Sunday, August 26, 2012

Later Summer Beauty

The season is changing in subtle ways. Birds that nested in the far north are now arriving.  Fruit is ripening on  the Black Cherry and the Elderberry with the birds feasting on them. Grasses are blooming and going to seed, so the seed-eating Goldfinches are fledging their brood of babies.

The gardens are still in good color with the addition of Goldenrod and Aster blooms. I love the combination of colorful summer flowers and autumn grasses that I recently found in the Herb Garden at  Cornell Plantations.

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) blooms in the Herb Garden

On one early morning visit to the garden, I found the Fountain Grass blooms sparkling with dew.

On another morning, I stopped on my drive for a field of Sunflowers.   Sunflowers always mean the coming of autumn to me.

I'd passed this field on three previous dates, but the traffic was too busy or my appointment was too pressing.  I'm glad we left the house early on this morning.   It produced my favorite photos of the day.

Meeting with some new friends, we headed for a nature preserve hoping to find some nice images.  We saw the Robins and Cedar Waxwings feeding on the wild Black Cherries, but they were too high.  Instead, the few good opportunities were on a much smaller scale.   Caterpillars.

This little guy is a Tussock Moth. He's all short hairy spines with a few long spines that are mostly black.  Just like the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, it likes the milkweed leaves. But, it overwinters here.  Monarchs have a grander plan.

To finish off our exploration, we did find a Monarch caterpillar munching away on milkweed.

That is a certain sign of autumn. It is  humbling to think that this caterpillar will develop into a butterfly that will somehow fly all the way to a mountain in Mexico to complete a migration cycle begun the previous spring by what amounts to its great-grandparents.  How is a humble insect programmed to return to a place it has never been?  Never ask what good a caterpillar is when it contains secrets we cannot explain.  Just wish them well as they journey in their life cycle.

Kind regards,

Paul Schmitt

No comments:

Post a Comment