Like September and October before it, November continued our long, drawn-out, stable autumn. Like much of 2012, it was generally warm (a few degrees above average) and dry (about 30% of average rainfall as recorded by the Columbia weather station). In fact, it’s been so dry that (like summer 2012) we’ve been having the desert-air effect in which days become quite warm but nights cool off rapidly, producing a multitude of hard overnight freezes on days we could work in T-shirts. This has been a problem for some fall/overwintering crops, from which we’ve had to remove all irrigation lines due to the freezes, but which are likely drought-stressed and thus under-performing (like spinach). In addition, our fields of winter cover crops have barely grown since germination. We are definitely concerned about a repeat of winter 2011/2012, which was warm & dry and got us off to such an early start to the season with a variety of problematic consequences. Regardless, it’s been a pleasant month with a fair amount of wildlife observation due to hunting season. Read on for some photos (including a very interesting new species for the farm) and bird list.
Above left, a Unicorn Caterpillar found on our blueberries. Above right, a cool-looking mushroom from one of our compost piles. Anyone know what it is?
Preparing for deer season, we’d been using our remote trail camera to scout various likely locations. This site near the north end of our pastures was particularly active, including these turkeys above, which I (Eric) also saw in person several afternoons.
Most of our deer images came at night, which fit into the early-season frustrations as I saw no deer during the opening few days. This coyote, captured in the same place a few hours later, was a nice result; someone later poached a coyote in our eastern woods, leaving the carcass quite near one of my best-scouted and promising hunting sites. Still, this image was nothing compared to what the camera caught along the pond bank:
Yep, that’s a bobcat, first one confirmed on the farm. Joanna had thought she’d seen some large cat tracks in mud a few days before, but hadn’t really taken them seriously until these images. The shot at right is blurry but shows the bobbed tail, just in case anyone thinks this is a very large house cat. We just wish (s)he had passed by a few feet farther from the camera. What we don’t need, though, is a Timber Wolf like this one, about 30 miles from the farm.
I never did get a deer, though toward the end of the season they finally started showing up in daylight. One day alone I saw a total of eight, including two pairs of rutting bucks/does that went charging right past me, a far-off deer on a ridge, and a doe & grown fawn who approached tantalizingly close. These latter two behaved exactly as intended for this site; they followed an established trail in through some brushy areas, paused behind a large tree, then moved out into the open together in a perfect pose for a clean shot, except they were side by side! A two-for-one trick shot that I wasn’t comfortable with, as the rear animal would almost certainly have only been wounded. They calmly browsed there for a lifetime, never shifting position, then pricked up their ears & looked away as they heard something from the opposite direction and charged away. No clean shot. That was the last day I could justify hunting, as there’s just too much to do this time of year to spend lots of days in the woods. Plenty of other interesting bird & wildlife watching, but having the only legal hunting time be a short stretch of late fall is very difficult for our farm’s calendar. We could have used the meat given the drought-lowered yield from our goats, but such is life. We won’t starve.
RECORDED IN OCTOBER 29 species, 4 new, 12
unobserved since September)
Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose: Heard multiple flocks headed south on the night of 11/11.
Great Horned Owl
White-Throated Sparrow (didn’t see a single sparrow of any kind on the farm this month)