Eugene Weekly : It’s About Time : 9.2.10

By David Wagner

Because our rainy season tends to linger into July, we really don’t have a summer that matches the notion of summer in other parts of the country. What we do have, however, is a prolonged dry season that begins in August and lasts for a good six weeks, well into September. The dry season ends when the rainy season begins with the first fall rains, normally in late September. Mild winters and dry, late summers classifies us as having a Mediterranean climate. Wild yearly variation is normal.

Toward the end of our dry season, river and pond levels get very low. I imagine the herons like it very much because all the little fish which have been reproducing so prolifically all summer get concentrated in shallow places. The fish are easy to catch, and the herons fatten up before slim fishing in the cold months.

Thinking of birds, don’t forget the spectacular passage of the Vaux’s swift migration at the middle of the month. If you want to congregate with other bird lovers, attend the sunset events hosted by the Lane Audubon Society.  Go to Agate Hall on Agate Street between 17th and 18th Avenues in Eugene on Fridays, Sept. 17 and 24.

Songbirds have by now fledged their nestlings and all headed south. The surviving bugs are getting ready for overwintering, laying eggs or burrowing into the ground to pupate. Spiders are catching the last and fattest of these insects for the same reason: making eggnests to overwinter. Fat spiders mark summer’s end.

David Wagner is a botanist who has lived in Eugene for more than 30 years. He teaches mosses and leads plant walks. He may be reached at