Spring mornings are a glorious time to be in the Big Woods; actually spring mornings are the best time to be in any woodland. Wildflowers are emerging and some are in full bloom, trees are beginning to leaf-out – an old boss of mine used to say that the oak leaves were the size of squirrels’ ears – birds are defending their territories with song and waterfalls are at their best.
So, it was off to the Big Woods to see what I could see. Amidst last fall’s sere brown leaves a small patch of bloodroot was in full bloom –
Nearby were a couple of trout-lily flowers among hundreds and hundreds of non-blooming plants that had produced only leaves –
Amid the flowers a small butterfly, a spring azure, engaged in short flights; spring azures are the most common butterflies of early spring –
There’s a small open wetland in this section of the Big Woods and, although the wood frogs and spring peepers had already bred and left, amphibians still called from the open water. American toads in large numbers gave forth their trilling calls –
At the edge of the open water swam a garter snake, hunting toads no doubt –
The wetland gradually gives way to moist woodland where a large number of round-lobed hepatica were in bloom: blue –
And white –
And, least common, the pink variety –
Heading back to the car on an old woods road, I saw the day’s second butterfly, a Juvenal’s duskeywing –
And in a muddy spot the track of a coyote –
Further along I kneeled to photograph the pretty flowers of a Pennsylvania sedge –
As I knelt, I was “treated” to the sight of a large tick crawling on my pants’ leg – a wood tick (also called the dog tick) –
Wood ticks don’t seem to be anywhere near as common as the black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease and are much easier to see. Like other ticks, wood ticks are a vector of one or more diseases; they can carry the rare, but potentially lethal, Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Every time I find a tick, I’m glad for the permethrin with which my pants are treated.