Observations of a Naturalist: Late Fall


This has been an above normal season for temperature and way below for precipitation. Here at the nature center we have seen a long extension of autumn as a result of these factors.

We had a couple of rainy, mild days in late October that succeeded in wetting the ground but it soaked in so rapidly that it left no evidence especially under logs or the forest canopy.

A couple of box turtles were recorded moving around in early November, when they normally have been in hibernation for a few weeks. As late as November 17th we spotted a little brown bat fluttering around at sunset catching insects!

The forest trees did hit peak color during the last two weeks of October but the leaves stayed on the branches for another three weeks! We had a wind event on November 21st & 22nd with peaks at 45 mph but the sweet gums and oaks still held on to the foliage.

It took that deluge after Thanksgiving that dropped three inches of rain on November 29th & 30th to finally strip the leaves off. For all the seasons I have raked leaves (trust me I mean decades!) I have never seen leaves hold on for so long! The extra weight of water-soaked leaves in conjunction with the high wind did the trick to finally bring the last holdouts down.

We will have to wait and see what this means for the wildlife here at Rye Nature Center. Come by for a hike and make some observations yourself!

Garden Note: By mulching leaves back into the lawn, we recycle nutrients that the trees drew out for growth, back into the soil for future use.

—-Mary Gillick, Program Director