Hidden Pond Nature Center

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Visitor Center: Weekdays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Weekends: Noon – 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

703-451-9588
TTY 711

8511 Greeley Blvd.
Springfield, Virginia

Mike McCaffrey,
Manager

Hidden Pond Almanac

Natural events, happenings, and fearless predictions based upon 40 years of observations at Hidden Pond.  Your observations may vary. Hidden Pond is not responsible for errors, erratic behavior or other whims of nature.

SEPTEMBER

First Week 

Full Harvest Moon Sept 2. We now lose sunlight at a rate of 20 minutes per week. Squirrels bury acorns, some of which will grow into oak trees. In this way, squirrels help to propagate the oaks while ensuring food for their own descendants. It seems that squirrels and oaks need each other. Copperhead snakes bear live young which are then left on their own. Young copperheads resemble adults but have yellow tails. Hummingbirds feed on jewelweed flowers before heading south. Jupiter and Saturn are the bright planets in the south at 10 p.m. while a very bright Venus greets early risers in the east before dawn.

Second Week 

Sharp-shinned hawks chase and, when lucky, 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, and turkeys gobble them up. Flickers in flocks pass through. The fall honeysuckle bloom is fragrant. Yellow jacket wasps may now be very annoying. The adults kill flies that 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 2019 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.

Fourth Week

Autumn equinox is on the 22nd. Kingbirds headed south are now passing through. Broad-winged and red-tailed hawks cruise south 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 down there every 24 hours for the next six months.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant