Welkinweir, the estate and gardens located just south of Pottstown, is normally closed to the general public on weekends. But this past Saturday the Valley Forge Audubon Society arranged for a birding hike around the ponds. Well dressed for the cold and wired so I could make the 9 AM start, I found myself with a dozen birders for the two mile, two hour hike.
While I have a great fondness for birds, and not just the chicken and the turkey, this was my introduction to birding, and I can safely say my experience and enthusiasm didn’t match that of the rest of the participants. I borrowed binoculars, but I had problems with them akin to my issues using a telescope – the image jumped and I got a headache. (I suspect its the shake in my hands causing the problem.) I got cold while the birders stood around looking at Cedar Waxwings. The pace was slower than I normally hike. While I learned a great deal about the birds that visit Welkinweir, and I had a good time, I can confidently state I am not a birder.
And I don’t think the Audubon folks would mind. I expect to be joining them on future hikes when I can, because they are an active hiking group in the area, and we share the ideal that the outdoors is for everyone. And who knows, I might change my mind and join their flock.
Unlike John James Audubon, who painted from stuffed specimens, I didn’t have the luxury of birds posing close to me. So most of my photos were of the birders interacting with nature or the Welkinweir landscape. I DID photograph inside an abandoned bird nest, however, which is a first for me. I’ll end this post with the nest and the sun shining on the freezing pond.