Yesterday I celebrated my return to Connecticut with a trip to the Naugatuck State Forest, and once again, the woods looked completely different from when I was last there ten days before. The ferns are huge and covering the forest floor, some of the vernal pools are all but completely dried up (poor little tadpoles, will they survive in the damp muck until the next rain?), and the insects of all kinds were out and about (including the flying, biting kind, unfortunately).
The spring flowers are just about all gone, and the summer flowers are opening. These Ox-eye Daisies and bright yellow Hawkweeds (either Field or Pale Hawkweed, I'm not sure which), both non-native species, were bringing some cheery color into the open areas:
These flowers were keeping close company with plain but pretty Common Yarrow:
In the woods, Maple-leaf Viburnum shrubs were blooming everywhere:
And in the shade near a stream I found this Yellow Stargrass, which I don't think I've ever seen before:
Here are a couple of butterflies that sat still long enough for me to take their picture, first a cute little skipper of some sort (I'm not sure of the exact species):
And this Red-spotted Purple (I think the name might make more sense if I'd seen the undersides of this creature's wings):
There were quite a few different types of dragonflies and damselflies zooming around, but I've only managed to identify this one -- a Chalk-fronted Corporal:
And on a raspberry leaf, I found this surprisingly pretty Forest Tent Caterpillar (a pest sometimes, but apparently not every year):
I did see some birds as well, including my first Indigo Bunting of the year (so pretty), and a Great Crested Flycatcher (a first for me) -- no pictures of these guys, though. This Wood Thrush did pose for me in the underbrush, however (don't you just love those spots?):
And I watched this Red-eyed Vireo doing some serious acrobatics to get a meal -- it looks like hanging upside-down from a leaf got him or her a nice insect-y mouthful here:
As I was leaving, I found one last treat -- the Wild Strawberries are almost perfectly ripe:
I saw tons of these plants blooming a couple of weeks ago, but this was the only collection of ripening fruit I found today. A lot of the strawberry plants have been shaded out by other plants (mostly Poison Ivy), so I don't know how much of the fruit is actually still there. I'm just hoping I'll be passing by when some of these berries are ripe. (And I'm dreaming up schemes for how I might be able to get some of these seeds into my garden....)
So a great trip overall, despite the increasingly gross weather. (It was in the mid-80s when I was in the woods yesterday, and the weather forecast is calling for high-90s by Thursday.... Yuck!) It's good to be home!