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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:14 PM   #1
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Default Another Almost-Autumn stroll

Hope you don't mind another little stroll around the park as autumn approaches. Most of my days are "out in the field" at this season - plenty of time to observe and to share nature with school children and park visitors, but not a lot of time to photograph what we find.

Surprising how many plants reach their peak bloom as autumn begins. Here are two species of Lobelia that are definitely late summer/early autumn bloomers in East Tennessee. Red one is Cardinal Flower (red is the color for Cardinals - both the birds and the church officials!). Blue one is Great Lobelia (latin name is Lobelia siphilitica - guess what disease it was once used to treat...)
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:18 PM   #2
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Hog Peanut's blooms have been exceptionally abundant this year. It's a member of the legume family, and a common vine in the low damp places. Another common legume this near-autumn is Tick Trefoil. "Trefoil" means 3-leaf (the plant's leaves are in threes). And "tick" refers to the small, flat seeds that stick to you like ticks!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:20 PM   #3
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It's also becoming an amazing autumn for fungi. This patch of Panther Mushrooms is already producing its second crop in two weeks!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:22 PM   #4
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We are noticing fewer butterflies lately - many are already in their winter resting stages of eggs or pupa. But there are still some out and flying, like this rather faded Eastern Tailed Blue, and this mated pair of Little Wood Satyrs...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:27 PM   #5
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Out on the trail with some 5th grade students a few days ago, and we noticed some big piles of caterpillar droppings ("frass") under a small Black Walnut tree. One sharp-eyed student noticed the caterpillar. It's a Hickory Horned Devil! Fierce-looking but harmless, and will become a large, pretty Royal Walnut Moth next year. (Got several good photos of the caterpillar crawling across children's heads - caterpillar almost as long as the top of the head! - but did not get permission to post the children's faces here...)
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:30 PM   #6
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Two years ago in autumn, a young Great Blue Heron took over our park's boat dock as his feeding area. He was not very shy, and we got some fine views (and photos) of him. Well, this year it looks like a Cormorant has chosen the same spot. Our cormorants are usually VERY SHY, but this guy let me get close enough (in the morning fog) to get a few pretty good snapshots. Hoping he'll stay around and stay calm enough for some better photos...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:32 PM   #7
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Well, thanks for coming along for another little autumn stroll. I have another batch of photos from Roan Mt last weekend, and hope to have some from another good long hike planned for the coming weekend. But will save those for later - have probably already posted too many tonight!

Thanks for any comments, critique & suggestions!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 11:46 PM   #8
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Very nice mole, your walks are always a learning experience for me. Both your photography and your explanations of all the images. The cormorants I've found in Florida aren't shy at all, they just stand around drying feathers and ignore me. Just lucky I guess.

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Old Sep 16, 2011, 9:45 PM   #9
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Nice as usual, mole. Those mushrooms are certainly interesting looking. And, yes, they have been a bumper crop up here this year, too. Our front yard is looking like a mushroom farm right now. I'm hoping to get out there tomorrow before my husband decides to mow the lawn and get some more shots.

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Old Sep 17, 2011, 5:21 AM   #10
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Well that was a very enjoyable stroll - but that Hickory Horned Devil is something else ! Brilliant.
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