Saturday, May 24, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
I am River.
I am Movement in the River of Time
I flow from the Rock, and wear it down
I give life to the Forest and Flower and Bird
I destroy and I build as I pass from mountain to sea
I change the face of the Earth.
The burbling water flows over rocks, while birds sing in the background, and the sun leaves dapples of shade and light. It doesn't get much better than this. Although the Red River flows through the Gorge, water is not the primary eroder of the rocks. Rock Bridge is the only bridge that was actually formed by a stream. The stream also makes a waterfall, which is the perfect place to eat lunch and cool your feet if the day is hot. Stream life includes fish fingerlings (trout, someone said), and small creatures we could not identify. Freshwater eels? Water snakes? Really long pollywogs? Your guess is as good as mine, or probably better. I always estimated the flood level of a stream by the height of the leaves caught in brances along the shore. This stream was in a rather narrow valley, and the dead leaves hung in the branches a good 15 feet above our heads in places. When there is a flash flood, this is not a place to be. Listen to the song of the stream. It soothes whatever worries you may have, and puts them into perspective.
Friday, May 02, 2008
I am Bird.
I Sing from above in the River of Time
I fly swiftly, watching all in the Forest
I hide in the branches and leaves
I may leave the Forest in Fall, but return again each Spring
I make the Forest dance.
When we drove into the parking lot at the lodge, we were greeted by our old friend, the Red-eyed Vireo, calling, "Here I am, where are you?" Ah, this is going to be a good birding weekend.
The air conditioners in the lodge at Natural Bridge State Park hadn't been turned on yet, so we all slept with the door cracked open a bit. About 5:00 am, the Dawn Chorus awakened us to a more pleasant alarm than usual. The chorus continued all day, whether we were around the lodge, or hiking up a trail.A friend asked, "What's that little brown bird we see?" "Tail cocked up and sings REALLY loud? That's a Carolina Wren." Sure enough, the loudest bird on any branch ended up being the Carolina Wren. You wouldn't expect something that small could make so much noise. I am familiar with the songs our local Wrens sing, but these mountain birds came up with a few more I hadn't heard before. When you throw your head back, you can sing louder, they say.
On our first trail in the Red River Gorge, we heard birds singing non-stop along a rippling brook. It was very pleasant, but frustrating too. We would recognize a mnemonic of a song we heard on the CD, but could not place it with a bird. The first bird we actually saw on this trail was back at the parking lot, and it was a Louisiana Waterthrush, our first warbler. The field guide does not list the mnemonics used on the Peterson CD. "Weesa, weesa, weesa" said one invisible bird in the treetops, while another answered, "A-weet, a-weet, a-weet-teo." Our friends thought we were nuts. From now on, I carry the Peterson booklet that came with the CD - Birding by Ear. It does have an index in the back based on the song. Eventually we overcame a bad case of Warbler-neck (a common birder's ailment in the spring) and found the black and yellow Hooded Warbler singing A-weet, a-weet, a-weet-teo, and the Black and White Warbler who serenaded with Weesa, weesa, weesa, or the Squeaky Wagon song. No pictures, of course. The both move too fast among the branches for photography. I did get a picture of the Northern Parula, though, but the Waterthrush came out a little too fuzzy to post here. I've always said that when I can find and identify Warblers with ease, I will truly be a birding expert.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
I am Flower.
I am Beauty in the River of Time
I bring color for each season
I feed the soul of any who knows me
I live only a short while, and then my time is over
I give Joy to the Forest.
There are two things to remember about wildflowers. First, timing is everything. Either I am too early, and they haven't bloomed yet, or too late, and the blossoms wither by the time I walk in the woods. Invasives such as Garlic Mustard can crowd out the native wildflowers in many places. At Natural Bridge we arrived for the peak of the Redbud blossoms, but also the peak, surely, of both the Trilliums and the Violets. Second, if you want good wildflower photos, be very careful about your depth of field, or get a macros lens. I have so many photos I thought would be very dramatic, but the focus is slightly before or behind my intended subject.