Superstorm Sandy, or whatever we’re calling it now, didn’t quite make it to my neck of the woods, but did send us nearly a week of wind and rain. Even though most of the trees had lost their leaves completely before the bad weather hit, the change resulting from the storm is incredible. It suddenly feels more like the beginning of winter than the end of summer. The mulberry trees (Morus alba, the invasive counterpart to the rare native red mulberry and the same plant that silkworms feed on), which had kept their bright foliage til now, are almost completely stripped, with just a few clumps of yellow leaves withstanding the wind. These leaves can be simple serrated ovals or almost maple-like and lobed.
An interesting note about the naming of trees: many Latin names for trees are feminine but have first declension (i.e. typically masculine) endings. Morus alba looks like it should actually be Morus albus. I’ve never learned the reason for this masculine/feminine superposition.
Mulberries are also dioecious—they have separate male and female plants—and the females bear juicy, black berries in early summer, attracting a ton of birds and leaving purple stains on the ground. The two large mulberries in my yard are popular with winter birds, too, because they’re the closest large trees to my neighbour’s bird feeder. Here is a mourning dove hunkered down in one on the worst day of the storm:
On the first sunny day after the rainy streak, I went back into the woods and flushed a woodcock (Scolopax minor), an unexpected sight (and sound! Their wings whistle!) here. While I used to see them in this area when I was younger, their woodland habitat has been decimated, and I suspect this bird was just stopping by on its migration. Part of me hopes, though, that it’s a resident that’ll breed here next year.