- We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
It was early Easter morning and the morning sun had yet to show itself. I had every intention of sleeping in this morning but the thought of the Wood Ducks and the lure of the swamp was just too much to overcome. I crawled out of bed, slipped into my sexiest camo and slithered out of the house. My wife never even knew I was missing. I didn’t look at my watch but I would guess that I made it to the swamp at approximately Dark Thirty. The picture below shows what I was hoping to photograph but things don't always work as planned.
I typically park up the road and around the corner a bit so the noise of the Jeep doesn’t scare the Wood Ducks or whatever else that could be lurking in the swamp. I gathered all my gear and headed down the road in the darkness. Just as I was about to leave the road and go down over the bank and into the marsh a car was approaching me quickly from the east. Knowing that it would be difficult to see me I moved quickly and disappeared over the bank just as his headlights hit me. I can only imagine what was going through this fellas mind as I looked like a cross between Rambo and a photo journalist from Desert Storm. I was in full camo, with a Doghouse blind strapped to my back, a folding chair over one shoulder and an extended tripod on the other shoulder. I had my backpack strapped to my chest which looked oddly like a parachute and my Canon with the 100-400 awkwardly hanging around my neck. Maybe he was coming home from a late night of partying and won’t dare tell anyone what he saw.
Okay, so I set my blind up at a different spot with the hopes that I’ll outsmart the ducks. With the blind set up right on the very fringe of the water I crawl in and get my gear set up. I know it will take a bit for things to calm down after the racket I made but patience is a virtue. After sitting there for maybe 15 minutes it began to get light and I began to realize that it was freakin’ cold. Maybe I should have dressed warmer. This is what happens when my wife isn’t there to dress me in the morning. No big deal, I’ll tough it out even though seeing my breath on each exhale was a constant reminder. I bundled up tighter and pulled my hood tightly around my head. For the time being, I killed some time by watching a big beaver at the far end of the swamp going back and forth carrying fresh greens in his mouth.
A couple hours had gone by and I had lost most of the feeling in all my fingers but I was having a great time. So far no movement in the swamp other than me shivering violently. A half hour later things began to look up. The sun was now heating up the east side of my blind and by pressing my hand against that side of the blind I could actually sense some feeling coming back into my fingertips. At this same point I realized I could no longer see my breath on each exhale. At this point I also realized I was absolutely surrounded by the calls of a dozen different birds that frequent this marsh. Off to my left there was the most brilliantly colored Blue Jay perched on a nearby branch. Moments later a Common Flicker landed within range of the 400mm and was more than eager to show off his beautiful yellow tail feathers and yellow lined wings. The swamp was coming to life!
As I watched and listened I was serenaded by the sounds of nature. My trance was quickly broken by some movement directly in front of the blind. Sure enough a Muskrat was heading directly toward me. I watched him for a while and snapped some pictures until he dove under the water and out of sight. Once again the swamp went silent. I tipped my head down for a few moments and gave my eyes a rest. Sometimes I do this in hopes that the next time I look up the swamp will be alive with activity. Well, that was the case this time for sure!
As I opened my eyes I realized instantly that the one corner of the blind which didn’t completely contact the ground was now looking a bit different. I opened my eyes the rest of the way and realized I was having a face off with a Muskrat. Holy moley, what’s this crazy rodent doing in my blind! Apparently he had thought it was a hut. Everything happened real quick from here on. Apparently this Muskrat didn’t have a reverse gear because he charged into the blind. Chaos ensued! This muskrat made 3 or 4 quick loops inside my blind and he wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy either! In a split second I snapped to my feet but couldn’t flee. Now I know what you’re thinking, I’m 6 foot and 250 pounds and he’s maybe 10 inches high and a couple pounds. Yeah, I know if it come down to an all out hand to hand combat I’d probably come out on top, but when that crazy rodent yelped and hissed you can believe he had my attention.
If you ever watched “COPS” on TV you’ve seen the scrawny little guys that are on crack or coke or booze or whatever and it takes 3 or 4 cops to control them. Well that’s kinda’ how it was with this crazed rodent in my 5 X 5 blind. At one point he looked at me and raised one paw as if to say, let’s rumble! At this point he made one more hot lap around the blind and hid behind my chair that had been hurled against one corner of the blind. Now bear in mind this all went down in seconds and it’s hard to begin to explain the chaos inside that small blind that I can’t even stand straight up in. I think I asked him nicely if we could just get along and he said he was going to bite me in the ankles. I told him I had a pocket knife and he said he would pounce on me like a chicken on a June bug. This was one crazed critter I’m here to tell you! I think he and his buddies had been muchin’ on some bad mushrooms and he was on some kind of trip.
As I was thinking of my next move he darted out from behind the chair. I was spinning around so quickly that my hood had caught on my glasses and I was only seeing out of one eye. While holding the tripod with on hand I swung my other hand like a wild man to get the hood away from my one eye but only managed to knock my glasses off my face and onto the ground. The Muskrat took advantage of this mistake and ran to the other corner. After getting focus enough to find my glasses I quickly snatched them up and slid them onto my face but I still couldn’t see well because that damn rodent had a muddy footprint on one lens. He is one evil Muskrat and smart too but not quite as smart as me. I suddenly got the brainstorm to simply lift up the whole blind. Smart move on my behalf, wish I had thought of that earlier. Okay, with my heart pounding I watch the Muskrat swim away but after swimming out to a nearby log he turns around and looks back at me and shakes his head as if to say “what just happened there”!
So please, I need to have someone tell me that these thing happen to everybody! Come on people, tell me it’s not just me!! After all this went down I figured it best to crawl out of my blind and pack it up for the day. As I walked back to the Jeep reflecting on what had just happened I caught glimpse of something perched on a wire. The brightly colored Blue and White Swallow was just begging to have his picture taken. I was glad to oblige but it was then that I was made aware that my steadiness was hampered by what just went down in the blind. It took several shots until I was able to capture some decent images of my feathered friend. On a brighter note he seemed to calm my nerves and instantly all was right with the world. Nature can do that you know! Here are a couple images of this little fella. Whoda' Thunk a quiet Easter morning could have turned out this way, I sure didn't.