Sunday, May 31, 2015

Slow Down a Little, Won't You?

Wood Ducklings
Aren't you supposed to slow things down when you retire? Somehow, Dick and I have got it reversed, and we seem to be busier than ever since we retired. I couldn't survive without the calendar on my smartphone, and even with it, I fail to write things down and end up promising to be two different places at the same time on more occasions than I care to admit. Sigh.
Mute Swan
So, the last weekend in May was supposed to be spent camping out at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, and we were looking forward to it. Setting up the tent, smoke getting in your eyes, singing around the campfire, looking at the stars. All that good stuff. But Thursday evening, the weather forecast for the weekend was just awful, with high chances of storms, so the camp out was postponed. We were suddenly presented with free, unscheduled time over the weekend. Golly! It's been a long time since that happened, what should we do about it?
 Let's take a walk on the Anchorage Trail. Listened to some birds and posted on eBird - I'm getting better at that. And we found this giant crawdad in the grass. He must have been 6 - 8 inches long, and was quite aggressive as I neared for a close up photo. These are the guys who build big mud volcanoes in peoples' yards. When I looked it up online, I mostly found links to sites with ways to get rid of them. Look at the orange tips on his pincers!
When he decided we weren't looking any more, he moved quickly through the grass, but the creek was behind him, so I don't know where he was actually headed.
Saunders Springs Nature Preserve
Saturday, we actually ran errands, went to the Farmer's Market and worked in the yard. How ordinary, and how we enjoyed it. I cooked a colorful dinner that we ate on the patio with a cold glass of Turtle Run wine. On Sunday, I joined a small group of Beckham Bird Club members driving to Radcliffe, KY, near Fort Knox, for a birding trip to a new location, for me at least, Saunders Spring Nature Preserve. The local tourism department describes it as "a heavily wooded natural area located on steep terrain with interesting historic features...located on the edge of the Karst Plateau in the Highland Rim physiographic region of Kentucky. The area is characterized by many sinkholes, caves and springs which drain a network of underground caverns." 
Louisiana Waterthrush
The streams literally ran out of the steep hillsides, bubbling down the valley. The very first bird we saw, bobbing its tail in the grass, was a Louisiana Waterthrush. We must have seen at least ten of them during the morning hike! Most of the time, we birded by ear, since all the trees were fully leafed out, and combined with the overcast skies, the lighting was just awful. Any birds we did find were usually seen only in silhouette against the gray sky. I've never understood why this bird is called a thrush when it's actually considered to be a warbler. 
Kentucky Warbler
We also heard/saw Hooded Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, and Acadian Flycatchers. The Summer and Scarlet Tanagers sang but could not be enticed to come down for a visit. The path along the creek eventually ended in a meadow created by a drained beaver pond. You could see evidence of their work, but the water was gone, and grass covered the stumps.
When the birds were hard to find, we appreciated the signs pointing out various wildflowers and trees along the trail. The ferns were "ferntastic!" In fact, next spring, I plan to return to see all the wildflowers blooming, since we saw so many with seeds on them today. Of course, when it rains, the whole valley must disappear under water, so timing will be important. Maybe I can get there early enough to see the Hepatica.

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