Latest For the Birds column: Fall brings beauty beyond birds

Photo by Chris Bosak Fall colors abound at a cemetery in Darien, CT, Nov. 2013.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Fall colors abound at a cemetery in Darien, CT, Nov. 2013.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.


The other day I woke up to a gray, drizzly day. The bright yellow birch leaves popped in contrast to the dark evergreen branches of the hemlocks.

The weight of the overnight rain and persistent drizzle was enough to cause hundreds of those leaves to break free from their boughs and sway their way to the ground. It was a sight to behold and merely a precursor of what autumn will show us over the next few weeks.

A bright yellow carpet now forms the first layer of color on the floor of the woods in my front yard. The leaves of the oaks and maples in that patch of woods will form subsequent layers.

I love fall in New England. I think just about every New Englander feels the same way. Yes, it means winter is coming next, but it also means a bird migration, pumpkin festivals, apple picking, cool dips in your favorite lake, Halloween decorations, no more mosquitoes and, of course, the aforementioned remarkable fall foliage.

Leaves take center stage during a New England autumn, but there are plenty of other natural wonders to amaze us in September, October and November. Many of these spectacles have nothing to do with birds, or animals of any sort for that matter.

I was driving my son Will home from his soccer practice last Friday and a brilliant harvest moon seemed to follow us from above the hills. It is full moons like that one that inspire so many poems, folktales, and legends about the moon. It had me on the roof trying to finally get a decent photo of a full moon. I failed again, but had fun trying and will try again on the next full moon.

Fall is a great time to walk around a meadow. The various daisies and milkweeds that dominate the meadows in the summer start to give way to goldenrod and purple asters. There’s nothing like cutting through a field covered in goldenrod. Whatever the background may be – barn, covered bridge, trees or pond — it is enhanced by the sweeping deep yellow shades of the goldenrod.

The moon, the leaves, the flowers … nature never fails to delight us in the fall.

Now you add in the animal kingdom. I’ve written in previous weeks about the spectacular hawk migration that takes place in the fall and the various songbirds that visit our yards on their way south. The meadows I mentioned before burst with life as butterflies and other insects can’t resist those goldenrod flowers as they fuel up for whatever winter has in store for them.

Fall is also my favorite time to visit moose country in northern New England. They are not easy find in the fall – sadly, they are never easy to find these days – but if you come across a bull moose with a fully grown set of antlers and have fall colors as the backdrop, it’s a scene you’ll never forget. I’ve seen it several times, but still get the itch to return up north every fall.

Even if the search for moose, or whatever might be your target, comes up empty, you’re still surrounded by those stunning colors nature grants us.

I know I’m preaching to the choir, but New England really is something special in the fall.

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