Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hovering and Hiking in Humidity

Saturday was an unstable weather kind of day, one minute the sky seemed to be clear blue, and then the clouds appeared, dark and thundery. The air was thick with heavy moisture causing me to reconsider my hike, but it was a local venue and since I was alone I could always cut it short if the weather became too oppressive. I was heading to a local wildlife management area and so grabbed my bright orange baseball cap on the way out, so hunters wouldn't mistake me for a deer in the bushes.
I was very relieved to arrive at the park and find only 1 truck parked there, so a maximum of 4 guns were out in the area somewhere. I decided the odds were OK and started out on one of the paths which was supposed to lead to a lake. Almost immediately the going was tough, the trail was extremely overgrown, making it pretty difficult to push through. I came to a little creek and this would be the only open area I'd come across while on the trail.
Despite my heavy use of repellant spray before I set off, bugs and midges swarmed around my head and i was positive I could feel little nips on my arms and legs. Because the trail was so overgrown I often found myself walking into spiders' webs and having to negotiate long brambles that stretched across in front of me, as though deliberately trying to impede my progress. and whenever I saw bugs on the leaves, they were in couples. This wildlife area must be the Sandals resort for bugs. I was getting pretty fed up. The trail was almost disappearing and I wondered if it was a proper trail I was following or a track of a deer or hunter busting through the vegetation. Then suddenly a little area opened up, brightly lit with hot sunshine, colored with clumps of pretty purple, the Virginia Waterleaf flowers. Skimmers and dragonflies hovered and whisked around the plants, with butterflies and bees greedily flitting quickly from one pollen laden stamen to the next.
 But then something bigger caught my eye, and I quickly turned to look at a creature which I thought was a hummingbird. But it was too small and as I slowly crept closer, I suddenly realized I was watching a hummingbird moth. I gazed in wonder. It didn't seem too bothered about my presence, but then I thought, with it almost impossible to follow a trail, there was likely few people who came here. It's wings sounded just like a hummingbird and moved equally as fast, its wings beating 30 times a second. It darted from one flower to the next with the same sudden movements and I struggled to take a photo. As soon as I had focused, it had moved on again. Then, amazingly, it stopped, and for a couple of seconds I was able to focus and quickly snap a picture. I had no time to study the little creature itself, it had no intention of staying still. And then it was gone. I stood there, waiting, willing it to come back, but I waited in vain. I felt like I'd seen a fantasy creature, or a fairy, Then slowly I became aware again of those damn little nits buzzing around my head, and where I'd stood still for a while, they were getting more daring and were now around my eyes. I had to get moving.
I carried on up the 'path', pushing branches, webs and huge briars out of my way but eventually it just got to be too much. The trail was almost disappearing and the vegetation was taller than me. I couldn't handle pushing my way through all that with bugs being on leaves at eye level. I'd tried to look for photos of things that would keep me going but even my interest in taking photos diminished to the point that all I could think about were bugs, bugs and bugs. I'd picked a couple of ticks from my capris and my poor shins were feeling sore from the brambles scratching me. I had to admit defeat, and I had not even seen the lake.
I turned around and started walking back the way I'd come. I'd only covered about three miles but it felt like seven because of my battle through the undergrowth. The heat and bugs had really sapped my strength. And then as soon as I emerged into the little open area with the beautiful purple blooms, I saw the same little hummingbird moth flit across in front of me, its wings buzzing loudly.
And this time I managed to get photos that were a little better than my first attempt. I had to wonder how it managed to keep so active in this humidity while wearing that big furry coat. I even succeeded in taking a short video to show how fast it moved:
I uploaded a video of the little chat here.
A detailed explanation and video footage here.
Seeing this wondrous little creature totally made my day worthwhile and I was happy to swat the mosquitoes and tiny black flies from my face as I walked back to the car. I may not have hiked the miles or seen the landscape I was hoping to see today but this magical little creature more than made up for it.

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