Thursday, March 30, 2023

Remains Of the Abandoned Stone House

Every now and then I go for a hike at Spiderweed Preserve. It is a quiet and isolated location in Middletown Connecticut. There are a few evergreens near the beginning of the trail, a couple of vernal pools, and a trickle of a stream running though the middle but mostly it has a dry rocky feel to it. There is even a cave that I imagine the old leatherman stayed in many years ago.
The one thing that stand out the most when you visit Spiderweed is the remains of this old stone building. When I first saw it over 20 years ago it still had a roof and some room structure. Sadly, only a few crumbled bones remain now from a house that was born in the 1700's.

 Helen Lohman was the last owner who used it as a summer cottage. When she would return each summer her cottage was covered in Spiderweeds which is how they came up with the name. She donated the land including the building to the town in the late 60's.

I don't have much luck with birds there which is why I don't visit that often. it was the last place in Connecticut I saw a Ruffed Grouse. On this day I saw only a lonely Song Sparrow that seemed to me to be singing wistfully of the distant past.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Meditative Birding, Ornitherapy & Finer Details

There are many birding podcasts out there. I happen to use Spotify but I'm sure if you searched birding podcasts you could find them through many other services. Recently, I came across one that got my attention. It was Bird Banter Podcast #148 with Doctor Ed Pullen,  featuring guest Holly Merker.

Just to give a brief summary, they talk about how being out in nature observing birds is good for you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Slow birding, mindfulness/hyperawareness, and observing everything in detail can greatly enhance your experience. These are things I've done on my own but it was interesting to know that there are other birders out there that take this approach to birding.

   There is a book available that covers these topics in more detail titled: "Ornitherapy For Your Mind, Body, and Soul"

 Too often, I fall into the habit of the search, identify and move on birding routine. I found the book to be a helpful reminder to take the slow approach to birding while observing birds and my surrounding in more detail.After listening to the podcast I was inspired to pull up a chair and sit quietly at the edge of my favorite local bog. After waiting patiently, a male and female Wood Duck swam over from the opposite side  until they were within 20 feet of me. Wood Ducks spook easily so I was pleased that they stayed and visited for a while.As I was sitting quietly I had a thought. Suppose we all lived within 4 walls that were all just plain white with no other objects around us. How valuable would access to a natural outdoor scenic place be worth? Maybe more than gold or any material item we might purchase for ourselves! Luckily for us, we do have access to places like this, and in most cases it doesn't cost us a thing! Every time you view birds it can be worth giving them a second look from a different angle. Lighting, the position of the birds, and the angle that view them from can show you something that you did not see the first time. 

Spring is only a week away! I am sure looking forward to some warmer weather!

Friday, March 3, 2023

One Ravine Trail Solved Two Birding Problems

Sometimes weather conditions can make birding a less pleasant experience, or I don't have enough time to make the trip seem worthwhile. 

On this particular day, I had both problems. It was too windy and I only had an hour to spare. I decided to go to a nearby ravine trail that follows a small trickle of a stream. This turned out to be the right move because the high tree-lined banks on both sides of the trail offered good protection from the wind making things much more comfortable. The trail is only probably only about 150 yards long, so an hour was plenty of time to cover the entire trail. 

 I moved as slowly as possible so I could pick out birds that I might normally miss. I felt like a kid trying to dig coins from under the couch cushions. At first, you only see a few but if you dig deep enough you might end up with $3.00 worth of change! So I only saw a few birds at first, but by the time I had finished my list grew to 14. Not bad for a small wooded area in the middle of winter!There was nice acoustics with the sound of the trickling stream, and time just seemed to slow down. I had a nice look at this White-throated Sparrow but I was hoping to find that one special bird. Nothing rare, just that little prize like you find in the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks. I finally did find my prize bird. It was a little Winter Wren sneaking around underneath the stream bank. My first of the year. Sometimes the best birding experiences are the most simple ones.