With every passing day, autumn is creeping closer. The calendar indicates that the first official day of fall is Sept. 23, but the rest of the world around us doesn’t wait for us to turn the page.
Fall is upon us, which is apparent in a myriad of subtle signs, from the blooms of new wildflowers to the last surge of the season’s butterflies and dragonflies.
Of course, there’s also the migration of our feathered friends.
The dazzling birds of spring, such as Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, are winging their way through our backyards again.
Many of these visitors have adopted a more subdued appearance as they stage their earlier migration flights in reverse. Then, there are fall warblers, sometimes also known by birders as “confusing fall warblers” since not only do observers have to distinguish between differences in male and female plumages, but also must contend with immature birds that resemble neither of their parents.
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Along the edges of ponds, the final dragonflies of the season have begun to emerge. Autumn Meadowhawks and Blue-faced Meadowhawks have both made appearance at my fish pond along Simerly Creek Road. Other dragonflies have been scarce, and the damselflies have almost disappeared. I am still seeing a few Eastern Pondhawks, Blue Dashers, Eastern Amberwings and even a Fawn Darner.
During a visit to Erwin Fishery Park on Sept. 12, I was amazed to observe thousands of dragonflies — basically, a swarm of these incredible winged insects — hawking for smaller winged insects in the air above the now-closed swimming pool at the municipal park.
Most of the individuals in this incredible swarm looked like Green Darners, but I think a few other species had also joined the feeding frenzy. Green Darners, incidentally, are known for gathering in large flocks, just like birds, and staging their own migratory flights.
Speaking of insects, I’ve also been hearing Katydids. A recent post of a Katydid photo on my Facebook page prompted responses that brought up the old superstition that the first frost will take place several weeks after the Katydids begin their nocturnal serenades.
I always look forward to September, but it always seems to be an extremely busy month for me. This year’s no exception, but I am determined to carve out some time to enjoy this month of transition.
Join me in paying closer attention to the world around you this month. There are new birds to see almost every day if you simply take the time to look. If the birds are absent, look with even more attention to detail and you’re sure to be rewarded with some other remarkable observations.