Bird list & natural events, September 2013

September was extraordinarily busy, but also mostly glorious on the weather front. Temperatures were stable to slightly warm, putting off any threat of early and unwanted frost. Though it started as dry as previous months, we finally started receiving meaningful rainfall and ended up above average for the first time since May (4.46″, over the 3.87″ average at the Columbia gage). It’s a measure of just how dry things were, that after receiving 2.76″ overnight in mid-September, our stream never flowed and there were virtually no puddles on the farm. The parched soil and vegetation sucked all the water up as fast as it fell. But this month as a whole positioned us for a lovely fall.

September_natural_1Based on our photo record, September was a good month to observe spiders. Not sure of the species on the left, but it is definitely a friend of ours, given the Spotted Cucumber Beetle that it was having for lunch on an okra blossom.  The Black and Yellow Garden Spider on the right had a nice grasshopper to feast upon.

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A wolf spider’s offspring went scurrying when Joanna cut a clump of garlic chives one morning, but then the adult posed for this photo with some of the youngsters still on board. Right, an orb weaver showed off its web-making skills one evening.

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A Gray Treefrog (yes, they can be green) hangs out on a dried pole bean at harvest time. Right: A juvenile snake, species uncertain. September_natural_4

We saw very few monarchs this spring or summer, but we’ve had reasonably regular sightings through September. Some caterpillars fed on milkweed growing in amongst the okra plants, then apparently at least one made its way over to the tomatoes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to watch this one emerge, because something seems to have parasitized it. However, other adults have been passing through.

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Left: This larval lady bug was patrolling an okra blossom, most likely in search of aphids. Right: A praying mantis on a White Acre Cowpea plant at harvest time.

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Two unidentifieds. Bonus points to anyone who can provide an id. On the left, some sort of larval insect pest. Found this one on an ear of popcorn, but we’ve seen it on other veggies, as well (less frequently this year than some past years). The photo on the right shows a common feature on our brassica plantings this year, but we’re ashamed to say we don’t know what they are. Egg cases? Pupa? Of what? We brought some inside, but thus far have not seen anything emerge.

Now moving on to the bird list:

RECORDED IN SEPTEMBER (45 species, 15 new relative to August, 7 unobserved since August).

Compared to September 2012 (55 species) and September 2011 (57 species), this was a quiet month on the birding front. We were especially busy this year dealing with the spectacular farm over-production, and had especially little time to pay attention to fall migration. By the time we got our heads above water toward the end of the month, much of the pulse had moved on. Given how stable the weather was, it’s also possible that migration was more diffuse this year, as it’s often the case that strong cold fronts and storm systems condense and push pulses of birds south through our area. These pulses are easier to focus on, and thus record more species, than a subtle day-to-day distribution of passing birds.

Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk
Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Whip-poor-will
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great-Crested Flycatcher
Red-Eyed Vireo
White-Eyed Vireo
Blue-Headed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
Golden-Crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Grey Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing

Northern Parula
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-Throated Green Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart

Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Eastern Kingbird

2 thoughts on “Bird list & natural events, September 2013

  1. Hi Joanna and Eric,
    I think your white cottony coccoons are Cotesia glomerata, a parasite of cabbage white butterflies and/or moths. Congratulations! I believe you can keep them alive overwinter outdoors if you leave some brassica plants. or else put some in a jar in th fridge for the winter! See these photos and sites:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rock_wolf/9798557395/
    http://animal.memozee.com/view.php?tid=2&did=14540
    http://www.biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/parasitoids/cotesia.html
    Pam

    • Thanks, Pam! I thought they looked like pupae, but I couldn’t figure out why they were clustered together. Emergence from larval development in a caterpillar certainly explains that. And a few weeks ago I did see some larvae inside a caterpillar that I had just smushed; I realized why the specimen looked a little strange just a little too late to save them. Definitely glad to know we have another beneficial working for us.