August 2010


5:05 p.m. on a hot sunny afternoon. Decided to hike up to Bob’s Pond to rest my soul after a long day of wrestling with finances. I think I finally have all my money in safe places now, so maybe I can sleep tonight…. When I first got here, I saw a flock of biggish brown birds on the mudflat on the uphill side of the Pond. I thought they might be young CANADA GEESE because they had white at the top of their necks. They all flew away at once, maybe a dozen or more of them, so I couldn’t get a closer look at them. As I wandering along the downhill side of the Pond toward the Eagle Scout’s Bench, I flushed a SHOREBIRD. It didn’t go far — just across the Pond to the mudflat on the other side. I got my binoculars on it, and I’m pretty sure it was the SOLITARY SANDPIPER Bob says he’s been seeing up here.

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3:10 p.m. Decided to hike down to the River on the back trails to try to snap myself out of the funk I’ve been in recently. The back trails are pretty messy. They need someone with a chain saw to pay attention to them. I almost walked right by the RATTLESNAKE PLANTAINS I used to visit regularly in hopes of seeing their flowers someday. I backtracked to check on them, and finally saw one tall flower stalk rising from one of the plants! The flowers had gone by and were withered and brown, but the stalk was still standing straight and strong. So do RATTLESNAKE PLANTAINS flower in early to mid-August? More research to be done. 3:50 p.m.: I’m sitting on the comfortable rock just beyond the wet spot I always have to jump across. There’s just a little bit of water seeping through the soil here right now, and not much at all in the brook either. I wasn’t aware of this summer being especially dry, but I guess it has been. With four days of sun and heat in the forecast, things are likely to get even dryer. Just felt a small breeze drift through. It felt good. On to the river ….

When I got to the Chute, I encountered a man throwing a stick into the pool there for his dog to retrieve. Can’t say that made me happy, especially since this used to be such a peaceful and meditative spot. Next I encountered two people — a man and a woman — with two dogs, both off leash. Another bummer. Got to the Observation Pool at 4:00 p.m. and finally spotted the dog I had heard barking all the way down the back hill. It was one of two dogs out in the river with two women who were sitting in the shallow riffles between the big rock and the far shore. Next I ran into two people on mountain bikes, but at least they didn’t have dogs. I headed back toward the main trails saw the guy who had been at the Chute down by the river now. He was still throwing his stick out into the water for his dog to retrieve, and the barking dog, which was just a short distance downriver, was still barking.

While I was poking along another stretch of the river looking for a rock to sit on, I found a few RIPE BLACKBERRIES to nibble on but no rock. At 4:25 p.m. I finally got to the only part of the river I can count on these days — the stretch behind the old Heath House. The sun is too high and bright for me to look down the river, so I’m looking up the river toward the bridge. It’s not a very inspiring view. The only consolation is the sound of the water. I’ve always liked the sound of moving water, and I do like to look at it too. Time to head home at the end of a disappointing walk. Oh well…. Home at 4:40 p.m. having heard 3 birds (PILEATED WOODPECKER, RAVEN, GOLDFINCH),  seen 5 dogs (one of them barking), and 1 flower stalk.

At 5:00 p.m. on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I saw 2 FLICKERS out the kitchen window. They were feeding on the lawn near the old well. Out the front window I saw 2 ROBINS feeding in the space we keep mowed for overflow parking.

58 degrees at 5:30 a.m. It’s foggy this morning, so foggy the leaves are dripping. The first sounds I’m hearing are INSECTS. Not a bird to be heard at 5:30 a.m. At least I won’t have to name the insects — I’ll just call them all CRICKETS. Just heard a BLUE JAY and a ROBIN. When I got to Bob’s Pond I flushed several ducks. I couldn’t see them in the early morning foggy light, but I did hear a bit of a “whoo-eek,” which means they were definitely WOOD DUCKS. From the Eagle Scout’s Bench I heard a PHOEBE, plus at least 2 scolding HOUSE WRENS. When I started up toward the Thinking Bench, a WHITE-TAILED DEER went bounding up toward the woods, its white flag clearly visible above the low growing shrubs and ferns. Heard a GOLDFINCH. The benches are too wet to sit on this morning. Maybe I can find some trees to lean against? Saw a bright RED EFT on the trail above the Thinking Bench — and another and another. With all the leaves dripping and everything around me super saturated, it’s definitely an EFTY MORNING. Just heard a PEWEE, a CHICKADEE, and a PILEATED WOODPECKER (I think). At 6:15 a.m. I paused to rest against my Leaning Tree at the top of the Stone Crossing Trail. Moving on, I’m in such a fog-induced fog this morning, I walked right by the Stone Crossing without even pausing to listen or think or wonder. When I realized what I had done, I turned around and hiked back up just to pause there briefly. All I heard was a BLUE JAY, but I did enjoy leaning against a wet log with big drops of water dripping on the page of my notebook. I saw some GREEN ACORNS and GREEN BiTTERNUTS on the ground this morning. The seasons are definitely shifting. Guess we’re headed toward fall.

Ran into young Jonathan near the Power Bench. He was birding around just to see what’s here. He said he saw a REDSTART, which is an addition for my morning’s list, which adds up to 10 species. Home at 7:00 a.m.