Monday, March 12, 2012

My Seeing-Eye Friend

I just love to go walking with Sue!  She's amiable and fun, she's full of nature knowledge and lore, she can tell most birds by their songs, and she shares my penchant for stop-and-stoop hiking that would drive most other folks nuts.  But what's really amazing is how well she can see, pointing out to me all kinds of wonders that I would certainly overlook.  Yesterday,  we went for a nice long walk at the Saratoga Battlefield, and it was certainly pleasant to amble along under that wide blue sky, feeling the warmth of a strengthening sun, and admiring the expansive vistas of mountain and meadow.  And those distant vistas were about all I would have noticed if my friend had not been along.

I had promised Sue bluebirds, for I knew that these fields and copses were exactly the kind of habitat they loved (and I'd seen them here before on previous hikes).  But I was just grumbling to myself that I hadn't seen a single one, when Sue told me they were all around us, flitting among the branches of nearby trees.  I peered and peered, but even with my binoculars, all I could see were little gray shapes hiding out in the twigs.  It wasn't until I blew up my photo of one and enhanced the color with my computer that I could tell it was really a bluebird.

I also nearly stepped on this cute little critter crossing our path,  but Sue saw it first and warned me to stop before I squashed it.

How odd to see a Wooly Bear so early in spring!  Don't caterpillars pupate in autumn, then emerge as moths in the warmth of spring?  Not this one.  The larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth, the Woolly Bear winters over as a caterpillar, freezing solid, in fact, then thawing out when warm weather arrives, and it pupates in the spring. 

Here's another example of Sue's amazing eyesight -- and her sharp hearing, as well.  She heard the geese long before I did, then pointed up to where she saw a large flock of Snow Geese soaring northward on the wind.  Now, tell me:  can any of my readers see the flock of geese up there in that vast blue sky?  (I took her word for it and pointed my camera in the direction she indicated.)

Well, I'll be darned!  Once I enlarged my photo on my computer, I saw them too.   See them circled in red?  (Do click on the photo to enlarge it.)

After our very pleasant walk we parted ways, Sue to her home in Queensbury and I to Saratoga Springs.  Nearing Saratoga, I passed this patch of Red Osier Dogwood so startlingly red that even I, with my bad eyes, just couldn't miss it, blazing away on a roadside bank.

And oh look what else was growing there!  Dear Pussy Willow!  Spring is truly here.


threecollie said...

Pussy willows! Yay!

Scotty - The BBQ Master said...

Did you notice the new inhabitants of the battlefield? There is a swampy area near the first stop, across the way actually, and there were 2 busy beavers in there. And like the rest of the battlefield didn't care that we were watching him/her. very large and very busy.

Woodswalker said...

Yes, threecollie, yay, indeed! Do you remember tickling your nose with them as a kid?

Nice to hear from you Scotty, which gave me a chance to visit your very interesting blog, where you visit some of my own favorite places. No, we did not see the beavers at the battlefield, but we've sure been seeing their woodworking evidence all over the county.

Virginia said...

I love the way you use your digital capabilities to help you with bird identification from your photos. You also did this a while ago with snow sparkles. I will have to keep this in mind. Despite your "bad eyes," you see a lot! I enjoyed these posts.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, Virginia. Yes, my camera and computer help me see better, that's for sure. With my bare eyes I can often see something anomalous, something that causes me to pause, but it's often not until after I have enlarged my photo that I can see any detail.