Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Golden Fall Days

In only a few weeks, I will be looking at these pictures, fondly remembering the warm days of Autumn. When the trees are bare, and the sun hides behind the clouds, this day when the leaves fluttered gold and scarlet will make me sigh wistfully. We joined the Beckham Bird Club on a birding trip to Charlestown State Park in Indiana, then drove up Utica Pike along the river to an old river town with no grocery store and no gas stations. What do you do with a quarry when you can't quarry any more rocks from it? Build houses. A very imaginative developer has started a housing project named Quarry Bluff, using an old rock quarry, complete with lake, to build rather pricey houses inside the pit. The lake was pristine, but the view was limited to the surrounding rock walls. Our first stops in the park had no birds at all, and we started trying to remember the lowest count for a Beckham trip - nine someone said - thinking that we might top it today. When we drove down to the Ohio River, though, we hit the jackpot in the bottom meadows. All the goldenrods had turned to brownrods but so had the Gold Finches, wearing their drabber winter colors instead of the bright gold of summer. The Bluebirds were still as blue as the deep autumn sky, and we were serenaded by the original Jazz Singer - a syncopated White Throated Sparrow, accompanied by his backup group, the Song Sparrows. Phoebe bobbed in time to the music and flocks of Robins rocked in the treetops. A Towhee stopped in to see what all the fuss was about, and added his two cents worth to the song. Several deer ran into the woods ahead of us, and a flock of Wild Turkeys crossed the road (you know why, don't you?). The best part of the morning was the Red Tailed Hawk that soared above, turning to show off his red tail. What a thrill! I have pictures of Ospreys, Peregines and Bald Eagles in flight, but until now, nothing for the Red Tail. When we returned to Jeffersonville for lunch, we strolled along the river admiring the houses with a river view, and debating whether we would ever want to/afford to live in something like that. Under the old Big Four Bridge, better known as the nesting site for Louisville's Peregrine Falcon family, we saw some Mallards taking a nap in the shade after chowing down on the corn scattered for them on the sidewalk. Once again, I was awed by the beauty of this bird, which is so common we often take it for granted. Oh, it's just another Mallard. Birding teaches me not to take anything for granted. Every bird, and every person, can be beautiful if you just stop to look.

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