I squeezed the car into the pull-off making sure my tail was off the road. Since the weather was gorgeous, I had come to my semi-secret place to check in on the warbler migration. This is the place where Hooded Warblers nest every year and the only place I know where I can reliable see both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers. I knew that it was several weeks too early, but hey, ya never know. I slipped around the gate and starting walking down the path. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers chased each other through the leafless branches, Phoebes gathered bits of mud and what looked like moss and a lone Song Sparrow scratched in the mud. Other than that, it was completely still. I soundlessly strolled the path searching for wildflowers, butterflies and hoping for bird calls. Next to the path, but hidden from view, was a 2 lane road where cars whizzed past just out of ear-shot. I walked along, then stopped to eye a large pile of black scat with what looked like hair in it. I paused to ponder what might have passed this way but was distracted by lots of tiny Spring Azures. Further up the path a large rock was flipped onto the middle of the grass, but the hole where it had been was dry. I stood and stared, it was an oddity. How could that has happened?
I continued along reveling in the warmth of the day and being outside when I rounded a slight bend and up ahead I saw I was not alone. My semi-secret place was not so very private anymore. My heart pounded. I was far from the car and a large Black Bear was walking toward me. It stopped and sniffed the air, it’s nose swiveling from side-to-side. I stopped too. I had liberally sprayed my hat and clothing with noxious bug spray. I was down-wind. After a few moments of the stand-off, the bear shuffled through the high dry weeds and disappeared. I hustled back to the car making noise. Bears really are timid, but still it is not wise to surprise one.
I have never seen a bear in this place. But they are all around us. It pays to be attentive. The smelly bug spray may have helped too.