Sunday, February 21, 2010

Larks, Hills and Signs of Spring!

Another beautiful day today here in Massachusetts so I decided to get out bright and early to enjoy every minute of it. I am very much in tune with the seasons and have a hard time getting into the groove of things really early, up until this weekend that is as it seems as if daylight starts to peek its weary head through my window at around 6 in the morning now which seems to invigorate me with a little more hustle in my step to get out the door. I headed out at about 7:30 and decided to check out the Worcester Airport while I had my 2nd cup of coffee for the day in hopes I would see the Lapland Longspurs that have been reported there.

When I arrived there wasn't a bird to be seen so I pulled over to wait. The wind was blowing strong and could hear it beating against my windows and was grateful for the hot cup of coffee and the heat from my car as I watched a lone American Crow battling the wind to join a small flock of others foraging for breakfast just a little past my car. I look up to the sky to see a flock of Horned Larks coming toward the parking lot where they proceeded to land fairly close to me for some photos. One in particular was pretty close and was checking me out as I clicked away.
Soon enough off they flew and I drove around the parking lot loop slowly still hoping for the longspurs. I parked again as my stomach started to grumble some and didn't' bring much food as I had just had a veggie omelet and whole wheat toast an hour before this, but then remembered that I still had a 1/2 a peanut butter and banana sandwich in my bag from yesterday so I grab it to examine to see if its still edible and when I look up, I am psyched to see a flock of Snow Buntings directly beside me. Funny though in that I turned away for only about 15 seconds to grab my snack and voilla, they appeared without me knowing it. HA
The little birds took off as fast as they arrived as I watched them take to the sky with their fast wing beats and hyper chatter. Still no signs of the longspurs but I held out hope.
There would be no Lapland Longspurs for me today, but wasn't too disappointed as the Snow Buntings and Horned Larks were more than enough entertainment for me during my cup of morning joe. One bunting in particular was all by itself near my car, paying me as much attention as I did it, which was fun to be a part of.
As I drove away, the sun was starting to break through thick clouds and I yearned to get out of my car and head for some powerlines for some running and playing so decided to go to one in town. I open the car door with microspikes in tow and navigation device prepared to track my miles when suddenly I am paralyzed and unable to move as the area is filled with song. My ears perk up as I try to identify it all. American Robin, spring song.....check..... Northern Cardinal singing his tune......CHECK!..........Song Sparrow doing a lousy job of his....Check....And then a song I hadn't hear for a while so I stood there looking down at the ground so I could just focus on the tune and nothing else.......What is it, I wonder...... I finally can't take it anymore so start pishing and out pops the little soprano to see who the pishing suspect is. It was no other the a Dark-eyed Junco. Sweet!!!!!! Forgot how nice their song is I thought as I started to run down the trail.
Song Sparrow checking me out as I prepare for my run.
My legs felt light as I ran on bare earth that was not yet softened by the early sun, but not heavy with snow which made running a breeze so off I went to drink in the day.
There would be birds everywhere as I moved along which allowed me to bird by ear and stop on occasion for a picture or two as I drank some water.
The sun was perfect for picture taking, so I decided to do some micro photography here and there whenever I found something interesting.
A frozen pond nearby that I love to run past in the summer to look for the Great-blue Heron. There would be no heron here today, but it didn't take away from the ponds loveliness.
The pond from a different point of view.
Soon enough I have explored every nook and cranny of the powerline, including side trails so I make my way back to the car wondering what time it is and am shocked to see that not only is it early, but I had done 4 miles and it didn't even feel like it (the benefits of increasing millage is when 2 miles feels like 1, 3 like 2, etc). So with that I decided to go to another part of the powerline across the street from where I was to do some more exploring as the sun felt fabulous and I hadn't been there since summer. The first thing my eye is drawn to is the steep small hill in the picture above. The picture doesn't do it justice as it is so steep it's almost like walking up a wall in some spots and I remember walking up it this past summer to get a better look at two Red-tailed Hawks above. I made my way up there as my legs shook a little and I was a little winded, so I decided to try it again to see how I would be this time. It would be a piece of cake so I ran back down and decided to do some hill sprints which were a blast.

Every time I made it to the top I would take a breather and watch a Turkey Vulture across the way that would never cut me a break by getting closer for a photo.
That wasn't until my last sprint on that hill as it flew a little closer and past me as it went about it's business. Call me crazy (many people do ;-)), but I am convinced the TV decided to stick around as I did my 5 sprints to keep me company and to motivate me. You just gotta love Turkey Vultures! ;-)
I ran along the powerlines and would see paths that were hidden this past summer that were finally revealed to me so I followed them along to see what I would find.
The wooded paths were covered in a thin layer of snow and hints of green would pop out here and there which caused me to stop on occasion for a photo or two.
I had found a super cool path that seemed to go on forever and to the right of it stood this tiny little oasis that caused me to stop while drinking my iced coffee and stood there transfixed over the lovely green (a color I have missed for so long now)
The water was laden with plant life and algae and my camera begged for the opportunity to capture it to share with you all. Is this cool or what!
Different angle but just as pretty.
After another two miles I headed back to my car as hunger took over and thoughts of lunch seemed to take over my mind.
The ground had softened some since I began and mud coated my running shoes, but I didn't mind in the least as it was nice to finally sink my toes into some soft earth.

Take care all.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

First let me say,I admire your stamina and determination to keep active.Second,I love all the pictures you take along the way,its almost like being there with you.Of course if I were there we would be miles apart,you ahead,me shuffling along behind.:)

A New England Life said...

What an awesome day, Kim! Mud, oh sweet mud! I'm a little disappointed with the upcoming temps this week along with the impending snow but at least the sun is stronger and the days are longer.

Great shot of the Snow Buntings! I've yet to see on in person. We did have a RTH in the backyard this morning though. That was pretty cool. And I saw a TV yesterday! Ha!

Susan W. said...

Gorgeous photos! Spring really is coming!

A Scattering said...

I've seen snow buntings (precious!) but have never seen hooded larks - nice.


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