The crust of ice cracked underneath my boots, offering a short resistance earlier than my foot plunged right into a foot of water. Every step took further care and energy. My boot had to push by with out sliding throughout the ice, inflicting a horrible slip and horrible drenching within the freezing climate. This is how a few of the trails are throughout flood season at Audubon. They usually solely flood for a day or two, however I really like trekking by the floodwaters when it occurs.
Floods remodel the panorama and reinvent it, which is likely one of the causes I find it irresistible a lot. I really like virtually something that takes the acquainted and turns it into one thing new. This is similar cause I really like mountain climbing and biking at evening or wandering exterior after two ft of snow was dumped on the world. There is one thing magical in wandering by a well-recognized house that has been rendered unfamiliar by a sudden change.
Audubon’s trails flood virtually yearly because the snow melts and the primary cool, spring rains wash away the winter grit and dirt. The trails wander by wetlands whose operate is to flood. They maintain the floodwater again from the creek and launch it slowly, so the creek doesn’t rise as excessive or as shortly. Wetlands are the sponge habitat, absorbing water in order that it doesn’t fill grandma’s basement or wash away the street. This is essential, however not the explanation that I really like mountain climbing by the flood.
Floods push animals out of their consolation zone as they search larger floor. Over the years, floods have proven me many issues I might not usually see. Foxes seem in new locations, stalking smaller animals which might be additionally misplaced within the flood. Deer lie clustered on tiny hills that emerge a foot above the water. A small group of grouse clusters on excessive, open floor, removed from the lowland shrubs the place they spend extra time.
One of my favourite flood time encounters mixed the magic of flooding with the transformative energy of evening. I used to be strolling again to the Nature Center at nightfall on one flooded spring a number of years in the past. It took longer than anticipated to navigate the flooded trails, so the solar had sunk beneath the horizon as I took a break subsequent to Audubon’s Spatterdock Pond.
I idly let loose a Great Horned Owl hoot, since I used to be simply studying how to make an owl name. No owl hooted again, a lot to my disappointment, however I made a decision to hold hooting. Practice makes enchancment. The owls appeared bored with my poor imitation of the deep resonant hoots that actual Great Horned Owls make. I used to be nearly to surrender when a big shadow whisked throughout the pond. One time, two instances, 3 times it flew from one side of the pond to the opposite. I hooted in pleasure and, to my immense shock, a Great Horned Owl perched in a useless tree within the pond.
It was silhouetted in opposition to the sky and shut sufficient to see the tufts of feathers protruding on both side of the massive spherical head. I stared on the fowl, enthralled, for a number of minutes earlier than questioning what would occur if I hooted yet one more time. I hooted in my finest deep Great Horned Owl voice “Hoo hoo hoo hooooooo, hoo hoooooo”.
The owl by no means replied, nevertheless it did flip its head towards me. I used to be, foolishly, excited to have drawn its consideration, when it dove at my head. Great Horned Owls have a wingspan of 5 ft or extra and talons so long as my pinky finger. The fowl dipped beneath the tree line in the dead of night and have become invisible. I used to be alone in the dead of night with a silent unseen predator with killer ft coming in direction of me, properly conscious that this was solely occurring due to one thing I did.
I ducked shortly to the side and will really feel the breeze from the owl’s wings because it handed beside me. I left the owl behind and trudged fastidiously by the swamp on the best way again to the car parking zone. The owl, I’m certain, took benefit of the small creatures displaced by the flood to eat properly that evening.
Floods change the world. They flood properties of animals and folks, reroute the paths and roads which might be usually taken, and inconvenience many. They additionally pressure us to have a look at the world otherwise, to go in new instructions and discover new paths.
I’m glad floods don’t occur every single day, however I experience them whereas they’re right here.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between folks and nature. ACNC is positioned simply east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from daybreak to nightfall as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is open every day, together with restrooms, the Blue Heron Gift Shop, Indoor Nature Play Area and reveals. More info might be discovered on-line at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.