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The beginning of fall

October 16, 2016
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

Every year is different. Would you agree that we can make that statement given the weather we've experienced? The stream flooding that we generally experience in June was absent but flooding in fall? That doesn't happen often thankfully.

I don't think that I can ever remember a year where I wore the short-sleeve uniform shirt so long. They have been placed in the back of the closet now though.

Autumn is officially here by the calendar date. And certainly the crops are rolling out of the fields now, so that is another obvious indicator.

Nature's indicators are out there, as well. Like those wonderfully bright and exciting few days of blooming spring, there won't be many (not nearly enough in my book) of those truly golden days of the fall season. Catch your breath in the "quiet days" that remain. A few very special bright, colorful fall days are just around the corner. Leaves are beginning to show the bright colors we all look forward to.

I have seen migrating bald eagles. There are a few resident bald eagles in our area during the summer but you will notice the increase in northern eagles soaring overhead searching for carrion to eat. A lot of that carrion is alongside or on our hard-surfaced roads. I picked up a road-killed eagle just last week. At the scene there was a dead raccoon in one lane of the county blacktop and then about fifteen yards away in the other lane was the mangled body of the eagle. In fact, when I picked it up, a piece of bone and flesh from the raccoon meal was still in the eagle's mouth.

Yes, migration has begun. The swallows are gone already and hummingbirds, as well. My feeders aren't as busy either. It's a season of plenty for the birds that remain with wild seeds and lots of insects still easy to find. When was the last time you saw a blackbird in your yard, or a robin, for that matter? They, too, have joined migration flocks and will slowly be working their way south. We may see some more of them, but they'll be moving birds that won't be around long. (Oh, sure there will be a few robins spotted during the Christmas bird counts but these are tough northern robins who get down this far south and call it good.) Even the wrens that have been in my back yard are finally done raising babies after at least three nests. They have disappeared just like the swallows.

One day soon I'll look out my window and catch a flash of dark gray and white as the first dark-eyed juncos arrive from their northern pine woods nesting areas. Other migrating sparrows often arrive with them to spend the winter.

Winter. I'm not ready to talk about that yet. Let's hope we have a long beautiful fall.



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