|Educational Bike Rack at Barr Hammock|
|Red Shouldered Hawk|
|Giant Swallowtail on Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)|
|Black Swallowtail Caterpillars on Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)|
|Palamedes Swallowtail Puddling|
Not too far down the trail I came across a wing and feathers from a Red Shouldered Hawk. I have no idea what ate it, but it was gruesomely fascinating to look at. Something had just yanked the wing off. It was pretty fresh, too, but the ants and flies were making good work of it. A little further down the trail I found a dead turtle. I couldn't tell if it had been run over or stepped on. Even with the small amount of traffic on that trail, if an animal is in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can mean disaster. Like the hawk wing, the ants were busy cleaning off any meat from the turtle. I could see white bones inside through the hole in its shell.
I kept walking, enjoying the solitude. The sky was a beautiful blue with big, fluffy clouds. A Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron flew over, adding 2 more birds to the list. Then around the bend I bumped into a family of Sandhill Cranes out for a stroll. I am pretty sure I saw this family a month or so ago and they had 2 colts (crane chicks), so something must have happened to the other. But this colt looked healthy and tall and was well protected by its parents. They were not too concerned with my presence and let me take photos. But they kept an eye on me, nonetheless, as they moved along. There was another, lone, adult crane further down the trail. I don't know if this was a 2nd year juvenile hanging around its family group, or just a lonely crane. But it moved away before I could get a good look.
|Crane Family Feeding|
I looked over the bushes for Blue Grosbeaks, but didn't have any luck. I'll have to keep hunting. And I heard a Yellow Billed Cuckoo, but couldn't see it in the bushes. I did see 3 Least Bitterns! They're everywhere! At the turn around spot, I looked up and caught a Hummingbird sitting on a branch, and then heard a flock of common grackles. I think a Red Shouldered Hawk that was flying over had made them nervous. A Green Heron landed on a snag, then flew into the bushes. A Great Egret soared overhead and I saw the sun shining through the layers of its feathers. Red-winged Blackbirds gurgled and chucked from bushes all along the road.
At the trailhead, I decided to take a short walk the other direction on the loop to see if I could find a snake or a turtle or a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher. There were Northern Parulas everywhere. I'm always hoping to see an otter at Barr Hammock. I've heard them splash and have seen the places where they slide down the banks. No otters or Gnatcatchers this time, but I did see a Raccoon climbing through the greenery, and found some fox or coyote tracks. I saw 2 alligators, too. One was stretched out on a log and another on the path. I was ready to turn around and give up the path to the gator, but it spooked first and I walked on a bit. I scared a Black Racer and caught glimpses of turtles just as they ducked into the water. They are very wary, and understandably so. Everything eats turtles, and turtle eggs. I found a clutch of eaten eggs on the bank of the canal.
|Green Anole on Cattail|
Walking back to the car I considered taking a quick stop at Lake Wauberg to try to catch some more birds for the list. But then I came to my senses and accepted that I was hot and tired. I am not in the June Challenge to win, but sometimes the collector in me becomes obsessed. But what I really want in the coming weeks is to be outside, enjoying and experiencing as much as I can of my favorite places and if I see birds on the list, all the better. I have to keep reminding myself of this when I hear reports of special bird sightings. But then again, if someone reported that Phalarope…
Bird Count: I added 5 today, plus the Black Swans in the my neighborhood Duckpond, for a total of 65 (66). It really was not my intention to write 30 blog entries in the month of June, but so far every day has had enough activity to fill a page and then some. Time will tell if my energy and enthusiasm will last, but I'll ride the wave until then!