Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last of the grasshoppers

I walked through the long grass today and only noticed one small grasshopper hop out of my way. Winter is coming. The grasshoppers die with the first frost and overwinter as eggs. In late summer and early September they are everywhere hopping out of your way. Now in late October they have mostly disappeared.

I took these photographs earlier in the year. Grasshoppers are usually fairly hard to photograph because you mostly see them when they jump but you don't see where they land as they'll be hidden in the long grass only to jump again when you approach their hiding spot. The two striped fellow was easy though as I found him early in the morning before it had warmed up. He had no interest in moving at all.

October fields

The above is a picture of the Square taken in mid October. It is amazing to me how low the grass looks. It looks almost like the grass was last cut three weeks ago not 3 years ago. Grass seems to have a renewed growth period in the fall after the summer plants have died back. This area in the middle of summer was covered in purple vetch and other climbing plants now those have all died back dragging the tall dead summer growth down with them.

The small spruce seedling that can be seen in the middle distance is three years old. It is one of the lucky ones that I have been able to save from being over grown by the grass. Others that got lost over the summers would not get enough sunlight to grow vigorously. I think this seedling is now out of danger of being overgrown by the grass. The vetch can still be a problem though even for larger spruce trees.

It is interesting to compare the above 3 year old field to the picture below of the 1 year old Newhaven Extension planting area. There you can see there is a lot of dead standing grass. My general observation is that the first year after planting an area that has been frequently cut the plant communities that dominate are grasses and trefoil, stichwort, yarrow and clover that either can withstand frequent cutting or does well growing close to the ground but also can climb when the grass grows taller. In the second year the grasses do less well and the climbing plants including purple vetch become more prominent. On the third year the climbers continue to do well but there is an increasing diversity with tall plants such as Goldenrod, Bull Thistle, Queen Anne's Lace, St. John's Wort, Milkweed and Aster gaining footholds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bluejay in flight

I was taking a picture of the trees when a blue jay flew over my head. Blue jays often travel in small family groups and as I had seen the one, I was not too surprised when I caught the second in frame.

This past Thanksgiving weekend has been warm and sunny and as you can see in the above picture many of the trees still have green leaves. We've had a frost, but not so hard a frost that it has killed the insect life. There are still grasshoppers in the long grass and there are still wasps hanging about. The other day I had to beat a quick retreat when I removed a mulch circle from a tree and realized there was an entrance to a wasp's nest underneath it. I don't see too many garden spiders about anymore though. In late August it is hard not to get tangled in their webs when walking in the tall grass, by late September they are quite rare.