Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Grand Day Out

Holiday weekends are a time to relax, unwind and enjoy. I did that yesterday. I got a little stir-crazy. Today the co-conspirator and I hit the road for a grand day of hiking, birding and geocaching and now I'm pooped.

Our trip began at Governor Dodge State Park where no sooner than we had parked to discuss our first hike than the trees adjacent to the parking lot were alive with migrating warblers. It being the case that I suck at identifying any but the easy ones I'll just say they were the yellow and white ones. That should cover it.

Eventually we hiked a multi-mile trail to reach a cache high atop one of the rock formations in the park. It didn't look that high or that far from the distance, but apparently I'm not accustomed to either the heat or inadequate breakfasts or both. On the way we did see a Black-and-White Warbler--one I can actually identify.

A couple of cool but macabre sights were encountered on our hikes as well. Here is some sort of bug preying on a monarch butterfly caterpillar. I always check out milkweed plants for monarchs when I find them. I loved finding chrysalids and caterpillars when I was a kid and every time we'd pick the pods and release the seeds my mom would tell me how she collected them for stuffing in life jackets or some such thing during World War II. The other sad sight was a dead bird. In the middle of a trail we found some kind of flycatcher. It was incredible how tiny it was. Living and sitting on a branch they don't look nearly as small; the body was maybe only three inches long and it weighed next to nothing. It was a horse trail so I moved it into the weeds off the trail where it wouldn't be trampled. Poor little thing.

At one point the trail came right next to Twin Valley Lake and there was a Double-Crested Cormorant perching on a dead tree hanging over the water. It's not a spectacular or rare bird, but we spent some time looking at it and taking a few photos. I'm really thinking about getting some kind of digital camera/spotting scope combo or something easily portable. The problem, I suppose, with any hand-held solution would be holding it steady. There's not always a handy tree to brace against.

On the way home we swung by Spring Green for a late lunch at Culver's and to check out the wader/shorebird situation there. Why has Spring Green become a birdwatcher's destination? Because since the flooding way back in June way too many fields and front yards are still under water. I don't understand why; I thought the whole area was essentially sand. It's un-fricking-believeable. At one moment we're looking at a shallow lake bordered by stunted, ruined corn and a short drive down the road there's one of the healthiest looking crops of corn I've seen.

4 Responses:

Mil said...

Are you still a geocacher? I just started last April. Fascinating...

Shady Character said...

Yes, we still do some geocaching. Mostly we do it when we're traveling or camping. It's a great way to be taken to some out-of-the-way places.

Mil said...

I just finished a 100 day challenge which meant I had to geocache while in Hawaii. I found some great earthcaches on Maui. The blowhole on the northern coast of Maui was wondrous.

Shady Character said...

I'll bet Hawaii was pretty cool. I love the Earthcaches. I got my bronze Earthcache Master pin a couple years ago but now I'd need to create my own EC to get the silver and so-on but I haven't been overly motivated. Still, it's fun, educational and appealingly geeky :)