First REAL Autumn Day

Autumn officially started on September 22 this year, a hot, humid day in the 90s for us. We woke Wednesday morning September 30 and stepped outside to temperatures in the mid 60s with a strong north wind and little humidity. Knowing the hot and humid returns quickly this time of year, we drank our coffee, grabbed our binoculars and cameras, and headed out for a hike at Brooker Creek Preserve.

Early morning brings some of the best light for photographers, but for nature photographers it also means more wildlife. We saw one person on this early morning walk along the entrance road but no one else and no other cars in the parking lot. We had the trail to ourselves until three women still wearing their biking helmets walked by near the end of our hike.

Three deer moved slowly away from us, and remained grazing as we headed toward the bridge. At the bridge, the quiet made us stop to look at the water. We heard a sound and saw a Black-crowned night heron watching us, partially hidden in a tree.

As we moved along, a hawk gazed at us from a snag, and suddenly took off. We passed by some beautyberry bushes and saw activity. Our first of season Gray Catbirds raced in and out. One finally stopped to peer at me and I did get a shot of him. Eastern bluebirds played up in the pines. One stopped finally to look at us, and at that point I had the camera rather than binoculars on him. Small birds moved back and forth between the tree tops. I managed to get a couple in the binoculars, and saw a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher and several Tufted Titmouse. A warbler hid among the leaves and though I tried I never did get identification on it.

As we came to a small wetland I heard a movement below. This frog looked up. We were birding, but I counted him anyway.

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