In spite of autumn upcoming in six weeks, do not let that stop you from looking, listening and smelling for its early appearance.
This year spring was here, then gone, and back again, as was summer. Fall is too notable to have color changes, bird migrations, leaves falling, wildlife activities, harvesting and gathering be missed.
Small birds may slip away without notice, but the return of slate-colored juncos is highlighted as much as robins, bluebirds and hummers returning in spring.
But most birds are going the other way, getting out of town before frost forms on summer’s flowers. Bobolinks and dickcissels depart early in August, in part because they have a long journey. Some orchard orioles leave before Baltimores depart in mid-September, about when Ruby-throated hummingbirds take flight.
Well before the Sept. 14 opener, whitetail bucks will have shed antler velvet. Already most tines appear to have stopped elongating and some patches of summer red have given way to grayish coats. Fawn coats are on the way out, too.
Note the sale of bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations (what happened to just saying tag) begins Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. through the Go Wild website and license sales locations.
Do not let the small game season, archery season and others pass without this seemingly early opener. Take time now to plan for fall turkey hunting, too.
In additions to bird migrations and deer character changes, hints of color changes and even leaf drop and annual dieback are cracking through the humidity. Woodbine, walnut, wild apple and floral display changes should be noticed. In most locations in southern Wisconsin, vegetation is far too diverse to expect grand panoramas as far as the eyes can see. Look small to experience autumn on a leaf, fruit, mushroom or flower.
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Moist autumns bring a plethora of fungi. A few edibles have popped, including chicken-of-the-woods on oaks and black cherry, but the grand display of this edible mushroom is just beginning.
Among the many fall fungi, a few poisonous toadstools, including some amanitas and jack-o-lantern mushrooms lurk. Pores or gills will help separate some.
A recent young dog death in southern Wisconsin is suspected of being linked to a mushroom, so beware.
All white ghost plants are showing, which is another sign of autumn and a healthy topsoil layer.
Anyone interested in butterflies needs only to visit prairies, pollination plantings, or perennial gardens. Water helps, too.
A few changes in deer hunting, CWD-sampling, and carcass disposal continue to move forward, but don’t let talk of chronic wasting disease eradication mislead. There has not been a discovery of a “silver bullet.”
Continue to look small until the grand green curtain makes its last call.