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.

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!

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!