Once we got the early heavy rain over with, October was a wonderfully pleasant month. Generally stable weather & temperatures meant we could enjoy working outdoors. Temperatures finally crashed right at the end of the month, fitting a trend we’ve discussed before: that the October/November transition is when the first true cold weather always seems to arrive. This October, like others before it, felt like a final gift of Indian summer and we were glad to have it.
This wasn’t the most brilliant year for fall color, but there were some nice highlights, such as the maple tree, left, and sumac, right.
October is a month when fall butchering begins. Joanna cleaned out and photographed the various chambers of a goat rumen, mostly because they’re interesting and pretty. We’re generally not squeamish about eating unusual parts of animals, but we have to admit that we don’t have the stomach to try tripe. Neat to look at, though.
Featured amphibians of the month: Lots of toads this year, many of which were reluctant to move out of the way of the hoe as we planted cover crop. The American Toad is the only species we’ve documented here. Right: A frog basks in the sun in a pool following the early October rains. Not 100% certain on ID, maybe a Blanchard’s Cricket Frog?
Charismatic insect fauna: After seeing numerous Monarch larvae in September, we finally starting seeing chrysalises in October. Some larvae, such as the one above left, did not quite succeed. The chrysalis on the lower left was on a Brussels sprout plant, and we found another attached to the bottom of a lettuce head. We also brought a couple of caterpillars inside just before the first frost threat. One made it to adulthood, and for a brief time, I held the newly emerged adult in my hand before it flew off on a trajectory roughly towards Mexico, Missouri. We trust it figured out its way, and wish it well. The empty chrysalis of the successful adult is shown on the lower right.
Many native plants have mature seed in October, including the Wild Senna, left, and Purple Coneflower, right.
Some insects that we haven’t fully identified: a moth, a mantis, and an orthopteran.
This felt like a typical October. Migrants moving through, some birds leaving for good, others arriving. Geese started showing up right at the end.
In other birding news, Eric has taken on a new project, editor of the Columbia Audubon Society‘s newsletter (The Chat) starting with the November issue. We encourage anyone interested in birding & the outdoors to join CAS for access to interesting field trips, CAS-owned nature areas, and more. We technically never saw turkeys, but given the abundant sign in the woods, we’re counting them as present.
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