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NORTHLAND NATURE JOURNAL: Goodbye summer, hello autumn

Minnesota's state bird is beginning to molt. In September, adult loons travel to their winter home along the Atlantic coast. Younger loons follow a month or so later.1 / 4
A nimble and efficient spider weaves its web.2 / 4
A grasshopper pauses on a milkweed. 3 / 4
Hints of fall colors are emerging in the Nrothwoods. (Photos by Dallas Hudson/For the Enterprise)4 / 4

The leaves are starting to turn, acorns are falling and the garden is producing well.

The early hunting seasons are under way, and soon small game and archery deer season follows. It's time to fill the freezer for winter.

There will be plenty of pleasant days yet to come though, so no need to panic yet. But we can see frost any morning now, with my average being Sept. 15. Last year, it was Oct. 6 — my latest frost ever.

The monarchs are on the move south and many have already left. Soon the milkweed will be fluffing seeds. This is a good time to collect and plant.

The common green darners are also swarming in preparation for their migration south, like the monarchs.

Now is the time to watch the leaves turn, with some red maples nearing full color. Our peak color averages Oct. 6, but full color appears a week or more earlier.

The chickadees and nuthatches are, once again, nonstop visitors at the feeder. Soon the sparrows will join them on their way south. Juncos will return around Sept. 27.

Loons are now starting to molt. Look near the base of their bills and will see the winter gray setting in.

I haven't seen a great blue heron in over two weeks.

Duck numbers are still way down, as are grouse, but there should be plenty of deer for this fall. Who would have thought 30 years ago we would now have more geese than duck, more deer than grouse, more turkeys than evening grosbeaks, and cottontails out numbering the snowshoe hare?

Beware: deer ticks will be out in high numbers. We had lots in the spring, almost none during the hot part of summer and now, as fall hits, high numbers once again. I calculate this by the grouse drumming. When they start drumming, the deer tick appear. I heard a grouse drumming yesterday.

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