For the Birds: Early fall sightings

Photo by Chris Bosak Praying mantis at Highstead in Redding, CT, summer 2019.

In my opinion, September ranks up there as one of the best months for wildlife watching in New England. Top two or three, I’d say. I like each of the months, of course, and you could make an argument for pretty much any of them being in the top five. May is hard to beat as it is the height of the songbird migration in New England and comes on the heels of several months of cold weather. Also, the flowers start blooming and trees fully leaf out, adding color to a landscape that had been mostly gray for far too long.

So May, I think, has to be number one.

April, September and October duke it out for second. To me, September gets the nod. Like May, September is a transition month. The fall migration begins in earnest during September, but summer still hangs on tightly. Not only do we get to see the fall migrants pass through, but all of the things that make summer special remain. Loons and hummingbirds are around for much of September, but they are mostly gone by October.

September is a great time to take a walk in a field. The goldenrod is in bloom and if you look closely, you can often find interesting critters such as a praying mantis or yellow garden spider. It is interesting to note that praying mantises are not native to North America. Also, male yellow garden spiders are small and brownish; only the female has the intimidating size and colorful pattern.

September also marks the beginning of the southward hawk migration, which is a highlight of the year for many birdwatchers. September features the massive broad-winged Continue reading

And another mantis photo

Photo by Chris Bosak A praying mantis in a field in New England, September 2020.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that praying mantises were being seen frequently this summer. Well, here’s another one I found the other day. Here’s the original post.

Here’s some interesting information about praying mantises I found on the Daily Hampshire Gazette website:

In Massachusetts there are two species of praying mantises, the Chinese mantis, Tenodera aridifolia, and the European mantis, Mantis religiosa. As you can guess from their common names, neither of these insects is native to North America. Both species were introduced over 100 years ago, likely by gardeners looking to control pests.

The article has plenty more interesting facts about these fascinating insects, including why some are green and some are brown. You’ll note the mantis shown in this post is much more brown the one in my previous mantis post. Here’s the link to the Daily Hampshire Gazette article.

Praying mantis: bonus photo

Photo by Chris Bosak
Praying mantis at Highstead in Redding, CT, summer 2019.

Here’s my favorite praying mantis shot from the other day. I figured I’d save it for its own post.

Here’s the original Stranger Things: Praying mantis post.

Here are the other Stranger Things posts, in case you missed them.

Hummingbird moth





Stranger Things: Praying mantis

Photo by Chris Bosak Praying mantis at Highstead in Redding, CT, summer 2019.

The insect world is rife with fodder for Birds of New England’s Stranger Things series. It doesn’t get much stranger than the praying mantis, a beloved insect that is not seen often enough.

It had been a few years since I had seen one, in fact, but a recent walk at Highstead in Redding, Connecticut, yielded three of the beauties. The first one got my attention as it flew across the meadow path and landed on a goldenrod stalk that was bursting with September color. I can’t remember the last time I saw a praying mantis in flight. It’s hard to miss as they are quite substantial insects, regardless of their skinny frame when not flying.

The second and third mantises I saw were on top of each other, literally. These ones were on a goldenrod stalk as well. One of my favorite things about September is the proliferation of goldenrod in New England’s meadows.

The praying mantis is so named because it looks as if it is praying when it’s waiting for food. Check out the bent front legs held together in the photo above.

Praying mantises are excellent hunters with an oversized, triangular head and large compound eyes. They are green, brown or a combination of those colors, making them hard to find for both prey and predators. Another great adaption utilized by mantises are the spikes front legs for capturing and holding prey.

Mantises eat crickets, moths, other insects, and, allegedly, hummingbirds. I’ve never seen this, but I’ve read it enough to include here. They also sometimes eat each other. Yes, sometimes the female eats the male after mating. I don’t know if that was the case with these two. I didn’t stick around to find out.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Praying mantises in Redding, CT, summer 2019.

Click here for “11 wondrous facts about praying mantises” from

Finally, here’s another shot of the couple. I have one more shot to share, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Praying mantises in Redding, CT, summer 2019.