Friday, September 23, 2011

Goodbye Summer

Summer at Kalorama has produced quite a few encounters with these little stinkers. So cute when they are young and quite willing to live in close proximity to humans.
This one (pictured right) was indignant at being discovered outside in the daylight but it just didn’t have enough “stink” to run anyone off. I figured anything that determined to stand its ground needed its picture taken. A campaign to encourage the little family to move out into a den out in the woods somewhere dragged on for weeks. The dog got a lot of baths. Many weeks have passed since we have seen or smelled one. We are cautiously optimistic that the skunk family has retreated. Such is life on the nature preserve.

The end of summer signals the start of serious seed collecting around here. The bigleaf magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla, (pictured below), prized for its enormous leaves and spectacular blooms in May also has a big showy seed pod. The seeds are very popular with the birds, so it is always a challenge to beat them to the pods. We try to harvest the ones on bottom, leaving plenty up in the top of the tree for the birds.

In spite of the intense summer heat, the meadow areas had spectacular displays of prairie flowers in late June, July, and early August. It is amazing to see how those areas have spread over the years. There is room for a lot more. Typically, those areas are covered with butterflies when the flowers are in bloom. This year butterflies were seldom seen during the spring and summer. As of now, lovely orange Gulf fritillary butterflies and yellow sulphurs are regularly flitting around the Turk’s cap flowers in the butterfly garden. This annoys the ruby-throated hummingbirds to no end as they consider the Turk’s cap to be all theirs.