Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Brings Some Familiar Faces

I arrived at Naugatuck State Forest early this morning, just as a light rain had finished falling, making the woods moist and cool. (Chilly, actually.) Despite the rainy start, this turned out to be a great day for a woods walk!

Soon after I entered the woods, I turned around and was surprised to see big, dark shapes melting out of the damp forest to cross the path behind me:

I really just never see deer in this part of the woods, so this was a cool beginning to the day. Two deer emerged, looked at me, then went on their way.

Fall has officially begun, and the woods are filling up again with the creatures we'll see through the winter -- this morning, I saw Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows for the first time since spring. I've missed the White-throated Sparrows' funky clown-painted faces, and I'm glad to have these birds around again:

Tons of warblers were moving through the trees, most of them too high up for me to identify (let alone get pictures). A couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers came down to my level, though, and I was happy to see them -- I've missed these dainty birds and their yellow butts during the summer, too:

Several woodpeckers made an appearance this morning, including a group of raucous Northern Flickers, flashing their bright yellow tails:

And a handsome Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was hopping around as well -- I think this is a young male, whose red cap and throat feathers haven't quite all grown in yet (I'm reminded of a scruffy adolescent goatee):

While I was watching the woodpeckers, a Red Squirrel took up a post on a nearby tree and started chittering at me:

At that point I heard another sound behind me, and I turned to see a second Red Squirrel, just a few feet away and staring me right in the face:

This squirrel kept skittering from one side of the tree to the other and peering around at me, clearly agitated, and trying really hard to find a way past this annoying human standing in its path. I finally got the hint and walked away, so the squirrels could stop scolding. (Also, it looks like someone's been digging in the dirt -- clean your face, squirrel!)

There were a few more cool creatures around, including this Green Frog with its stylish yellow leaf hat:

And a small snail wandering around -- I see snails only rarely, actually (much less frequently than slugs), and I'm not sure why that is:

Here's hoping for a long stretch of lovely fall walks like this one before the weather gets really cold!

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