Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cold Memories

It was about 17 this morning when I left for work, cold for this part of the world in the Old Dominion.  But it brought back memories of a three day backpacking trip two Novembers ago, because that was about the temperature when we woke up early that Saturday morning.  I seriously did not want to leave my tent.  It was so cold - even in the tent.  And I knew it would be worse outside.  But nature was calling, urgently, and I decided a dry, cold tent was better than a wet, cold tent.  But it took a lot of willpower to crawl out of the sleeping bag, pull on some ice-cold clothing, put my hard-as-iron hiking boots on my feet, and move outside.

But it was a fun trip, with good memories, and the cold temperatures today triggered those memories for me.  And it made me appreciate a warm bed, a hot shower, and a car with a heater to get to my next destination (even though it was just work, not a fun hike up a mountain to the next camping site).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Atlantic Sunrise

I took a couple of short hikes this month out at Back Bay, but didn't encounter any wildlife or anything cool enough to write about.  But yesterday morning, I was up at dawn for a walk of the beach of a couple of miles, and thought I'd share a few photos - although Blogger still is not making it easy to share photos.  I hope that they fix that soon.  I love time on the beach - or anywhere outside, for that matter - and was happy to see sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean once again.

One of my favorite birds, the common loon, is trying his luck here in the cold Atlantic before heading back north.
Fishing pier at Sandbridge Beach
The sun is up on another day.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What Am I?

It took me a long time to post this because Blogger stopped allowing me to load photos.  But thanks to Google (what an amazing thing), I found a work around.

I saw these animals a month or so ago on my short hike in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Can you guess what they are?

This time of year I fly down south
Stuff things to eat in my black mouth

And rest, for soon, I'll sally forth
To raise my young so far up north

Like ugly ducklings they may look:
By the cover don't judge the book

Though my offspring aren't real cuties
But when they're grown, they sure are beauties

White feathered neck is curved and long
I fly with ease, with wingbeats strong

I summer up on tundra bleak
A place, to you, with much mystique

Well I think that is enough clues.  If you ever read "The Ugly Duckling," then this one should be a piece of cake.
So, scroll
for the

So easy that I heard you yawn -
I am a lovely tundra swan!

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge has large populations of these birds in the winter.  They fill the air with their wild cries.  And then, suddenly, they are gone - heading thousands of miles north to breed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

More on Goals...

The other day, I made a list of my hiking goals for the new year.  Since being able to hike means good fitness, you can see a list of my fitness goals for 2013 here on my other blog.

My racing and fitness goals for 2012 were kind of a flop.  Training for the 2012 Shamrock Half Marathon, which I wanted to run as a 10 year cancer survivor, ended up causing me a lot of pain in my left knee.  I did persevere and complete that race, but my knee has bothered me since, and I have stopped running at the end of March for now.  Even so, the knee pain continues to trouble me.  So I'll see how far I get with my 2013 goals.  The knee pain sure didn't keep me from hiking last year.

As I have told people, I like to run, but I LOVE to walk and hike, so if it means no longer running in order to keep walking, I am okay with that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What Am I?

On Sunday's hike at the Pony Pasture, a tiny bird flitted down in a tree's branches just a few feet away and spent a minute or two hopping from branch to branch.  I wondered what he was, and then he turned just the right way and I instantly knew.  See if you can guess.

In color I'm an olive green
In forests is where I am seen

In constant motion, I am quick
My wings I rapidly do flick

Despite my name I am no king
I have a white bar on my wing

Insects, spiders, bugs and such
Are what I eat (enjoy them much)

I said before that I'm no king
And that is true but here's the thing:

Just like a king I have a crown
Here's one last clue, then go to town -

A feathered patch of ruby red
Adorns the top of tiny head

I know this one might be kind of tough but that is all I can come up with for clues today.
So take your best guess
for the

Did you the answer run to ground?
I am a kinglet - ruby crowned!

With my digital camera, I was able to get a few photos of this tiny bird.  They are only around three or four inches long in total.  It came pretty close to me a few times.  I digitally zoomed in on the photos back at home.  The kinglet was in constant motion and it was hard to get photos.  Every time I located it in the viewfinder and was ready to press the button, it moved somewhere else.  After 30-45 seconds he climbed higher and higher in the tree and then flitted away.  Here, you can see the eye-ring, one of the field marks for this species.
On this photo, you can see the ruby patch that give him his name, and also its wing bar.