Thursday, September 29, 2022

Adjusting to Autumn

Autumn has settled in quickly here in central Connecticut, with temperatures dropping even into the low 40s° F ( ~ 6° C) some nights. Before disappearing just a week ago, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds became scarce. No more than one visited the feeders until the last one stopped by on September 21. This was my final encounter with one  in a natural setting:

A cold front moved in from the northwest on September 22. The trees over the Loveland Preserve are showing a blush of yellow:

Yesterday morning the view of downtown Hartford, eleven miles distant, was particularly crisp. I enhanced my image by layering three exposures to create an HDR effect in COREL PaintShop Pro:

Small flocks of  Eastern Bluebirds have been foraging for berries and insects.  This male posed nicely on the fence rail:

Another bluebird was suddenly visited by two other common species, a House Finch and an Eastern Phoebe:

The phoebes are finding fewer flying insects. They and the bluebirds are eating berries. Here, a phoebe has plucked the blueberry-like fruit of the Virginia Creeper:

The Chipping Sparrows have molted out of their distinctive breeding plumage into a more subdued pattern.

Back on April 17:

Now, on September 25:

There was much action at the seed feeder, which will soon increase with the arrival of winter residents. So as not to attract bears, we  bring in the feeders each night. Here, a male House Finch, a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Black-capped Chickadee gather to feast:

A highlight was the appearance of a  wandering winter visitor which breeds in northern Connecticut and over northern New England and Canada, but rarely strays into our area before October or November. It was a female Purple Finch. So far this month I have seen and photographed, possibly this same one, on three separate  days:

While it is similar to the House Finch, the Purple Finch is bulkier and has a proportionally larger head and a distinctive face pattern. The upper portion of the beak (culmen) of this House Finch is noticeably more curved.:

We have had golden or amber sunsets this past week. We were accustomed to seeing bright red ones all summer. There is maybe a scientific reason for this, as the sun's rays must pierce more of the earth's atmosphere in the colder months-- are the warmer colors filtered out, or are these just random events?

September 25:

September 27:

I try to find reflections, especially along Diamond Lake, but the best I could do this week was this incidental capture of my distorted face and iPhone as I photographed mugs which celebrate the Irish surnames of my and MaryLou's grandmothers:

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Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Changing seasons

The nights are getting cooler and longer and the hummingbirds are exiting for southerly climes. For two days in a row I saw no hummers at the feeder. Then, yesterday, a single one showed up. I did not get a picture, but here are a couple of shots of an adult female back on September 12,  just before nearly all the adults departed and left the youngsters a bit more time to fatten up before they also headed south:

Yesterday morning I looked out the side door window and saw that the small birds had suddenly disappeared from the feeder area. I found out why-- an immature Red-shouldered Hawk was roosting on the back fence. I shot through a back window:

The hawk flew off and the birds immediately returned to feed. First in was this White-breasted Nuthatch, waiting on a rock. It flew up and seemed reluctant before dropping down:

A female American Goldfinch perched on a stalk and then was joined by a youngster asking to be fed:

I cleaned out the bluebird nest. Opinions and research findings are mixed as to whether to remove or  leave the nest in place and let them build a new one on top. I fear that if the nest builds up nearer to the nest hole, it will possibly expose the eggs and nestlings to predators. Interestingly, the nest was almost entirely constructed with needles of native White Pine:

Eastern Bluebirds are now flocking. Some will stay all winter and visit the suet feeder. This one posed out in the sun on the fence rail. The camera increased the exposure because of the dark background, but I forgot to reduce compensation:

The White-tailed Deer have all taken on their dark winter coats. Since the inside of their ears are white, they stand out  from the shadowed understory:

Wild "Scratchdaisies" are in widespread bloom. The iPhone identified them from my photo as Croptilon sp but I could not find a match that has tiny white daisy-like flowers: 


The homes next to us are on large wooded lots and some are not even visible from the street. On our morning walk along the lake we have met many more accessible neighbors. One lakefront resident let me take a photo of the 1930 Ford Model A which he restored. The license plate reflects the order of its manufacture:

The surface of Diamond Lake was stirred by the breeze:

Turtles rested on a log that also created a windbreak which showed their reflections on the lee side:

Some of the trees along the back yard clear-cut acreage are beginning to show fall color:

This is the view to the west from the entry of our "Casita:"

Fog can either enhance or destroy a photo. It did a little bit of both one morning this week as it crept up from the valleys:

Sunset on September 20:

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Anticipating Autumn

For the past eighteen years while we lived in south Florida, we failed to experience the change of seasons as an event. The hot, humid and rainy half of the year melded gently into the dry season with sunny days and cool evenings. The migrating birds were more precise in their scheduled arrivals and departures.

Long-term weather predictions, whether by computer-driven AccuWeather or the competing Old Farmers Almanac, can provide disparate results. Here in New England there is rather precise prediction of the arrival and intensity of colorful fall foliage. Tour companies vie to provide travelers with schedules that exploit the beauty of autumn.   

According to the Fall Foliage Prediction Mapcentral Connecticut can expect the leaves to change to yellow and patchy orange and red around September 26 and reach peak color by mid-October. The intensity and variety of color will depend upon the types of trees and weather patterns which will affect the disappearance of chlorophyll and the emergence of the background pigments such as caretenoids, flavinoids and anthrocyanins. 

I am looking forward to my first colorful autumn since moving away from New Jersey and the northern States when I was drafted in 1966.  This past week we had an "appetizer" of sorts as an early migrant female Purple Finch was almost invisible in a birch tree which was also getting a head start on the season:

This Purple Finch added to my list of bird species identified (67, of which I have photographed 54 on site) from our back yard since we moved here in early January. She, or another female appeared the next day. Hopefully they will start visiting the seed feeders: 

This is a young female House Finch for comparison:

A Black-capped Chickadee peered out from its pine tree perch:

A female Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker hunted for ants next to the pool patio. Unlike many other woodpeckers, this species spends much of its time on the ground, probing for adult and larval ants as well as other ground insects:

This male Downy Woodpecker has been sleeping in the vacant bluebird house. This species, as well as several others, often use nest boxes for nighttime shelter against the winter cold. I hope this one does not decide to carve out a back door!

An adult male Eastern Goldfinch extracted seeds from the spent flowers of Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) in the garden:

Immature goldfinches, distinguished from adult females by their darker plumage and tan wing bars, also feasted on the seed heads:

A flock of Wild Turkeys, numbering more than a dozen, foraged in the Sow Thistle (Sonchus arvensisat the far end of the clear-cut acreage in back of the house. They were barely visible-- these two were the "best" of over 20 photos I took at a distance of 55 meters (~180 feet):

The coats of White-tailed Deer are changing from reddish to dull gray for the winter:

I rescued this terrestrial Wood Frog from the swimming pool. He just hopped away without saying thanks. We are surrounded by consciousness, which I believe to be a fundamental property of matter, usually undetectable, like radiation. It concentrates as the complexity of organisms increases. While the frog may have been incapable of expressing gratitude for its return to freedom, it must have felt relief from the terror of near-drowning:

We encountered this Wooly Bear caterpillar (larva of Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia isabella) on our morning walk along Diamond Lake. Folk wisdom is that if the area of its rust-colored band is less than half that of the black, the winter will be more severe. The caterpillar has 13 segments (said to represent the 13 weeks of winter) and in this specimen, the area appears to involve four segments. Actually, the colored area and the relative size of segments in the middle of its body increase as the caterpillar ages, so this may simply be a young one:

The smooth surface of the lake reflected the greenery:

Sunsets are so varied and spectacular. This view from the upper patio was just after the sun disappeared and the city lights of Hartford were twinkling:

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Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display