Well, it's officially summer! The days are getting consistently hot and humid, and the plants and animals are taking full advantage of the sun.
While I was walking in the Naugatuck State Forest today, I nearly stepped on this little fellow, sunning him/herself in the path (I say that, but this was actually a rather shady spot):
This is the first Eastern Garter Snake I've seen this year, and it sure was a gorgeous creature. It didn't seem inclined to run away from me, even when I got right in its face:
I encouraged this little guy to move off the path, and it finally took the hint (after sticking its red-black tongue out at me a couple of times). With all the people- and dog-feet passing by, I didn't want it to accidentally get hurt.
Here's another sign of summer -- Black Raspberries covering a bank along the path (yum... I might have eaten a berry or two after taking this picture, even though they could've done with another day or so of ripening):
The dragonflies were as active as ever, and I even managed to identify a couple. This Common Whitetail was basking in the sun, and its bright blue/white abdomen was pulsating, like a person's chest when they're breathing heavily (I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but it's possible it could have had to do with respiration):
I think this is an Eastern Pondhawk, and it's the most beautiful shade of green:
And speaking of beautiful colors, a couple of these fritillary butterflies (possibly Great Spangled Fritillaries, but I'm not certain about that) were taking advantage of the Common Milkweed blooms. I like this picture even more for the random photobombing bumblebee:
Here are the Spotted Jewelweed flowers that I've been waiting to see on these plants, even though some of the jewelweeds in these woods have seed pods already:
And I learned some new flowers today as well. This is Tall Meadow Rue, a flower that's all stamens and no petals -- and yes, the plant is quite tall:
Finally, looking at the leaves of this last plant, I was expecting it to be a kind of milkweed, but it's actually something called Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum):
Hooray for new things. :)