Friday, February 19, 2010

Trails, Running, Birding, Shoes and an Early Nester!

I had the day off from work today and decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and set off to Upton State Forest for some snow shoeing (turned into trail running once I saw how much snow melted) and birding.
But first I made a stop at a location where a reported Great-horned Owl was observed nesting so I decided to look for myself and low and behold there it was! I saw it eyeballing me as I made my way closer for a photo and couldn't help but to laugh when I saw the look on its face. I watched it for a while and then decided to venture off to give her some peace. Awesome bird to get this early in the year and in Worcester County no less!
Next it was onto Upton. I had my snow shoes with me with every intent on snow shoeing, but then looked at how lousy the snow was at the beginning of the trail and quickly changed into my trail running shoes and microspikes for a 3.5 mile run as snow shoeing was going to be out and I couldn't really hike it as I had errands to do in the afternoon so couldn't dilly dally much.

There were areas of the trail that could have been snow shoed on like the picture above but was happy running just the same. I had a really good pace going when suddenly I could hear the sweetest bird song I have heard so far this year. In fact, it was so sweet it reminded me of spring song and I stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of a run to scan the tree tops to see where it was coming from. I searched and searched as they bird sang it's lovely tune but could never find it. I decided to take some audio of it and a couple of my friends on Facebook were kind enough to ID it for me as a Brown Creeper. I have seen creepers all winter and have heard their note call, but have never heard them sing before until now and was happy I was in the right place at the right time to hear that tune. That gave me a little more spring in my step and off I went to run through trails that were absolutely gorgeous with snow on the ground and pine trees surrounding the trails. Really nice spot and one I will be back to because it's a clean 3.5 mile loop which is nice for a short run.
After that it was off to Trader Joes to stock up on staples when suddenly this Red-tailed Hawk above caught my eye so I pulled over at a safe location for some photos.
It stuck around for a while and then proceeded to fly off, but not before I got at least one half way decent flight shot.
After Trader Joes and lunch, I decided to try snow shoeing again and low and behold, it was once again lousy and I didn't have my running shoes with me this time, so I had to just deal with snow shoeing through snow and at times mud, as best as I could. Let me tell you snow shoeing through mud is tough as the mud is heavier than snow and your snow shoes sink right in so you really work your legs trying to navigate your way through the mess. All in all, it was still a nice hike with about 2.5 miles of woods, fresh air and occasional pockets of the regular winter woodland birds.
As I was making my way home, I saw a kettle of Turkey Vultures I had seen earlier in the day, but this time I was in an area where I could pull over safely for some photos. There were about 15 of them including the one above.
And a small kettle of them. As I drove by, I would see 8 or so of them fly out from a large pine tree and take to the skies. I got back in my car with the satisfaction that spring is another day closer and this is yet another sign. I have also noticed the male Northern Cardinal in my yard doing a lot more singing this past week and the days are getting longer which makes me very happy indeed.
And last but not least, check out the purchase I made that I am so happy with! Allow me to introduce you to my new LaSportiva Wildcat Mountain Running Shoes from the Wilderness Running Company! Are they not the coolest things or what!
I have been looking for a trail running shoe that would provide me enough traction and stability for the more technical trails out there that I plan to run this upcoming spring, but found that many mountain running shoes are bulky and heavy which is something I don't want. These are a light weight mesh with sturdy traction at the bottom so you don't slip and slide on wet rocks while running which is one of my biggest fears.
They even have a supposed "Impact Brake System" which I thought was pretty darn impressive!! They fit nice and I plan on breaking them in this weekend to see how they do. And a big thumbs up the the Wilderness Running Company for their super quick and free shipping. Check out some of their stuff as it's suited for not only runners, but hikers, birders, etc.

Take care all!


A New England Life said...

That was a pretty darned good birding day Kim! I'll be on the look-out for the TV's. There's plenty of RTH's around but I haven't seen my banded one up close since last summer.

Can't believe that Owl! Awesome! I'd love to see an Owl but it hasn't happened in a long time.

Cool shoes!

NCmountainwoman said...

You always seem to find the best birds...and get photographs as well. Love the shoes.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

I have sen numerous Brown Creepers,but have never heard it's song.The Vultures are impressive if not beautiful,at least in my eyes.

madcobug said...

Loved that owl on the nest. That looks like a very good pair of shoes. Helen

matthew houskeeper said...

Imagine the places I could go with a pair of shoes like those.


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