Greetings one and all! I don’t know how everyone else is doing, but I’ve been feeling a bit sun-starved over the past 2 weeks. There’s been rain, snow, and a lot of clouds lately. I’ve found myself pining for warmer, brighter days and making blends of lemon balm, linden, tulsi, and St. Johns wort tea to help shake my grey mood. I feel like a seedling, stuck under ground in the dark, yearning for the time to break through. But Mother Nature always has a little magic up her sleeve, and just when you think you can’t stand it any more, the sun returns for a brief visit.
This past Friday dawned with vivid rays of light, so I decided to head outside with camera in hand to soak up the warmth and see who else was out and about. I had planned to visit a local park, but ended up taking what I call an “adventure ride”, where you just get in the car and drive where you feel like you want to go.
You never know what’s gonna happen on an adventure ride.
I drove down to MD route 213 towards Chesapeake City, over the C&D canal bridge, and found that the day was shaping up to be a little hint of spring. The car was warm and comfortable, and it was such a freeing feeling to be driving along the back roads, past open farmland where geese were grazing and the sky was clear.
One of my favorite things about winter is that it’s easy to spot raptors and other birds through the bare trees, especially red-tailed hawks who are often found perching along the side of the road. Since the day was sunny, I was hoping our feathered friends would be active. I was not disappointed…I saw 12-15 raptors in my travels!
I ended up in Middletown, where a couple of Cooper’s hawks passed over the road, heading towards a field on my left. There were copious small birds around the area, as well as a hawk sitting on a wire, but I stopped looking at him when I caught a flash of white in the sky. I looked up and there were two bald eagles soaring on the thermal currents. I pulled over on the shoulder and watched them for a few minutes until they soared out of sight. What a treat!
I continued up 896 and decided to head toward Delaware City. This is not a drive I particularly enjoy because of all the refineries in the area, but it felt like the way to go. As I drove along, I was surprised to see a deer on my left, nibbling on some grasses behind a fence, just a few yards from the road, and there were about 50 geese milling around an open area to my right, enjoying the leftovers of a fallow farm field.
Slowly, I came into town and turned toward Fort Delaware, taking notice of the historic houses and the unique shops. I was anxious to see what was happening on the riverfront.
I parked the car and decided I was comfortable enough in my sweatshirt (almost 40 degrees with no wind) to look out over the water. I stood directly across from Pea Patch Island, which hosts Fort Delaware, a Civil War fortress and part of the state park system. Pea Patch Island is also one of the largest heron nesting areas on the east coast, and is must-see spot in the warmer months. (More info can be found here).
My eyes were drawn to some mallard duck pairs darting in and out of the phragmites, moving to maintain their camouflage in direct response to my movement as I tried to photograph them. We danced back and forth until I finally held still to just enjoy their presence and be in the moment.
I stood in silence…watching seagulls, listening to the sounds of the water lapping against the rocks, and soaking up the sun, drawing its warmth into my center. I said goodbye to the ducks, returned to my car, and pulled out of the parking space.
As I headed for the exit, sudden white movement against the clear sky caught my attention. I quickly pulled back into the space, leapt out of the car with camera in tow and gazed skyward, tracking a bald eagle soaring directly overhead.
Now, here’s where it gets a bit interesting. Remember when I said you never know what’s going to happen on an adventure ride?
Well, I’ve decided that you should really bring a buddy along with you when you go wildlife watching.
Because at no point in time is it a good idea to leap excitedly out of the car with your camera in hand unless you have first put the car in park, or, you are the passenger.
From the corner of my eye, I watched my car slowly roll away from me, luckily towards the curb, since I had not pulled all the way in to the parking space. I quickly jumped back in and secured it properly, scolding myself, then resumed my pursuit outside the car.
I found the eagle. 😀
I couldn’t believe that I had seen three eagles in one day! As he soared away, I smiled, grateful for the day’s experience.
Then my gratitude became quickly replaced with feeling both foolish and lucky as I turned back around to my car…
The door is wide open, my valuables are sitting in plain view on the front seat, and the keys are in the ignition with the car still running. I am 15 feet away from it. Yet, the car is still there with everything in it. GOOD GRIEF.
Word to the wise: Take a buddy with you wildlife watching to keep you sane and safe.
Ok, that’s enough excitement for now. Maybe next time I’ll focus more on plants – you don’t have to chase them and I’ll probably remember to finish parking the car and be more attentive upon my exit from it.
Till next time!