Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge & Nine Inches of Snow

Hampton Roads saw about 9-10 inches of snow. We hardly EVER get that much snow.. If it even snows at all…Anyways Brian and I went four-wheeling of course!! We didn’t want to drive to far in the snow, so we went to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge again. It’s such a beautiful area, I love the trails! The snow was an extra bonus…helping in spotting those smaller birds, we usually overlook.

Best part of snow! Dark-eyed Juncos!

When we woke up…we were so excited to see so much snow on the ground! We just couldn’t wait to take the jeep out to play in the snow! We drove to my dads house and watched the birds at his neighbors feeder. There were SO many! We saw Tuft Titmouse, House Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Juncos, Chickadees. At that moment, I got my father into birds. He was so excited, talking about what kind of feeder he should get, and asking about bird books and so on… Oh it was awesome! Hope he really gets into it! It’s just an awesome hobby not to mention CHEEP! lol After we left my dads, we drove around Virginia Beach and had Lunch at The Jewish Mother.

Robin Foraging Berries from a Red Cedar Tree
A very cold White-throated Sparrow

After Driving around checking out the pretty white snow in Virginia Beach, We headed to our original destination.

Snowy Sand Dune – Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Egret foraging in a ditch – Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Gray Catbird

I’ve never seen a Brown Thrasher, It was pretty interesting watching  it forage with its beak in the mud! Do you see the mud on it’s beak?

Brown Thrasher with Muddy Beak from foraging

Brown thrasher having a sip of melted snow

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee singing its little heart out

The snow was fun, and we ended up at a snow party with four wheelers and friends! We had a wonderful weekend!

Advertisements

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge & Hatteras Seashore, NC

We love going down to Hatteras. It’s only about a two hour drive.  A beautiful place to visit – even in the off-season! We have such a blast seeing all the birds and four-wheelin’ on the beach!  The weather was a bit cloudy and very windy with a few stray showers… Pretty much normal for this time of year. The sun did peek out a few times, which was so nice! We visited Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Hatteras National Seashore on Saturday and Sunday and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on our way home Sunday. We decided to take a different route in hopes of seeing a bear or an alligator! We didn’t see either this time. DARN IT!

Very Angry Atlantic Ocean

Saturday was a windy overcast day. We stopped at Pea Island to check the birds. We knew we weren’t going to stay long the first day because it was just way too windy, too cold and too cloudy! I managed to snag a few pictures of birds I’ve never photographed before!

Green-winged Teals

Northern Pintail

I also saw a White Ibis! I was so excited! I had never seen one before!

White Ibis coming in for landing

AND American Avocets!

Our first day  on the National Seashore we wanted to go on the Ocracoke Ferry. We were five minutes late catching the four o’clock ferry. The voyage is about an hour and it would have been dark by the time we got back….we really needed to get a hotel. The ferry is right across the street from the Southern most beach access on the National Seashore so we went four-wheeling.

Sea of Seagulls

Once we got to the “tip” of Hatteras Island, there was about 50,000 seagulls…All different kinds! It was a sight! We also spotted three White tails playing in the dunes

White Tailed Deer Checking The Area

Dunlin and tattered sand bag

As always there were several fisherman on the “tip” It’s so neat to watch them tackle the huge waves and have a good ol’ time casting out, praying for that record breaker catch! But this day there was a beggar… going from truck to truck to see what he could get thrown to him.

Beach Beggar

Handsome Brown Pelican ready for take off!

We got out of the jeep for a bit and looked for sand dollars, Whelk shells, and Moon snails. While walking, we spotted a oystercatcher. I just love their bright beaks and they are really interesting to watch in action! I also snapped a quick shot of the Hatteras light.

American Oystercatcher
Hatteras Lighthouse

We stayed in an amazing hotel Called “Breakwater Inn” I’m not into hotels that have too much. But this hotel was just right. We had an amazing view of the sound and the sunset…. Also a restaurant, a grocery store less than 30 seconds up the road and it was very clean!! Great Prices and Great off-season rates!

The next morning when we woke up we decided to do some more four-wheeling on the beach and slowly make our way to back to Pea Island so I could catch the birds while the sun was out. Another storm was on the way…Once we made it to Pea Island, there must have been 30,000 or more Tundra Swans. They were literally everywhere!!

Tundra Swans Preening

I saw more Ibis. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to see these little guys… I didn’t realize they were up this way!

L to R: Blue Heron, Great Egret, & Two Ibis (one’s on a nest!)

We saw Tons of coots, Northern Shovelers, and Black Ducks. It was fun watching the coots play! While walking the trail we caught some Ruddy Ducks catching a light snooze ;)

Ruddy Ducks Sleeping

I have never seen a Tricolored Heron. Nor did I ever expect I would see one. Anyways, I happened to be looking for Black Stilts and I spotted this guy! Score!

Tricolored Heron

We took a different route home, and headed towards Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a really neat place for birders as well. Except this is a drive through refuge, rather than trail only. We saw tons of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and lots of tree swallows. I love this place, and can’t wait till the season starts so I can explore it deeper. We only skimmed the park a little, because we were on our way home and didn’t want to get home too late. We had an amazing Weekend as always! Support your local National Wildlife Refuges and National/State Parks by visiting OFTEN!! They need you!

Greater Yellowlegs

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Bay Trail Overlook

It rained this morning, so we went to Sam’s Club and the mall to find me  a jewelery box. When we left the mall, the sun was shining and it was 70 out! What a surprise to such a gray day! We figured we shouldn’t waste a perfectly beautiful Sunday. I suggested going down to Sandbridge for a couple of hours. I forgot how much Sandbridge has changed…Big Condos EW! What happened to the pretty secret beach of Virginia Beach? I blame it on travel magazines and the news paper. I remember when I was a kid, the long road of awesome simple beach houses ending in a small park with Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Now, you can’t even see past the big eye sore of brightly colored condos at the end of the street right before Little Island City Park.

Still, Back Bay is absolutely breath-taking. It’s hard to believe that we have amazing little spots in Virginia Beach like we do. I love this area! with the temperature difference being so great in the past couple of days, there was a very neat fog throughout the marshy refuge.

Layers of fog

Backbay Fog

Rain clouds rolling out

We set out to walk the “Bay Trail” I was hoping to see a few Red Winged Black Birds, but I didn’t. In my last condo there were Red Wings everywhere! Sometimes, on time! lol

Bay Trail

Back Bay Refuge has over 9,000 acres, situated on and around a thin strip of coastline  of barrier islands found along the Atlantic coast. The refuge also provides habitat for a wide variety wildlife, including threatened and endangered species such as Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Piping Plovers, Peregrine Falcons, and Bald Eagles!

Brian taking pictures

I can hear Swans! but I cant see them! darn it.

We headed back down the Bay Trail and Saw a few Swallows and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Once we got back to the parking lot, we decided to walk the Dune Trail down to the beach….Just to check it out.

Protect Natures natural barriers! STAY OFF THE DUNES!!!

Windy foggy and cold Sandbridge

There was a 20 degree difference! The wind was blowing so hard it felt like needles! We walked quickly back to the Jeep to get warm and head home. A great day!

please read my other post about Back Bay NWRBack Bay & 9inches of snow!

Boat Ride on the Intracoastal

Down the Intracoastal Waterway…. Another beautiful day! Sun was shining and the water was like glass…A great day for pictures!

Cormorant

We started our voyage out of Great Bridge in Chesapeake, Virginia on Brian’s beautiful boat ‘Rogue Wave’

Inside the Rogue Wave with Capt. Brian

Rogue Wave

“Great Bridge Bridge – Great Bridge Bridge… This is south bound power, waitin on your eleven o’clock opening…” Brian said over his VHF. “Roger Cap’n, You headin’ south?”  Said the guy in the bridge control room. “Yes sir” replied Brian “Well, Take it slow up there – NO wake! There’s divers down there where  a boats gone under” said the guy. So we head up the way to see a boat half under water and people salvaging what they had left. The water was an iridescent color with oil.

Sinking Fishin' Boat

Sinking Fishin' Boat

…we made our way through the locks and three bridge openings…and saw an eagle couple that we thought might have been the ones who passed our bedroom window the other evening!

Bald Eagle Couple

It was like we were in the middle of a neighborhood of Eagles… I’ve never seen as many as I did today. It was SO amazing! I think every time we would look up in a tree, there one was.

Bald Eagle Number 3

Bald Eagle Number 4

Bald Eagle Number 4 again

We saw lots of  juveniles too!

Juvenile Bald Eagle Number 5

Juvenile Bald Eagles Number 6(flying) & 7

Bald Eagle Number 8

Tons and tons of Eagles! There were so many! Some, I didn’t get a picture of because we didn’t slow down enough in time to get a picture! We couldn’t believe it!

Juvenile Eagles Number 7 & 8

We rode down to North Carolina and back and tried to go up near the cabin in North Landing Campground, but the water was just too shallow.  So we stopped and had lunch. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! The sun was high in the sky and it was about 60 outside! we couldn’t have asked for a better day in winter to go out and take a cruise. While we were eating lunch we noticed the grass was burning…probably a controlled burn. Awesome to watch!

Controlled Burn

Flames burn the invasive growth

Check out the HEAT in that picture! WE went as far as Mile post 35 on the Intracoastal waterway and Saw lots of amazing sights. The water stayed like glass the entire day. We rode past a permanent sunken wreck. Watch out! Might be what will happen to the boat we passed earlier in the day…

Danger! Sunken wreck

Cormorants guard their channel marker

Got my first in flight bird picture today!

Cormorant In Flight

Blue Heron Mile Post 35

This guy is funny! I love how he’s standing on the channel marker, ready for action!

Cormorants hangin' on a log

On our way back we spotted several more Bald Eagles. Some I wasn’t able to catch a picture of..I’m sure they were probably the same ones we saw coming down the waterway.

Bald Eagle Number 9

Bald Eagle Number 10

We had an awesome day on the boat! I am so fortunate to live on the water, let alone have an awesome boyfriend who will take me out in his boat. I hope to see even more Bald Eagles the next time we go out!

Deep Creek Lock Park

Today was the first day of normal “Virginia Winter Weather” — Maybe a little over normal. It was a beautiful 55-60 degree day with lots and lots of sunshine to melt all of the ICE!

Thawing Out

We checked out a Local Park I’ve never been to before today! We saw lots of birds, I was fortunate enough to get some shots of a few!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Short and unsteady video of their call:

These pictures didn’t come out to well..lots of shade, and I wasn’t prepared. I was just excited to see a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Short and unsteady video of him “drumming”

I also Saw a few others…

Cormorant

Geese Couple

Also a bird I’ve never seen or taken a picture of before!

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Winter Weekend Getaway

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Brian and I got a cabin at North Landing Beach this weekend. It was one of the NICEST campgrounds I’ve ever been to. We enjoyed our stay in an Equipped Cabin on the water.

Cabin At North Landing Beach Campground

Us in the very cozy cabin!

In the morning I woke up early. . .excited to try out my new camera. . .and waited for Brian to get up. I put bird seed out in the front yard of the cabin thinking I might attract some birds to get some pictures. Instead I noticed a great blue heron freezing his feathers off in the water out front.

A Very Chilly Blue Heron (breeding plumage)

We made plans to walk a trail or two and go check out Mackay Wildlife Refuge. First we wanted to look at the rest of the campground. They had very nice sites and a beautiful beach. hey had a pool,  a neat water park looking thing called “Big Squirt”, also I saw a really nice picnic shelter with a fireplace and bathrooms. Really nice! oh and Campsites right on the beach!!  Unfortunately it was frozen. Kind cool though!

North Landing Campground Beach

We decided to have a little fun and stand on the Ice since the water was frozen solid! It was so neat. I’ve never seen anything like it! Here’s Brian…

Brian Standing on the Albemarle Sound

And Yours Truly. . .

Crystal Standing on The Albemarle Sound

We Hopped in the Jeep and headed up the way towards Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge

Alot of the Refuge had closed due to the winter. We spotted a few birds and ducks – like This Belted Kingfisher. . .

Male Belted Kingfisher

He was all over the place! I was very pleased to get his picture. My new camera has been giving me some trouble. Soon I’ll have it figured out!

Male and Female Northern Shovelers

We drove down a Really Neat Road SR615 ‘Marsh Causeway’ and Saw lots of water birds. Not only Shovelers, but Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Teals, and Tundra Swans everywhere!  They were all Skiddish and would fly away when we pulled the Jeep over, but I managed to get at least one shot of a Few Mallards and a Male & Female Hooded Merganser.

Mallards and Hooded Mergansers

We headed to Pearl’s, a neat little bar on the Currituck sound were you might meet someone you know,  meet a really cool fisherman and or hunter, grab a beer, and have some awesome conversations. Good people, Great View.  When we got back to the cabin campsite we decided to build a fire. We had such an awesome view.

Cabin Campsite View

The sun started to set and I told Brian we needed to drive back to the beach and watch the sun go down. We sat there on the beach freezing our fingers off, but warmed by the thought of the fire back at the cabin ;)

Nature's Goodnight Kiss

And right before the sun went down I saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler In a tree near the cabin. . .

Yellow-rumped Warbler

We sat out by the fire and had some of the wine we got from Moonrise Bay Vineyard where we stopped and had a wine tasting on our way back to the cabin.  We brought back a bottle of “Magnolia Muscadine Wine” It says “Assertive yet elegant; tangy fruit character with accents of apple and citrus followed by a burst of wild grape” I immediately fell in love with the wild grape taste! I eat wild grapes at work and it tastes JUST LIKE IT! YumO!

Sitting by the Campfire

The next morning we decided to head down to Carova, North Carolina for the day and do a little bit of four-wheeling.  We figured we would take the Ferry in Knotts Island to Currituck and then head south from there. The first day I got to the cabin I put bird seed out for the birds… I saw a few through out the first day but this morning when I looked outside, there were tons of tiny birds! I had no Idea what they were, but they were so cute! I later looked into a few pictures of sparrows and I believe it is a ‘Chipping Sparrow’ correct me if I’m wrong. Brian and I like how you can see the corn or seed ‘chipping’ away! ha!

Chipping Sparrow

We made a yummy breakfast sandwich and headed to Knotts Island to get on the Ferry! On the way out I spotted a Killdeer.

Killdeer

we scooted across the water on the ferry, Getting out to watch the seagulls fly sideways and catch fish that got confused in the turned up mud of the ferry. We saw TONS of ice, riding through it on the ferry felt really weird! I also saw some Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Duck

When we got to the other side, we cruised through a small neighborhood on the sound, looking for a park we had never seen before, but noticed on the GPS. When we found it, we immediately spotted an Eagle! It flew off but it was so amazing to see. When we got to Corolla, North Carolina I saw a TON of Tundra Swans on the Ice of the Currituck sound. Lots of poop too. eww. Look at the one in the right corner and the move it’s doing! lol

Tundra Swans and Canadian Geese

New Camera

Nikon coolpix P90 for Christmas

24x opitcal zoom & 12.1 mp

The weekend after I got the camera Brian and I took a trip to Carova Beach to get some shots with the new camera!

Herring Gull with Starfish - 2nd Winter

1st winter Herring Gull with starfish snack and Adult Herring Gull

It was a VERY windy day!

Boat-tailed Grackles fight over Blue Crab claw

Red-throated Loon

There was a hole maritime forest washed out by the nor’ida

Carova Beach, North Carolina

'splish splash' Sanderling having a quick bath

Sanderling Reflection

It was a fun day trying out my new camera! Wasn’t liking the cold wind though. I love Carova Beach though. It’s an amazing place.