This has been a beautiful fall so far, with warm sunny days and blue skies.
I am now getting physical therapy on my wrist and have enjoyed the warm, gold days as much as possible.
I get outdoors for a bit most days to enjoy the fall weather while I can. Locally, some of the aspen are still green but other ones are in full color. From what I have seen on the TV news, many of the leaves have already been blown off in the high country.
Black spot has affected many of the trees here. This is a fungus disease that forms black spots on the aspen leaves’ surfaces. The fungus starts over winter in the fallen leaves beneath the trees and will begin to affect the new leaves next spring. The Colorado State Extension Service has a pamphlet available on black spot, if you are interested.
I am such an outdoors person that even when I can’t get out in the woods, I spent a lot of time just watching what is happening outside my window. When I first arrived at Elk Run in August, there were a pair of mule deer and a spotted fawn in the little aspen grove beyond my window.
I saw them everyday in the grove or elsewhere along the bank leading to it. I have watched them feeding, sleeping, walking and chewing their cud. S
ince mid-October, the fawn and the buck have not been around and the doe is here alone. I do not begin to understand what is going on as the timing seems to be all wrong.
The buck’s antlers are still in velvet, so he probably is not in rut yet. The female may not have been ready to mate again so soon after giving birth, and the little fawn will not have a very good chance of surviving the winter by itself.
Mule deer generally give birth in June or July and with a seven-month gestation period, That means they could or should mate in October.
At any rate, the doe seems to be planning to spend the winter in the aspen grove. As long as the snow is not too deep, she will still roam a good bit looking for grass and shrubs to browse.
All of the summer wildflowers, such as lupine, golden aster and Bigelow’s aster, are gone, and they have gone to seed. The nodding thistle is still in bloom and others have ripe seeds. These plumed seeds float on every breeze and you soon realize how this noxious weed spreads so far.
Birds have dwindled down to a very few. Two different days in late August and September, there was a migration of birds on a cold front. The first was a large movement of chipping sparrows, many of which were immature that still have brown head stripes. The second migration was a day when yellow-rumped warblers moved through all day.
It is another year of abundant spruce and pine cones, so watch for winter species moving in from Canada such as evening grosbeaks and other wandering species.
Twelve crows were raising a ruckus around a spruce tree on the other side of the driveway this evening. From the loud calls, darting in and out, and persistence, I felt sure they had chased a hawk or an owl into the tree. Sure enough, it suddenly flew into another thicker tree and managed to disappear.
They finally gave up and one by one drifted off. I never got more than a nano-second glimpse so I can only guess it was a gold-horned owl, due to its long wingspan and because they have been seen in the area.
Summer has flown with the birds and I am not ready for winter yet. I hope it will be mild and that you all have good birding.
I hope to be in my home with my family for Thanksgiving.