A Morning Sitting in Lochwood Park

Expectant/watchful Lochwood Forest 7:26 am 27.ix.03 Sat


I am sitting in a fold-up lounge chair that has both foot and head rests, watching the morning come. A number of mosquitoes are watching with me. They are slow, or hungry, and their mortality rate is high, but it is hard to say if their numbers are decreasing at all under my heavy-handed approach.

There is a high cloud layer, and the sunrise seems to be defused into a general warming in the east.

I have thought of doing this for years – particularly sitting in a chair with a headrest – so one can look up into the treetops without “warbler neck” – but this is, I believe, the first time I have actually sat in a lounge chair and watched the day develop. Or birded from a lounge chair.

With tea in a thermal mug snuggly ensconced in one of the arm chair’s cup holders, egg sandwich in lap, and clipboard to write on, I am set to sit.

Cardinals call. A blue jay gives a clear, scolding note, and a squirrel give a nasal bark behind me. The bark alternates with an almost internal churring sound, a grumbling, rolling note of dissent.

When I walk through these woods, I find cardinals hard to see, but sitting here quietly I have seen three or four already, rather than just hearing their ‘pchink’ notes from the bushes.

Two Carolina wrens do a call and response with their regional variation on the “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle” call as the books give it. The first sound is slurred “chee,” like they had been drinking more than tea!

A youngish couple appear briefly on the other side of the river, in running shorts – and are gone. Did they even see me?

I have always wanted to spend the night in the park: to record what comes and goes, what sounds there are, what animals, if any. And to watch the day come, from earlier than I have started today. Perhaps this winter I will finally find the time.

A leafy branch just fell out of a tree across the river, but I think it was unaccompanied by any squirrels. But they are active in the tree above, and one is just now making its way up the tree from the area not too far from where the branch fell. I wish I could have seen what fell better. How often do squirrels fall out of trees?

There seem to be no passerines this morning, and almost no birds at all. The wrens still call, a cardinal “pchinks,” I hear a strange almost insect-like trill from I don’t know what, a crow calls in the distance, and a chickadee says its name just now. When I came to the park a distant thrush gave a flute-like whistle – that is all.

This chair would not be comfortable for hours – or even an hour. The frame is right under the sling of the seat – but it is fun to lie and look around, and up, and still be comfortable.

A red-bellied woodpecker gives a strident call note, and is silent.

I realize I have set up my chair facing away from the sunrise, and move it 90 degrees to now face south – so I can look towards or away from the increasing brightness of the morning.

7:54 am

A turtle was on the path as I came in this morning, the first I have seen here in the woods. I will go back to look for it.

8:21 am

As I expected, even a search near ground level finds neither sight nor sound of the turtle. I wonder what sound a turtle makes as it moves through the dry fall leaves?

I went home to get camera, compass, GPS, and insect repellant. Met a young couple with young dog near where I was sitting. New in the neighborhood, they asked about the trails, and I told them about lockwoodpark.com as well.

The GPS is most interesting. After some minutes of data collecting, averaging, and now locked into WAAS mode, it still can’t decide the elevation as it rests on the ground beside me. It has been as high as 540 feet, and now is dropping, having just passed 506 ft.

Eastern facing tree leaves are now much more golden-orange as the sun rises higher and the cloud layer spreads the colors across the sky.

After 13:00 minutes of WAAS averaging the GPS has more or less settled on 510-11 feet for the elevation.

After 26:30 it is 531 feet – not too good in the elevation department in regards to accuracy.

After 2:30 (it reset itself) it is now at 561 feet.

9:27 am

After another trip home for the 16-35 mm lens, a trash bag, and shovel, I have industriously filled in the bump and hill that bike riders have carved in the path, and collected a full bag of their trash (see photos).

The humidity is very noticeable. I am sweating as if it were very hot, or I was working very hard. Neither is true.

But I do have my usual accumulation of “stuff.” Around me is spread binoculars, bird guide, notebook and pen, Canon 10D with 28-70 mm lens, 16-35 mm lens next to it, GPS, compass, jacket, insulated tea mug, my extra trash bag, insect repellant, glasses, shovel, lounge chair, and clipboard with these notes. No wonder I am such a terrible “go-light” packer.

The WAAS keeps resetting itself, so apparently even light tree cover is a problem for the at least elevation determination.

As I leave, I wonder about what difference telling people about this park makes, and whether rambling journal entries like this actually give people any better sense of place, and therefore a greater interest in protecting parks and wild places. One can only hope, and keep trying.

At 2:30 seconds of WAAS averaging it is now settling at 559 feet.

Location: 32° 51.331 N

096° 44.484 W

559 feet

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