The dogs and I spent a couple hours by the river this morning, me drawing, Daisy and Duke playing in the water for a while, then napping. By noon it was 78 degrees, warm for mid-March, and sitting beside a rushing river is a wonderful way to enjoy it.
We wandered around a bit first and found a pile of small clam shells near the water where, a while back, raccoons had eaten a feast. There were tracks nearby that were new, (the shells were not) but they are not raccoon. I'll look them up in my tracks field guide.
I discovered a natural chair at a spot where an old wild grapevine rests on the ground. (see photo below) Sand had washed down and filled in behind the vine to make a soft, flat seat, and from there I could see the long arching stems of Dog Hobble (Leucothoe axillaris) as well as the small leaves of the Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora), two typical north-facing riverbank species. Daisy found a spot just below where I sat, while Duke climbed and settled above me on the steep bank. The rushing water kept us all company.
Another thing I'll look up tonight are the cute, tomato-red bugs that were out in force on that sandy bank. Everywhere I looked I saw one running around. It occurred to me that I should be careful since the bugs were RED, and supposedly announcing that they are poisonous, or at least would make me itch. But then again, they may just be faking it. I was not particularly careful, but I never got a bite! Because of this I assume they are harmless... If I'm wrong (and just lucky not to get bitten), I'll update!
Bug and Tracks UPDATE: Sunday, March 13
Clover Mites (Bryobia praetiosa) are bright red when young. Perhaps the ones I saw had just hatched out. Older ones are reddish brown, and probably difficult to see.
This is one of several field guides to animal tracks. The tracks I saw were not clear enough to identify, and I can't remember exactly how big they were. I remember thinking they were too big to be a squirrel. I will probably go back later today to see if I see any new ones.