Skeeters, Rain, and Closed Bathrooms

GTM Reserve officially re-opens tomorrow (June 6, 2020), and visitors will once again pay a small fee to access the park. The web site says that the bathrooms at the park’s entrance will remain closed for renovations, but visitors can use the Port-o-let in the interim. Maybe. Last week it was gross. This week, I stepped inside and quickly retreated. You get the idea. There are additional restrooms at the trailhead, but today these were locked as well.

This morning was cool and overcast, with a gentle breeze. Perfect weather for birding. After walking the perimeter of the paved parking lot and spotting two new-to-me birds, I trekked the dirt road leading to the trailheads.

Halfway there, sprinkles of rain moistened my skin. Ahead, a black cloud trailed columns of rain. I stopped and debated. Turn back? Keep going? But the cool air was too inviting; the rain refreshing. Instead, I pulled a disposable raincoat from my backpack. I pulled it over my head and probed for the arm holes, and then rolled the edges over belly and backpack.

Fresh hoofprints snaked through the mud. The young boar I saw last week? It foraged among the grasses as I parked my car. We exchanged furtive glances as I donned backpack and belly bag.

I slipped my camera from its case.

The pig stopped abruptly. Twitched an ear. Took a step toward the brush and gave a stand-in-place hop.

Standing near the car door, I snapped a few pictures.

Seeing I meant no harm, the boar swished its tail and resumed its search for breakfast.

As I started down the trail, the trees formed towering silhouettes. It was impossible to spot birds in the darkness; and my binoculars were beneath my plastic sheeting. Frogs serenaded me as I watched for snakes. Last week I nearly tromped a beautiful Bluestripe Garter.

Gradually, the rain dissipated and my plastic wrapper grew warm and sticky. But now it protected me from a different hazard – relentless flies and mosquitos.

I spotted a mosquito on my wrist. I slapped and it smeared red.

I sprayed myself with citronella, then removed the plastic and donned a baseball cap, which I draped with netting. I could see the mosquitos testing the barrier and something gold landed just beneath the hat brim. A fly or a yellow-jacket? I flicked the mesh with my fingers and it disappeared.

Slowly the clouds passed and the world brightened. Birds chirped and flitted. I could press the binoculars to my eyes and see through the netting, but the moment I loitered the insects swarmed.

Instead, I walked at a steady pace and birded by ear. There were Northern Parulas, Pileated Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees, and White-eyed Vireos. Previously, I had spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler singing. I now identified those as well.  

Walking without pause, the trail seemed shorter than usual. Before I knew it, I was back at my car.

As I returned my backpack to the trunk, a fisherman suited-up in waders. “Get rained on?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I smiled. “It was wet. And buggy. Citronella worked last year, but this year it doesn’t phase ‘em.”

He suggested using Cutter brand repellent or Bounty dryer sheets. Next time I’ll try those.

References and Credits

All Blog Posts

Home

Return to Birding

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She is a [mostly] vegan, alcohol-free, [relatively] caffeine-free, Buddhist writer and day-hiker. Her novel, The Clones of Langston, was a Reader’s Favorite medalist and a New Century Writer Awards finalist. It tells the story of cloned workers who are abandoned to form their own society. As the facility housing them erodes, they discover a challenging new world—our own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: