Retired teacher Larry Weber is the author of several books, including “Butterflies of the North Woods,” “Spiders of the North Woods,” “Webwood” and “In a Patch of Goldenrods.” Contact him c/o email@example.com.
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Mid-November is a time when we observe many changes in the natural happenings. In the landscape of bare trees and a daily schedule that includes very early sunsets, it is easy to think that little is going on in the world of nature. Gone are the songbirds that sang and nested in our yards and woods. With the frost and chill, late season butterflies, dragonflies and even the moths that I like to refer to as “world series” moths are fading. Hardy asters and other fall flowers have succumbed to the colder days with longer nights.
Appearing almost black, they do have an iridescence in the feathers that will frequently give a purple or green color to their plumage. Gregarious flocks were seen here earlier in spring are now present again in fall.
This week, I received an email that told of a sighting of a butterfly flitting about in a home on a chilly January day; not what we expect to see.
Each year, by the time we get to mid-November and shortly before the freeze-up, I like to walk out to some of the nearby beaver ponds.
As we leave July and enter August, we reach the time of midsummer. According to the calendar, the middle date between summer solstice and autumnal equinox is Aug. 6.
Tiger swallowtails, which like most butterflies do not migrate, are a regular part of the June fauna, emerging in late May and gone in July.
Walking among the leafed out trees and thick growth on the forest floor, I find it hard to believe that about a month ago, we still had ice on nearby lakes, snow patches on the ground and woods of bare trees.
February is one of the best months to see and hear the wildlife responding to the longer days. It is our driest month and, although it’s cold, we frequently have clear days and nights.
The winter solstice, the first day of winter, was on Dec. 21. The vernal equinox, the first day of spring, will be on March 20. As we travel through this winter, by the time we are in early February, we are halfway into the cold season. And what a winter it has been so far! There have been colder Decembers than we had in 2013. There have been colder Januaries than that we just exited in 2014. But the combination of these two months is one of the coldest December-January ever recorded.