Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Walk on the Mountain

Baby Dog and I took a nice walk aroiund the mountain on Sunday. We didn’t walk all the way down to the creek at the bottom of the mountain. Our walk stayed 50 feet or so above the bottom so we wouldn’t get wet feet. The old woods roads that winds around the side of the mountain was damp enough as it was. The trail down by the creek stays muddy for much longer from run-off and little springs that suddenly spring off the hill or seep up from the ground.

The sky grew ever greyer and the air ever more moist during our walk, but except for a few raindrops, we stayed dry. Baby Dog hates to get wet and to this day refuses to even get her toes wet, let alone the rest of her. We started out heading downhill to f ind one of the old woods roads that crisscross the mountain. Most of these were originally logging roads created 100+ years ago. The roads were just wide enough for a horse and wagon to haul out the trees that were cut. The woods roads are rarely, if ever, traveled these days, though a few have been kept open with once a year brush clearing. For a walker, they make excellent trails. Hunters will use them too, as the roads make access into the deeper woods much easier.

I had no real goal in mind during this walk, except to get outside for a bit and see if I could see anything different than what I see around the cabinr. The vegetation here isn’t much different, though I see more ferns than up at the cabin.

My first good sighting was of a scarlet tanager, though my photos are so bad I almost didn’t put it on the blog. Photos like this one usually go in my scrapbook of truly bad bird photos. Sometimes, I like those photos anyway, especially when they are my only shot of that species. The worst of my truly bad bird photos is a least flycatcher that flew the moment I snapped the shutter. It's only a blur but to this day it's my only photo of a least flycatcher.
This tanager did not cooperate by perching in clear view on a close branch. Instead I have a distant bird with at least half of it hidden by leaves. What you can see from the photo, though, is the bird’s very distinctive shade of scarlet. You don’t have to see the entire bird or even get a good view of the bird to know what it is. Just a flash of that color is enough. The song is distinctive, too, of course.

The tanager had claimed a spot that is slightly more open than the rest of the forest. It isn't a clearing so much as an open area created when the largest tree on the hill fell a few years ago. That tree took several smaller trees with it when it fell, and the result is a small area where the sky is visible, unlike most of the forest, where the sky isn't visible during summer. The tanager was perched on a tree at the very edge of this open area, so it had perhaps 75 feet without a forest canopy around one side of the perch it kept returning to.

Baby Dog and I also saw four deer, a pair of Baltimore orioles and heard rose-breasted grosbeak on our walk too. Near the end of the walk, we headed back uphill towards Roundtop's new pond, where we saw 7 new goslings, their proud and vigilant parents, and a host of other geese helping to guard the perimeter around the new babies.
My walk was pleasant, if somewhat uneventful--no bears, no foxes, no copperheads. It was just what I needed to end the weekend.


Dana Jones said...

I noticed your woods have caught up with mine! It looks like green koolaide out there!

Carolyn H said...

Dad: it's like lime green kool-aid out there right now!

Carolyn H.

Ruth said...

So lucky to see a Scarlet Tanager! I hope to add that to my list some day. But I sure would be nervous if I had to think about Copperheads on my walks. Today I was thinking how fortunate I am to be able to go through brush and swamp and woods without any real risks.