The leaves are really dropping now and it won't be long before the trees will be all bare. In areas that had a lot of Beech trees, the woods had a distinct glow as the sun shined through their yellowish-green leaves. It was almost eery at times since the light in the woods would change noticeably. And it's that time of the year where the woods really open back up as the underbrush dies off, so animals are far more skittish and retreat to the dense thickets.
This American Sycamore tree had been blown down so I was able to get a real good picture of its trunk. As Sycamore trees mature, they lose their bark to reveal the smooth white underneath. This layer can also include dull grays and greens that looks a lot like camouflage to me.
I'm not exactly sure what type of Holly bush this is, but I found it in the middle of the woods where there were no other Holly bushes around. So I can only assume that the bush was "poop" planted by either a bird or deer that had browsed on some Holly bushes in one of the nearby neighborhoods. A pretty interesting method for a plant to get seeded in my opinion.
I still see some Pennsylvania Smartweed around. Even though the flowers are very small, the plant must be pretty hardy to endure early frosts and still retain their flowers.
Chestnut Oak's bark is aptly described as "deeply furrowed" in many tree guides and is in the white oak family that includes several other species that are common in our area. This tree is part of a stand of 20 or so of Chestnut Oaks on one of my favorite hilltops in the valley. The tree is a favorite of the critters that feast on the mast crops produced by oaks, hickories, and beeches because its acorns are larger than most.
I've come across so many Beech Aphids the last month or so I am now curious how long they'll last into the colder temps. And some of the clumps of their honey exudate "poop" are pretty big, I am also starting to wonder how such little critters poop so much.
Deer scrapes are a common site in the woods this time of the year. The velvet on their antlers becomes itchy when the antlers have matured. The bucks scratch their antlers against saplings to help remove the velvet and leave their scent for does. The deer that started scraping this tree must not have liked its thin, dense bark...
... so it found a better suited tree not more than 10 feet away. The velvet must have been really itchy too, since it practically shredded the little Black Cherry sapling's bark.
I happened on this little bird getting a drink on a small tributary of Little Sewickley creek. I think it thought the beeps of my camera were another bird so it sat there looking confused for a minute while I got a few good pictures. I'm not completely confident in my identification, but I do believe this is a Blackpoll Warbler in its fall plumage. If it is in fact a Blackpoll Warbler, it is only passing through on its annual journey from its summer breeding grounds in Canada to South America where it spends the winter.