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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In The Very Thick Of Summer

Snapping Turtle's Eye Peers Out Of Partridge Pea in Nahant Marsh's meadowNahant Marsh is basking in the heat and light of summer. Rain has not been infrequent this year, and the air has often been heavy with humidity. The prairies are deep, green and lush. The sheer thickness of the living meadows is a marvel, and hides a multitude of creatures. Some are fairly large, like this big snapping turtle. Her bright eye was just about all that could be seen of her.

Dragonfly With Prey Insect At Nahant MarshSmaller creatures beyond count live in the thick green meadows. Meadows like miniature rainforests full of predators and prey. All of the lives of plants and animals of the marsh are woven together in an endless dance that plays out every year. Summer is thick with new life and rich with plenty of tasty morsels to eat. Dragonflies pluck their suppers from the air, hunting on glistening wings in the thick summer air .

Young Blue Heron Catches a Fish at Nahant MarshThis year’s young blue herons, out of the nest and hunting, pluck their breakfast out of the summer waters of the marsh. They have grown fast, no wonder they seem so hungry. The water of Nahant Marsh is alive—thick with snacks for the young herons to eat. It seems there is plenty for all of the marsh residents to eat. Summer is a time when staying fed and warm is about as easy as it gets.

Storm Clouds on a Summer Morning at Nahant MarshSummer storms have kept the marsh nicely watered. No drought this year, although some day there will be another. Water has kept the ponds and pools full. Clouds have come and gone in turn, mixing with light to dramatically fill the sky. Layers of mist have drifted through the air every day. Air so thick with water that on many mornings the prairies were drenched and sparkling wet. And air filled with water catches and holds the light—thick, summer light.

Summers are a beautiful time. In the thickness of summer, life is everywhere. But already the days are growing shorter, and as ever, this beautiful summer time will pass.

Sunrise Rainbow On The Edge Of The Storm at Nahant Marsh

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