It’s been such a busy two weeks and it’s good to be back to share some of my adventures. Each year I travel to Shenandoah National Park with the Mountain Club of Maryland. Our true destination is to hike up Old Rag Mountain. An arduous nine-mile hike that includes over 2,000 feet of elevation gain and a wonderful boulder scramble.
I’ve been going to the mountains with the club for seven years now, and each year is different. In all of that time, I search for the birds, and the season is usually cold and the birds are long gone. However, this year has been unseasonably warm and birds were everywhere. Not only were the birds around, but the bears were also busy enjoying the Indian summer.
I would stop and chat with other visitors during my explorations and several asked “Did you see the bear?” It was just there 15 minutes ago. Nope..never did see a bear. On my last afternoon in the mountains I wanted to explore a new trail to me. The Stony Man Trail near Skyland Resort. It’s an easy, short hike that promised a stunning vista of the Shenandoah mountains and valley. While heading down the trail, I began the mantra…bear…grouse…bear…grouse. Please..let me see either of them.
Not realizing I had actually taken the turn for the Appalachian Trail and was heading north to Maine. Oops ! Wrong way, so I returned to the right path and just before I reached the overlook, I noticed movement in the leaf litter in the forest. It was way too small to be a bear.
Could it be that after all of these years I’ve finally found a grouse? Excited about my possible find, I pulled out my iBirdPro App and briefly played their song. Before I knew it, she came out of hiding and peered at me with curiosity. Not only did she come closer, she then flew up to a tree to get a really good look at me.
I spent at least five minutes with her, talking softly to her telling her how beautiful she was. She looked on with such kindness and interest. A true nature connection. After a bit, she became bored with me and went back to foraging in the leaf litter. A true gift she gave me.
Upon my return, I shared my discovery with local birders and many told me that this is a quite shy bird. Not only hard to find but also quite elusive. I will always remember this special moment with this beautiful bird.
Wow, it is incredible that you not only got to see this grouse, but then you got great photos too. Fantastic find Emily!
Can’t tell you how thrilled I am for this experience Jet. Thank you so much.
Good capture of a VERY difficult subject! Love the different settings and poses-esp the last one.
I was so fortunate Nick, she was so cooperative and willing to pose. Thank you.
Thank you Lorrie.
What a great looking bird….:0)
Isn’t she cool Mark? Thank you!
I love your adventures!!!
One day we will adventure together Rebecca.
We will indeed my dear friend!!! Hugs coming your way.
She is well camouflaged! Very beautiful😊
I never would have seen her if she hadn’t moved. Thank you.
Exciting story! Your pictures are beautiful.
I’m so thrilled to have seen her Stephen. You can tell right? Thank you so much.
Love these! Really shows the character of the grouse Emily 🙂 Well done!!
She was so awesome Sarah. Full as personality as you have seen. Thank you!
It looks like you had fun with her 🙂 Those encounters are special ones!
Once again, that proves that patience and perseverance always pays off. Well done, Emily
Or lots of praying and hoping. Sometimes I receive such beautiful gifts. Thank you my dear friend.
Beautiful Work…Thanks for sharing your gift.
It’s truly my pleasure. Thank you for your kind comment.
Very special indeed, Emily. I love the photo of the grouse peering around the tree and your description of the experience drew me in.
The ruffed grouse holds a special place in my heart. We’ve all but lost them here in Jersey. Nice write up!
I was so thrilled to find her Mike. I’ve been to Shenandoah a number of years and this is the first time I found one. Thank you.