Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Day Grouse 1/1/08

My girlfriend Laura and I had a nice snowshoe hike at Pisgah State Park, in SW New Hampshire on New Year's Day. We started out about 10:30AM and planned to hike the 5.5 mile Kilburn Loop, which is 99% forested. Other snowshoers had broken a trail for about a mile until we headed south on the "loop portion" of the Kilburn trail and the next 4+ miles were through virgin snow.

Wintery Scene along the Kilburn Loop, in Pisgah State Park

About 1/2 way through the hike, I noticed a line in the snow about 8 feet long and 6 inches wide. I stopped about 10 feet from the mark and pointed out to Laura, "it looks like something tunneled under the snow". I took another step, still a bit away from the marking in the snow, and a Ruffed Grouse exploded from under the snow about 6 inches from the toe of my snowshoe, just missing my knee as it shot through the woods. I had read about grouse roosting in the snow, and had hoped to see it one day and yesterday was it!


Laura negotiates a stream crossing near the end of our hike

The last 2 miles of the hike were up hill and we, me in particular, were pretty tired. The "low-light" for me was crossing one of those narrow hiking bridges over a muddy seep. These work quite well for hiking shoes but entirely different for snowshoeing, I managed to fall into the only stinken mud hole in southern NH, fortunately feet first! But, now my snowshoes were carrying about 10 lbs of snow each as the wet muddy "shoes" acted as a snow magnet, we scraped off the mud and trudged on out! The fall was a minor inconvenience and this was a very nice start to the New Year.
This was not a birding trip and only 4 species were seen or heard, but little diversity would be expected out here in winter: Ruffed Grouse 1, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Black-capped Chickadee 5 and Golden-crowned Kinglet 15.


2 comments:

PA-Birder said...

Tom,
What a neat story about the Grouse. I did not know that about them. The woods must of been beautiful! I remember snow covered days like that in the past, but must admit, as I get older, less snow is one thing I like about living in PA rather than MA, though there are many things I miss too.
Vern

Larry said...

No kidding? A Grouse popped up right out of the snow! Those birds have starteld me on a few occasions over the years while hiking.