30 Sep - Sat 1 Oct 2022 (map from NOAA)
Quantitative Precipitation Forecast, Sat 1 Oct - Sun 2 Oct 2022 (map from NOAA)
Quantitative Precipitation Forecast, Sun 2 Oct - Mon 3 Oct 2022 (map from NOAA)
In western Pennsylvania, where we have a high deer population, gardeners have learned from experience that white-tailed deer will eat some plants and not others. They heavily browse their favorites to the point of killing them but leave others untouched, even plants in the same genus.
In September large, dark brown sea ducks swim in rafts off the coast of Maine. When they aren’t resting on the water they dive for mussels and crustaceans or walk up on the rocks to stand among the seaweed.
They vaguely resemble the lead field guide pictures for common eider (Somateria mollissima) but their current plumage is motley and variable. Right now common eiders are in eclipse.
Like many ducks and geese, eiders completely molt their tail and wing feathers after the breeding season, rendering them flightless for 3-4 weeks. Flight is restored in time for fall migration, but then they molt their body feathers. All told the process takes 4+ months.
To see eiders in all their glory watch them in breeding plumage from January to early June.
And you’ll see them fly.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)
If you’re birding on the coast of Maine you already know this is a good year for winter finches, but I’d just arrived from Pittsburgh so I was surprised to hear jip-jip-jip among the conifers last Saturday in Acadia National Park. Was I hearing crossbills? Yes!
The “Northeastern Crossbill” (i.e. eastern Type 10) will be around this winter, but will they migrate down the coast to Long Island, Cape May and Delaware and points south, as they sometimes do as cone crops are depleted as we progress through the winter season.