Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Signs of Fall

This is my Bloom Day post for August. I did take this photo on the 15th, I'm just a little late (again) posting it. It's a Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) and it was blooming a little early. It's called Higanbana in Japan. It's in my yard to commemorate my one and only visit to Japan in September of the year 2000. When I got home, I planted 4 or 5 of these bulbs and waited patiently for several years before they started blooming. In the meantime, I had to constantly remind my gardener not to pull up the greens; they were not weeds!

Higanbana blooms around the time of the equinox in Japan and they make a lovely display along the edges of rice paddies. This photo was taken of a small shrine at the Dinjaiji Temple in Chofu, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo.

I am getting more blooms this year than I ever have before and there are new stalks still coming up. They may be blooming early because we have had a very mild August. There is definitely a nip in the air these mornings, but I know that the hot weather will be back in September and October.

For the birds, fall migration has begun, too. They go by the sun and sense the length of the day. Last Saturday, I went for a walk in the George F Canyon again and was surprised to find both an Orange-crowned Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet there. (Click on the links to see some beautiful photos of these two birds and their crowns which are usually hidden.) The shorebirds have been on the move since July, which is not unusual, and in the early morning on the bay at San Diego I saw Marbled Godwits, Willets, Black-bellied Plovers, and Semipalmated Plovers. I hadn't seen these small plovers in several years not because they haven't been around but because I have not been out birding very much. The Black-bellied Plover has a dramatic difference in plumage between breeding and non-breeding seasons. The birds that I saw were still partly in breeding plumage and their black bellies were very apparent. Generally, adult shorebirds arrive first in July, and then the young, traveling on their own without the aid of their parents, start arriving by late August. Shorebirds are among the most traveled of bird species.

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