Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Shadow of Turkey Vultures

[all photos by Gary]

On Tue day I took went to inspect "my" Reese Hollow shelter and trail to make sure their were no maintenance issues as spring gets fired up here in the mid-Atlantic.

I found the shelter fine and only one 8" blowdown tree along the trail that I will have to deal with next trip.  The spring at the shelter was running strong:

Then I took a run up the Reese Hollow Trail to the main Tuscarora Trail at the ridge top and turned south.  By this time it was noonish and warm, about 80F, and as I ran I was soon startled by a shadow suddenly darkening me and my path. 
It was the shadow of a turkey vulture hovering very close by overhead, virtually motionless in the wind.  The bird seemed unconcerned about me, but I was ecstatic over the nearby encounter.  It was so close--less than 50 feet--that I could have counted individual wing feathers.  After a few seconds of hovering, it broke off its equilibrium with the wind, turned up a wing and rode the air current down the slope of the ridge. 
By this time I had pulled out my camera and tried a shot.  The vulture is pretty much invisible here (the TINY speck to the left of the snag) but the opposite ridge to the east shows up well, all the way down to the southern end (right of the snag) where it drops off for the Potomac River water gap.

Enlarging the image above yields this parting shot of my friend, the vulture:

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