I parked at the trailhead of the TNC Hand's Landing Preserve Trail, just 100 yards from Rt. 47 on Kimbles Beach Rd. The parking area is just a small grassy lot, but there is a sign designating the Preserve. The beginning of the trail skirts the back yards of some of the houses nearby, then turns into the typical oak/pine/holly/cedar woods that mark most of the Delaware Bayshore region. Only five minutes into my hike, I hit water. Lots of water. From what I could guess, waist-deep water. Not having brought along my inflatable kayak, I turned back and retreated down the road a bit to the Refuge parking lot and the trailhead for the Songbird Trail. But where were the birds?
This section of trail was actually fairly dry, although I'm glad I wore my high boots. The most disturbing sight was the damage done to many of the holly and cedar trees from the recent snowstorms. Lots of broken branches, some trees snapped in half. I estimated that at least 50% of all evergreen trees in those woods had sustained damage. I'm curious whether there will be any sign of this damage in six months, other than the litter of broken branches on the ground. But where were the birds?
You can take this trail, which in this section of woods is maintained and well-marked by TNC, to a fork. Staying left takes you past the campground/condominium compound and then down a trail through the marsh and across a metal bridge to the Delaware Bay shore. Taking the right fork (which I did today) takes you back onto Refuge land and Kimbles Beach Rd. I walked down the road to the Bay, desperately looking for something to write down in my notebook. Aha! A lone turkey vulture cruised by. Yay. Then a couple of robins. Woohoo. Hey, a flock of grackles. Things are looking up.
On the Bay beach, a couple of gulls and a small flock of sanderlings. Oh, and starlings on the electric lines.
I always feel, even on a slow day like this, that 'something good' will happen before I get back to the car. The best I could do today was a Cooper's Hawk cruising over the field near the old Refuge headquarters. The presence of this hawk might explain the absence of songbirds. I thought, Maybe I'll see him take out a robin or a grackle, now that would be cool! But he just turned and headed off toward the vineyard. Sigh. A cold gray day, the last day of a cold, snowy, nasty month, a fitting end to February.