Staten Island, however close to us, remains sort of a no man’s land. When our friend Frank, Marie and I visited Greenbelt Park this Sunday, I think the three of us combined had less than ten lifetime visits to the island under our belt! The woods were quite deserted and storming with mosquitoes, probably hurricane-bred. We walked and walked, eyes on the ground and peeled for all things small, woody, colorful and rare.

An intimate look

Mushrooms were everywhere, most of them unknown even to Marie and Frank, who Know. The older parts of the beautiful beech and oak woods were shady and humid, covered in a nice leaf blanket and ideal for salamanders. I only found one, which might have been a Northern redback salamander. Cute, elusive, fragile.

My old nemesis poison ivy was also present in heavy doses in the more weedy areas, and I did my very best to steer clear. I hope I succeeded.

Northern redback salamander