Weather-wise, the last couple of months have been insane. In early December, I still had a few scattered goldenrods in bloom. They were all individuals that had been browsed or cut earlier in the year, which kept them from blooming at the same time as the other goldenrods. I was also still seeing the occasional suplhur butterfly fly through the yard all the way into mid-December. None of them were nice enough to sit still and let me take their pictures, but the flashes of yellow were still fun to watch.
The unusually warm weather lasted into early January. Our grass and clover were bright green and dotted with henbit, deadnettle, common chickweed, and dandelion flowers through New Year’s. It looked and felt more like spring, than winter. Even the frogs were a little confused. Anthony and I heard spring peepers calling more than once during December.
Then, almost like flipping a light switch, it was winter and we had 5 inches of snow on the ground. The snow didn’t last more than a couple of days, but the nights still got cold enough for us to routinely find icicles on our north facing slope. We’ve now entered into a cycle of a couple of snowy / icy days, followed by a thaw, then rain, and within a few days more snow and ice. We’re definitely into mud season – that’s really the best way I know to describe this time of year.
It’s fun to go out and track the deer and other critters in the snow, but I’m also grateful that I can watch so much wildlife from the comfort of my warm, dry home. Both deer and turkey wander through the yard. This year I also let a volunteer stand of goldenrod grow up right outside my office window. That stand of goldenrods has provided me endless wildlife viewing opportunities.
Throughout the late summer and early fall butterflies and bees danced on the flowers. Later in the fall, chickadees, titmice, Nashville warblers, and magnolia warblers worked their way through the stand searching for seeds or late insects. As fall gave way to winter, song sparrows and white-throated sparrows replaced the warblers, and I see them foraging under the goldenrods almost every day. Then just the other day, a Cooper’s hawk swooped in and hung around the edge of the patch for 10 minutes or so. I’m guessing that it was hunting, or hoping to hunt, the sparrows which had been there just a few minutes before it showed up.
Things have definitely not been boring over the last couple of months. Despite the change in seasons, there have still been lots of nature-related discoveries and observations to be made. Those were just a few of mine. What interesting nature-related discoveries have you made in your yard and community over the last few weeks? I always enjoy hearing what others are finding too.
Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.