After the Rain

Following a night of rain with intermittent thunderstorms, we headed down to the Forum Nature Area this morning.  A mild west breeze had developed behind the storm system and pockets of blue appeared in the overcast as we circled through the bottomland refuge.

On the restored prairie, summer wildflowers were beginning to fade and the scene was now dominated by the bright purple of blazing star, the purple-pink heads of thistle and the glow of various goldenrods; pockets of white hibiscus also adorned the wooded prairie.  Eastern phoebes, eastern bluebirds, American goldfinches and eastern kingbirds foraged on the grassland while indigo buntings, gray catbirds, northern cardinals and yellow-billed cuckoos moved through the riparian woods.  Along the margins of the seasonal lake, green herons and a lone great blue heron stalked the shallows, killdeer and a few migrant shorebirds patrolled the mudflats and small flocks of mallards and Canada geese drifted on the calm waters.

Though we may yet face periods of intense summer heat, the transition toward fall is now evident in central Missouri.  Last night's rain cooled the air but the vegetative explosion of spring and early summer has passed and the demand for moisture has diminished; much of the rain will thus enter our streams and seasonal wetlands, preparing the landscape for the spectacular flocks of autumn.