That sunny meadow was so full of just those two flowers, I had to really search to locate the one I had come to find. But find it I did: Spiked Lobelia.
The air over the meadow was filled with darting and dashing dragonflies, and I couldn't believe my good luck when this Widow Skimmer sat still for its portrait, the sun glinting off its gossamer wings and touching its body with gold.
These two flower beetles were too wrapped up in each other to pay me the slightest mind, as I poked my camera into their intimate space.
There were several species of tiny hoverflies zipping in and out of the Common Milkweed flowers, and this tiger-tailed one took a moment to rest on a blade of grass.
As the mid-day heat bore down on my head, I was glad to seek the shade of the pine woods that makes up much of Woods Hollow.
It's under these pines that I know to look for the elusive Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain. I always find the distinctively patterned basal leaves of many plants, but finding a flowering stalk is not always a given. This year, I found but two flower stalks among some 20 plants in one area. Sometime in the next few weeks, those tight green buds will open into tiny white orchids.
Sharing that same pine-needled forest floor were many Pipsissewa plants, easily seen, with their glossy evergreen leaves. And as with the Rattlesnake Plantain, not so easy to find are the occasional flower clusters.
Tiny flies have no problem finding these flowers. I don't think I have ever turned over one of these waxy pink blooms when I didn't find it crawling with little black flies.
When and where Pipsissewa blooms, it's almost a guarantee that Shinleaf Pyrola will not be far away.
I see I wasn't the first one to find this lovely fat boletus mushroom with the rusty brown cap.
I next headed down to the pond that forms the heart of Woods Hollow Preserve, so cool and green and shady on this hot summer day.
There's a sweet little brook that flows into this pond, and its water (which must be spring-fed) is always icy cold and refreshing to my hot dusty feet.
I didn't have to wade far to find American Brooklime with its dainty little blue flowers, one of our native Speedwells.
Well, today was even hotter and muggier than yesterday, and I really thought twice about visiting Bog Meadow Nature Preserve just outside Saratoga, a beautiful trail but which is more infested with Deer Flies than any other place I know. Ah, but then I remembered my Tred-not Deerfly Patches, which, as this photo reveals, saved me from being bitten by these 18 flies.
But not all the bugs along this trail are the kind we dread. This butterfly eluded me for the longest time, but eventually it lit on a leaf and spread its glorious wings. If it had closed its wings, it would have looked more like a dead brown leaf. But then I could have determined if it was a Question Mark or a Comma, according to little white marks that can only be seen on the underside of the wings. One thing I can say for sure is that this is one of the angel-winged butterflies, a species that will winter over as adults.
This little guy, on the other hand, has underwings that are showier than the top. I believe that this is an Eastern Eyed Brown, but there are several brown butterflies that look very much alike, and this one was not about to let me examine it closely. It's a wonder I even got this close to it.
I hope this little Candy-striped Leafhopper is not some dreaded pest, because I am always delighted to see one. Have you ever seen a little bug more colorfully attired?
It even sat still long enough for me to get a side view, so I could see its vivid yellow underside.
This tiny blue leafhopper, species unknown, did not sit still for one moment, so my camera had to keep chasing it as fast as it ran away. It was quite a vivid blue, and if it had not been so colorful, I never would have noticed it.
And if I hadn't been chasing that little blue bug all over the leaves, I never would have turned this leaf over to find this little green caterpillar all snug in its silken hammock. What a lovely sheer veil it has spun for itself. I wonder if it's just resting in there, or is it getting ready to undergo metamorphosis?