Birder's Eye View

Friday, December 24, 2010

Camping trip, day 1

3:00am. I was woken suddenly by the annoying beeping sound of my cellphone alarm, but after fumbling with it in the dark for a moment to shut it off, I jumped down off the bunk bed, threw on some boots, and ran outside. Before I even got out of porch, I could already tell the glow from the full moon had turned everything a rusty red.
The full lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning truly was spectacular, and apparently the first one on a winter solstice since 1638, and the last one until 2092. I watched it for a while, snapped some pictures (this was the only one that came out well), and then eventually went back to bed to get a few more hours of sleep until we headed off to go camping that morning.

By the time we got to our campsite, it was about midday. The weather and the scenery were spectacular, and the first thing we did after setting up camp across from the crystal clear river was to take a long hike along the bank.

The trail was narrow, and eventually petered out to little more than an animal trail winding in and out of the hugest cypress knees I have ever seen. It became pretty challenging at some parts, where the only way to proceed was to climb vertically or horizontally through the trees so as not to fall in the river!

The fall colors -- well, winter by this point I guess! -- were spectacular.

At one point my sister found this tiny little bird skull along the bank. No other bones around it, but it appears to be some sort of passerine maybe (anyone good at IDing birds by their bones?). I didn't keep the skull since it's illegal to possess dead songbirds, but I took a few record pictures to look it up later.

We made it back to our campsite mid-afternoon, so I spent the rest of the time looking for more birds. I found several ovenbirds, tons of cardinals, chickadees, and chipping sparrows.

There was also a rather large rabbit hanging around the area, nibbling at the bushes not far from our site.

We managed to start a fire where we made roast potatoes, and venison steaks my sister had gotten from her last deer hunt a couple months ago. 'Twas delicious! As night fell, the moon rose (white this time -- no more eclipse!), the temperatures dipped down into the 40s as soon as the sun was gone. Although our trip was off to a great start, we were in for a very long, cold night...

Check back later for Day 2!

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