Full-day park extravaganza

April 6, 2009

After a self-imposed day of rest on Saturday, I hit the park hard on Sunday, with a sun up to sun down extravaganza.

I began in the South District.

At 7:15 a.m. I started walking the Big Run Loop Trail (5.6 miles) and made it back to my car in Browns Gap a very leisurely four hours later. Along the way, I saw some great things. There were three species of woodpeckers. Downy were the most plentiful, with 6-10 birds, but I also saw red-bellied and several of another large species that may have been pileated. Unfortunately, I didn’t get images of the mystery bird. I also observed numerous chipmunks and was able to make some good images. I really like the chirping sounds of the downy woodpeckers and chipmunks. When both were happening at the same time it was pretty neat.

I made a few bizarre observations, including some likely bird-meal leftovers:

040509feather1ed

Anyone familiar with the feather coloration?

I can also report that insects are back. I saw several butterflies and one caterpillar. Of the annoying gnatty-variety I would rate the presence a 1 out of 10. It’s not quite time for bug spray, but it’s something to start thinking about.

After relaxing for a bit in the car, I cruised to Big Meadows and ate lunch there while starting to jot down this lovely post you’re now reading. The middle of the day is pretty difficult in terms of locating wildlife, so I sat and watched car after car pour into Big Meadows. It was a gorgeous day and I don’t blame them, but I still prefer the lighter crowds from weekdays.

I walked for a time on the horse trail from Big Meadows toward Skyland and saw a few birds but that was about it. The kicker, though, was that the first bird I saw was another one of those large woodpeckers and I missed it again.

After I wrapped that up, I returned to my beloved Limberlost. I figured it might be one of the lesser known sites, but found a full lot. On the upside, the bobcat tracks I’d seen there in the past don’t concern me so much anymore since I found one last week.

The trail was very pleasant and I only encountered a few people while I was out there. Opting to try ambush style photography, I crept along the path and stopped periodically for extended amounts of time. This way, I was able to hear things moving around and they often came out nearby. Squirrels and chipmunks were abundant along the path and I also saw a few deer. After an hour and a half creeping along the mile-long route, I began to feel the effects of my already-long day and tried to rest for a bit back at the car to see if that would help. It didn’t.

After a while, I cruised down toward Big Meadows, but stopped along the way to check out a fire toward Massanutten. Word among the observers I met was that it was a controlled burn.

040509f1ed

Arriving at Big Meadows again, I saw several deer standing in a small body of water in the field. Seeing something unique, I parked and approached. By the time I got down there, only one deer remained in the water, but he was a good sport and I liked the resulting images. Here is an outtake from that:

040509d1ed

It was only after he left that I noticed the weird objects in the water.

After wrapping up that shoot, I began a slow cruise out of the park at dusk, but unfortunately I didn’t see anything else. Overall, a good day that wiped me out.

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7 Responses to “Full-day park extravaganza”

  1. Caroline Morse Says:

    Hey Evan, the unidentified mass is actually frog spawn.

  2. Evan Dyson Says:

    Caroline,
    Thanks. Do you know if that means they are definitely going to be tadpoles or might they still be unfertilized?

  3. Caroline Morse Says:

    They are definitely going to be tadpoles.

  4. Evan Dyson Says:

    Good to know. I’ll keep my eye on them.

  5. Caroline Morse Says:

    Good Idea, good luck with that:)

  6. Jim T Says:

    Evan,

    They are definitely frog eggs. They get to work pretty early don’t they? Must be taking advantage of the temporary presence of that pond.

    I’ve been enjoying the posts lately keep up the great work! The woodchuck video was a lot of fun, good background music choice.

    Linked to you for the controlled burn reference today.

    Best,
    Jim

  7. Jim T Says:

    Evan, BTW – looking at the controlled burn shot again. There are two small hills in the middle ground before the Valley opens up all the way to Massanutten. There is a third one out of the picture to the south…about a mile south of that is where the Hawksbill Cabin is located…JT


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