Every season has its own unique highlights. Many people like to experience fall on the trails to see the late-arriving beauty, the season’s spectacular show of color, and flurry of activity before things cool down and winter arrives.
Throughout the Center, nature is in a constant state of change. During fall everything is preparing for the winter months. The deciduous trees slow their growth and put on a bright colorful display throughout the forest as the leaves stop producing food, lose chlorophyll, and give way to other colors. Squirrels and chipmunks are busy scurrying through the forest collecting food to store while migrating birds are overhead.
Experience Fall Wildlife at Dragonfly Pond
This fall is the first time you will be able to experience these seasonal changes at Dragonfly Pond. As you walk over the boardwalk you will see that the pond is lined with wool grass (scripus cyperinus), bristly sedge (carex comosa), and pickerelweed (pontederia cordata). In early fall the beautiful blue and purple pickerelweed flowers are abuzz with activity as insects are busy feeding off the blooms.
At the pond, frogs take in the heat of the sun before the weather turns cold and they settle into a state of deep sleep called brumation (think hibernating, but for amphibians and reptiles). The tadpoles in the pond are on the bottom swimming and feeding and will continue to do that throughout the fall and winter. The pond’s namesake, the dragonfly, is often seen flying above the pond and skimming the surface as it hunts for its next meal. Meanwhile, underwater, at the bottom of the pond, dragonfly nymphs (the larval stage of a dragonfly) are actively hunting for food and will remain active throughout the winter.
Fall Wildflowers in the Prairie
Glancing over Dragonfly Pond toward the prairie, some wildflowers are still blooming and will produce seed heads. These provide a vital food source for the birds that make the Center their home year-round. Look for goldenrod, New England asters, and big bluestem grass towering over the landscape.
A visit to the Center in the fall isn’t complete without gazing from our 60-foot tower. Look across our acres at the oak trees, sugar maples, and more. You might also see migrating birds using the Mississippi Flyway along Lake Michigan on their way back to their southern wintering grounds.
Fall is a time to take in the beauty of nature and enjoy the dramatic changes that are taking place. Whether viewed from one spot or by strolling through the trail system, one thing is for sure, fall at Schlitz Audubon is something to be enjoyed by all.