Columbus Day signals an end to camping at Hermit Island. I went over to join in the season ending celebrations on Sunday, and it couldn't have been more beautiful. As you can see from this picture, and the many footprints in the sand, there was a lot of activity. Even dogs were seen and heard since they are allowed at this last weekend for campers. I even heard the Patriot's game being broadcast over someone's radio! You probably recognize this scene on Sanddune Beach, and if you look carefully you may see some campers on the far end of the beach. Those poles in the center have a swing to sit on between them. Someone had also made a lean-to with poles and gave it a roof of seaweed. Campers can be ingenious!

When it comes to Fall color, Staghorn Sumac takes the cake. Here you have its palette of colors, attracting the eye from near and far. This Sumac is the one that has fuzzy twigs that feel like the velvet of growing antlers. It also produces an interesting fruit clump that we humans can use for a tasty tea. Birds like to pick at the seeds, though don't make tea as we do. If you are interested in using these seed heads for a drink, look for insects that may have taken up residency. Make sure you look for insect activity before getting into a tea routine.

This small owl, a Saw-whet, is pictured here recovering from flying into a window one evening last week. A friend over in Parker Head village heard a bang in the evening and went outside to discover this unconscious owl. She brought it into the warmth of her home and after a while its eyes opened and she placed it outside again on her porch. In time, it spread its wings and quietly took off. The force of the bird's impact left a marking on her window of where it hit. We do have these small owls in our neighborhoods, along with larger varieties. The Saw-whet is only about 7 inches in height. They are primarily nocturnal, preying upon mice and other small rodents. During the day, they seek evergreens and often remain well hidden, even when you walk by. I used to find them in Connecticut where they could be found in a Christmas tree stand. I would look for their white scat which often indicated their presence. Then, I would search underneath for their pellets. Owl pellets are coughed up fur balls with the bones of animals they have eaten inside. What a thrill to discover these birds! Speaking of Connecticut, I will be returning there shortly since our home has finally attracted a buyer. Maybe I will get a chance to hunt for owls down there! 10/19/09 Ronnie, an owl lover.