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ChesLen Preserve: Autumn highlights

October 31, 2012

Posted by William Ryan 

The autumn season is progressing at ChesLen Preserve — with chills, rain, and wind! On a walk this evening at sunset, the newly mowed fields finally look as if they are dormant until the spring.  Just a day ago, we were visited by the “storm of the century,” as winds lashed the bones of the forest, stripping nearly all of the little red, orange, and yellow hands from their outstretched arms. Now the birds are quiet in the prolonged misty dusk, save a few White-throated Sparrows gleaning seeds from the field edges and American Crows flying to roost for the night. This week marks the beginning of the darkest quarter of the year and the end of the harvest. The farmers who rent the fields from Natural Lands Trust just removed the corn crop this week, before the storm, and the last of the hay bales sit in the meadow, neatly stacked and awaiting their departure.

 

ChesLen floodplain meadow and cornfield at sunset.

 

The Sunday morning walks have been well-attended since their initiation in early July. Participants have gone from t-shirts to winter jackets in these 4 months. We have had a great time thus far, with many referring to the weekly event as a nature “club”. With nearly two square miles of landscape to explore, we head off in different directions each week in search of interesting natural phenomena and beautiful scenery. Here are some images from this summer and autumn, showing some highlights of the walks

 

Discussing maple leaves. Norway or sugar? Red or silver?

 

American beech, beech blight aphid, and Scorias spongiosa: a perfect example of host specificity in plants, insects, and a fungus. The aphid (white fluff on the branches) feeds only on American beech, and the fungus (tan-colored mass) grows only on the “honeydew” droppings of the aphid.

 

Surveying the results of the timber-removal phase of the serpentine grassland restoration project. This took place in early September. More to come in upcoming blog posts.

Surveying the results of the timber-removal phase of the serpentine grassland restoration project. This took place in early September. There will be more details and descriptions of this project in upcoming blog posts…

 

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