Saturday, October 4, 2008

Foggy Morning Breakdown

A fall weekend off work is the perfect excuse for an early morning bird walk. I visited Crooked Run Nature Preserve this morning, hoping for fall warblers, maybe some kinglets, and of course, sparrows.

It was light when I left my house a little after 7:30am. But, once I started down the hill to Chilo, the Ohio River Valley was filled with fog.

Whoops! Here's my first look at the wetlands area as I entered the park:

And this was my view as I headed towards the trail head for my walk in the preserve:

There were sparrows in this field. I could hear them and occasionally saw one pop up or fly from one spot to another. But, could I really observe them them? Nope.

This spot along the estuary is reliable for Great Blue Herons and Belted Kingfishers. Yeah, right.

And here is where I have found mergansers and other ducks in the past. Not today.

The Ohio River: guaranteed Ring-billed Gulls, occasional Double-crested Cormorants, ducks in season - even a Bald Eagle if you are very lucky. Today, I couldn't even see Kentucky!

In fact, the whole walk was decidedly un-birdy. I could hear lots of calls and chip notes, but the fog seemed to clog my ears as well as cloud my vision, and I had a tough time triangulating in on the sounds. If I did see the bird move, it was either backlit or flying into the mist.

When there are no birds or views, focus on plants. At least plants don't move.

I am usually at home in the woods, and have no fears of walking the trails alone. Today was different. I was uncomfortable, anxious. I felt little prickles on the back of my neck. Every small forest noise was accentuated. The rustling of squirrels made me nervous, and a louder, heavier-bodied creature moving through the brush caused me to whip around and stare. I was not much comforted by a young raccoon which climbed half-way up a tree, then stopped to watch me with suspicious eyes. A grackle taking flight behind me made me jump. Even the dew dripping from the leaves and small leaves fluttering down had me edgy; when black walnuts crashed to the forest floor, I wanted to run.

I found myself in a hurry to get this walk over, to finish this task, to just get OUT of here. I wondered what it must have been like to live as a pioneer, never knowing if there were hostile natives or bushwhackers around the next corner, or to have lived in prehistoric times, when wild animals threatened one's existence daily. Subconsciously, I quickened my pace, then felt foolish.

The woodland pond is low; we really need some rain. No Wood Ducks today.

Where I'm standing should be under water.

The fog has lifted enought to see that the wetlands is hardly even damp.

Halloween images add to the spooky factor of the morning. This entire black iron fence was festooned with spider webs, the dew making each strand sparkle.

An hour and a half later, on my way out, the sun was just starting to peek over the hills.

Trip List- Birds:

Blue Jay
Northern Cardinal
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Common Grackle
Gray Catbird
Northern Flicker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Yellow-rumped Warbler
European Starling




nina said...

It seems you've left something off your list:
Foggy Swamp-Monster

Susan Gets Native said...

Are you sure you were at Chilo?

See any sparrows?
; )

Mary said...

Kathi, yes, fog means quiet and sometimes eerie. I know how you felt! If you wanted to photograph birds, you didn't get them but what you got were terrific, moody shots of fog over water. I loved them.

The web looked like jewelry - wonderful!

I wish your wetlands some rain!


Lisa said...

Do you have an ID on the yellow, tomato-looking thingies? If not, I think I know what it is. If I'm right, it is a solanum (but that's all the hint I'll give you.)

Susan Gets Native said...

Lisa: Those are tropical soda apples, a vile introduced plant. Related to nightshade or belladonna or something.

Mary C said...

Kathi, that's a decent list for an "unbirdy" morning walk. ;o) I love those photos of the spider webs. I guess you could say it feels like fall and it felt spooky like Halloween.

Lisa said...

Susan - without something to size it by, I'm thinking horse nettle instead, which is native and supposed to be good bird food. We should make her go out with a ruler to be sure :) I can't help but see tiny tomatoes when I see them.