Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Phenology

The word for the day is phenology- the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate.  Tana Pulles puts up a poster in her office every month and has volunteered to share her monthly Ozark phenology thoughts with us.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES
Wikimedia
Every fall, a magical event takes place—the annual Monarch migration to Mexico. In September look for larger numbers of Monarchs on the move or perhaps clustered in a nearby tree. By instinct alone, they migrate distances up to 2000 miles to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

The average peak of the Monarch migration for our 37 degree latitude is the last two weeks of September.

SHOREBIRD MIGRATION
Early September brings the peak of shorebird migration. Shorebirds tend to travel in flocks and are seen near sand and mud flats of standing water, prairie potholes, backwaters and sewage lagoons. Many of them are long range migrants that we see only in the spring on their way to summer breeding locations up north and fall to wintering grounds in Central and South America.

 WATCH FOR FALLING ACORNS Oaks and hickories produce seed crops at irregular intervals. One season may bring bumper quantities of acorns and nuts, while the next season may bring scarce amounts. Red oaks produce their acorns every other year.   Acorns and nuts are of tremendous importance to deer, squirrels, turkeys and other wildlife. Upwards of 100 species of birds and animals include acorns in their diets. Late September observe squirrels busy burying these seeds for their winter food stash.

SOLDIER BEETLES
You don't have to look hard for soldier beetles - these Pennsylvania leatherwings start to cluster on the frost weed, Goldenrod and Thoroughwart (Eupatorium) byt the start of September. Too many can be a nuisance but they are good pollinators and will eat aphids.


COLORS OF FALL
Sassafras, sumac and Virginia creeper begin to show their fall color the last half of September. Look for their brilliant reds.  Above all, don't forget to count the leaves.  Virginia creeper= 5 leaflets; Poison ivy= "leaves of three."  Poison ivy also turns a beautiful shade of red- the same color as your rash if you forget.

Poison Ivy
Virginia creeper- Wikimedia












 HAWK MIGRATION
Broad-winged hawk- Cathy Miller
The later half in September provides the best viewing for hawk migration; one in particular is the Broad-winged Hawk. The best time of day for viewing a band of these migrating raptors is mid-morning on a bright day after a cold front has passed through the area. It is then that you are likely to see hundreds even thousands moving southwards. They are returning to the American tropics where they spend their winters. 

Tiger Salamander- endangerednj.blogspot.com
TIGER SALAMANDERS MOVING
Tiger salamanders spend their days in burrows or under logs, as they are active at night. During autumn rains, adult individuals migrate to fishless ponds where breeding will take place. Courtship and egg-laying occur in the water between February and April. Each female may lay up to 1,000 eggs deposited in small clumps of 18 to 110 eggs. Eggs hatch in a few weeks.

And finally this from Jeff Cantrell in Joplin:
"Common Nighthawks have been migrating through in good numbers, some evenings (20, 40, 60 - 100 birds ) while I have noticed other days I see very few, there seems to be a pulse to the migration. Try to catch them if you get the opportunity. They will be heading to South America as mid-September nears. The “bullbats” have a cool casual flight, followed by some remarkable dives. “Peent” is their rally cry, but sometimes you will hear “beer, beer, beer” almost like science fiction firearm sound effects. "

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