Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hays Preserve, Part 2

Continuing down the trail I notice there are several cleared areas close to the water. Stepping into one of them I set up the camera on my new monopod and just wait. Wait to be ignored, to be forgotten by the birds and creatures. Wait to become one with my surroundings. Eye to the camera I slowly turn around in a circle to see what's here. Well now. Someone is looking back at me. This most curious mockingbird stared at me for a long time, no doubt wondering what the heck I am. Finally, he hopped down to the ground, caught a worm and flew away to enjoy his lunch in privacy.

I could hear a plethora of bird calls in the woods but none were visible. I did see a lot of red headed woodpeckers, a tufted titmouse and the bold mockingbird, but the songbirds flitted around in the dense underbrush and high in the tree canopy not willing to be seen or photographed. That's okay. What has drawn me even more closely is the water, and the trees and their reflections in it.

This piece of branch in the beautiful water creates a bright aqua wake in the current.
This captured my attention for the longest time.

Another bridge over another stream.

Above is a simple shot to give you a sense of place. The walkway in the distance is coming off the footbridge that spans the waterway. Fields like the one shown make up one side of the trail, leading far away into forests and hills. The waterway makes up the other side. Hawks soared above the fields high, high in the sky. Birds were hopping about in the field foraging for food, which was in abundance. There were several huge stumps and logs and branches placed out into the field acting as shelter and a food source.

Again, the water and branches.

I'm drawn to the water. Probably because I miss the lake so much.

It was somewhere around here that I heard a familiar voice. Looking back onto the trail I see a familiar face! Someone I worked with long ago was hiking the trail with his son. We enjoyed catching up and vowed to stay in touch better via Facebook. Turns out we were both "friends" but neither of us spend a lot of time networking socially. We both like actual face time better, but I digress. He tells me that a wooded spot ahead on the trail is a good one for birding. They go on their way and so do I.

I immediately see why this wooded spot is great for birding - there is a LOT of food here for them. Above is the native possumhaw holly, ilex decidua. In its natural state it serves as a small understory tree, much like a redbud or dogwood. Berries are bunched up and abundant, but since they live in dappled shade the berries are loosely arranged on each branch.

Compare the above shot to the ilex decidua growing in my front yard. This possumhaw holly, which is deciduous, gets an abundance of sunshine. The berries are so thick each winter that its branches bow toward the ground. Yes, I get LOTS of birds on this small tree!

And here is the native beautyberry. Everyone knows beautyberry! Bright purple clusters of berries that are irresistible to birds! Looking these up this morning I discover that the American beautyberry (callicarpa americana) has been found to be a natural insect repellent. It has also been found to be repellent to mosquitoes and ticks. (Wikipedia) I'm planting some of these in my backyard, you'd better believe it. They also cause the dreaded purple poop problem, just so you know.

The birds are still chittering about in the underbrush and flitting about in the treetops so I'll just watch the water. My shoulders are relaxing and my body feels more refreshed breathing in deeply the clean air.

This would be a good spot to practice yoga.



Wait. I see something moving across the way. Was that a wing flap? Something is sticking its head up. A mallard! There are two, I think. Time to change locations and see what I can see. Stay tuned.

End note: I found this website this morning that has a nifty neat-o river map with a slide show of photos from a canoe/kayak trip. If my hips could take it I would very much like to do that!


Eve said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! I can feel it Deb!
I can't wait to get back there and if you ever go by canoe or kayak, let me know!!!! Beautiful reflections!! Love it!

Gaelyn said...

I feel like I've walked this path with you, yet am glad we were each alone. Reconnection is so needed.

Bo Mackison said...

What a lovely trip I just went on following your river adventures. Lovely. That mockingbird has a great stare. And those red berries - icy treat!

Soon, soon, I will be able to tramp outdoors - so looking forward to being outside. Happy that you share yours.

blog with no name said...

Great scenery! Glad that your having fun!

The Garden Ms. S said...

I love the photo with the bridge over the stream. The muted rusty gold of the bridge and the grasses give the photo a bit of a sepia feel and provide a feeling of time having passed. Very evocative. :-)

You have the most beautiful birding locations!

kendalee said...

What a lovely post - thank you so much for taking me along! I'm pretty sure I've never seen a mockingbird before - or didn't know that's what it was if I did. Glad to have a mental picture of one now. And my first thought when I saw the picture of the branch with the aqua wake is that you'd found a hippo! That's just what they look like when all you can see are their ears peeping out of the water as the move along :)


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