Monday, November 09, 2009

Signs of Autumn

The signs of autumn are different here in California. While snow is falling in some parts of the country, our insects like the preying mantis are still finishing up their life cycles. This female laid her egg mass on a grape vine. She camouflaged it perfectly to give her offspring the best chance at success, because while they over winter, she will not survive the cooling nights.

But autumn is the time of rebirth for our native plants. The hot dry summer is to hard to survive. Native plants take the summer off, going dormant. This is what many people expect for winter, but as the days shorten and the temperatures cool, native plants begin to grow

The ribes or wild currant was covered with dried brown leaves, but autumn growth is bursting out in bright green and pushing aside the old leaves.

Toyon berries are beginning to swell.

Even introduced plants have adjusted to California’s seasons. The bell-shaped blooms on the strawberry tree are popping open.

And the camillia is forming flower buds that will bloom in the middle of our mild California winter.

Migrating birds are traveling through and the Cooper’s hawk, a fast flying aerial predator is hanging around bird feeders. I had a Cooper’s hawk catch a mourning dove in my yard this week. My friend Douglas Welch caught the following video in his yard. It is a great opportunity to compare this fast hawk to your birding books. It is an immature individual which can be tricky to identify.

Check out what is happening in Douglas’ backyard at
A Gardner's Notebook