Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pleasure Before Work

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge is the closest NWR to Louisville, so we like to make the easy one hour drive up there whenever possible. They had lots of rain and flooding in June, but not much at all since then. All the lakes, which are shallow at best, are covered in duck weed, with dead trees sticking into the air. One lake seems to have dried up completely, and the Killdeer called mournfully as they walked over the mudflats. A small group of Wood Ducks, some Great Blue Herons and a single Green Heron braved the heat. White droppings under a dead tree branch led us to suspect it to be the favorite perch of an owl.

We did have a mystery bird in the shallows. Logically, it should have been a Lesser Yellowlegs, common in the area, but it seemed a lighter, smoother color of tan with a whiter belly. The field guide said Lesser Yellowlegs can easily be confused with the Stilt Sandpiper, an Arctic breeder. The winter plumage for the Sandpiper did look more like what we saw. Well, the Arctic birds have to pass through the middle of the country when they migrate, so I guess it might not be impossible. We spooked a collection of vultures at Lake Linda when we stopped for a picnic lunch, and found they were lunching on a dead deer. Addendum: Here's a link to a photo comparing the Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs and Wilson's Phalarope, all taken at the Falls of the Ohio. I think our bird was the Phalarope.

The autumn wildflowers and butterflies were simply outstanding. Monarchs and Viceroys posed for us, along with an Edwards Hairstreak and Painted Lady. Don't you just love the names these butterflies have? The autumn colors are so bold - orange Butterfly Weed, yellow Goldenrod and Asters, purple Ironweed, and scarlet Cardinal flowers all nodding in the breeze. We picked some Goldenrod with galls at the request of a Bernheim friend who wanted some for a presentation she's working on. I didn't realize they even had galls, but it wasn't hard to find at all.

Sometimes the yellow and red are early changing leaves. The Tulip Poplars are losing their leaves fast and furious. No stealthy walking on the trail today - too many crunchy leaves. Someone has made an effort to plant native grasses in the restored areas as well, and their plumes waved as we crept down the gravel roads at 7 mph. The dragonflies didn't seem to mind the shallow water at all. Some of them were bigger than hummingbirds, I think.

The bookstore at the Visitor's Center has a terrific collection of nature books and field guides. Dick picked up one on caterpillars and Discover Nature Close to Home by Elizabeth P. Lawler. I came this close to getting one on sparrows and finches, but decided to restrain myself. A glance at the bird observation area behind the Visitor's Center gave me a photo of a hard working chipmunk. I just couldn't decide if he was stuffing those seeds in his cheeks to store for the winter, or planned to chow down during the football game!

This is Labor Day weekend, and when we got home, we started cleaning out the accumulated clutter in my daughter's room, so it can be cleaned for wedding guests. Your children grow and go away for college, but they never really leave home. I suppose her children will enjoy playing with Mommy's stuffed toys and books, just as I did at my grandmother's. There is a large pile going to Good Will and another large pile going out for the trash, while a third large pile got transferred to the basement for further storage. I don't know what to do with the saddles, tack and other horse gear left over from our years showing Saddlebred horses. Perhaps a call to our old trainer can find a home for some of it, at least. Progress, after all these years! You can walk through the room without falling over boxes!

How do you like the new paint job on the blog? I was starting to feel boxed in with the old template and decided to make a change.


denmaryb said...

please don't give my saddleseat saddle away just yet. Or alteast not the stirrups and irons. If i ever ride again it'd be nice to still have a saddle my back side is used to.

Anonymous said...

I like the new look for the site.
the descriptions of Muscatatuck were so vivid and thorough, it should make anyone want to go there.