Tuesday, September 28, 2010

golden fall day

In town the maples are starting to turn and are flaming up the boulevards, but in Lester it is mostly birch and aspen coloring the landscape in warm yellow. Smaller plants like ferns and sumac are also preparing for autumn.

Lester is one of my favorite city parks. I like the rivers, and the landscape seems more deep woodsy than a lot of other parks, and it seems like I fairly consistently find something good in Lester. There's a series of trail to the west of Lester Park proper, below Skyline, that I "discovered" a few years ago, and because it is just an undefined blank spot on the map--and because there is that subdivision nearby with road names like "Bald Eagle Drive" and "Snowy Owl Circle"--I was worried for the fate of the Lester spur trails. But now there are signs up designating them as COGGS trails, which means that I have to dodge the occasional mountain biker, but that's much better than the whole thing being razed for Peregrine Avenue or Kestrel Lane.

Lots of chickadees out, and white-throated, song and possibly Lincoln's sparrows, plus warblers, most of which I couldn't ID (I, uh, saw a couple yellowrumps, and possibly an ovenbird (or some kind of thrush; this was when I had my camera out and not my binoculars)). I also flushed a grouse. I am having a very grousy year; usually I'm lucky if I see one all year, and so far this year I've kicked up at least half a dozen ruffed grouse in the city, plus I got to go watch sharp-tailed grouse dance on leks by Barnum last spring with my friend A.

Asters still blooming prolifically, along with some yellow composite, but the tansy and goldenrod are fading already. As I was watching the warblers and sparrows, something else flitted into view and landed on my leg: a comma butterfly. This was when I had my binoculars out and not my camera. Luckily for me, it was a very accommodating butterfly and waited for me in the mud while I dug out my camera for an overexposed but still documentary photo. (Can anyone ID the species from my crappy picture? I'm afraid I don't have any better angles.)

Last weekend it was finally sunny after more than a week of rain, and on Sunday the temperature was around 60. Not quite warm enough to bask like a snake on a rock, but just cool enough to keep me from getting overheated as I climbed in and out of Amity and Lester River ravines. The birch were turning gold overhead and at my feet there were still flowers in bloom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

nature in the Friendly West End

Nature, of course, continues. I've been busy with a new job that is otherwise good except that I'm stuck in a windowless basement all day, and I have never really mastered the skill of balancing a 40 hour work week with having a life, so I'm not getting out as much as I'd like (although I do have a recent Antenna Farm jaunt to write up).

Today I overslept just enough to miss my usual bus, and I thought the next bus option would have gotten me there late since I'd have to transfer downtown, but there were some unexpected road closures and the bus driver ended up going a lot further west than he should have, so I just got off at the M&H and walked from there into the Friendly West End. It was lightly drizzling, and the patchy cloud cover caught the dawn light and cast a dramatic scene over the industry and waterfront. One deer skittered across Superior Street towards the scrub below Point Of Rocks, and on the other side of the street two more deer grazed in the grass, keeping an eye on me but not appearing overly concerned. Once I got up closer to Garfield I could see a faint rainbow arcing over the city.

I usually use part of my break time to take a walk around the block. The ditch is filled with flowers, mostly weeds (vetch, gumweed, daisies, tansy, plus some native asters) but the butterflies love it, especially the vetch. Today there were several sulphurs and cabbage whites, and one Milbert's tortoiseshell. The tortoiseshell is probably newly hatched (he did look very clean and new) and will overwinter as an adult and emerge again in the spring. By afternoon the sun was bright and warm, and there was brown tabby cat basking in one of the apartment windows I walked by.