Venture into the Woods

Summer is a wonderful season to explore the outdoors. Wildlife is most active early in the morning or just before dusk. These are great times of day to take a walk to not only see more wildlife but to enjoy cooler temperatures.

Observing Mammals
Young mammals born this spring are mature enough now to travel with their parents. Fawns, still sporting their spots, are seen grazing alongside their mothers. Ducklings are learning to forage for food in ponds and rivers. The most common sight is juvenile squirrels playing among the branches or on the forest floor.

Reptile Reconnaissance
Reptiles are most active during the warm summer months. One often sees turtles making their way along the forest seeking food. Be sure to watch your step, as snakes are traveling about and could be on your path. While we only have a few venomous snakes (Timber Rattler, Pygmy Rattler and Copperhead) in our area to stay clear of, other snakes (Rat, Corn, King, Green snakes to name a few) are harmless. All snakes are helpful to the environment. If you see a snake, enjoy watching it, but respect its space!

Exploring creeks and streams can also be a great place to find amphibians like frogs and salamanders (with active little tadpoles). Along with them are their aquatic neighbors, the crayfish, silver shiners and macro invertebrates. Take a magnifying glass with you to get an up-close look at some of the smaller species.

Admiring Arachnids
As you are walking, you may find yourself dodging spider webs along the way. The warm days are perfect for a multitude of insects to be buzzing about, luring arachnids out to seek an easy meal. Use a misting bottle to gently spray a web, highlighting the details of the spider's delicate and intricate work. Other insects we contend with during our walks are mosquitoes, ticks and scorpions. Spraying with a good repellant can help reduce the number of bites from many of these pests. It is recommended when you come out of the woods to check yourself for ticks and to quickly remove them.

Become Familiar with Nature’s Bounty
While there are not as many plants and trees with flowers in bloom during the summer, you will find the pollinated flowers becoming fruit or nuts. Muscadines are developing on the vines, but won’t be ripe until fall. However, wild blueberries and blackberries are ripe and ready to be enjoyed. Other fruit you may find on your walks are elderberry, huckleberry, crabapples and persimmons. If you are looking to harvest some wild fruit for snacks or pies, you will be in competition for them with local wildlife!

With the woods teeming with activity, summer is the perfect time to hike and explore the outdoors.