It's been far too long since I was last in the woods. Between the super-hot summer weather, and my discovery that I'm most easily able to be productive in the mornings, there haven't been many decent stretches of time lately when I've wanted to be outside. But then I realized that there's actually quite a bit of time after dinner but before the sun goes down, when the day's cooled off and the animals are coming out... and so today I grabbed that time and went for my first real woods walk in weeks!
The Naugatuck State Forest is extraordinarily beautiful right now. I could barely make it through the path in some places, all the plants are so lush and expansive! There are jewelweed seedpods to explode, and ripe black raspberries to munch on (one of my favorites), and sweet flowery smells on the air. And I discovered that late afternoon is the perfect time to hang out on one particular stretch of the path, where a long edge of the forest becomes spotlighted by the lowering sun and tons of birds come out to play. I actually didn't do much walking today, since I got kind of stuck in this spot -- there was a lot to see!
A group of noisy Black-capped Chickadees, for instance, were foraging in a giant spruce tree, hopping around on those big sturdy branches and playing among the cones way up high:
Also in attendance was an equally raucous family of Chipping Sparrows, who kept flying down to pick around in the grass on the path, and then flying up again when I got too close:
The best part, though, was the brilliant male Rose-breasted Grosbeak who made his way along the tree line and stole the show -- I so rarely get to see these birds, although they're not uncommon around here, and I'm pretty sure this is the clearest view I've ever had of one before:
So yes, late afternoon is a great time to visit the woods -- it was cool and beautiful, although the setting sun does make picture-taking a little difficult! And I have to go on a little rant, just for a bit: While I do love these woods, and there are so many fantastic creatures to see, I continue to be put off by the people I tend to run into there. Most of them are quite nice and friendly, but there always seem to be a few who lack some basic consideration of other people also in the woods -- today it was a couple of incredibly loud/obnoxious/swearing people on horses (and here I thought horse riders were always pleasant), and a (perfectly friendly) fellow who had to constantly be yelling to his (perfectly friendly) dog to come back to him, which wouldn't have been necessary if the dog was on a leash. I know there's no real benefit to me complaining here, but the fact is I'm increasingly less likely to go to the Naugatuck State Forest -- which would otherwise be one of my favorite places ever -- and it's just because of things like this.
So, I didn't mean to end to post on a low note.... Yay, woods!