October, a Smorgasbord of Autumnal Experiences….

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

Stand still! Behold the skies! Sniff the breeze! Dodge the raindrops! October is here with all its whims. October 3rd friend Sue Boehne (Dale) happened to look north on 300th Street, south Henderson, and noted a large lump along the road; a very large walking feathered lump. The raptor she spotted, was busy with eagle business, and Sue captured a number of close-up photos along with videos of the golden bird prior to calling for the assistance of Frances, the sometimes knowledgeable Ford Focus. Upon arriving at the scene of the sighting, naught was to be observed. But, Sue had photo proof, and sure enough, she had captured a closeup of an eagle near the gravel roadway, busy with some juicy endeavor. Not to be deterred, Frances started north along the driveway and suddenly, in the eastern ditch, a huge raptor poked its large beak over the drying brown beans on Dave and Kyleen Brandt’s cropland, not more than fifteen steps from the blue Focus.

Overhead, four adult bald eagles wistfully plied the winds, bright white tails and heads, but timid about dropping down onto the table of plenty spread in the beanfield below. Surely this huge bird next the roadway was a golden eagle, very rare in the Henderson area, but sometimes observed as they ply the autumn or spring skies during migration. The bird was undeterred as it consumed whatever feast was on the beanie table, and upon opening Frances’s window, the stench of decaying flesh testified to what had attracted the king/queen of the skies. East of the road ditch, a ten by twenty patch of soybeans had been virtually destroyed. One would guess that coyotes had had a tasty meal during the preceding night, taking chunks of flesh from a fallen creature. Overpowering odors emanating from the field indicated a large animal in a later stage of rot had met its demise. Perhaps a deer had been struck by one of the swift vehicles that whiz north on 300th Street into Henderson proper? The eagle finally gave way to flight only after the mistress of the auto stepped from the car. It’s tough to fly away from a table of delights. Thanks so much for the tip, Sue. Dave Brandt and Kyleen Brandt, your soybean harvest has been reduced by…coyotes and carrion cleaners???

Baldie or goldie, that was the question, eagles that is. Upon contacting Chad Heins, raptor expert at Bethany College in Mankato, his always accurate response was: “With a beak that huge, it has to be a bald eagle…also, no golden feathers on the top/rear of its head.” Thus, we must concede, bald eagle it is, a juvenile at that!

With brilliant azure blue skies along with puffy cumulous clouds and a tail wind from the north, October migrators had the advantage over the past weekend that they’d been waiting for. Hawks, eagles, vultures plied the air, using the stiff tailwind as an advantage to cover many miles. Better a wind at your tail than on your beak! Imperial monarch butterflies weaved grandly across the countryside as late as Sunday, October 6th. Looking back a day or two, hummingbirds still frequented our sugar feeders through Friday, October 5th, 6:17 p.m.

With floodwaters reaching their frigid arms across the bottomland once more, LeSueur’s former wastewater treatment ponds are filled to the brim, while the small ponds south of the Henderson levee were once again creeping toward highway #93 the afternoon of October 6th. Short miles south, the Coachlight Pond cygnets splashed and danced, preparing for flight at last. Their wood duck pals sought southern relief from the copious rains earlier in the week.

Feathered visitors from the north are looking for nooks to face winter, and include chickadees, blue jays, northern flickers, while white throated sparrows sample seeds as they pause for rest from their prolonged journey. A most beautiful time of the year is upon us, as soon as the trees reluctantly give up their deep greens to orange, yellow and red. Next weekend will find fall foliage toppling the green throne. See you then.