Outside the Yard
Transylvania County in Western North Carolina is a virtual playground for outdoor-oriented folks. After a little more than two years of residency, we have barely scratched the surface. Today we had an invitation to go canoeing on one of our rivers--hardly a thing you say no to!
The point of entry was very close to the origin of the French Broad River. Headwaters Outfitters have a few different packages and modes of transportation (tube, kayak, canoe) -- we chose three hours in canoes.
One of the beautiful things about canoeing is that there are usually periods when you don't need to paddle. It is also an exquisitely quiet way to travel. Both of these characteristics lend themselves to terrific wildlife viewing. Right now, hummingbirds are stoking up for their big migration and they were all. over. the. place. When we didn't see them we heard them. One of the blooming plants found nearly the entire way down the river is jewelweed--and the blossoms were being regularly fought over by the hummers.
Also frequently evident were the goldfinches. Seeing them in flight was fun, but seeing them in the water was even more fun! Closer to the canoe were a number of fish--mostly small ones--so I haven't a clue what they were, since they wouldn't hold still. Early on, a great egret watched us float by. I heard a number of Eastern towhees, but never did see one. Cardinals, chickadees--we had lots to listen to as we made our way down the river.
At one point we caught sight of a little southern water snake. (We saw the red variant shown at the linked site.) We also saw some waterfowl that I haven't identified yet (female mallard? male non-breeding gadwall?), so if anybody knows who this fella is be sure and let me know! But the big thrills were an osprey, a green heron and a belted kingfisher. A couple of weeks ago, we probably wouldn't have seen an osprey, because they come through the area only during migration. The kingfisher is probably a regular, so maybe we'll see him again next time!
We saw butterflies, dragonflies--for me, the only bad thing about the trip was that I had neglected to charge batteries for the camera. So rather than having lots of photos to share, I have only half a dozen. Boo hiss!