Paul came with me to the woods today, and I have to say, it was really great having the extra pair of eyes! We saw lots of newts and turtles, and look at what Paul found basking on a branch over the lake:
It's a Northern Water Snake, and the first snake I've seen this year! Here's a closer view of its front end -- you can just see its eye peeking over the branch:
These guys are pretty common around water (hence the name), and aren't dangerous. I mean, I wouldn't want to try to pick one up because I've heard that they're biters, but they're not venomous. We've seen these snakes swimming in the water before, and that's always cool to see, but it looks like this fellow was just content to lay back and enjoy the warm sunlight.
I was also happy to see that the Trout Lilies are just now starting to bloom -- I love these flowers. :) The mottled leaves of these plants are pretty much carpeting the ground in many places in these woods, but only on this south-facing slope are the plants actually sending up buds and opening blossoms already. These flowers just look so cheerful, especially surrounded by dead leaves and the hints of other plants just barely starting to grow.
It was great to see so many plants and animals out today -- everyone was having fun in the sun, and we were, too. :)