I see a Belted Kingfisher almost every time I go to the woods. He (it's usually a male) swoops low over the water, calling loudly, and is always on the other side of the lake from wherever I am. Today, however, was different: I saw a kingfisher, but a female this time, and sitting not too far away. And strangely enough, she actually sat still long enough for me to take a few pictures.
This is probably the best picture I'm ever likely to get of such a high-strung bird. You can tell this is a female Belted Kingfisher because she has that orange-y coloring on her sides -- this is one of the few species of bird (and the only one that I know of) where the female is actually more colorful than the male. Isn't she pretty, with her wild stand-up hairdo and gigantic beak perfect for catching fish? :)
I saw something else at the woods today that I've never seen before: a medium-sized brown mammal, of the weasel-ish variety, loping along the shore of one of the lakes. Here's an extremely blurry picture of the creature -- it's running to the left, with its tail sticking out behind it (and a Common Merganser looking on):
And here I thought there were too many people and dogs frequenting this area for furry things like this to be around, let alone to show themselves! From the color and the length of the tail (and the habitat), my best guess is that this is an American Mink, and I've certainly never encountered one of these creatures before. What a cool and totally unexpected discovery!
Here are some other assorted finds from today's adventure:
This pretty butterfly landed in my path and didn't stay around long (hence the blurry picture). I believe it's an American Painted Lady (although it could just be a regular Painted Lady).
Here's Dwarf Cinquefoil. This flower is a little abnormal in that it has six petals instead of the usual five. But oh well, things like that happen sometimes.
This is Japanese Barberry, an invasive species. From what I've read, these plants can really take over wooded areas, but fortunately I only found this one bush here.
And here's another new violet! This is one I just learned about because it recently showed up in two other nature blogs I read (Saratoga Woods and Waterways, and You Hike the Giant, too!): it's an Arrow-leaved violet (also called Ovate-leaved violet, Viola fimbriatula), which can be identified by its fuzzy-furry leaves and stems, and leaves that are oblong rather than heart-shaped. I just love the colors and patterns on those flowers. :)
I'll close this post with another bizarre fungus, one that I don't have a name for. These growths are about the same size, shape, and color as acorn caps, and kind of cute: