Ripened fruit and seeds provide a feast that the park’s inhabitants happily share.
It’s a calm day, making the pond a mirror for colorful shrubs and trees along its shore.
Amid the yellow and green leaves, Sweet Gum and Virginia Creeper vines add bold notes of scarlet red.
Asters and other wildflowers provide more intimate splashes of color tucked into the landscape around the beaver pond.
The trees are filled with birds. Some, like the Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo, are passing through on their fall migration.
A Red-shouldered Hawk in tall tree scans an open field for small rodents. A Carolina Chickadee plucks a poison ivy berry and holds it between his toes to eat it. A female Red-bellied Woodpecker and a White-breasted Nuthatch scout for insects on tree trunks. A curious Eastern Phoebe peers out from the shadows at me. And, as usual, the Great Blue Heron and Canada Geese are nearby.
The grapefruit-size fruit of the Osage Orange tree has a rind too tough for small birds to penetrate. But, when smashed by vehicle traffic on the road to the beaver pond, it becomes an accessible feast. It’s a feast Tufted Titmice and White-breasted Nuthatches don’t mind sharing. As I watch, they hunt for seeds in the fruit’s lime-green flesh, seeming to ignore my presence.
As the sun starts to set, a doe her fawn come out of the woods to graze along the edge of an open field.
The curtain is coming down on another day at Fort Frederick State Park, and it’s beautiful.