Saturday was unbelievably beautiful, with a clear sky and temperatures in the fifties. Did I spend it running errands? No. Thanks to the intervention of my friend Puwen, I went out to Loudon County near Leesburg to the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.
According to their brochure, which has a nice map of all the trails, Banshee Reeks encompasses a wide variety of Virginia Piedmont habitats in more than 700 acres. There is a log cabin, barn, and remains of a springhouse from the 1830s, and archeological evidence of 10,000 years of human occupation. An education center provides space for hands-on activities, and a visitor center is open on the third weekend of every month. I also noticed as we hiked that they have particularly nice tree identification labels.
Puwen’s husband Dick and their friend Phil are bird watchers and had visited Banshee Reeks before. Some other friends, Ted and Carla, also came along with their dog. Since the teenagers in the group had dropped out, all six adults and two dogs, iPod and Sadie, were able to pile into Puwen and Dick’s van for the trip.
We took the Springhouse trail down past a pond and then followed Goose Creek for a while. Other than vultures and some song sparrows, the birds had gone somewhere else for the day. At least we thought so until some screeching high up alerted us to some sort of bird of prey. That is, unless it was a banshee. We were certainly in among the “reeks” or hills at that point.
We walked back to the visitor center where we feasted on beignets Puwen had made, drank coffee, and recovered from our exertions. While we stood looking out from the porch, Dick spotted the likely screecher from earlier—a peregrine falcon dipping and swooping over the meadow. Whew. At least it wasn’t a banshee.