Day two was full of wonderful walking, nice surprises, pleasant people, great food in gorgeous locations… And I could go on and on about the details of all that… but for some reason, three wildlife events stick in my mind:
Scary: Bear Scare!
Just after we crossed ASP 3 – a road that goes through the park – and after we had a delicious lunch on the banks of Stony Brook, with naked toes dangling in the water, and were packing up to start our climb up the next section of trail, we met a woman who was running down the hill. She had a big swelling scrape on her shin and was obviously in a panick. She and her boyfriend had just seen a bear.
As we put our backpacks on again to resume our hike, we decided to take our cameras out, so that if we also saw the bear we could take it’s picture… The poor woman was incredulous that we would continue on… But, we weren’t afraid. We sang “The Other Day, I Met a Bear” as we climbed the hill, knowing that all our noise would send the bear for cover…
Icky: Tent Caterpillars
It was just gross. Totally gross. For about 2 miles of our hike, the caterpillars were so plentiful that our faces and arms were continuously covered with webs. When we stopped for a brief rest, there was so much frass falling from above hitting the leaves that it nearly sounded like rain.
At one point we found a particularly good nest, a bit too high for a photograph. But my companions were able to bring it to my level. First Concetta coaxed the tree down, then Deb held the branch steady. Such pals.
Mysterious: Unidentified Bird Call
There were two modes of hiking among the 8 women on this trip. Mode 1: let’s just get there! Mode 2: let’s not kill ourselves. Deb, Concetta, and I were mode 2 hikers. During one of our many long breaks, we munched on party-colored chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and heard a bird we did not recognize. Close-by and loud is a Red-eyed Vireo, but in the distance, can you hear the mystery sound?
I was sure I had never heard it before. When I got home, I noticed a certain bird listed on the sightings list at Audubon and wondered if that was it. I checked it at the Cornell site, and sure enough: Black-billed Cuckoo. Then last weekend when I got to Allegany (again) for the pilgrimage and heard it calling outside the registration building I realized I HAD heard it before. The interesting thing is what the Cornell site had to say about diet:
Cuckoos eat many spiny caterpillars and the spines stick in the lining of the stomach. The stomach lining is periodically shed to remove the spines. source
Well, little Cuckoos… you weren’t eating them fast enough for me!!