in the woods again

9.23.20 ~ The Merritt Family Forest, Groton, Connecticut
woodland aster (?)

Wednesday we took a walk in the woods at the Merritt Family Forest. This was our second visit — the first was in May — and this time we took a different trail. The sunshine coming through the leaves this time of year is exquisite. Tim felt good and kept going so we wound up walking for an hour and a quarter. I’m so happy we can get out in the fresh air once again!

sunbeams finding a glacial erratic
stone wall corner
patch of sunlight
Tim inherited a walking stick from his stepdad’s stepfather. It has a bicycle bell attached to it which he rang now and then to warn any bears of our presence.
autumnal sun
pincushion moss
fern bed
leaf and bug caught in abandoned web
bug eyes
are you a fly or a bee?
forest meets meadow
dragonfly on aster
American burnweed (?)
severe drought has left Eccleston Brook completely dry

Looking forward to many more autumn walks, but hoping for some rain, a good soaking rain, to keep us inside sometimes. There have been a few forest fires in Connecticut so far, but they are nothing compared to what is happening out west.

A 1,000 lb. beefalo, now named Buddy, is still on the loose in the state after escaping slaughter several weeks ago. But he was last spotted about 70 miles from here, so we’re not too worried about an encounter. A GoFundMe page was created for him so he was purchased from his owner and when caught, he will be sent to Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary in Florida. $8,500 was raised to buy him and put towards his retirement. He’s on the news almost every night, with warnings to stay away from him because he is aggressive.

And of course, bears… The things one thinks about when wandering around in the woods.

35 thoughts on “in the woods again”

    1. It took my husband the longest time to see what I was so excited to be photographing. πŸ™‚ I kept pointing and pointing. I almost had to touch it before he saw it! As it was, I had to change my angle for the wings to show up in the camera lens.

        1. That sounds like a blissful way to spend a few hours! Dragonflies are amazing creatures, and as you can probably guess from my avatar, I am very enchanted by them. πŸ™‚ You’ve given me an idea to visit a pond where I used to see many of them at one time. They are a wonder to observe.

  1. I don’t know without checking which asters and goldenrods you found, but yes that’s what they are. The lovely dragonfly is on an aster that has already gone to seed. I hope you get rain! So nice to see your woods! They look a lot like mine πŸ™‚

    1. So I found a meadow full of asters, not milkweeds! Thank you so much for the identification, Melissa. (Even with my new field guide to wildflowers I’m not very good at this!) Wednesday looks promising for a soaking rain. It’s nice to know you have similar woods to enjoy. πŸ™‚

      1. I’m glad you’re getting some rain on Wed. We’re getting it today. It is challenging to learn new plants…I’ve learned most of what I know from botanists. I wonder if there is a naturalist in your area who leads walks or something like that. If you can find one, I think you’ll enjoy it! πŸ™‚

        1. My brother-in-law is a botanist, but like a doctor who doesn’t like answering health questions when he’s socializing, he seems to be annoyed by my queries at times. πŸ™‚ (I totally get it! I get that way about genealogy questions sometimes.) But I like your idea of taking a walk with an expert. When the pandemic is over I will look into it. πŸ™‚ I took a lady slipper walk with a naturalist from our local nature center several years ago…

          1. Oh that must have been delightful. I have to say I’m surprised by your brother-in-law~I’ve never met a botanist who wasn’t eager to talk plants regardless of the setting! πŸ˜€

          2. I think it might have something to do with feeling put on the spot when I ask a specific question. He does talk about plants and trees at times but mostly keeps to himself, working for hours in his garden and greenhouse…

          3. Someone posted some pictures of American burnweed in the wildflower group on Facebook this morning. After looking at other pictures online I think it might be a match.

  2. Its such a joy following you on this , Barbara. Wonderful nature details. The woods around here have so many dead firs – I so miss the kind of greenery you have. Just beautiful. And if i was a bear, I would not dream about attacking you πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you very much, Leelah! πŸ™‚ So sorry to hear about your dead firs. Was it a disease or a pest? Our hemlock evergreens have been decimated by a pest, the woolly adelgid. It breaks my heart to see their dead skeletons in the old hemlock groves. The woods will never be the same. But other kinds of trees will flourish as life goes on. Do you have bears in your part of Norway? They’ve become a problem here, coming into people’s yards, looking for food.

  3. The story about Buddy the beefalo is both funny and touching. To think that he managed to escape being slaughtered, and is still on the loose! I wonder if he’s hungry? I can see why he’s a nightly topic on the news!

    1. He’s been on the loose for seven weeks! He’s not hungry because beefalos will eat any kind of vegetation. He seems to be staying in one area now. They’re using a drone to track him and they put out a cattle trailer full of beefalo goodies. He’s checked it out but hasn’t gone in. There’s some kind of rope system rigged up to close the door if he does ever decide to go in. πŸ™‚

  4. Go Buddy go! I like his spunk. I’d say those photos are golden rod. I’m allergic to the stuff. If I could get a sniff of it, I could easily confirm with a sneeze.

    1. To think, Buddy has no idea what a big fan club he has! Good thing you won’t have to sniff this goldenrod, though I imagine you have enough of your own to contend with. For me, it’s ragweed. I can’t wait for the first frost to kill it all and give me some relief!

    1. By the mid-1800s there were no bears in Connecticut because most of the woods had been cleared for farms. When people started abandoning their farms and going west the forests here have grown back, and the bears, eventually, returned as well. When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s we played in the woods all the time without a thought of encountering a bear. In the 1980s people started seeing them in the woods and now they are everywhere, coming into people’s yards and even coming into the houses. People send pictures into the news stations all the time. It’s enough to make one worry about a walk in the woods!

      The plant that fluff ball was on is taller than me so it can’t be a dandelion! It might be one of many kinds of asters, gone to seed.

  5. I liked seeing the picture of Tim as much as all the lovely nature shots. *smile* It’s so gorgeous this time of year with all the asters about. Although most of them are starting to disappear around here. Hope you have a good week with more nature to uplift your spirits!

    1. Yes, Tim is always willing to pose, unlike his camera shy wife. (Following in the footsteps of my mother and grandmother, who I have so few pictures of…) The weather people here are saying the fall colors will be two weeks early because of the drought so we’ve gone out leaf peeping twice already this week! It’s lovely out there… Hope you’re having a good week, too!

  6. Barbara – what a delightful walk this is and one that I would have loved to take right alongside you. You said you were not lucky in capturing images of bees – look at this (what I think is a bee) and the dragonfly – they are both close-up and what an excellent capture of a dragonfly. I love them but only once have I gotten a dragonfly image and not as close up and/or clear like this. I like the goldenrod – it sure helps to brighten up all the walks I take from mid-August on. It glows like a beacon when you see it. I liked the caption for Tim about the bell on the cane and then I knew there was some method in your madness for mentioning it with the on-the-lamb Beefalo. Buddy might be roaming on that trail and be extra hungry. Just kidding – I realize the bears might be a threat as well. As to Buddy, more power to him and I think there was a slaughterhouse escapee several years ago and money was raised to let that fellow live a life of Riley and became someone’s pet if memory serves me right. Nice to “meet” Tim too in this post chock full of images.

    1. Linda, it’s rather funny how that bug appeared in my life as soon as I said I had no luck photographing them. I’m kind of surprised the photos came out as it was moving around very quickly. The dragonfly was just sitting there so those shots were easy!!! (Although I was selfishly wishing there had been a different background to offer more contrast… never satisfied!) I think goldenrod is very pretty, too. A vibrant fall color. I can’t believe how fast the leaves are starting to turn around here so I hope we get out for another walk soon after the big rainstorm coming tomorrow. I hope Buddy’s story has a happy ending…

  7. That is funny Barbara – that’s the first thing I thought of when I saw that bug. Sometimes we are surprised that we got something when we get home and see the photos on the screen, that we didn’t see when taking them. Like my frog in one my walks, later in the Summer, after I did a whole post about looking for those singing frogs called “Spring Peepers” the weekend before the pandemic began. I even went to a bog in a wooded area to look for them – nothing. I got home one day to find a frog on a lily pad.

    I know we’re never satisfied. And you probably do what I do (since you said you take lots of pictures). I take pictures as I approach a bird or critter of some sort, thinking it will bolt until I can get closer. It leads to even more pics to sort through. I was surprised that in a matter of days at Council Point Park, there are huge swaths of red and yellow and the leaves are falling quickly. I hope you got your walk in before the rain. We’ve got a week of rain each afternoon this week. With the later mornings for the sun coming up, I’m lucky those rain showers are in the affternoon each day.

    1. Our eyes suffer from a chronic state of “too much information!” There’s no way we can see everything that is actually there, so usually our brains only focus on what they expect to see, filtering out much of the information available to be seen. Anyhow, that’s my undersanding gleaned from various documentaries I’ve seen on how our brains and our senses work. It does explain those surprises we find in our pictures after we get home. πŸ™‚

      Yup, I do the same thing you do, take a few pictures, take a few steps closer, take a few more pictures, take a few steps closer, and so on. Sometimes the bird (or other creature) will look at me as if I’m nuts! But I’m always delighted when they do let me come closer. Not all of them do. Once a great egret flew off just as I took the first picture and I thought it would just be a blurry picture. But when I got home the camera had somehow got a great picture of it in flight! πŸ™‚

      1. I feel like that when reading the news online, as there is so much to absorb … and most of it is horrible news anymore. I have read that people today have to have their news in bite-sized portions as too much news or “gray matter” in an article makes them lose interest and they start to tune out, scroll down, or click to exit, depending on where we’re reading at that time.

        I follow news, nature and weather sites on Twitter and Facebook. And, oh yes, the local neighborhood forums to keep up on crime in the area. By the time I get through all those items that I’ve accumulated since the last time I looked, I feel a little overwhelmed and have just lost at least an hour if not longer.

        I even do that “approach/take pics continually” with the squirrels. It is a running joke with me in my blog about Harry the Heron at Council Point Park as the only time I can take a picture is if I approach him from behind, rather than approaching head on, as then I can get a shot, but if he sees the whites of my eyes, he takes off in a squawking screech down the passageway. I like walking a certain direction and I’ve only seen him once or twice this Summer. The wings of herons and egrets sure are beautiful when they are in flight and very large wingspans that always amaze me.

        1. Yeah, I limit myself to half an hour of local news in the morning and in the evening and watch an hour of national news on PBS News Hour because it gives the news calmly and more in depth without all the hoopla. It’s plenty. I don’t read any news on Facebook, but I do follow our local nature center and museums and look forward to the beautiful pictures people post in the private Connecticut Birds group. (I’ve contributed once or twice but my shots aren’t as spectacular as some of theirs.)

          Harry the Heron sounds like quite a character! πŸ™‚ Wading birds are so fascinating to watch. Looking forward to seeing many more of your photo shoots.

          1. I follow a lot of nature sites and enjoy them all. I used to get “Birds and Blooms” magazine and cancelled the subscription after the Polar Vortex wiped out my butterfly garden and all of my perennials. I do follow them on Facebook now and they have beautiful photos. Here it is to check it out:

            The Audubon sites are nice as well – I follow our local chapter.

            Following all the local parks and Botanical Gardens helps me know the coming attractions so I can visit them or avoid the venue and walk somewhere else that day if it is an event and too many people. This was pre-COVID too – I like going to parks with no crowd around. I cancelled my cable TV a decade ago, so get all my news from AM radio and/or the news sites I follow on Twitter and Facebook.

            Harry is fun to try to get a shot of him and this morning he took off when a walker ahead of me spooked him. I felt a little insulted since he did not do his usual squawk-and-screech routine, but exited quietly. πŸ™‚ I caught up a little in Reader last night and see you have been enjoying Andy’s photos. Those swans the other day were magnificent and he does so many shore birds … I knew you’d enjoy his blog.

          2. Thanks for the link to β€œBirds and Blooms.” So many lovely pictures! Sounds like every day is different with Harry, and never a dull moment. πŸ™‚ I’m so happy you told me about Andy’s blog ~ his pictures are amazing!

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