March 26 – 29, 2020.
As you probably already know, these days our main hobby has become stalking wildlife. And since wildlife tends to hide in the middle of the day we have now become morning people. Before we can even see the sun on the horizon we are up, layered in warm clothes, hiking boots laced up, contacts in, binoculars and camera at the ready, water bottles filled, backpack strapped on, and out into the wilderness.
Being a morning person is pretty new to me. Even after all these years living on the road waking up with the sun, I’m still not one to jump and do stuff. I’m more like a get up, spend 2 hours drinking my green smoothie, and surfing the internet in the morning type of person. I tend to stay away from social media in the am hours (way too many people virtually talking). I do an online puzzle instead or glance at the news (which, of course, makes me just want to curl up and go back to bed).
But now we are sheltering in place. And our place is a tiny metal box. And our tiny metal box is in a wildlife preserve. And the news is just way too depressing. So what better to do than to slide the van door open and see what’s out there?
While we were in Buenos Aires NWR a ranger at the visitor center recommended a stellar camping spot. Not only did it have a lovely view, but it was also close to several different roads. Each morning we would set off in a different direction down a new path. Our walk usually started out pretty brisk (it was usually very cold) and quiet (it often seemed like we were up before the wildlife). But eventually, we’d walk down a piece of road flanked by trees and we’d start to hear them. A chorus of competing tunes. Birds would dart from branch to branch and zoom right in front of us from one side of the road to the other.
As the day continued we would warm up and the birds would slow down a little, sitting just a little longer on a tree limb on top of a bush. Maybe even long enough for us to ease up on one to get a picture. Sometimes one of us would stop in our tracks and point. Like the lookout in the man overboard drill – we didn’t want to lose sight of the bird (or deer) in a sea of branches, leaves, and landscape.
Time would slip away as we became enveloped in our surroundings. Our walks got longer and longer each day – 3, 4, almost 5 hours. We started becoming fascinated by more than just birds. I started taking close-ups of flowers. We hiked up hills and took in the scenery.
Later in the morning, we’d finally return to Ballena Blanca. We’d unload the backpack of all our various layers we stripped off during our trek. And after we put all our bedsheets and blankets away and turned the bed back into a couch, we’d set up the computer, remove the SD card from the camera, download our pictures, and spend the rest of the morning viewing and identifying the spoils of the day’s hunt.
*Click pictures to enlarge and open into a slide show.
Are you a morning person? Do you ever get up before the birds? Has COVID-19 changed your daily routine?