It was an overcast and damp morning following heavy rains and I headed to Sheffield Regional Park to see what might be shakin’. I arrived to heavily flooded pastures, playgrounds, and trails, but it didn’t deter me…I had my waterproof, ankle high Keen hiking boots on. If you’re looking for a truly waterproof hiking shoe, this is the best I’ve found and have ever had. As long as the water doesn’t come in over the top, you can walk through puddles several inches deep and damp grasses while maintaining dry feet. I’ve had these babies about a year and a half, have hiked the rainforests of Costa Rica, the frigid and snowy badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, the dusty, arid landscapes around Austin and San Antonio, Texas, the boulders of Arizona, and muggy Jacksonville, Florida, and they barely appear broken in.
“How wet and damp was it out there this morning, Kevin?”, you ask. I think the image above illustrates that it was so damp and flooded, that Florida Crayfish were quite literally crabbing down the paved entrance road. (Is it “crabbing”, “crawfishing”, or just maybe ambling?) If you’re wondering, yes, I rescued this incredible creature and did not leave him in the street to be either run over or used as bait for one of the many fisher-people around the main lake.
The image above was typical of the wooded trails this morning. It made for an interesting hike, but as mentioned – I slogged right through these trails with no worries.
The large pond above is in the back half of the property, and usually has the Buffleheads in winter. This morning, I happened across four older teenagers or maybe early twenty-somethings at 8:00AM, already in their swimsuits, and already shotgunning either tallboys or White Claws. It was one male and three females, and the three ladies were the ones I saw chugging the beers like I may or may not have done in my youth. That is to say, punching a hole in the bottom, wrapping your lips around the jagged hole, and popping the top.
Sheffield Regional Park is the absolute best place in town to see rabbits/hares, and this morning was no exception. They were scattered around the property today; the one above was found along the paved loop right at the parking lot. This is also a great part in the park for Common Gallinule, Brown Thrasher, White-eyed Vireo, and Red-winged Blackbird, and I found all four species this morning with ease.
A little further down the path, on the backside of the “main pond”, I found two adult Black-crowned Night-Herons, which is a particularly uncommon species to see at Sheffield park.
Sheffield has an interesting agriculturally themed playground (above), that I’ve never seen a single child playing on. Maybe they think it looks too much like hard work(?). Regardless, I include the image above just to once again show just how flooded all the fields were.
All told, it was a shorter hike than normal but I still managed to see or hear 27 species.
This is now the wheelhouse for migrating Louisiana Waterthrush – I start looking every 4th of July weekend, and the weather has been cooperating nicely. Fort George Island will be full of puddles in the morning and I’m going to take a stab at finding the season’s first waterthrush.