September is the last hoorah of yellow. Yellow is a color of spring. But, look broadly and you will find yellow in September. Goldenrod, of course, makes a strong showing in mid-September. If you count amber and copper to be in the family of yellow, then the seed spikes of beach grass and Spartina, late summer hay, and Monarch butterflies are all part of September’s yellow pallet. But, true, vibrant, lively yellows are all but gone from the island’s landscape. In September you may find some late dandelion blossoms, but not the lemony brightness of hawkweeds. Only if you are lucky and observant will you discover a stalk of sundrops or a yellow warbler, during the first weeks of September – these are the last of summer’s yellow.
September is a month of out-migration. We on Block Island are familiar with bird migration – and, people migration. The yellow warbler is among the first birds (in May) to return to the island from their more southern wintering grounds. So too, May is when friends, workers, and summer residents return to the island for a season of industry – creating temporary nests, enjoying comfortable weather, and harvesting the resources of summer. When September comes, yellow warblers (and many other Block Island breeding birds) migrate away – as do many of the island’s summer residents.
Among warblers, yellow warblers have the broadest ranges of summer and winter habitats; most yellow warblers that summered on Block Island will have started their return migration to winter homes (southern U.S. to Peru) by September 1st. If you happen to see a yellow warbler in September, it is likely a migrant that spent its summer further north, and is enjoying a brief respite on the island before continuing on its southward migration – a stop over visit during the shoulder season.
Pure yellow is a rarity in September, look for it if you must, enjoy its fleeting sparkle, but, it is the golden hues of yellow that gives September its brilliance. To enjoy September on Block Island is to note that the late afternoon light is tinged with soothing gold and, punctuated by burnt orange Monarchs on goldenrod.
The Nature Conservancy has several September programs (Andy’s Way Bird Walk, Night Sky Viewing, and Autumnal Walk) that will be ideal for appreciating the golden hues of September. See schedule: www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/rhodeisl...