With less than one full month left until summer ends, I find myself scrambling to get outside as much as possible and enjoy it while it lasts.  Late summer is a beautiful time of year when goldenrods and asters show their true colors.  This classic nature color palette of golden yellow and purple is always a gentle reminder that summer doesn’t last forever (at least in Wisconsin).

While I’m sure we’re all busy beginning to wrap up our own summer activities, let’s take a minute to see some of what’s going on in nature right now.

Jewelweed (spotted touch-me-not) in full bloom

Jewelweed, or ‘spotted touch-me-not’ is a very common flowering plant that is currently in bloom.  It seems you can find it in most shady areas including low woodlands, stream and river edges, and along ditches.

I was out fly fishing with my father-in-law recently and all of the banks along the creek had patches of jewelweed.  While the orange flowers are beautiful enough, what really stands out are the exploding seed pods.  Jewelweed has a unique method of seed dispersal where once the seed pods are ripe, they burst open and fling seeds everywhere.  Check out THIS short video to see them in action!

Silver-spotted skipper sipping on nectar from cylindrical blazing star

This time of year is also great for viewing butterflies and moths.  Without even actively searching for them, I’ve stumbled upon several of the more common butterflies including the monarch (although less common now than it once was), tiger swallowtail, painted lady, and plenty of silver-spotted skippers (pictured above).

I’m always trying to get photos of butterflies but without a telephoto lens, it can be tricky.  They seem to only let me get just close enough, and then they’re off!  To get around this, try going out on a somewhat breezy/windy day.  Many insects tend to hunker down in the wind rather than get swept away, which can help with those closer shots.

American goldfinch nestlings

Most people think of spring when they see a bird nest.  While a lot of birds do nest in spring or early summer, some birds like the American goldfinch, will nest in mid-late summer.  In fact, goldfinch nestlings can sometimes be spotted in nests as late as the end of September!

This is partly due to the diet of a goldfinch which is strictly vegetarian.  American goldfinches feed on the seeds of plants which becomes readily available later in the summer after plants have gone to seed.  This abundance of seed will help ensure the success of the hungry nestlings.

The bright yellow underside of a wood turtleLastly, while out on a camping trip in the Porcupine Mountains last week, we came across a large wood turtle basking in the middle of the road. The turtle was found in an area where the speed limit was a little too fast for a basking turtle, so I decided to help it across so it didn’t get run over.   While moving it across the road we were amazed by the bright yellow underside and black spots.  Check out that beautiful pattern!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my virtual tour of nature as it’s happening.  However you experience the outdoors or nature, be it physical, virtual, spiritual, or anything in between, I encourage you to do it!

See you next month!