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Nature Almanac


Hidden Pond Nature Center

[ 8511 Greeley Blvd. ] [ Springfield, VA 22152 ] [ 703-451-9588 ]

Goldenrods

Almanac for September 2015

Natural events, happenings, and fearless predictions based on 30 years of observations at Hidden Pond. Your observations may vary! Hidden Pond is not responsible for errors, erratic behavior or other whims of nature.

  • 1st Week: We now loose sunlight at a rate of 20 minutes per week. Tiger swallowtail butterflies are in abundance. Their larva will feed on tulip poplar and wild cherry trees, and will over-winter in the pupa stage. Acorns drop and send down strong tap-roots. Squirrels feeding on this year’s crop of walnuts have walnut-stained faces. Monarch butterflies migrate through our meadows on their way to Mexico. Copperhead snakes bear live young. Hummingbirds feed on jewelweed flowers before leaving.
  • 2nd week: Sharp-shinned hawks and kestrels chase and sometimes catch other birds or dragon flies as they migrate. Spiders are now big and fat. The largest spider webs are woven by the araneus spiders. There are several species; mostly nocturnal. They may weave a new web each evening and take it down each morning. Tickseed sunflowers are in bloom; their bright yellow daisy-like flowers will soon develop into the seeds for which they get their name. Snakes and box turtles get restless, and begin to look for a place to hole up for the winter.
  • 3rd week: Beech nuts fall- turkeys gobble them up. Flickers in flocks pass through. The fall honeysuckle bloom is very fragrant. Yellowjacket wasps are may now be very annoying; the adults kill flies which they bring home to the nest to feed to the developing larva, but for themselves they prefer sweet stuff, making them a nuisance at picnics and around trash cans. Hickory and poplar trees turn yellow. Black gum and maples begin to turn red. The white pine needles that came forth in the spring of 2014 turn brown and drop to the ground. The needles that emerged in the spring of this year will remain on the tree until next fall- that’s why these evergreens are evergreen.
  • 4th week: Full moon August 29. Nighthawks are now migrating south at night. These birds have large eyes, huge gaping mouths, and feed on moths and other night-flying insects while on the wing. Hummingbirds feed on touch-me-not (impatiens) flowers. Walnut tree leaves are among the first to change color (yellow) and fall. Monarch butterflies are strong fliers with rugged bodies (for butterflies). These traits help make possible their long migration south, even as far as Mexico, and we see them passing through now. New-mown grass smells different in the fall.Autumn equinox is on the 23rd. Full Harvest Moon on the 27th. There will also be a full lunar eclipse that night, totality beginning at 10:11 p.m. Kingbirds headed south are now passing through. Broad-winged and red-tailed hawks cruise by high overhead. New England aster, New York ironweed, and many other asters will bloom until late fall. Acorns litter the ground; those of the white oak have developed over this past summer and are relatively sweet, while those of the red oaks have taken two years to develop and are bitter. If there is enough moisture, this is a good time of year for mushroom hunting. The dogwoods are turning red and their turban shaped flower buds are already formed in preparation for next spring.

Autumn equinox facts;

  • The sun will rise due east and at this latitude climb to 51° above the southern horizon when it is due south (solar noon) and set due west. The only other day it rises due east and sets due west is spring equinox.
  • The sun is above the horizon for 12 hours. As autumn progresses, the sun will rise farther into the southeast, spend less time in the sky, and set in the southwest.
  • Standing at the North Pole we would see the sun dip below the horizon, not to be seen again until spring equinox.
  • At the South Pole the sun peeps over the horizon and sweeps 360 degrees around the scientists there in one day.

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