Saturday, November 17, 2007

Autumn Colors at Griggstown

This morning we returned to the Griggstown Grasslands Preserve in Somerset County. I saw mostly the same bird species as last weekend. One exception was that I do not remember seeing any savannah sparrows this morning, unlike last week when there were dozens. The other exception was a bird I did see - my first American tree sparrow for the year.

Trees and plants occupied my attention more than the birds did this morning. Many of the trees have already lost their leaves, but some are just hitting their autumn peak. Oaks looked particularly vibrant this morning. Many maples are still brightly colored.

Unfortunately invasive species are still prolific in the hedgerows here, such as this dense tangle of bittersweet and multiflora rose.

I noticed that some of the taller grasses had some form of gall in the middle of the stem.

Then there was this curiosity. The small yellow fruit (less than a half inch wide) grew on some short stems in the middle of a field. Does anyone recognize it? It appears to be a nightshade, probably Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense). Thanks to Dave and Jeff for suggestions. I probably would have recognized some other members of that genus, such as S. dulcamara, S. tuberosum, or S. melongena.