DayTrippin’ – Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

I’m sorry Folks, I’ve been a busy bee. Brian and I have been to Key West, camping in Newport News, camping in Hatteras, day trips to Carova Beach, Oregon Inlet, First Landing Park, Munden Point and so on! Plus I work for the city of Virginia Beach Parks and Natural Areas department, so I have been neglecting the whole blog thing, which is kind of sad because I love it so much!

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Alligator river is an amazing place. It’s an 154,000 acre refuge that has tons of roads to drive and explore including a few places to to launch your kayak or canoe and also a couple of walking trails…Today, our objective is to look for bears and red wolves… We started our trip in Moyock, NC (where we  now live) and drove down 17 through Elizabeth City, Hartford, and Columbia… The Town of Columbia is a really cute older waterfront area… I recommend stopping and checking out their wildlife center for the sounds. It’s beautiful! There’s a pier-style trail to walk and who knows – you may even have a chance of spotting a bear!

We stopped and ate lunch at Mikes Kitchen in Columbia just over the bridge. This place was actually realllly good, I will definitely be looking forward to going there again! Usually when Brian and I go to Alligator River Refuge we try to just go down whatever driving trails  are open… because you never know which ones are open and if it is you should go down it, because you might not be able to go down that trail again until the following year. We drove around and spotted tons of Tree Swallows and Yellow-rumped Warblers… along with a few Sulphur butterflies fluttering around.

….And as we were driving on one of the roads, we saw a large bird fly into a tree next to the Jeep….

Originally I thought it was a hawk of some sort, but then it turned and looked at us and Brian says “Holy Shit!! — look an owl!” I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t know what to do….. I tried to hurry up and turn on my camera, but as usual when I want it to turn on quickly it takes FOREVER then I have to change the settings to manual and blah blah blah, because remember I use a Point and Shoot….ha..so I tried to get a shot before he flew off. This is the only shot I got….

Barred Owl

Honestly, I was happy with that single shot I had gotten, but then…the owl decided to fly across the road and landed on a branch…It looked back at us, not really worried about us being there.

Barred Owl checking us out

I decided to get out of the Jeep.  Figured if the owl wasn’t that worried about me, then it wouldn’t mind if i tried to get a few more shots! Well, once I got out of the Jeep the owl flew off again, but not that far. I decided I would walk down the road a little – very quietly and try once again to get another shot of this beautiful owl! It was almost impossible for me to find this amazingly camouflaged creature. I kept loosing sight every time I would have to take my eye off of the owl for a split second to raise my view finder to my eyeball. Oh man, It was insane how much it blended in with its surroundings!

Camouflaged Barred Owl

On our way out I saw a Cormorant diving in one of the “ditches”…. when Brian passed him, he was going sort of fast. I asked him to stop and reverse because there was a bird I wanted to get a shot of…. He said, “Won’t the bird fly off?” I said, “Nah, probably not this one” and sure enough, there was the Cormorant…now out of the water. He posed…. several times, and then we drove off. Oh it was great. I can’t wait to visit this place again. Every season is beautiful!

 

Cormorant Drying Plumage

Double-crested Cormorant

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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!!!