I looked under a log today in the woods (as I am wont to do), and this is what I found:
You cannot honestly tell me that that is not the cutest wee salamander you have ever seen! This little fellow couldn't have been more than two inches long, and with those big eyes and teeny tiny toes... I wanted to cuddle it! (But I restrained myself.) This is a Red-backed (or Redback) Salamander, although this one is what my internet sources tell me is a "leadback" color morph of the species -- it's just gray/blue and doesn't have the normal reddish stripe that gives the species its name. I've never seen one of these guys before, although apparently they're extremely common in northeastern woods. When I was finished taking pictures, I put the log carefully back where I found it -- and don't worry, there was a nice cavity in the underside of the log so the salamander wouldn't get squished. What an awesome creature, I love yooouuuu!
There were lots of birds in the woods today as well, and the trilliums are sending up buds. :) I watched two Ospreys fishing for a little while (I didn't see them catch anything), and I got sidetracked for a long time when I stumbled into a whole mess of warblers and other small songbirds.
The bird in this picture is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, although you wouldn't necessarily know it from this angle. Kinglets are tiny birds (do I have a small-things theme in this post?), and this one was hanging out with at least five different species of warblers in one big group. So many pretty colors flying around in the trees, and two of these warblers were ones I'd never seen before: a Black-and-white warbler (super cool-looking, sorry I don't have a picture), and another one that I managed to narrow down to two possible species, a Blackburnian Warbler or a Yellow-throated Warbler. Unfortunately I didn't pay close enough attention to the color on this last bird's head, and neither of these species is supposed to be in this area at this time of year (or in the Yellow-throated Warbler's case, ever), so I don't feel confident making an identification call.... Oh well, whatever it was, it was beautiful, with a bright yellow throat and black/white stripes all over.
I'm already planning my next trip to the woods.... There's just so much to see -- why can't I be there all the time, again?