Today was just about the most beautiful day possible. With temperatures hovering around 80°, scarcely a cloud in the sky, and a light breeze, the day begged to be spent outdoors. So Romie and I decided to visit a nearby nature preserve that we'd never been to, though it's just a few miles away.
It was about a year ago that Flat Rock Creek Preserve was made public through A.C.R.E.S. Land Trust. It consists of 50 acres of mature forest and a section of Flat Rock Creek that serpentines its way through the south part of the preserve. The creek is unaltered, meaning it flows in its original, naturally evolving course.
As we approached the woods through the open meadow on a path that had been mowed for our hiking pleasure, we were surrounded by tall teasel and goldenrod, as well as native grasses. Insects galore could be seen hovering over the meadow in the sunlight. Once we entered the woods at the trail head, we didn't get far before we retreated to the van to get our bug spray.
Burt's Bees Insect Repellent was our weapon on hand for combating the swarm of mosquitoes that greeted us. After slathering it on generously, we tried again to walk through the woods without being carried away by the hungry boogers.
Romie made it through one loop of the trail in under five minutes, and I wasn't far behind. I was slower only because I took a few pictures of wildflowers and a couple caterpillars.
No insecticide on earth was going to protect us from the audible cloud of mosquitoes that followed us. It's a miracle any of my photos turned out sharp, because I was doing "the dance" while trying to take them and I still managed to be bitten a dozen plus times. Mostly on my face.
Here's what I got:
One of several fungi we saw. This one reminds me of the top of a loaf of homemade bread.
Native Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana). This was growing in abundance and was the first time I'd seen it in the wild. There was a lot of it here, so I probably just haven't been wandering in the woods when it was in bloom before.
And the money shot for the short trip:
Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars! I'd just seen them last week in a caterpillar book I've got and I wondered why I'd never encountered them in real life, since we've grown milkweed of all sorts for several years. But now I have! They're really cool, don't you think?
I guess I saw quite a bit in five minutes' time. We'll return to Flat Rock Creek Preserve when we've had a hard freeze. There won't be many wildflowers blooming then, but no mosquitoes either and that trumps flowers any day in my book. The skeeters like me a little too much.