The first thing I noticed when I got up this morning was how quiet it was. The summer birds are now done nesting and starting their journey south, so all the wonderful bird music at sunrise is now gone.

The next thing I noticed was a little chill in the air and the lake was steaming. A quick look around and it’s not hard to find a little color in the trees and even a few leaves on the forest floor. The meadow and shorelines are bright in color as the tall flowers are now in bloom: joe-pye weed, sunflowers, asters, goldenrods, jewel weed and burr marigolds.

But there is a new avian music in the air as flocks of geese make their morning flights out to the fields to feed, and the wood ducks go to the rice beds and oaks as a few acorns are now falling.

The red squirrels are busy cutting and stashing pine cones.

The deer are starting to turn from red to brown, and their velvet is starting to peel from their antlers.

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If you look at the base of a loon’s bill, you will see they, too, are molting to fall colors.

I also see the apples and highbush cranberries are turning red.

No need to panic quite yet, for there will be a few more weeks of warm weather and time to be spent in the garden, as our first frost averages Sept. 16.

This last week I encountered a couple of rare species for this part of the country.

On Aug. 18, I saw an eastern tiger swallowtail that came up from the south – hard to tell from our Canadian tiger swallowtail that has been gone for some time now.

On Aug. 20, I saw a smooth green snake, a small, normally bright green, harmless snake with a yellow belly that feeds on insects, such as grasshoppers and spiders. The last and only other I have seen was 25 years ago, so you never know what you’re going to find.

It’s a great time of year to get out for a walk and see what you, too, can find.

An outdoorsman all his life, Dallas Hudson grew up in Akeley. He tracks the birds, animals, insects, plants of northern Minnesota in his daily journals. Hudson shares his nature observations and photos with KAXE’s Season Watch, the Minnesota Phenology Network and the Park Rapids Enterprise. He works at an official field camp of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Shingobee Lake, near Akeley.