Enter Autumn

Orange sulfur butterfly visits Nahant Marsh autumn prairieSummer has passed by and autumn has come to Nahant Marsh. Glimpses of gold show in the summer weary green of the trees, and great swaths of gold spread through the prairie meadows. Many of the end of season blooms are yellow, gold and silver, with an occasional purple. The thick, flower filled meadows continue to draw in butterflies of all kinds.

Goldenrod and boneset at Nahant MarshThe summer was good to the meadows, the plants have grown tall, and the spiders fat. The flowers have bloomed profusely—and still are, still will be until the frosts take them. Although many have completed the arc of their season and now stand brown, even these plants are interesting. They are bursting with seeds and their browns are warm and golden.

Male pondhawk resting at Nahant MarshThose of the insect predators that have avoided being eaten themselves, are plump after a season of good hunting. Early autumn is a great time to look for dragonflies, mantises and spiders. Small and savage, these ruthless little hunters are surprisingly varied and colorful, and easier to spot now that they’ve grown about as large as they can feasting on the marsh’s bounty.

Bullfrog at Nahant MarshThe marsh is full of creatures living a fine edge between predator and prey—they are both. As the frogs grow larger, they can gobble up larger and larger meals of most anything they are big enough to swallow, but they must be cautious for they make good eating for other, larger predators. There are plenty of larger animals and birds hunting for a tasty big frog.

A tiny frog riding on the duckweed at Nahant MarshAnd so it goes at the marsh, the smaller predators falling prey to the larger ones, and a fine and fat summer becomes a fine and fat autumn. The very waters of the marsh are alive, full of tiny living things, providing for the web of life. Life feeding life, and so the marsh has created and supported a great many creatures this year.

There are still plenty of golden days ahead as Nahant Marsh heads toward the winter solstice. The time between the end of summer and the first frost seems to intensify the beauty that can be found out there. Be sure to enjoy it while you can.

Sunrise at Nahant Marsh

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