Sunday, July 19, 2009

The common Poorwill

Yesterday was a surprisingly cool July Saturday morning. A welcomed respite from the terribly hot days we've been having. 100+ degrees for over six weeks! The cool morning was a result of the previous evenings rain no doubt. It seems a little cooler up in the hills of Bandera too.
Arriving at the Hill Country State Natural area two hours before dawn, Chris, Liza and I met Bridget and her friends Katie and Roger. It had been awhile since we'd been night running at Bandera. Donning our headlamps, We headed out. I led the way. Being up front I was able to see the nocturnal wildlife on the trail. Rabbits were everywhere. I saw a baby armadillo! I call out to announce what I see and try to shine my hand held flashlight on the animals. As I Shined my flashlight on a large spider to watch it's eyes glow, I see a bird sitting on the trail. Hmm, I thought, that's unusual. As we continued I saw another, and another. Short plump, black/gray colored birds with glowing red eyes. Some in groups of two or three. These birds would not move until we were almost on them. I stopped and pointed them out to all.
Daybreak was quickly upon us. It is a beautiful sight to see the sun rising above the hills out here. Chris noted that there was no cloud cover though. Pretty and cool morning yes, but soon the the sun would be hot over head. Our route today was over all the major climbs. This was a no drop run, so we waited for all to catch up once we crested the hills. This allowed us to enjoy the views while visiting with Bridget and sharing stories with new friends as we regrouped. What a nice morning for trail running. Reliving this years Bandera 100K where Bridget and Liza battled in what was the fastest pace among the top 5 women in the history of the race was interesting and fun. Two very talented Ladies.
Bridget and her friends left us after about 15 miles. Roger had a self defense class to teach. We bid them farewell, but not before Bridget shared some of her water with Chris who was almost out. Chris and I then continued over the sisters behind Liza as we challenged her to run up the hills. We watched in awe at how she seems to glide up those climbs. After 18.5 miles I was cooked.
Later I researched the birds we saw. The birds,it turns out, were the Common Poorwill. A nocturnal bird that feeds on moths and other insects at dawn and dusk. This is the only bird that hibernates in the winter. Don't know what's common about that. One of the joys of trail running is what we get to see in the wild. Always something different and/or new. No trail run is ever the same. That's the joy of our sport.

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