The rain started late Tuesday afternoon so we sat under the RV awning and talked until after dark--no camp fire for us! Just at dusk the whip-poor-wills began to sing, and Lori was thrilled. She said she hadn't heard one in nearly 30 years. The rest of us had never heard one. Our excitement was short lived, however, as the birds sang and sang into the darkness, then started up again at 4:30 in the morning. We started to wonder what whip-poor-will soup tasted like....
When dawn finally arrived Wednesday it was dark and wet, with a fine mist falling. It took us a while to get up and around--you kind of have to force yourself to go out in weather like that, but since it was our only full day at the park we dragged ourselves up and out. Since neither hiking nor kayaking sounded particularly appealing in that weather, we opted to drive the dirt road up to the observation tower. At least we could see stuff and stay relatively dry.
The view from the observation platform offered looks at Lodge Lake (foreground) and Devoe Lake (far in the background) to the west...
and Grebe Lake to the east. As you can see it was quite dark and damp, even at 9 am.
When we got out of the car at the observation deck we saw a critter swimming around that we thought at first was a beaver, and we were all excited. Once we climbed the tower we saw that it was a muskrat. Why a muskrat is any less appealing than a beaver is a mystery to me, but I must say we were all a bit disappointed.
Across Grebe Lake, in a tall, lone white pine, is an eagle nest. This one looks a bit dilapidated. Eagle nests are huge structures, usually weighing 500 pounds or more. Eagles will use their nests year after year, adding more nesting material every year. A park employee told us that one nest weighed in at 2 tons. It's astonishing that the tree can hold that much weight.
We never did see the adults but we could clearly see two large nestlings moving about the nest.
The area was replete with birds, including several warbler species, orioles, robins and doves. This great crested flycatcher perched on the top of a tree and posed.
As dark as it was it was difficult to get images of anything under the tree canopy. Here a blurry yellow-belied sapsucker works its way up a tree branch.
As usual, we heard the pileated long before we saw her. I think there was a pair working their way through the trees, but I only saw the female.
Lori's sharp eyes spotted these pine saps in the woods along the road. Like its relative the Indian pipe, which also grows in this park, pine sap does not produce chlorophyll. They get their nutrients from organic matter in the soil. I had to battle the mosquitoes to get shots of these!
The saturated air had left everything covered with shimmering droplets. Rain won't do this--the drops hit and splash and run. But the fine mist that was falling that morning turned the world into a diamond mine--without the environmental destruction.
Wild rose--not sure which variety. All I know is that it is not the invasive multi-flora, and that makes me happy.
Blue flag iris.
Ox-eye daisy. While not a native, they are not terribly invasive, and have become one of those flowers that I cannot imagine a summer roadside or meadow without.
Columbine. The cultivated varieties are nice, but I still prefer the more subtle wild variety.
By the time we finished the drive the drizzle had stopped and the weather was starting to brighten up. We decided to walk the mile long nature trail loop that works its way around a fen. But before I take you there I have one more treat for you from the drive that morning.