Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eno River State Park (Few's Ford Access): Birding Trail

Overview: Eno River State Park hosts a number of easy to moderate trails, and a few more difficult ones, for the weekend hiker. If you're looking for an easy hike through a variety of habitats, try the "Birding Trail" (see map below). This trail starts at the Few's Ford parking loop and can easily by completed in 40 minutes. To begin, find the gravel maintenance road at the beginning of the parking lot loop (again, see map below). Continue down the gravel maintenance road until you find an opening in the woods. Continue through the woods, until reaching a clearing for electrical lines. At this clearing, notice a variety of ephemeral wetland pools (often hopping with frogs). Continue to the river and walk along the river until reaching a more heavily traveled trail. This trail will take you back up to the parking area.

Directions: The park is divided into five access points. The "Birding Trail" is found at the Few's Ford access, located just at the northern end of Cole Mill Road (maps & directions here).

Observations & Ponderings: On October 4, 2009, we enjoyed a lackadaisical hike along the birding trail. At the beginning of the hike, walking along a gravel road past full red cedars, we were greeted by the calls of northern mockingbirds, American crows, bluejays and northern cardinals. Before entering the dense canopy of the woods, a yellow shafted flicker zoomed by us.

The forest path offered an additional sign of wildlife: fox scat peppered with persimmon and hair. Soon a wood nymph fluttered by. We walked past some tall pines where we had seen yellow bellied sapsuckers flitting around busily in years past. Soon we came across a large mushroom and striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata).

As we left the wooded area, and came to the wetland filled power-line cut, we saw a number of fall flowers in bloom, including thistle, gerardia, an aster and Eupatorium species.

After traversing the power-line cut, we arrived at the slow flowing and shallow Eno River. Yellow-bellied sliders sunned on logs, carp with young hovered in small territories along the river bottom and a large mouth past eased on by.

Our lazy hike not only provided us with a glimpse of the autumnal deceleration of the natural world, but also allowed us to experience it ourselves.

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