My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Goodbye Trip by Land and Water

March 23, 2016

My paddling buddy, John, and I were assigned the honorous duty of checking out the paddling trails at Alligator River. I STILL had not encountered any bears there, so I went early to do a personal bird survey and look for bears.

The moon was setting as I got to the refuge and sinking into the pine trees. Then, as the sun came up, it turned the western sky around the setting moon pink.

Several raptors were hunting in the early light.  I saw a couple of red tail hawks,  a Swainson's hawk and a harrier.

Red-tailed hawk

Several times, as I stopped along the driving tour, I  heard the "wheep" of an eastern towhee and finally the light was right to catch one.  I also heard and saw at least fifty yellow-rumped warblers who will also be leaving soon.

Eastern towhee

At several of the stops where I listened and looked for birds, I heard distant Onk-ah-loonk calls of bitterns setting up their territories. At one stop it was very near the car, so I eased a little further down the road to a stand of grass and stopped again.  The bird came toward me and filled up its esophagus, then called. Click here if you haven't experienced that wonderful call.

American bittern calling

I think this is a nutria

I admired how crooked this tree had grown, probably
while in the shadow of a larger tree

This was the closest I got to a bear but I found several piles of fresh scat

Swamp maples added color 

A close view of the maple seed pods

As the sun rose higher, turkey vultures spread their wings to warm up, then started soaring.

Turkey vultures

Several species of butterflies, including a couple of species of swallowtails, were feeding on the blooming Carolina Jasmine and willow blooms.

Black Swallowtail

Carolina jasmine

New leaves

Then it was time to get my canoe in the water. John was late so I put my canoe in I started paddling.  Finally he called me to tell the intern that he needed her to come unlock the canoes as he had the wrong key.  He finally showed up with a visiting woman who had her family with her.  She was part of a program to share how best to do cooperative work with landowners. John paddled with the son while the parents paddled their own canoe. They were not paddlers and the wind was picking up, so we could not do anything put a short paddle in protected waters. (Most of the trails are on wide creeks where the wind can be a big problem. )

I put up wood ducks while waiting for the rest of the group to show up and enjoyed the new growth.

My favorite kind of paddling

Pickerel weed was just starting to sprout

Volunteer John and a visitor

A visiting staffer and her husband as we came back

Even without bears, and with a way too short paddle, this was a beautiful morning.

As this posts comes out,  I'll be on my last day in the Pittsburgh and will be reporting for duty the following Friday.   Can't wait to see my summer home.

I'm linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture to see many more blogs on birds from around the world.