Hey rangerous! Where ya been?!

I’m definitely ashamed that I haven’t been able to write lately… And even more ashamed that I took a few iPhone pictures and a picture of a fly eating sugar while I was on a three day camping trip at Chippokes State Park…I KNOW! I better get it in gear and share my photos and travels with my internet buddies!

"Nom nom nom" a black fly enjoys sugar from a pop-tart

I downloaded a new app for my phone that does PANORAMAS! I LOVE IT! I have the 3G model of the iPhone but I bet the panos taken with the 3GS or even the new 4G are probably stunning! The app is called Pano and you can purchase it from apple iTunes for about $1.99. Here’s a couple I’ve taken:

First Pano : Mackay Island NWR...user error, but still great for an iPhone!

Oregon Inlet Beach, NC

Cobham Bay, James River - Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry, VA

I have to say, I’m really impressed with this app. I also use Camera Plus Pro app. It’s 99 cents, but gives you more things to do with your pictures, and tons of camera features!  Enough about my phone…let’s get back to what I’ve been doing. Brian and I love to take day trips to places. A couple of weeks ago we visited Mackay Island NWR, which has got to be one of the coolest drive through wildlife refuges! This place is always well taken care of, and never crowded. We were surprised they opened a little more of the drive trail! Here’s some pictures I took, including a Panorama taken with my Nikon p90.

The Red winged Black Bird's graceful balance on thin reeds

Ruddy Duck enjoying the last golden rays of sunshine before the sun goes down

Mackay Island NWR drive trail. You definately want to click to enlarge.

I have just been so busy trying to get things in my life accomplished, personal things that is. Really I am just falling behind with the internet thing. My passion for wildlife will never fade or die out. This I promise…. I took buddy for a walk the other day to Great Bridge Locks Park. Its a cute little city park with a boat ramp, fishing areas, wildlife trails, and a play ground. There must have just been a brood of little wood satyrs because they were EVERYWHERE! Every time we took a step, two or three would flutter about. It was so beautiful! I managed to get a quick snap of one of them. I love how they have so many eye spots on the top and also on the bottom of their wings.

Little Wood Satyr Butterfly - Great Bridge Locks Park, Chesapeake VA

AND don’t worry I’ll keep posting! ALSO, If you go camping or take any kind of trips this summer, DON’T forget your camera!!!! Take pictures of wildlife you see and upload it to wildobs.com! Happy Trails!!!

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Walking through Botanical Gardens

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”

Sometimes its nice to take a day and relax. Norfolk Botanical Gardens is a beautiful place to go on a hot summer day.  They have over 30 themed gardens on 155 acres!  I love just going on walks and checking out all the beautiful flowers.

They have a wonderful Butterfly Garden! You can even find your way through a butterfly shaped maze made of flowers! I enjoyed all the flowers that were starting to bloom. They daisies were my favorite…Bright white petals and sunny happy yellow centers.

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary

Long Dash Skipper

Long Dash Skipper

While watching this long dash flutter around from daisy to daisy, I noticed a spider jumping out from under the flowers trying to catch any insect that landed on his flower….I tapped on his flower to see if he would come up…

Bold Jumper Spider

We picked a beautiful bright sunny day! Walking through the gardens was so relaxing. After visiting the butterfly gardens we headed towards the Eagle nest where the famous eagle cam is located.

Eagle fledglings

I took this photo from the Nato Tower near the tropical garden.  The sun was behind the tree so it was very difficult to get a picture, but watching them through the binoculars was awesome! The little Eagles were flapping their wings anxious to leave the nest.  Under the tower I could hear a little chickadee. It was so cute! He looked as if he was bigger than his mom.

Chickadee Fledgling

There were lots of dragonflies buzzing about in all of the gardens. The dragonfly has been a symbol of happiness, new beginnings and change for many centuries in lots of different cultures.

Painted Skimmer

Blue Dasher

“Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home….your house is on fire, and your children will burn. Except
little Nan, who sits in a pan, weaving gold laces as fast as she can!”

I’m sure you’re familiar with this cute saying… but do you know how the rhyme originated? In Medieval England, the farmers would set torches to the old hop vines after the harvest, to clear the fields for the next planting. The poem was a little warning to the aphid-eating Ladybugs, still crawling on the vines in search of aphids. The Ladybugs’ children (larvae) could get away from the flames, but the immobile pupae (Nan) remained fastened to the plants (laces) and couldn’t escape. Kinda morbid when you break it down…

Seven Spotted Lady Beetle

Seven spotted lady beetle

After having an amazing walk through the botanical gardens we headed towards sandbridge beach to watch the sunset. We had so much fun watching the ghost crabs(sand crabs) run around on the beach that we missed the sun going down!

Ghost Crab

Ghost Crab going into its home

When you come to Virginia Beach (NOT the Ocean Front, it’s touristy and they move the sand around everyday – there are many more beaches to visit) … You might notice the golfball-sized  holes scattered about…  Ghost Crabs burrow in the dry sand of the upper beach, or in the sand dunes. The burrows extend down 3-4 feet. It’s facinating to watch the clever little crabs build their homes…they bring up clawfuls of sand and tosses it 6-12 inches away from the burrow opening. Later on, the Ghost Crab tromps down the strewn-about sand, and, using its claws, smooths out the surface. The tunnel home is constructed with wet grains of sand so that it will not collapse. In the winter Ghost Crabs hibernate in their burrows, “holding their breath” for six weeks by storing oxygen in specialized sacs near their gills.

Camping at Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation is one of the nicest campgrounds I’ve ever been to. The campsites aren’t on top of each other and the bathroom is conveniently located. There’s so much to do! (be sure to read my earlier post) Brian and I had a great time checking out The Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum and we got to meet a cute little pot-bellied pig  with so much personality! His name was Taz and he was the sweetest little guy! We spent two nights at the campground and met wonderful camp hosts, Doug and Cathy, very nice folks and very helpful! I will definitely visit this campground again.

Eastern Bluebird after an early morning shower

Our first night went kind of fast, we didn’t get out of the house till late but we managed to get to the park before it got dark. We set our tent up and built a campfire. It was a beautiful night the stars were out and we were relaxing around the fire with s’mores yum! The next morning I work up early – this was our first camping trip of 2010, so of course I was overly excited! It rained a little in the morning, but the sun shined through and pushed out the clouds. I didn’t want to wake Brian up so I took a quick walk through the campground to check out the birds.

Chipping Sparrow foraging in a campsite

Bald Eagle soaring high over the campground

On the way back to the campsite I got to see a few smaller butterflies. I was very fortunate for them to land and let me take their picture.

Horace's Duskywing Skipper Butterfly basking in the sun

Eastern Tailed-blue having a short rest on a clover leaf

A very curious Silver-spotted Skipper

I walked back to the campsite after watching the little butterflies flutter around. We made a bowl of cereal and discussed what we were going to do first. We walked to the beach and the visitor center. Lots of Zebra Swallowtails fluttered by on our way down the shady road. when we got to the visitor center we looked through the binoculars and checked out the James River. I spotted a Blue Heron who was on the hunt.

Blue Heron hunting

After leaving the beach & visitor center we went and looked at all the farm and forestry exhibits, we headed over to the plantation house. I don’t think i could ever get tired of walking through the garden – It’s such a beautiful place!

Five-lined Skink basking in the sun on the plantation house

Close your eyes, make a wish...& BLOW!

On our way to the car, I stopped to look at the beautiful bluebells again…to my surprise there was a tiny white crab spider! I think they are the most interesting looking spiders.

White Crab Spider guarding a set of Bluebells

I really didn’t want to leave Chippokes… but on our last day we decided to get up early, get on the ferry ride it over to Jamestown and ride the entire colonial parkway to Yorktown. Once we got on the ferry we were literally 10 ft from an osprey in the middle of constructing a nest, and once we got to the other side of the James river I could see inside an Osprey’s nest from the top deck of the ferry. It was so awesome!

Osprey building a new nest

Osprey Mom from the top deck of the ferry

Yorktown Battlefield National Park has a lot to see as well, but we only drove through this time. I got to see a Mute Swan very briefly. They are so graceful to watch glide through the water.

Beautiful Mute Swan

Brian’s Mom Sibyl and Her Husband Norris Live in Yorktown. It would have been silly for us not to have stopped by and at least say hello for a bit while we were in the area. We chatted, caught up on what everyone was doing and Sibyl told me they had Canada geese babies at their little pond in front of their neighborhood. It was so sweet to see them!

Momma Canada Goose and Goslings

Chippokes Plantation State Park

A beautiful sunny spring day! It got to be 80 degrees, and we took a ride to check out Hogg Island State Wildlife Refuge. The trip to Hogg Island was about an hour from our house. Once we got to the Refuge we soon found out that Dominion power had a plant right in front of the refuge and apparently you can get back there. Chippokes Plantation State Park was right down the street and Brian had never been to the park before. Chippokes is absolutely beautiful and not to mention one of the oldest working farms in the United States. The State Park currently has bike trails, hiking trails, horse trails, a picnic area, beach on the James River, camping, and colonial style cabins. The plantation has several historical exhibits and also The Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum. We wanted to see everything today, but there was so much to see! We decided we would come camping sometime this month to see everything…. I can’t wait! Spring has just started and all of the trees and flowers were blooming!

Osprey nesting at Chippokes Plantation State Park

We started with a walk on the beach. Its not your typical ocean sand, but the beach does have sand and lots of shells! We picked up a few scallop shells, WOW! they were huge! The beach has trees and plenty of shade to sit and relax on those hot days….

After walking on the beach we headed towards the plantation house to walk though the garden. Oh how wonderful it was to see  all of the wildflowers blooming!

Also in the Plantation’s Garden there were tons of butterflies! BUT because I’m sill learning my camera, I missed out on alot of opportunities… not being prepared – o well! Some of the butterflies we saw today include a Pearl Crescent on the beach, tons of Cabbage Whites, Clouded Sulphurs, Blues and lots of different Swallowtails.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Viceroy Butterfly

My favorite butterfly! Did you know The Monarch, Queen, and Viceroy butterflies all have similar color patterns to keep predators from eating any of the three species? This is an excellent example of “Mullerian mimicry” because these species have toxic chemicals making them undesirable to predators because of the bad taste and horrible stomach pains that follows eating one. The Viceroy is found throughout most of North America, from Southern Canada into Northern Mexico and from the east to west coasts. You usually can find them in floodplains, canals, riversides, marshes, meadows, wood edges, lakeshores, deltas, and roadside ditches.. Just about anywhere!!  Unfortunately it is listed as endangered within the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys of British Columbia, Canada.

Butterfly Friends

In winter months I sure do miss seeing all the beautiful butterflies fluttering about on all the fresh wild flowers. I miss chasing them just to get their picture almost as if I were the nature paparazzi. It was always fun to get a butterfly used to you, and then sneak your finger in for them to catch a ride. My favorite time was down in Waterlily, NC. We keep a permanent camper on the sound. and there’s a little area down by the dock where you can ALWAYS find butterflies. This day, there was an interesting little Red Admiral. He was a little worn, but had so much personality! He followed me everywhere, watching what I was doing. Finally he landed…and said hello ;)

Good Afternoon Lady!

"Oh this is a nice shirt Crystal! By the way, you smell pretty!"

"Has anyone ever told you, you have the most beautiful eyes?"

Ta Ta!

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”  – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Ever since last year when I decided to start doing photography, I’ve managed to capture 12 different butterflies on my finger…and get a picture of it too! I love butterflies. They make me so happy! :) hopefully this post brings a little bit of happiness your way!