Saturday, October 6, 2012

Soggy Fall Woods

When I went for a walk in Naugatuck State Forest yesterday morning, we'd just had a couple days of rain, and even though the sun was coming out, everything was still soaked through. I happen to love the way the woods looks after rain, with the trees deep and dark and leaves glowing:

And now that fall is really setting in and the leaves are changing, the woods were looking especially showy. I just could not get over the colors on this (I believe) Sassafras tree, especially against the dark mostly-pine woods!

On soggy days, I tend to keep an eye out for amphibians, and I definitely wasn't disappointed during yesterday's walk. I always love getting to hang out with Red Efts (juvenile Red-spotted Newts), and a few of these brilliant little creatures were taking walks along the same paths as me. I hope they didn't mind my camera in their faces!

Efts are just too wonderful. I wonder why some are more shockingly orange than others:

Under a flat log, I found a little Red-backed Salamander, whose adorableness certainly rivals the efts' (although I don't think I could choose between the two):

And on the underside of the salamander's log was this group of European Sowbugs (Oniscus asellus) -- I'm sure I've encountered these creatures before (in the garden, most likely), but I never really stopped before to notice how crazily prehistoric they look:

Speaking of weird things on logs, I also found these pink bubbly growths, which turned out to be a slime mold (!) called Wolf's Milk (Lycogala epidendrum) -- I identified them thanks to a recent post on Saratoga Woods and Waterways:

(Looking at this picture now, I just realized that there are lots of smaller, brown spheres on the lowers parts of this log.... I wonder what's going on there.)

There were tons of birds flying around, but not many wanted to come in range of my camera. A Brown Creeper did come close enough, however, for me to notice how ridiculously large those feet and claws look -- all the better for creeping up tree trunks, I guess!

For whatever reason, I also saw quite a few Woolly Bear caterpillars crawling around on one section of the path. One was munching away at a big leaf on a Mullein plant, and it had already made a very respectable hole -- how appropriate, a woolly caterpillar and a woolly leaf:

Hooray for soggy days in the woods!

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