Saturday, March 12, 2011
Long walk on a windy day
I arrived at the park early today just after 8am. The weather was somewhat undesirable with a temperature of 16º and very strong winds but for some reason I really really felt like walking. So much in fact that I decided to head north along Shingle Creek and I just kept going. The creek was actually open in a few places underneath the foot bridge but as I went upstream it was completely ice free. I guess it was nice to see open water again and I just wanted to see more. The winds had been so strong since last night that drifting snow had nearly closed the paved trails. In parts, snow had completely filled in to the same depth as the snow pack, leaving only a narrow strip on the side facing the wind through which to walk. I'd seen some deer bedded down in the snow along the way as well as about 500 or more Mallards on the open water. Eventually I came to a dam of sorts on the creek, which is technically in the next park system called "Brookview Park." At Noble Avenue I turned around to head back. Upon coming back to the very same place I'd turned off, a group of 7 deer came running through the woods. I watched them go right down the bank of the creek and thought "they're gonna fall right through the ice." They were smart enough to turn around however and they came right back up the bank by the giant cottonwood tree. A short time later I saw a group of 4, for a total of 11 Deer spotted today. As I was heading back on the east side, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker only just a few feet off the trail. I couldn't believe I hadn't scared it off. I've never been this close to one before so I got my camera out as fast as I could. It was pounding away at what looked to be a pretty fresh hole in the tree and was so absorbed in this task that it paid me no mind. I still had a hard time getting the photo I wanted because it would stick it's head into the hole in just a split second. At this distance I could see that it was eating something and I could only imagine that maybe it found some kind of insects or something. It was also quite obviously a female due to the black "mustache" extending back from it's bill. The The wind was still blowing which is why her feathers on one side look all poofed up. Since I was apparently not a threat, I went even a bit closer to lean against a tree and really steady my camera for some better close ups. What a cool bird!