Thursday, August 04, 2011

It's headlamp time, again!

Today I was forced into it. I had to wear my headlamp to start off my morning walk with dogs. Of course, the sky was overcast and foggy, and sprinkles of rain had fallen just an hour or so before, but still. The shortening hours of daylight are the one thing about cooler weather that I don’t look forward to. Two things I had missed about the longer hours of daylight greeted me this dark and gloomy morning—I heard both the great horned owl and the screech owl call this morning.

And if you needed more signs of the diminishing summer (if not yet the advancing fall), here are a few more. I saw a large flock of grackles and blackbirds, several hundred easily. They gather together, or “stage,” before heading south. It’s early for them to start that, I think, but by late September or early October, the size of the flocks can swell into the tens of thousands, making a huge amount of noise and mess before leaving for Maryland. Poor Maryland. The birds often winter there, never traveling a mile further south than they have to. I’m just glad they don’t stay in Pennsylvania. A few weeks of those flocks is bad enough.

I also saw a small, yellowing tree. It’s far too early for the yellowing to be caused by autumn, so it’s likely a weaker tree hurt by the heat and the lack of rain that plagued July. Still, a yellowing tree looks like autumn, whatever the actual cause of the change in leaf color.

Oh, and the first hawkwatch has opened for the season.  Fall is beckoning.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

When you say "grackles" do you refer to starlings (sternus vulgaris)? Grackle/grockle is an old English name for them. Interestingly down in Devon they refer to tourists as "grockles" as they come in huge numbers, are very noisy, make an incredible mess and then go away again! I believe that starlings were introduced to North America by some madman who thought that all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare should be in the New World too.

Cathy said...

My early bird tree is starting to turn now. I notice flecks of colors in it tonight. Also some the trees are starting to get the old green look to them. Bring it on!!

Darcy said...

Hi Carolyn,

I felt the pull of fall in my morning walk yesterday and again this morning. The temperatures were cooler and I felt a shift in the available light as did you. I look forward to welcoming all of what fall brings, especially after experiencing the hottest summer on record here in Philly.

Carolyn H said...

John: Actually, no. Here in the US we have several species of grackles AND the European starlings. In this area I only have the common grackle, but there's also boat-tailed grackle and great-tailed grackle further south.

Cathy and Darcy: After this summer, I'm even more ready for fall than I usually am!!

Cicero Sings said...

I actually don't mind the thought of fall - cooler temps -- less bugs. The thought I don't like is shoveling snow! ... And that time will be here all too soon. Scary though, is how fast this year has slipped away. I feel I have totally lost my last two summers.