Creature Feature

Creature Feature – I Spy with My Little Eye…

Posted by  //  April 27, 2024  //  Articles, Creature Feature

This region of New York boasts an impressive natural diversity.  Whether you’re fortunate enough to live here year round or are just visiting, there are many interesting animals and plants to see in the southern hills.  Playing an outdoors form of “I spy” with young children can set the stage for a fun and educational family outing, as well as engage nature loving grown-ups.  This spring and summer, as you explore a shady forest trail, wander around a wetland, stroll through a sun-soaked meadow, or paddle along a lake or stream, see how many of these wild wonders you can “spy with your little eye!”  

Early spring coaxes ephemeral flowers to bloom, including hepatica, bloodroot, trout lily, and spring beauty.  Knowing their delicate purple, white, yellow, and pink blossoms are short lived makes them all the more lovely to behold.  Look for these flowers alongside woodland trails.  

One of the first dragonflies to take wing each spring is the chalk-fronted corporal, which (as an adult) has a mostly dark body with a pair of pale shoulder stripes.  This handsome dragonfly can be found near open and wooded lakes, ponds and wetlands where it catches mosquitoes and other pests in mid-air.

Perhaps this spring or summer you’ll “spot” a white-tailed deer fawn, which bears around 300 spots on its back and flanks!  Please remember, mother deer intentionally leave young fawns alone to keep them hidden from predators.  If you spy a wee fawn curled up in the forest or field, resist approaching; instead, quietly leave the area without disturbing it and count yourself fortunate to have seen this magical sight.

Since the ban of DDT in 1972, bald eagles continue to make a comeback and it’s no longer a rare event to see our majestic national bird soaring overhead.  As fish are its primary prey, especially in spring and summer, the best place to spy an eagle is near a lake or river.

Keep your eyes open for these other plants and wildlife in your travels.  In spring:  wood violet, trillium, wild leek, eastern bluebird, chipping sparrow, mourning cloak butterfly, green frog, and red fox.  In summer:  oxeye daisy, wood fern, water lily, great blue heron, scarlet tanager, eastern swallowtail butterfly, leopard frog, and little brown bat.  

What will YOU spy with your little eye?

Article & photos by Margie Manthey

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