I woke up early on Sunday morning to lead another Audubon Field Trip and Dawson Creek Park.
Despite the steady drizzle, the ten of us enjoyed some great views of the park's birds and blazing foliage. As usual, many of the participants came to see the acorn woodpeckers, which did not disappoint. As we rounded a corner, an outgoing acorn woodpecker clung to the trunk of a tree a few feet in front of us long enough for everyone to get a great look.
We climbed the hill that offers the best views of the woodpecker colony so everyone could watch the industrious birds harvest acorns and store them in their granaries, putting up food for the winter just like the rest of us.
The other highlight encountered was a pond full of wood ducks. A few participants had never seen this species before, so they were delighted to see them swimming in the pond among mallards and perched in the willows.
Our most unusual bird was a female summer tanager, a species that is usually south of here by now. I was hoping to find some diving ducks and songbirds that should be arriving for the winter, but the wood ducks and acorn woodpeckers kept everyone pleased.
Here is a list of the birds we found:
After the field trip, Sarah and I drove up to New Earth farm to help Farmer Steve dig potatoes.
It's been at least 20 years since I've dug potatoes, but the smell of the soil brought me back to our old house on Pine Street, where my brother and I grabbed the potatoes my father turned over with a shovel.
Our technique was the same as back then, but there were more people shoveling, grabbing, and filling buckets.
We ended up harvesting 1,200 pounds of purple majesty and always golden potatoes.
Sarah and I brought home a few potatoes that were inadvertently sliced with shovels. I cooked them into a great potato-leek soup, ushering in the start of soup season.