Actually they are always changing, sometimes imperceptibly, but time and nature never stand still. Some maples started turning red over a week ago, and leaves are yellowing and dropping on some of the trees already. This is the time of year when I wear a bike helmet more for protection from things above rather than the thought of an accident: walnuts and even acorns can really hurt as they fall from the trees! I’m starting to see more wooly worms as we are out on our bikes.
And the birds are flocking! Large numbers of various blackbirds arise startled from the cornfields as we speed by on our bikes. I’ve seen geese practicing their V formations in small groups. In the spring we hear them a lot on the marsh behind our house, but during the summer when they are in family groups it’s much quieter. Now they are back to their loud ways, gathering in large groups and gossiping, maybe bragging about their offspring. The orioles have already left, but the hummingbirds may hang around for another month or longer. They are gorging right now to build up strength for the long haul south, so if you feed them, don’t stop now. They know when to migrate, and a full feeder won’t convince them to extend their stay past their appropriate departure time.
After last week’s article I got a call from a reader who said that we used to have chimney swifts in the town of LaGrange. They roosted at the post office, but since that chimney was capped this spring she doesn’t know where they went. Keep an eye out for them, and if you see them anywhere, let me know. You are most likely to see them swirling around a chimney or hollow tree just before sunset.
I thought the osprey I’ve been watching had left the nest, but we went by the farm tonight and there they were, one in the tree across the street and one on the nest. My bird book says the parents continue to feed the young even after the young can fly, so maybe they’ll hang around there until they journey south.
The birds that I hear now are mostly just twittering, not singing as they did during the spring and early summer. Now that most have completed their nesting, they aren’t so territorial. The sandhill cranes from further north should be gathering here in the next month or so. There’s a crane festival in October in Bellevue, Mich., a little over an hour’s drive from here. If you like cranes and art, it’s worth a visit. The Elkhart County Master Naturalists Alumni Group is hosting a “Feather Fest” in Bristol from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 5, with three knowledgeable guest speakers, bird walks, and activities. Put that on your calendars now.
During the day I hear lots of cicadas and at night it’s all crickets. Listening for frogs is a thing of the past. They’re still here, of course, but their calling is mostly during the mating season, which is over. But it’s still hard to believe that in less than a month the nights will be longer than the days.
With school starting there’s less traffic on the lakes, so the clarity of the water should be improving. I was out kayaking at sunset last week just as the full moon was rising. It looked huge and made a beautiful pale orange reflection on the water. Sunset is a great time to be on the water.
Many people rue the end of summer, but I have always looked forward to fall: cool nights, bright colors, settling in the cozy comforts of home. There are good things about every season, and the secret to contentment is to find them and enjoy them while they are here.