It’s officially summer!  I’m not sure about you, but it’s been feeling like summer for the last month and a half at least.  I’ve talked with quite a few people who have all mentioned that they feel like they missed out on spring, and not for lack of being outside.  I have to agree with them, especially on those 95F days when I’m longing for a nice cool spring morning.

Although it’s been very hot and occasionally buggy, it’s truly a wonderful time to be outside, so let’s take a minute or two to see what’s going on.

Ebony jewelwing

I went on a camping trip last weekend with my family to hang out with a good friend who was stopping by from out of state.  We visited Roche-A-Cri State Park in Friendship, Wisconsin.  Seemed like an appropriate town name given the purpose of the trip.

While there, we were struck (not literally) by these iridescent damselflies with dark black wings.  The contrast between bright/shiny and black was mesmerizing!  I was so excited to try and get some photos so that I could identify them later.  Then, my wife Carolyn pops up seemingly out of nowhere and says “Oh, nice! Jewelwings!”  She’s good at that.  Regardless, I looked up ‘Ebony Jewelwing’ when I got home and found THIS cool video describing their mating display.  The video is slowed down so you can see them better.

Hairy puccoon

While walking through a prairie at Roche-A-Cri State Park, I came across a type of puccoon that I had never seen before.  It’s called hairy puccoon and it’s native to very dry and sandy habitats.  The burst of yellow caught our attention immediately.  We were able to scan the entire prairie and see where all of the pockets of hairy puccoon were hiding, even from quite a distance away.

American toad with some nice camouflage

Within minutes of arriving at our campsite, we found several toads hopping around in the dried pine needles and oak leaves.  They are surprisingly noisy when hopping around if you find yourself in a quiet enough place.  The tricky part is finding them if they are still because of how well they camouflage into their surroundings (see photo above).

One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was catching all sorts of frogs and toads wherever I went.  I was happy to see my 5 year old do the same throughout the camp trip (no toads were harmed during this camp trip and all were released very quickly).


Baby snapping turtle that was crossing the road

If you find yourself travelling to a new green space like I did last weekend (or really anywhere), this is just a friendly reminder that many critters out there this time of year have young and to be careful when driving.  Just in the last week or two I’ve seen baby raccoons, opossums, sandhill cranes, and turtles (like the baby snapping turtle seen in the photo above) crossing the road.

If you see a turtle crossing the road, I encourage you to slow down and help out if you can, but only if the area is safe.  When helping a turtle, always put it on the side of the road in the direction it was heading (even if the pond is on the other side).  They’re determined little things and will turn right back around.

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!