Running in Nature – Winter Hazards

Previously, I posted some of the fun and exciting things you can encounter while running in the winter.  However, it is not always a barrel of laughs.  The onset of winter means most deciduous trees will have dropped their leaves – usually all over the trail upon which you are trying to run.  In his book The Runner’s Rule Book, Mark Remy says when running in winter: “If it’s shiny, it’s slippery” (146).  I would like to amend that to: “if it’s under you, it’s slippery.”  Please take heed of some common trail hazards, of which you should be even more cautious in the winter months when the addition of ice, snow, and abundant leaves make things even more challenging. Continue reading

Woodpeckers make great running partners

Female red-bellied woodpecker; on males the red is continuous from bill to the back of the head

Alright, maybe they don’t.  Woodpeckers are, however, easier to identify on the run than are the juncos in my last post.*   I have been seeing and hearing them frequently as of late, so in the spirit of sharing here are two running-friendly finds:

The red-bellied woodpecker does  have a red belly, but the red on its head is much more visible.  Sadly, “red-headed woodpecker” was already taken (the red-headed woodpecker’s head is all red, whereas the red-bellied woodpecker has more of a red faux-hawk).  The red-bellied woodpecker is a frequent sight and sound on the trails near Lake Artemesia, identifiable by their distinctive rolling  “kwirr” or “churr” call which can be heard here.

male downy woodpecker, females lack the red

The downy woodpecker is small with a black and white checkered pattern that distinguishes it from other woodpeckers. Except for the hairy woodpecker, that is, who looks almost exactly the same, save for a longer bill.  They are likely finds in woods, fields, parks, and lots all over Prince George’s County.  Their call is a high whinny, but you are more likely to hear them drumming on a tree than calling from one this time of year.  More information on the downy and hairy woodpeckers can be found here.

Honorable mentions: the Pileated Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker (who happens to resemble the red-bellied woodpecker).

*I admit the downy and hairy woodpeckers are almost impossible to tell apart while running unless you are an avid birder.  Just call it a “dairy” and make up a story about how their colors are similar to that of a Holstein – no one will be the wiser.  If this fails, fartlek.
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