Day 4 of the New River Birding and Nature Festival found me at a place called Muddlety. It’s a location as much as it’s a state of mind. Muddlety is an area with a troubled past, a troubled present, and a troubled future. Part of the area is reclaimed strip mine. Unfortunately, part of the area is the site of a future strip mine. Throw in a variety of clear cut logging zones over the decades and you have a very unusual mixture of habitat.
The morning started with a stop for a Blue-winged Warbler. The bird did not disappoint as it was quickly located at the expected spot. We were also treated to some nice views of a Common Yellowthroat at the same spot but the bird was not real cooperative for photos. The witchity, witchity, witchity call is common in marshes and is a sign that a particularly beautiful bird is nearby.
A bad photo of the Common Yellowthroat.
As we walked along the roads I was amazed by the diversity of plant life. It seems a real shame that all of this might be gone one day so we can run our light bulbs and toaster ovens for a little while longer. Muddlety is a special place.
I learned something on this trip. I was not aware that black birch trees were once harvested to get the oils in the sap to make oil of wintergreen. Jim McCormac spotted a black birch and pulled off a branch. When the branch is stripped and placed in your mouth you can very clearly taste the wintergreen flavor. Quite cool. Almost like those flavored toothpicks but much better.
At our lunch stop we had a couple of nice treats. In a tire rut in the road were dozens of Pearl Crescents greedily lapping up the minerals in the soils. The photo is poor but the little butterflies were really pretty.
The other nice treat at lunch was a giant Tulip Tree, one of the largest in West Virginia. The tree is in the dead center of the photo. The tree was so big it took 6 people linking hands to reach all the way around.
Finally, i couldn't resist this really pretty fungi growing on a stump. I don't the species but I will find out.
The day wrapped up nicely. The next day featured a hunt for a rarity.