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Nature Almanac

Hidden Pond Nature Center

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


Almanac for September 2017

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

  • First Week:  Full moon on September 6. 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 spend the 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.
  • Second week:  Sharp-shinned hawks chase and sometimes catch other birds or dragonflies 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. Burdock burrs also develop. The burrs, sometimes known as porcupine eggs, stick to clothing and dog hair. Snakes and box turtles get restless, and begin to look for a place to hole up for the winter.
  • Third week:  Beech nuts fall- turkeys gobble them up. Flickers in flocks pass through. The fall honeysuckle bloom is very fragrant. Yellow jacket wasps 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 2016 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. Autumn equinox is on the 22nd.
  • Fourth week:  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 every 24 hours for the next 6 months.

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