58 Days Until Winter

Posted on October 24th, 2008 by

With low temperatures in the 20’s forecast for next week, it seems that winter will soon be upon us.  The tree colors have already peaked, our first hard frost has already appeared, and it’s possible that our first snowflakes are just around the corner.

But winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21, which means we still have nearly two months left of autumn!  While the landscape is beginning to subside into its winter sleep, there are still plenty of fall happenings to enjoy.

Goose and waterfowl numbers have begun to rise over the past couple weeks; as these birds migrate south, watch for large V’s flying over St. Peter.  While most of the geese are Canada Geese, occasionally one might spot a flock of the Canada’s smaller, higher-pitched cousin, the Cackling Goose, a former subspecies of the Canada Goose that was designated as a separate species in 2004.  Flocks of Double-crested Cormorants have also been recently sighted heading south; watch for their looser flocks that more often form a straight line than a V.

Tamaracks in the Arb are just now transitioning into their classic “smoky gold” color; these beautiful trees are deciduous conifers (cone-bearing trees that actually lose their needles in the fall instead of remaining evergreen).   Look for them near the Jim Gilbert Teaching Pond on the south side of Ring Road.

Gray squirrels are busy searching for acorns, seeds, and black walnuts to store in “caches” for the winter months when such food will be more difficult and dangerous to find.  A cache (pronounced cash) is essentially a place where an animal stores food that will be consumed at a later time; a single squirrel may have many caches, but won’t always remember where each cache is.

American Robins and Cedar Waxwings have begun to show up in flocks; on Wednesday evening, I counted around two thousand robins migrating over St. Peter.  Watch for Cedar Waxwings feeding on your berry trees (they love mountain-ash); a flock of these birds can strip a tree clean of its berries in a single day.

Leaf piles are beginning to appear in people’s yards around town; surely this is one of the favorite things about fall for kids (it’s been too long since I jumped into my last pile of leaves), and just in time for Halloween too.

So, I urge you to put on your jacket, maybe grab a rake, and go enjoy the progressing season!


One Comment

  1. Jan Dunlap says:

    This is such a lovely description of the season, Bob! I learn so much thanks to your excellent inclusion of details!