Through October, here at the AMC Highland Center, we watched the season progress from fall into early winter. In the beginning we watched Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) sun themselves, White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) bound across the fields and a token Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) watch us pass from its careful camouflage. The Woolly Bear Caterpillar (Isia Isabella), while varied in their colorations, showed a more brown than black trend overall. A few late season Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) had missed the major migration and struggled with the fall winds. Mid month left the leaves mostly fallen from the trees, a few tagalongs adding their company to the sturdy American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) who was still providing a brown tinged shade. Berries from Mountain Ash, Bunchberry (Cornus Canadensis) and Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis) could still be found in ripe bunches in the woods. One of our groups opportunely witnessed a small Black Bear (Ursus americanus) running.
Fall storms caused not only the fall of leaves but also the flooding of streams that left a convenient pile of silt on its banks, the perfect medium for Coyote (Canis latrans) and Moose (Alces alces) to leave their tracks. Towards the end of the month the Black-Capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus) became more obviously abundant and Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) collecting activity grew drastically. Our first heavy snow, on the 21st, left the trees’ branches bowed low to the ground creating a white jungle-like atmosphere for our hikers; we also began to find water forced from the ground in a hair like form of ice called Frost Pillars. Blown down trees were newfound frequent occurrences along our trails with the season’s many windy storms.