Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(23) Leading up to the "Long Sleep"

     This female Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is now on her way to warmer climes. The feeder was taken down last week to urge her on her way. Looking forward to seeing her next spring.

Mapleleaf  Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)
     It is evident that summer is drawing to a close.  Birds are starting their migration south.  The beautiful song of the thrush in the evening is now gone.  Chipmunks are hoarding faster than ever and Gray squirrel tails are shorter while their new winter growth is starting.
     It is hard to find a leaf that has not seen the ravishes of some insect.  Many are starting to lose their grip from the host tree.  Only the occasional wood frog (Rana sylvatica)  can be heard in the evening.  The shrill call of the peeper is long gone.  Thousands of tiny toads are scrambling to live for another spring.  The black bear (Ursus americanus) is fat and the doe is getting her winter coat.  Catipillars are getting ready to hide in the folliage for their winter sleep and I am lucky enough to witness all of this, appreciating more that the forest and its inhabitants are nearing their time for the "Long Sleep".
     The pallete of color is waiting to be brushed upon the leaves of the trees and cooler nights will signal that process.  As I have recently learned and contrary to popular belief.  It is not early frost that causes our woods to fill with color, rather the cool dry days of autumn trigger a sequence in trees where by shutting off the flow of water to the leaves.  The leaves prepare all summer for the own demise by growing two layers of cells at the base of the leaf stem.  As the two layers grow, they meet and shut off the flow of chlorophyl which makes the leaves appear green.  The chlorophyl breaks down quickly and disappears revealing the beautiful yellow, gold and orange we now see, always there all summer but masked by the chlorophyl.  Other pigments are produced creating dramitic reds, scarlets and purples.  Soon, all pigments disappear and only the drab brown tannins are left to carpet the forest floor. 
     I have stocked my reserves of kerosene, propane and candles.  Firewood is stacked, coffee is on the shelf and I am ready with new excitement for visits during the long sleep.
 This is the "Hidden Pond" I have mentioned in previous posts.  I have begun building a wooden path through the bog to attain access.  I have built a small camp at the top of a hill overlooking the pond.  It is about a half acre in size and stunning.

Pitcher Plant
                                                                                                                                                                           This is a pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) that grows in the acidic sphagnum moss that surrounds the pond.  Tamaracks and black spruce also grow in this medium.  The pitcher plant is an insect-trapping plant.  The leaves form a pitcher that collects rain water, although scientists now say the roots of the pitcher also pump water into the pitcher.  The pitcher has a lip at the top with sweet secretions that attract insects.  They crawl down into the pitcher over hairs that grow downward to inhibit the insect from crawling out.  As the insect gets further in a secretion stuns them further causing them to fall into the water and be digested by plant enzymes.  The decomposed insect is then converted into nitrogen and other nutrients absorbed by the plant. 

     Tuesday 9/13/2011 6:22 p.m. 66 degrees relative humidity is 68%.  It is breezy.
     Two does, presumably sisters and probably mama does daughters arrived. It is amazing how the color has changed since last week.  One has more grey than the other but both are far into their winter coat.  They both are quite healthy.  The one is still quite dominant and insists on feeding first while the other circles and looks longingly at the pile of corn.  They are extra wary as hunting season is just around the corner and they need all of the stealth they can muster- it is inherent.
    When the deer stand still it is awesome how they blend with the bark of similar colored oaks.  
     Squirrels and chipmunks busy themselves with the sunflower seeds I have provided and their noise often gets the attention of the deer.  The chipmunks and their stuffed pouches continue to fill seed burrows already stuffed from the summer- also inherent.
     6:50, Doe #2 finally gets a chance to finish up the corn and they leave at 7:00 p.m.  
     The breeze is up and the temp is dropping.  What a day this has been.  Thanks for looking.  I hope you enjoy your space as much as I do mine.  Till next time.  Thanks again.  


  1. Your place looks delightful, as always.

    You write: "As the two layers grow, they meet and shut off the flow of chlorophyl"

    Chlorophyll doesn't flow. It is contained in chloroplasts.

  2. Correct. I meant cuts off the flow of water to the leaf. The chlorophyll breaks down and leaves the other pigments. Thanks for the notice. Rick