Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Camping adventures! and old business

My wonderful girlfriend and I went camping at Cunningham Falls State Park near Thurmont, MD, this past weekend; we joined some old friends of hers and had a great time building big fires, making s'mores, and cooking on the open flame.

I didn't see too many birds that weren't familiar to me; here's my list:
Red-bellied Woodpecker (they were everywhere!)
Eastern Wood Pewee
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
American Robin
American Crow
Chimney Swift (weird, seeing as how there were no chimneys around)
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Phoebe
Northern Flicker
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Carolina Wren
Black-capped Chickadee

There were also some mystery birds:
--what looked like an Orange-crowned Warbler
--Water Thrush, either LA or Northern--sadly, my photo didn't help much with determining the ID:We couldn't get very close, lighting was bad, and my hands were a little shaky from the arduous trek. I got decent looks in the binocs, but I forgot to check whether it had that white eyestripe (Louisiana) or not (Northern), so I don't know which kind it was. It was, however, definitely a water thrush, and it made that "chik chik chik" of a Louisiana. ?
--some bird whose song went "pia-pia-pia tazip-zip!" Any ideas what that was? The leaf cover was waaaay too thick to spot him, though I tried and tried.
Not too bad, considering I only birded while doing other things. No Scarlet Tanager! Grrrrr.

We also saw some interesting non-bird things. Here are the falls, a 75-foot spectacle with some nice observation platforms at the bottom:(Definitely click on the huge version of this photo) To get to the top of the falls, you have to climb the rocks like all these people did. We didn't climb the falls, thank god, or I'd probably have fallen to my death.

We went on two long hikes, both of which were pretty strenuous for my old feeble body. I fell a couple of times and banged up my knee, but I survived. AB's back held up well too. I even saw a life-flower: Jack-in-the-pulpit!The distinct "leaves of three" of these plants are probably the reason I've never seen one before; I ALWAYS steer well clear of anything with three leaves because I am extremely allergic. This time, though, I was rewarded with a life-flower!

And we saw this weird fungal spire all over the place:
Any guesses as to what this is?

And this pretty green moth:What kind of moth is this?

Saw some cool-looking beetles who were either gettin' it on or having a beetle smackdown:We couldn't tell which. But the ooky-looking stuff they're on is that weird fungus or lichen or whatever that grows on old trees and looks like a soft light-beige shelf. I used to know the name of it but I forgot. I'm guessing the beetles were eating it, or the tree, or both.
- - - - - - -
The day before we left, I saw a Northern Flicker dead on the side of the road near my house:I always wondered why they call the eastern version of these birds "yellow-shafted;" now I know--the actual shafts of the feathers are a beautiful sunny yellow color:Amazing. I can't wait to see the western Red-shafted version, though I hope I see him alive. It was sad to see such a beautiful bird this way, but I did get to examine him up close for a long time. Look at those breast feathers, with the pretty spots on the ends. And those yellow feather shafts! Beautiful. What a lovely bird.


Beth said...

Sounds like a marvelous trip. I love the closeup look at the flicker even though he had to sacrifice his life for it. I always flickers were so handsome, but the breast spots are absolutely breathtaking.


Susan Gets Native said...

Flickers are just way too gorgeous. I mean, come on.
All that sounds like so much fun.
*wondering if I have time to come visit before you head off to the west?*

dguzman said...

Beth--it was, thanks. Flickers are beautiful, but then, all birds are beautiful. Some are just more beautiful than others.

Susan--PLEASE!? That would be awesome!

Earl Cootie said...

Lucky you! Camping already! Well, I suppose we could go camping too if we weren't such dreadful sissies. (It gets down to the forties at night, OMG!)

We saw some similar fungal phalli while camping at Hells Canyon one year (speaking of camping), but I forget what they were called. Probably something different anyway. I'm not up on my fungi.

And ditto on the beauty of the flickers. I've never seen a yellow-shafted. We supposedly get some of those here, but the closest I've seen are red-yellow hybrids which still have the salmon-colored underwings (and undertails).

KGMom said...

Delia--I love the falls pic--and you are right. Enlarging it--I see. . .holy crap. Little tiny people at the top. The falls are much bigger than the pic shows on first glance.
Glad you had a good time, and stayed safe--no hiking to the top of dangerous places.

Larry said...

Camping and birding make a great combination.-You aren't in a rush so yu can slow down and observe better.-Sounds like a fun time.

KatDoc said...

Can't help with the waterthrush ID based on the photo. Habitat tip: Louisianas prefer clean, clear, rapidly moving streams, while Northerns tend to hang out around slower, murky backwaters. Does that help?


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