Earlier this week I took a long walk on the Osmanthus Trail at First Landing State Park. The day was eerily warm, and I was not the only one enjoying the bright sunshine. I saw dozens of Little Brown Skinks (which are also called Ground Skinks.)
All along the trail glittering flashes of brown slipped into cover as I approached. If I stopped and stood very still, they emerged again.
Sometimes they emerged in pairs and scuffles broke out. Or resumed.
I wondered if these were mating displays or true battles for territory.
The skinks were so entertaining that I kept my camera focused on the ground for much of my walk. Even so, I caught a single frame of a curious Hermit Thrush.
And I never pass up an opportunity to photograph Hooded Mergansers.
I missed photos of woodpeckers and chickadees and an unfamiliar warbler, but I don’t regret the day’s lizard fixation. I’m delighted to add Little Brown Skinks to the archive, because there is always room for life. My archive will never be full, and I will never tire of trying to fill it.
Our weather took a definite turn toward spring today. A combination of warmer temperatures and cloudless skies created the perfect conditions for a stroll with friends at First Landing State Park.
The osprey have returned to the park in force. They wheel and soar over the marshes and beaches, voicing high-pitched challenges as they claim their summer territories. Their massive nests dominate the scenery, but there are plenty of other birds to see, as well.
These ducks were not alone in the water, but I spent too long trying to line up the “perfect shot” of a loon, so missed it altogether.
Further along the trail, we saw a pair of brown-headed nuthatches hopping in and out of a nest cavity. One of them stayed in the nest most of the time we were watching, but the other seemed less convinced.
They spent a great deal of time calling back and forth, one in the nest and the other on a nearby branch, almost as if they were discussing their options.
It seemed to me as if the nest was going to win.
After my friends left the park, I wandered a bit further in search of a woodpecker that I had heard calling in the distance. I never found the woodpecker, but I did find a lovely snake basking in the sun.
I wonder if the snake feels like I do tonight, peaceful and content, happy that spring has arrived at last.
February’s annual malaise has set in. My mood reflects the sky’s gray clouds. My joints ache, brittle with frost. Each morning is more reluctant than the last, and each evening more welcome.
My instinct is to hide from February. To find a dry den, line it with blankets, and retreat into sleep’s warm sanctuary.
But then, when I woke to the storm-scented gusts of spring, I would regret my weeks of sleep. I would wonder what I had missed, while hibernating…
Yesterday started sunny and mild. A brisk, warm wind raced ahead of a stormy cold front, and it was impossible to stay inside.
Low tide had drained the marsh into a muddy network of puddles, many of them marked with fresh tracks.
I would have stayed longer, but the sharpening wind made trails increasingly unfriendly. Cones clattered down from the canopy. Branches creaked and scraped. Trees swayed so hypnotically that I gave up on watching the trail and staggered along with my attention focused overhead, stumbling over roots and ruts.
I also spotted dozens of potential nest cavities.
When a long-dead tree shattered across my path, I decided it was time to find the car.
This morning, our damaged fence made me wonder how many more trees fell in the park overnight, and how many nesting places were lost.
Today we walked one of our favorite trails at First Landing State Park.
We heard a report, shortly after arriving, that two Bald Eagles had been spotted there this morning. We missed the eagles, but did see a number of egrets.
As usual, I tried in vain to photograph the trail’s smaller birds. I missed Eastern Bluebirds and Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows and Brown-headed Nuthatches. I missed Pine Warblers and Downy Woodpeckers. The only one I didn’t miss was this wren.
I believe it’s a Carolina Wren, though it was not singing a typical Carolina Wren song.
I’m very curious to hear from more experienced bird watchers. Is this a Carolina Wren? If so, is this a typical call variation?
Now that I’m home and at my computer, I find myself wishing I had stayed out longer. If our forecast holds, the next few days will be too cold for comfort. I will be trapped indoors with a frightening stack of neglected bookkeeping. I might be forced to start another crochet project or organize the archives. Work on an unfinished manuscript. Fake an illness. Anything to avoid starting the taxes…