Foggy Morning

My morning walks this week have been blessedly cool and shrouded in fog…please join me.

In Northern California this time of year the nights have become longer and cooler, and fog lingers in our valley until about 9 a.m.

I love it like this. Droplets in the air and fog dripping from the leaves means moisture…a pleasant respite from the monthslong drought typical of our summers. It brings us hope for rainy months in the winter ahead.

The local deer, the black-tailed species, quietly graze in the hush of the fog. They are a sub-species of mule deer. (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)

In the summer the wild turkeys were often under cover as they raised their vulnerable chicks. But now they’re out in the mornings in family flocks, feeding on the ground seeds.

We do have changing colored leaves on the west coast in autumn, though not as prominent as our American friends in the east.

Color comes out in the liquidambar trees, pyracantha and other berries, deciduous oaks and still-flowering ornamental gardens.

The California buckeye trees (Aesculus californica), an endemic and the only buckeye native to the state, are completely leafless already. For a month they have had no leaves, baring only their dangling poisonous seeds, also known as horse chestnuts.

On my walk I found a fallen buckeye and brought it home to crack open and show you.

Gradually the morning quietness perked up with the chatter of songbirds as the shrouded sunshine began its rise.

With the autumn weather new songbird migrants have arrived from the north, including the Oregon dark-eyed junco subspecies, coming to join the resident juncos. Junco hyemalis.

The clear, plaintive notes of a white-crowned sparrow cut through all the fog…but the loud and distinctive honking of the Canada Geese quickly drowned it out.

The geese congregate every morning in this field. As we walked closer, we witnessed smaller groups descending through the fog, seeing them long after hearing them.

Eventually the sun started to burn off the fog and a patch of blue sky peeked through here and there, until its light and warmth had pierced the heavy marine layer.

The sun brightened the garden colors and highlighted the friendliest scarecrow I have ever seen.

This time of year, chili peppers can be seen in many gardens.

This golden-crowned sparrow had a moment of glory when the sun brightened his namesake crown.

As our final steps brought us to the front door, an Anna’s hummingbird bid us adieu.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

94 thoughts on “Foggy Morning

  1. That was a delightful morning walk! Thanks for taking us along via our arm-chairs.
    We always hear the Geese before we see them too. πŸ˜‚

    The fog is here just in the mornings as well and very low out in the distance near the river. It’s one of my favorite views this time of year.

    I’m hoping to spy a bird or two that have come for Winter this morning on a birding walk. Fingers crossed! I’m hearing there are few here already.

    • We share the joy of foggy autumn mornings, Deborah, I think that’s lovely. Our hermit thrushes have arrived here now and they are a joy to hear and spot. I hope you have success on your morning walk with the winter bird arrivals. Thanks very much.

    • Hi Jan, yes I have noticed a lot of trees with burned leaf tips from that brutal heat wave last month, too. Nice to have the foggy mornings for a change. Isn’t that a cute photo of the quail crossing the street? Glad you enjoyed it and the post. Thanks very much.

    • Oh yes I am happy about the cooler days. There’s a sense of relief that I’ve heard expressed by many people with this autumn cooling, as it means we are less likely to have the fires. We keep our fingers crossed. Thank you, Eliza, always a pleasure to see you.

  2. How lovely to walk through your neighborhood with you! – virtually, for now!!! The foggy photos were lovely. Loved the last shot of the quails. Hope that last little fellow made it up the curb ok.

    • Yes, virtual morning walk for now, but actual morning walks together coming soon, dear Nan. Looking so forward to it. Thank you so much for your weekly visits here, Nan, so very much appreciated.

  3. A fun walk for sure, Jet. Nature being grand with fall and fog. After two months on the road we are finally back on the West Coast. This next week we will be in Bellingham, Washington and then work our way south along the coast at least as far as Big Sur. I am so looking forward to it. –Curt

  4. I don’t recognise buckeye, Jet. Is it edible? Love the happy scarecrow and the deer. We have chillis growing in a planter on our patio. We are caretaking them for an absent neighbour but can help ourselves meanwhile. A fair exchange! We seldom see fog here but early morns and evenings are starting to be cooler.

    • I enjoyed hearing about chilis in the planter in Portugal, Jo. Buckeyes are curious trees and one that I would never plant on my property because most of the year they are dried up or leafless and only attractive for a few months. The seeds are poisonous. Many thanks Jo, a joy to share one of my walks with you, the walking wonder.

  5. So much to enjoy here, Jet! Loved the misty mood, and the scarecrow – welcomecrow?! – as well as the determined looking quail gang at the end.
    Thanks, and I hope you have a wonderful autumnal weekend!

    • I so enjoyed your words today, pc, as always. I chuckled at the scarecrow/welcomecrow fun. My warmest thanks for your visit and heartiest wishes to you for a happy weekend.

  6. You’ve certainly captured the spirit of fall. That golden-crowned sparrow is waiting for his friends to arrive from up here. They’re staging and getting ready to leave for somewhere.
    Beautiful photos and good choices for the change in seasons.

    • I liked your comment, Anneli, and hearing about the golden-crowned sparrows getting ready to leave your area. Many thanks for your visit and comment today, and my best wishes to you as the autumn days progress.

  7. How nice that you are walking and seeing so many birds and mammals. I know that you passion are animals and Nature in general. I do love them too. Thank you, Jet. Great post as always. πŸ™‚

    • Oh so very nice to hear from you, H.J. Yes, if I don’t have some outdoor time every day I get a bit nutty. lol. I’m one of those persons who needs the fresh air and wildlife all the time. Always a true joy to see you, dear H.J., thank you. My best to you for a sweet weekend in your new home.

  8. Such a different type of fall than here in Colorado. We rarely get fog – I would love to see it more. A toxic buckeye? New to me. I have always been puzzled by the idea of toxic fruits. Toxic other plant parts makes sense, but fruits seem to me about distributing seeds, and generally at some distance from the parent plant. Why kill the organism doing this kind favor? Any insights?

    • Yes, I too thought it was interesting, Eilene, that buckeyes are poisonous. All buckeyes are, due to glycoside aesculin…pigs, horses, sheep and children have been poisoned. I am not an evolutionary specialist, but I am guessing Stephen Jay Gould would have some writings on this topic. Thanks very much for your visit.

  9. I love foggy weather, too, listening to fog horns and buoy bells coming across the water. It’s always nice to see pictures of your black-tailed deer, a pleasant change from our white-tailed ones. πŸ™‚ Is the buckeye poisonous to wildlife, too? Thanks for showing us what it looks like inside. The scarecrow does seem to be saying, “Welcome to my garden!” Enjoyed all the spots of color revealed as the fog gave way to sunshine.

    • Always a joy to see you, Barbara, I’m really glad you enjoyed the foggy morning post this week. Yes, fog horns really top off the beauty, don’t they? We live too far inland for hearing that, but anytime I’m in SF on a foggy day, they remind me of this delightful sound. Yes, the buckeye seed is poisonous to wildlife, too. I’m glad you liked seeing the inside of it. My warmest thanks for your observant visit and delightful comment.

  10. Looks like a nice time of year to go walking. Obviously plenty of wildlife around. We have a flock of around 100 or so Canada geese which come to graze on the marsh as the tide comes and goes. We spotted ‘something different’ amongst them last week, a red-breasted goose, which is quite rare in the UK. It caused a flutter of excitement in the birding community, but they concluded it must be an ‘escapee’ from a collection, as they don’t normally migrate until early November (and even then normally to eastern Europe). A very beautiful bird though. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-breasted_goose

    • Hi Mike, I really enjoyed hearing about your red-breasted goose, and thank you for providing the link. Wow, what a magnificent-looking bird!! And classified as Vulnerable, so a very rare treat to see this vagrant. I can imagine the birders were indeed all aflutter, I would be too. Sounds like a perfectly delightful wild goose chase. My warmest thanks…and cheers to you.

    • Thank you, rabirius. I agree, the fog does present a very special atmosphere. And with our droughts and heat waves always threatening wildfires in autumn, the relief of moisture in the air is absolutely exquisite. Cheers to you.

    • Yes, I agree, Craig, the early mornings are best for wildlife. I am an early riser so I always feel really bright and ready in the early mornings…not so for Athena. And I’m happy I could share the buckeyes with you. Sending you a smile and many thanks. I hope your new release is going well, my friend.

  11. On my About page, I list some favorites, and the favorite weather I mention there is fog. Of course I love other sorts of weather, but there’s something mysterious, comforting, and compelling about fog. It’s always the same, and yet always changing. I used to sit up at the top of Marin Avenue in Berkeley and watch it come into the bay: above, below, and around the Golden Gate. I never took time to explore what else might be hidden in the fog, so your post is a wonderful corrective!

    • I’m glad the foggy morning post struck some happy memories, Linda. Great that you have witnessed the fog over the SF Bay and how it moves. and I’m glad I could share some of the wildlife that we saw on our morning walk, it was a joy. Many thanks.

  12. Foggy mornings are so peaceful. Thanks for sharing what you found on your walk, Jet. And for introducing me to a Buckeye. πŸ˜‰ I thoroughly enjoyed the fog and cool temps on my visit to SF this past week.

    • Oh yes, Jane, those cool temps coming in now are such a treat after the hot winds, drought and heat wave we had last month. And the fog is indeed so very peaceful. I’m happy you enjoyed your recent visit to SF, and to my post. Always a pleasure to have you stop by, Jane, thank you.

  13. Deer, something we never see around here! Such a pity! Not even bear although
    (not represented here) they are fabulous. You are so fortunate to have so many
    charming animals right near you Jet. How very delightful! Birds! Plenty of birds,
    especially this time of year! Great post dear friend! hugs, Eddie
    ok so there are bear north of us but not near us.

    • It’s interesting that you don’t see deer there in FL, Eddie. We have lots of deer, and they are a pleasure to come upon. We coo like doves and walk quietly when we encounter one, and most of the time they go back to grazing. It’s kind of funny to type that out, as I never have shared that funny little outdoor trick. And yes, plenty of birds too. We are so very lucky to have all this wildlife near us. Dear Eddie, it is always a true pleasure to have you visit here…thanks so very much. I hope things have calmed down a bit for your community….

      • There are the ‘Florida Key Deer’ as you can guess in the Florida keys. They are small and well adapted to their environment. And plenty of seasonal birds. It will be a while before things are ‘normal’ in south Florida. Slow but sure.
        Blessings to you and yours dear heart

      • Yes, your Key Deer in FL are special and years ago I had the opportunity to see them. I really appreciated the update on FL, Eddie, and wish you and your loved ones strength and peace. My warmest thanks, dear Eddie.

    • It was a true pleasure to share the foggy morning and wildlife with you, ACI. I know you see lots of deer and turkeys and songbirds too, how fortunate for us both. My warmest thanks.

  14. Lovely post, as always. Great that you have all that wildlife within walking distance. (Dorothy knew what she was talking about when she clicked those red shoes, I think! πŸ˜‰ Reading above, I have never heard of cooing at deer. I’ll have to try it!
    Wishing you many more cool walks,
    Julie

    • I’m chuckling, Julie, enjoying your comment. Yes, try cooing at deer (or any wildlife in your path), they somehow respond to the soft, unaggressive sounds. Thanks for your lovely words, I enjoyed them.

  15. Looks like a real beautiful fall there, and we can almost feel your cool fog drops. It won’t be long and you’ll have to roast some chestnuts. Really love the little covey of quail. I miss seeing them and wild turkeys. You have a beautiful area to enjoy your morning walk.

    • Yes, October has been wonderful with the cooling temperatures and moisture, lessened threat of wildfires. We do have a beautiful morning walk and I look forward to sharing it with you, Bill.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed this foggy morning walk with you, Jet. It sounds like fall has settled in in your part of the world. Lovely to have seen many friendly creatures along the way, from the deer to turkeys to the birds. They must have been enjoying the morning quiet. That scarecrow really does look cheery. It must be looking forward to Halloween. Love the hummingbird short by Athena. Great capture. Hope all is well πŸ™‚

  17. The last few days here have been a real treat. I get up around 2-3 because Bentley feels the need to go out and have his breakfast then and the last three mornings have given a hint that fog was in the forecast and sure enough it was. Usually ours burns off pretty quickly once the sun rises but not these. Well into mid-morning.
    That is the friendliest scarecrow I have ever seen. Seems more inviting than scary. The only Buckeyes I have seen have been on the sides of Ohio State football helmets so it was nice of you to crack one open for us. The quail family crossing the street was remindful of the Make Way for Ducklings story in Boston. πŸ™‚

    • It was a joy to receive your comment, Steve. I liked hearing about your very early mornings and the fog that takes some time to burn off. Yes, I agree, the scarecrow seems more inviting than scary. And I am so glad I could take you to a deeper dimension than a football helmet to see the inside of a buckeye. This makes me smile. My warmest thanks for your lovely visit, Steve.

  18. Thanks for letting us join along in your foggy walk – we often forget the wildlife opportunities the different weather conditions can illicit. I laughed at the scarecrow – doesn’t seem to have that “scare” element ha. Truly enjoyed the post.

    • A true joy to have you stop by, Brian, thank you. Yes, I agree, different weather conditions bring out different wildlife species. Glad that not-scary scarecrow gave you a laugh, like it did for me. Many thanks, Brian.

    • I am happy you enjoyed the foggy morning essay, Frank, and especially enjoyed your comment. While Athena was photographing the hummingbird, she was waiting and hoping he would fly into a better background instead of the car. But he didn’t, so she snapped, and I agree, it was a lovely image. I will pass on your comment to her. And thanks so much for stopping by, Frank, a pleasure.

  19. Hoping that eventually my inbox will quit with the deluge of political pleas… (please! )
    It may have taken me awhile, but here I am enjoying your morning saunter. It seems as though we share the joy of a foggy morning (after a long, hot and dry summer)!

    Thanks for introducing me to the buckeye. Truly a first encounter. I never would have recognized them and luckily would not likely have been tempted to try them. Do animals eat them? Or what?

    We do share quite a bit of the wildlife variety here… the turkeys and the Juncos and ubiquitous Canada Geese. But can’t say I’ve encountered a friendlier looking scarecrow, She almost looks like she’s asking for a hug. Did you give her one?
    Then again, you know you had me with the final shot of the quail…

    • Lovely to have you stop by, Gunta, and join me for the foggy morning walk. I’m happy to share the buckeye with you and have included a link to Wikipedia about it. While its distribution is primarily Calif., it does say it is also found native in SW Oregon in the Rogue Vly. Although the fruit is poisonous, squirrels and chipmunks eat them. Glad you enjoyed that very sweet scarecrow and of course, the quail. My warmest thanks for your visit, my friend. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesculus_californica

      • You’re always such a great trove of fascinating info… Thank you, dear Jet! πŸ’ž
        My late husband spent his early years in the Rogue Valley. He was another source of great tidbits of earthy knowledge about the world we live in. (Though he never made it past the 8th grade, having grown up in logging camps for the most part…) He was a wealth of stories and sayings he could spin at the drop of a hat… he’d even drop it himself when he had to!” πŸ˜‰

        Of course living on the ocean side of the Coastal Range is an entirely different matter. I’ve been amazed at the difference in ecosystems as we climb altitude into the Siskiyous. Watching the progression of wildflowers popping up as we go higher. πŸ™πŸ’ž Funny the things we get to learn as we move around geographically speaking…. or sometimes even settle down for a while… πŸ˜‰

  20. Thank you for sharing your morning walk with us, Jet. Lucky you that you have the birds you do. That is one of the biggest things I miss here during our winter months …. songbird and the presence of birds themselves. Day by day more lack of color is seen yet we still have warmth which I am ever so grateful for. Hope your day was a truly great one!

    • Wonderful to have you stop by, Amy. I’m glad you enjoyed the foggy morning walk, and also happy that I can provide you with bird photos and info as we head into winter. Many thanks for your visit, and cheers to you.

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