Saturday, May 02, 2009

Year of the Myrtle

Sunrise during my Saturday morning run



Fargo is a week away. Here is hoping I have trained well. I think I have, so I am feeling like I am ready.

This morning was my last run of any significant distance. I did a spirited 13 miles today, managing to hold a pretty good pace for the whole time. It ended up being a really great run. the weather was in the mid 40's, I saw a gorgeous sunrise, winds were calm to start and picked up a little towards the finish, and there was not a cloud in the sky. Very nice!

Following my run, I had some and some breakfast and then decided to go to the Elm Creek Park Reserve to do some hiking. It is May, and there are migrating birds to be watched!

No sledding or snowmobiling allowed in the park today; spring is officially here! :)



It warmed up into the low 60's and became one of the most spectacular spring days I can remember. The humidity was almost nonexistent. It felt great just to walk around in shorts and a T-shirt. A fantastic day to be outside. The park was starting to look gorgeous. Signs of green were everywhere.

There were several folks out and about today. In fact, when I arrived at the park, there was a race that was just finishing up and they were busy handing out awards (it must have been this one...might have to remember this for next year!).

The leaves are really starting to get big.



The nice thing about this park is that they have paved trails for the bikers, rollerbladers, and such. Even better, they have some wonderful dirt hiking/horse riding trails for foot traffic only. I stuck to these and walked in the park for a couple hours. I shared these trails with no one else. Except for the birds, that is.

As soon as I got into the park, I was surrounded by yellow-rumped "Myrtle" warblers. And I am not exaggerating when I say I saw well over a hundred today. Never have I seen so many in one area. They were everywhere I went, almost as if they were following me. This was very cool to see. It must be the "Year of the Myrtle!"

I added a few new birds to the list for the year; the palm warbler (a cute little guy who loves to forage on the ground and always bobs his tail; I had dozens of these dudes hopping around me!), the Tennessee warbler, ruby-crowned kinglet, and the dreaded brown-headed cowbird (the deadbeat parent of the bird kingdom).

A beautiful cluster of violets along the trail



As great as it was to see all of these birds, perhaps the coolest thing I saw today was a Cooper's hawk. I never would have seen him in the thick woods had he not started making this shrill, loud, scolding note. I finally spotted him. And actually, I think he was mad at me! The Cooper's was perhaps no more than 30 feet away, and he was eating an unsuspecting songbird (best as I could tell it was a blue jay!). I believe he thought I was trying to horn in on his lunch!

The Cooper's was a beauty; a mature adult that had the pretty reddish barring on his chest. Quite the specimen. I had the opportunity to watch the hawk dine on his fresh kill for several minutes before he got annoyed and took off. I tried to snap some photos. The photos sucked, but here you can kind of see him flapping his wings (I really needed my Dad the photographer with me today!).

Cooper's hawk, having some lunch



But there was more than just bird activity. I spotted a couple of Eastern comma butterflies, my first of the year. The large green darner dragonflies were cruising around the swampy areas. The violets along the trail were in full bloom, as seen above. And the bloodroots were spectacular, as seen below.

Bloodroots in bloom



Not a bad day, if I do say so myself. How could it get even better? Why, with pork and shrimp pad Thai, of course!

Homemade pad Thai with pork and shrimp



I saw a story about how this recent flu business has been hurting pig farmers needlessly (apparently there are those who erroneously believe you can catch the flu from a tasty, delicious pork chop), and that just ticks me off. Therefore, I am trying to cook with as much pork as I can. Tomorrow I am making a pork and lamb ragu.

Pigs are beautiful. Pork is good food.

Until next time,

Jean
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