Updated for 2018
The Longest Day of the Year
June is one of the most active months of the year. June 21st is the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year, sunset at 8:29PM leaves enough time to get some hiking and outdoors fun even after a full work day. Pretty much all species across the board are in peak exhibition, and the forests are alive with flowers, fungi, slime molds, amphibians, reptiles, and a few million squirrels and chipmunks.
Some of the more obvious changes from May is that there should be an increase in likelihood to see reptiles and amphibians, as well as slime molds and fungi, all of which may be dormant during some of the colder days that still occur in May. June, however, is more or less fairly warm to downright hot on most days.
A wide variety of flowers are still in bloom so you should see a lot of insect out in the meadows, as well as being busy along the forest floor. Butterflies should be a regular sight as well as beetles and dragonflies of various colors.
With April and May being mating seasons for many species, June is a special time for a few particular species. The piping plover, which is a threatened species in Connecticut, is busy rearing it’s young on the shoreline near the Milford/Stratford area. We also get the occasional diamondback tortoise visiting the shoreline in that area as well.
There are still some comfortable days in June where the weather is still in the 70s, so make sure to get out in the forests on those days and take the long walks while the heat is still bearable. Don’t forget to bring water and insect repellent when hiking. Ticks and mosquitoes are in full swing right now.
June Species of Interest
We have picked-out a few species from each category that we think are important to look for and be aware of in the month of June. While there are many more species out there, this list should acquaint you with what you are most likely to see outside. For the sake of keeping it interesting, we generally skip-over most the year-round species unless relevant.
Amphibians of all kinds should be vising in the month of June including the common green and bullfrogs, toads, and colorful salamanders. And if you can’t see them, you will surely hear them croaking near a pond or lake. There is not a big change from May to June in regards to what you are likely to see.
Eastern American Toad
While the winter migrant shorebirds can be the most exciting for some, there is a great variety of shorebirds also only seen in the summer, such as the piping plover, least tern, and purple martins. Be on the lookout for raptors such as the Peregrine falcon, osprey, and all of the common hawks of the state.
Great black-backed gull
June is one of the first months of the year where fungi really start popping out of the ground, however it’s not until a little later in the summer when things get really active.
Wine cap stropharia
Will both plenty of flowers and foliage, May is an excellent month for observing insects.
Six-spotted tiger beetle
False potato beetle
Great spangled fritillary
Red milkweed beetle
Lichens tend to persist all year long, but have a new growth phase in the warmer months.
Pink earth lichen
Smooth rock tripe
As the weather warms-up, and the days grow longer, it may be more common to see typically nocturnal animals out foraging during the daylight.
Mosses tend to be pretty abundant and in new growth during the month of June.
Tree ground pine
There are a ton of plants and wildflowers in full bloom during the month of June. We’ve selected a few for you here.
Queen Anne’s lace
Downy rattlesnake plantain
In the warm weather it is not uncommon to see a turtle basking on a log or a snake out in search of prey, often near a pond. Along the shoreline we also get terrapins coming ashore to lay eggs.
Eastern painted turtle
(Chrysemys picta picta)
Northern water snake
(Nerodia sipedon sipedon)
The warm summer months tend to bring a lot of activity to the shoreline. Here are some of the more common species.
Atlantic horseshoe crab
Atlantic marsh fiddler crab
With the warm, and often humid weather of June, slime molds tend to be pretty common on rotting logs in the forests and on wood chip piles.
Red raspberry slime
The trees in May finally develop their foliage as well as put on a great display of spring tree flowers.
Foraging in June mostly involves fungi, roots, and berries, as well as leaves for making tea. It’s still generally too early for most nuts and fruits, which come near the end of summer. But without those critical carbs and fats, you would be required to hunt and/or fish to earn enough calories for survival.
The wild ramps (aka wild leek) of April/May have more or less died-off by June, however there are still edible bulbs in the ground if you know where to look for them. Edible fungi for June tends to be similar to May, with dryad’s saddle, crown-tipped coral fungus, and wine-caps. Oyster mushrooms as well as early chicken-of-the woods can be found as well, although they tend to show a little later in the summer.
During the foraging seasons, we are going to continue to post these reminders:
- Be mindful of the rules and regulations of parks and recreation areas when foraging. Many places in Connecticut do not allow it. However an act was authorized on March 14, 2017, authorizing the taking of mushrooms from state parks and state property.
- Ticks are out, and digging in the dirt will likely bring them onto you. Wear bug spray, long pants, long socks, and protect yourself.
- Take only what you intend to use. Be mindful to never decimate an area.
- Avoid collecting from roadsides, waste areas, or other potententially contaminated places.
- Proper identification is critical. If there is the slightest doubt, do not consume.
Important Foraging Species
Crown-tipped coral fungus
Wine cap stropharia
Eastern wild turkey
(Meleagris gallopavo silvestris)
While there can be some very warm days in June, it’s an excellent time to get out in the forests and do some hiking. Just be prepared and bring plenty of water and bug spray. Don’t forget to bring along a few plastic bags for cell phones and wallets in case you get stranded in a passing rain storm, as is common in June. Unfortunately, due to the recent storms, Sleeping Giant State Park is reported to be closed for the summer while they are clearing the trails. There may be closings at other parks as well due to storm damage or trails that are very difficult to pass. So check the location website before going if possible. Also, the shore line of Connecticut contains many local beaches which require a parking permit or entry fee for out of town visitors. Some of the larger state parks along the water, such as Hammonassette, can also get to full capacity with parking, so try to get there early if possible.
West Rock Ridge State Park
West Rock Ridge State Park including Lake Wintergreen is an excellent spot for summer hikes since it is very accessible and offers a variety of trails to suit your needs. For shorter hikes in the shade, take a walk around Lake Wintergreen. For a more intensive experience, hike along the ridge for excellent vistas.
Saugatuck Falls Natural Area
Saugatuck Falls Natural Area also offers a variety of trails and allows for short or longer hikes. You can hike out along the river to the falls and then follow-up the power-line trail and then circle back to the parking lot via a number of different forest routes. The meadow near the parking lot is great for butterflies.
Preparing for July
While the weather gets warmer in July, the days also start growing a little shorter every day. So make sure to get in those shorter hikes in the evening after work whenever possible. Even if it means just driving to the beach and taking a walk around for an hour. Before you know it, autumn will be upon us and you’ll miss these warm days.
Hiking in July can be a lot of fun, especially when the weather is a little cooler and in the 70s. But for those very hot days, make sure to bring extra water and appropriate clothing. You generally want to bring about 1 quart of water for every 2 hours outside. Make sure to wear sunscreen if you’re out for a few hours, even on partially cloudy days. Thunderstorms also sometimes come along in pockets as a surprise, so it’s always a good idea to bring a few plastic bags to protect cell phones and wallets. Ticks and mosquitoes are often abundant, so long pants are recommended year-round. Make sure to use the best bug spray available to you, preferably with 40% DEET or higher. Throwing in spare mosquito net for your head in your backpack can also be a lifesaver.
July is also an excellent month for fungi. Lots of them can be seen coming straight out of the ground, including the deadly white Amanitas. So bring a good camera for taking photos of mushrooms and if allowed, step off of the trail for a bit to hunt-down some of the more exotic fungi. Your hikes into the forest should be rewarded with a wide variety.