Birder's Eye View

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A walk in the woods

"The more we are separated from nature, the unhappier we get."
- Unknown

So I finally got out to go birding again. Finally, a morning all to myself, alone, in the woods. Just me, the trees, the big sky... and the mosquitoes.

It was a partly cloudy, muggy, buggy morning, and terribly quiet. Hardly a sound came through the woods, accept for the occasional titmouse and cardinal, and a few distant cicadas and cricket frogs.

At one point, I glanced behind me while hiking, and realized there was literally a cloud of mosquitoes following me! They ebbed up and down with the rise and fall of my footsteps, floating less than a foot away.

Well, shoot, I thought, as soon as I stop, they're going to catch up! Funny thing is, that's exactly what happened. I finally stopped to get out my camera, and the cloud caught up, swarming me. I grabbed my "eco-friendly" organic cactus-juice bug spray from my backpack and misted the little devils before coating myself in the spray.

Mosquitoes don't bother me a whole lot, but they are annoying, and it is somewhat unsettling to look back and realize you're being followed by a mob at least 100-strong.

As the morning got hotter and drier, the mosquitoes eased up. I trekked down to the lake and found these soft, squishy egg shell bits on the ground by the lake. Not quite sure what they're from, but my guess would be turtle or snake.

For people don't think you can visibly see the seasons in Florida, I would challenge them to visit this park each season and reconsider. Right now in the height of summer, it boasts brilliant hues of green, yellow and blue, with long-stemmed wildflowers bobbing in the hot breeze.

In autumn the lighting changes and as the vegetation dies back, everything looks golden-orange. In winter, the landscape turns a crisp brown and you can see so deep into the forest-- my favorite season for birding. And once again in spring, all the tender greens return, the lakes fill up, and the forest is alive once more.

A pretty bridge, crossing a creek bed.

About a mile into the hike, I stopped at a pavillion to rehydrate, and got fussed at by a Carolina Wren. It sat on the wood beam, chirping at me, before flying off to a nearby tree and calling insistantly.

It didn't take me long to find the nest, tucked up in the rafters of the pavillion. It was too high up for me to see if it had chicks in it, though.

Towards the end of the hike, the sky began to get pretty dark, and I still hadn't seen many birds, even common species. My tally for the day: Little Blue heron, Mourning Dove, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, and an Osprey. A pretty sad list, if you ask me.

Regardless, I didn't go into the 2 mile hike with high expectations, so I wasn't too disappointed. It was a nice getaway for a couple hours, a good photo op, and a nice way to reconnect with nature. :-)
Until next time,
happy birding!


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