Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back to the Woods: Feisty Flickers and Lots of Flowers and Bugs

Today I made my triumphant return to the Naugatuck State Forest (after a week and a half away), and I even got up extra early to beat the heat. (That was pretty much essential.... It was already getting unbearable by the time I left at 10:00.)

The birds were quite active, especially at the beginning of my walk. I got stuck for a long time watching some smaller birds and a warbler I didn't know (and still don't, because I couldn't identify it). And then I heard some loud calls from the top of a tree across the lake:

There were three Northern Flickers up there -- that's a type of woodpecker -- and these birds were flying up and down, back and forth, calling and displaying to each other, and fanning their impressive tails. At least two of the birds were males, so I'm guessing there was some sort of territorial/nesting dispute going on, but I couldn't say for certain. All I know is they were putting on quite a show, and I only wish I could've had a closer view. (I do really like this picture, though, even if it's lacking some detail.) Also, flickers are awesome.

Next to the birds, the most active animals were the insects. Dragonflies were everywhere, as usual, and I was even able to identify two new species. Here's a lovely Slaty Skimmer:

And a Banded Pennant (what a cool pattern on those wings):

I recognized these tiny spiky creatures (they're like aliens!) as some sort of leaf-footed bug nymph:

Out of curiosity, I posted this picture and an ID request on, and within an hour someone had replied with the species: Euthochtha galeator. Behold the wonders of the internet! :D

This dainty butterfly is a Little Wood Satyr (I'd never heard of such a thing before today, and it's quite elegant):

I snuck up on this grasshopper mid-buzz -- I think the sound it was making must have something to do with its wings, but the exact mechanics are unclear to me:

There were so many wildflowers blooming today that I'd never seen before, each beautiful in its own way. Large patches of Spotted Wintergreen were scattered across the forest floor:

This Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba, complete with a foraging longhorn beetle) was blooming along a bank:

And nearby, another member of the same genus, Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa):

Right at the end of one of the lakes, I found a single Swamp Milkweed plant:

I really like this Yellow Loosestrife (also called Swamp Candles):

And this Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens) was putting on a nice show, with quite a few big sturdy plants growing together in a wet area next to the path:

It was a nice rambling walk, and I even got to stop and snack for a bit in a large Black Raspberry patch. Yum. :)

As I was leaving, a passing lady saw my binoculars and gave me a tip about another part of the Naugatuck State Forest, where there are shrubby fields, with warblers and woodcocks (boy, I'd love to see one of those funky creatures someday), among other birds. I believe her words were, "you'll be in heaven." I think I know where I'll be exploring next!


  1. Hi Elizabeth. Greetings from England. What a lovely blog! I adore the leaf-footed bug-nymphs. So cute. Mel

  2. Hi Mel, thanks for your comment! I just visited your blog, and I'm going to be following it now -- it's great! (And it's not every day I get to see English wildlife.)

  3. Hi. Thanks and ditto re. seeing US wildlife. I see you named your blog 'and beyond' same as me. I found your site when I searched for Deptford pinks (Dianthus armeria) which is really rare over here. Mel

  4. Fascinating critters and beautiful flowers. Can't ask for much more from a walk than that. Those little leaf-footed flies are just adorable. I'll have to keep my eyes open for them.