Today we are finally getting some significant rain. I believe since early August we have only received 3 to 4 inches and most of that fell in heavy storms where most of the water runs off. The plants need to be well hydrated to show their best fall colors and not drought stressed going into winter. That said I hope the hurricane that will be in the area in a few days, stays out to sea. There is already a mid-sized pine tree down from this storm and still clean-up from the summer weather.
The bird migration is under way. White throated sparrows have been spotted. They breed up north but some spend the winter here. Large flocks of mixed blackbirds were moving thru last week. Grackles and Rusty Blackbirds seemed to predominate. Nashville warblers can be found in both meadows. If there are any serious birders reading this feel free to contact the manager if you wish early access to the grounds.
Another migrant used the Arboretum for a launching pad. Monarch Butterflies for the first time in years, reproduced in good numbers here. We had managed some milkweed in the circle garden and grown some milkweed in the nursery. About forty caterpillars were spotted and several chrysalis. Check out the picture of one emerging. There was also an increase in the monarchs spotted in the meadows. Let’s hope that the over wintering grounds in Mexico also see and increase.
There has also been a good population of Widener University students visiting. They are using the grounds to study different aspects of Environmental Resource Management and Biology. So far they have logged about 200 student hours. Next week we will be hosting the Environmental Club from Northley Middle School. We will walk the grounds and discuss the ecosystem here and usually do a small project. Of course we will get a group photo in the Muscle Tree. Probably have that in the next post.