November sunrise on Horsebarn Hill UConn

November comes and November goes with the last red berries
and the first white snows.
With night coming early, and dawn coming late, and ice in the bucket
and frost by the gate.

-Elizabeth Coatsworth

While driving along country roads, walking in the woods, or simply getting up early in the morning and stepping outside, any day can offer an opportunity to come across interesting or unusual sights. Fall is the time of bird migrations, splashes of leaf color and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. November seems like a last hurrah with some lingering warm days before the cold settles in for the winter. On a recent morning bare treetops in the pre-sunrise light looked like they were full of leaves, but it was actually thousands of blackbirds. One bird must have started something because the whole lot of them began at once to make a terrific noise, and then they took off in unison. I remeber the day when it could take several minutes for these flocks of blackbirds to pass over the morning sky.

Blackbirds taking flight just before sunrise

This November has been unusually warm, but leaves have finally fallen or changed color as in the case of our dawdling oaks and dawn redwoods. Fallen leaves can cover the ground for a while to restyle a scene with winsome texture and color. Things hidden by foliage in the summer are now revealed- wasp and bird’s nests, fruits and other things.

Dawn redwood fall color before needle drop

Sometimes something that was dull can suddenly get interesting when light and visibility change in what seems like an instant. This happened when a dingy looking shelf fungus growing on a sugar maple had the sun strike it just as I was driving by. Getting my attention, I got out and took a closer look. It turned out to be a stacked tooth fungus, a mushroom new to my experience. They form a tight stack like pancakes and instead of pores or gills, they have fine teeth from which spores are released.

Climacodon septentrionalis stacked toorh fungus
Underside showing the teeth, or spines, of the stacked tooth fungus

On the same ride where I saw the amazing tooth fungus, there was an old Lincoln Zephyr on display in someone’s front yard. Down the same street was an old farmhouse with an impressive front porch and a remarkable sugar maple whose leaves covered the ground around it. In the same area was a grain storage building with old trains and their cars cluttering the tracks, perhaps some still used for transport, and some obviously no longer in service.

Lincoln Zephyr
Old Lincoln Zephyr

Old Farmhouse
Trains at a grain storage facility
November is also the time of final hay cutting and baling operations

There is a home in Glastonbury or Portland that has the most bee hives I ever saw in one place in Connecticut. According to the owner, the hives near the house were requeened this summer and will form a new colony. When queens no longer produce enough eggs, a new queen is introduced and the old is, sadly, released from her earthly duties. Some of these hives are used at a local orchard in the spring, while a majority are placed along the Connecticut River where food is very abundant.

On hike through a nature preserve woods early this month there was the remains of an old car which was probably from the 1930’s and dragged here when the area was a field. This car was almost 20 feet long and had a folding luggage rack on the trunk. Headlamps must have been the size of dinner plates.

On the trunk of a dead aspen along the side of a country road, it was clear what had killed this tree. On the trunk were false tinder conks Phellinus  termulae shelf fungi . No other fungi with this characteristic fruiting body are found on aspen. The woody conks are hoof-like, brown to black, and have a cracked upper surface. Pores are tan or white. The spores of P. tremulae are blown through the air and can enter fresh wounds on aspens, where the fungus attacks the heartwood and causes white trunk rot.

False tinder conks Phellinus  termulae shelf fungi

Still out and about are praying mantids and some dragonflies and bees. This female mantid was on a sidewalk near a flower garden. Her eggs have been laid, so she will perish shortly.

t is the time of warmer jackets, bleaker vistas, perhaps, and chilly days. I am not by nature a puddleglum, so all this is not a deterrent to enjoying the shorter days and the coming cold. There will still be spectacular sunsets and sunrises, snowy landscape coverings and bluer skies that will cheer my heart on occasion. Now is a also good time to read all those books that there was little time for when the outdoors beckoned strongly for all the attention. Maybe I’ll put on a colorful scarf or something…

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

-Emily Dickinson

Maybe I’ll just light a sparkler.

Pamm Cooper

 Wilbur Reading room 7-30-13

 View from a reading room in the Wilbur Cross Building

There are so many interesting things to see on the UConn campus, that even a short stroll anywhere can perk up an otherwise dull day. Below are some pictures I took this year of all different subjects- buildings, plants, landscapes… that provided a flash of color or an interesting shape or texture.

Horsbarn Hill in particular is a source of stunning vista at any time of year. From the top, you can see tree-covered hills stretching out as far as the eye can see as you look to the west. Looking to the hilltop from Route 195 provides a half-sky half- landscape scene that varies every day depending on light, clouds, and the weather.  Go at sunrise, especially on foggy mornings in late summer. Don’t neglect to walk out into the swath of cut grass that makes a natural path along the fence between fields. In spring and summer there are several species of threatened birds that nest in the tall grass. You may see Meadowlarks, Bob- o-Links and kestrels, as well as bluebirds and other species that live in large, open fields and meadows.

6-2-13

clouda over horsebarn hill October afternoon 2013

Birdwatching on Horsebarn Hill, Storrs  above left.  View of Horsebarn hill from Rte 195 above, right.

Walking down North Eagleville Road from Route 195, you will see St. Mark’s Episcopal Chapel on the right.  Built in 1955, it won an architectural award for its design, which is representative of a ship. The angle where the two sides come together in the front forms a recess where bells are hung from small to large running to the top. This building is not part of the official campus, but is situated nearby.

St mark's Episcople church and bells uconn Dec 2012 II

The Wilbur Cross Building can be easily identified by its distinctive cupola  with a  gold leaf dome and two- story pillars at the entryway. Opened in 1939, it was originally a library, but no longer serves that purpose, except for containing many reference volumes in the large reading rooms located at both ends of the original building. The reading rooms have two- story windows on their three sides, providing both light and views for the people inside.

wilburs

Cupola and dome , Wilbur Cross Building

Last on my list are the landscapes recently installed around Laurel Hall, which is near the Student Union. UConn uses “xeriscaping,” or native drought-tolerant plants which are often used in rain gardens and bio-retention swales that collect runoff and roof drainage.

Laurel Hall landscape 2012

Landscape beside Laurel Hall

Next time you are on campus, be sure to take a little walk and see if anything is worthy of a photo shoot. At any time of year there is always something of interest for most people. Come in the spring and summer for the birds and plants, and any time of year for sweeping vistas from Horse barn Hill.

Pamm Cooper          All photos © 2013 Pamm Cooper