Sunday Nature Walk: Summer’s End

Spring is the time of renewal and regrowth. The season showcases the beauty of the circle of life as many species of birds, mammals, and other critters start new families and raise their young. As summer sets in, the youngsters born in the early spring continue to grow. This is also a time where other species are just beginning to raise their babies. This makes it an important time of year for wildlife and an exciting time to observe nature. By summer’s end, most of the spring babies have grown up and begin charting paths to find territories of their own.

There are many species of birds, which means that there are many possible nesting periods. Some birds nest later in the spring or even in the summer while others nest as early as February. Owls are among America’s earliest nesters, which means during late spring and early summer, many of the nests have already been abandoned and the young are well on their way to being fully fledged. Barred owls (Strix varia) can raise up to three (and rarely four) chicks a year. The chicks usually begin to fledge in late May and offspring can be fully able to fly by late June.

Barred owls are among the earliest of nesters. These two owlets began exploring life outside their nest hole back in May. – Tomas Koeck Photo

Owls are not the only raptors who take care of their young during the summer. Peregrine falcons spend much of their time in August busily feeding their young. This will often result in amazing acrobatic feats featuring the adult falcons “handing” over freshly caught prey to the younger birds while in the air. Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) can be found along cliff edges where the falcons create nests on ledges or under outcrops on the cliff. By August, osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as “fish hawks”, have raised young (if they were successful), and adults will be busy bringing back fish to feed several hungry mouths. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) will take advantage of the hard-working osprey, occasionally robbing the birds of their catch. When viewing osprey, it is easy to learn their alarm call, which will sound loud and clear if eagles approach.

An osprey with a flounder breakfast. – Tomas Koeck Photo

Late summer is often full of balmy days. This gives a perfect opportunity for the skilled naturalist to try to find snake species. The eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos) can also be found in rocky meadows and fields where it will bask in the warm sun. The snake was named such because of its upturned snout, which gives it a vague appearance of a hog’s nose. These snakes are harmless and can often be confused with more deadly serpentine species. When alarmed, the hognose snake can mimic a rattle and even expose a flap similar to a cobra. This is meant to deter predators and prevent the snake from becoming a meal.

The eastern hognose snake is named such for its upturned snout. – Tomas Koeck Photo

Easton has an abundant habitat that supports a large variety of wildlife. Keep an eye out for these amazing creatures on your next walk in the woods. For those who don’t know where to start, Easton and the region contain a wide variety of trails and natural areas. Explore some of the trails to find wildlife through the Aspetuck Land Trust, or explore trails throughout Connecticut at CT Woodlands.

For more nature photos, fun facts, and environmental entries, you might like to follow my nature photography Instagram, @tomaskoeckhttps://www.instagram.com/tomaskoeck/.

Tomas Koeck
Tomas Koeck

Currently, Tomas is working on a PBS Nature and Smithsonian segment while studying for his bachelor’s degree from the School of Communication, Media & the Arts at Sacred Heart University. He has worked on several stories with the non-profit Vision Project and is on the Easton Courier’s news team. He has been published in the National Audubon Society, Connecticut Audubon Society, Tamron Optics, ESPN, the Connecticut Post,  the Easton Courier, the Pulse, the Spectrum and many other outlets. He also maintains collaborations with the National Audubon Society, the Loon Preservation Committee, the Boreal Conservation Committee and has partnerships or sponsorships with TAMRON Optics USA, Canon USA, Milford Photo, and the Undergraduate Research Institute. He is endorsed by the Connecticut Audubon as an ethical wildlife photographer. ​

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