Monday, June 18, 2007

A Weekend Walk

I took a walk into the woods on Sunday, a warm hazy day that felt like the first true day of summer. I followed one of the old dirt logging roads that winds across the mountain and then down towards its base and along the valley. For this walk, I stayed higher up on the hill and didn’t go down by the creek. Deerflies are starting to be annoying right now. By staying higher on the hill, even a faint breeze helped keep them at bay. I saw several deer, including a buck who’s antlers were already above his ears, and with just a wide knob where the tines will branch. I’ve also been seeing a doe who comes out of the woods and walks down the pond. I think the deerflies were bothering her too, as she seems to be spending more time in the open than she was just last week. I’m sure she has at least one fawn in the dense thicket, but she hasn’t brought them out into the open yet.

I also saw a doe with two smaller deer—not fawns but likely last year’s fawns. It was not long after dawn, and they came out to the big new pond for water. After they sipped as much as they wanted, they ran around the bank, chasing each other and running, apparently just for the enjoyment of it.

The woods are very dense right now. I can’t see more than 10-15 feet into them unless I find a spot where a few downed trees create a bit of an opening. All weekend long I’ve been hearing the yellow-billed cuckoo calling all over the mountain. I suspect it hasn’t found a mate. Unfortunately, this isn’t a surprise as the birds are pretty uncommon. I hear it in the early morning and again in the evening. It really doesn’t make a sound that in any way says “cuckoo.” If anything, to me it sounds a little bit like a single “coo” similar to a dove’s. Except that this “coo” is loud, and even “coo” doesn’t describe it very well. I haven’t seen this cuckoo at all this year. But I will hear it call constantly for a minute or two. Then it will be silent but I’ll hear it again in a different spot a minute or so later. Sometimes it’s nearer, sometimes further away. Sometimes I hear in on the north side of the mountain, sometimes to the south or west of me. But I only ever hear one.

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