Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An Early Autumn Morning

The temperatures have cooled considerably and there's a tang in the air, but not much Fall color as yet. Sure, the Virginia Creeper and the Staghorn Sumac leaves are turning red, but the others are still fairly green. There is color, though, mostly from the Fall flowers and berries. Here are the highlights of a walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store this morning.

Unidentified red berries along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A Brown Thrasher snacking on Staghorn Sumac fruit
A Bumblebee visiting some Goldenrod
Calico Aster in the Dykeman Spring wetland
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Harvest Home

Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox, which in old times was also called Harvest Home. It marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of the fallow. The last of the grain is harvested, along with the last fruits and vegetables, mostly gourds and melons and such, and the last haying before Winter gets done. It's a time of gathering together the fruits of the yearly harvest and starting to preserve them to last through the long sleep of Winter; grain gets turned into flour, beer, ale, and whiskey, fruits into jams and jellies and wine, meats are smoked and/or brined, vegetables canned or pickled. Cider is made now from apples, and by Yuletide it'll be fermented into hard cider just in time to make the wassail. It's a time of wonderful smells and tastes, the last period of bustle before Mama Gaia goes to sleep for the dark half of the year, tucked under a blanket of fallen leaves and later snow, snug and comfortable until it's time to waken again in the Spring. It's time to give thanks and celebrate!

And how about some music for the occasion? First is from Henry Purcell's opera "King Arthur", called "Your hay it is Mow'd, and your Corn is Reap'd", based on an old traditional Harvest Home song. The other is my favorite version of "John Barleycorn" by Steeleye Span. Poor Little Sir John gets his head cut off at Harvest Home, to be brewed into beer. What a fate! Enjoy!

Photos © 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2015 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, September 18, 2016

In Transition

Here in mid-September Summer is wrapping up and Autumn is starting to move in; it's a time of transition between the two seasons. The Summer birds are restless and getting ready to head south; in fact the male Hummingbirds have already headed out and just the hardy females remain here to feed some more before they, too, head south for the Winter. The Goldenrod is at its peak and some Fall flowers are starting to appear, like the Calico Asters. The butterflies are still here but thinning out, but grasshoppers are all over the place; as I walked through the meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the grocery store the grasshoppers were bouncing off me all the way. So here are some views from the walk through the park this morning to illustrate the transitional nature of the season.

Spotted Touch-me-not (aka Jewelweed) in the Dykeman Spring wetland
A Cabbage White butterfly along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Multiflora Rose hips in the Dykeman Spring wetland
The Purple Martin house in the Dykeman Spring wetland, covered in Virginia Creeper
Calico Aster in the wetland
A Monarch butterfly on Goldenrod in the upland meadow
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Last Day

Alas, today is the last day of my vacation! So I've spent today wrapping up some things and getting ready for the week back to work. But before all that I took a leisurely walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park this morning, absorbing the natural energy and soothing my soul in Mama Gaia's embrace. Here's what she offered me while I was there.

An Ailanthus Webworm Moth on Yellow Ironweed
A Bumblebee on Yellow Ironweed
I caught this Painted Turtle hitching a ride on a Snapping Turtle in the north duck pond
Mallards in the north duck pond
Reflections on the pond
The red bridge over the creek
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, September 09, 2016

A Great Blue Heron Surprise

It's still hot and humid out, so I'm limiting my outdoor activity. But I had an errand to run down at the opposite end of King St., so I headed out around 10:30 this morning. As I was crossing the bridge over Branch Creek I did what I always do, looked to my right up the creek. And lo and behold, what did I see but a Great Blue Heron standing barely 20 feet away in the creek! And not only that, but it stood still, and then turned while I was shooting, giving me multiple angles to catch a portrait from. Unfortunately because of the sun's glare off the water the lighting was tricky, so out of over 20 shots only 3 made the grade. And here they are!

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Short Visit

It's gone back to being hot and humid, but I needed to get to the grocery store to fill in some holes in the larder. Okay, I admit it; I had to get more bacon for the BLTs I've been making for lunch during my vacation, and it's worth suffering the heat and humidity to get it. Plus I decided a slice of red onion on a BLT might taste pretty good, too. Anyhow... As per usual, I went through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park on the way to the store, so naturally there are photos. Here are the ones that worked. Enjoy!

Yellow Ironweed along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A very busy Bumblebee working the Ironweed. And see that Orange and white and black near the left edge of the photo? That's an Ailanthus Webworm Moth. The Ironweed patch was a pretty busy spot this morning!
Cool water on a hot day - the creek from the red bridge
More cool water - Sedges and reflections on the north duck pond
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

A Drying Wetland

I decided to head over to the Brookside Ave. wetland yesterday to check out the situation; it's not good. The network of little streamlets is still running, but at a much lower level and very sluggishly. Burd Run is down to a trickle. But worst of all, the collection pond in the middle of the wetland is bone dry. There are no waterfowl hanging out; the usual population of Canada Geese, Mallards, Great Blue Herons, and Killdeer are just gone, off to find water elsewhere.

Despite all the dryness, the place is still remarkably green; even the Cattails in the dried-out pond are alive and well. And the wildflowers in the meadows are blooming up a storm - Goldenrod, Boneset, New York Ironweed, Purple Loosestrife all provide a colorful palette to the place. And all those flowers have attracted an amazing variety of butterflies. So today I'll show you all the ones I managed to capture yesterday morning. Enjoy!

The bone dry collection pond; the former bottom mud is dry and cracked
European Skipper
Variegated Fritillary
Cabbage White
Clouded Sulphur
Common Buckeye
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, September 05, 2016

A Long Sunday Constitutional

Yesterday was day two of my vacation, and it was another gorgeous day, with low humidity and cooler temperatures. I ended up taking about an 8 mile hike, first over to the Dykeman Spring Nature Park, and then out across I-81 to the farm country skirting the feet of South Mountain. It was a great hike, but I was tuckered out when I got home and didn't get to putting all this together until today. Enjoy!

Gaura growing in the Dykeman Spring wetland
Spotted Jewelweed in the wetland
A view of hay bales and South Mountain along Peiper Rd.
Another view of South Mountain from Peiper Rd.
Horses and barns at Peiper Rd. and Means Hollow Rd.
A view from White Church Rd.
An old farm on Woods Rd.
And back to Dykeman to sit on a bench by the north duck pond to watch a Mallard drake snooze and float
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Another Gorgeous Day

Today starts my second 9-day vacation stretch (I have one more coming at the end of October/beginning of November), and it couldn't have started on a better day - cooler, no humidity, a cooling breeze, and a brilliant blue sky full of puffy white clouds. And what better place to see it from than the upland meadow in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. What a view!

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Thursday, September 01, 2016


Out walking on a very humid morning after a night of showers, I found these scenes naturally framed by their surroundings. The misty view of South Mountain was taken from Spring Hill Cemetery, and the view of Middle Spring Creek was taken from the bridge at Springhouse Road.

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger