Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve

It was a warm day for December on Virginia's Northern Neck with temperatures climbing to 67F!  On the recommendation of a friend, we stopped at "Merroir - A Tasting Room" restaurant on the Rappahannock River near Topping, VA.  Merroir's is the first of three restaurants operated by the Rappahannock River Oyster Company.  We started our lunch off with a dozen "Rapphannocks" oysters on the half shell.  They were roasted on an outdoor grill and were sweet in taste.  Fabulous! Next came their grilled Scallops. Perfectly done.  Just a hint of heat.  Lastly were Angels On Horseback.  Roasted Oysters with country ham.  Excellent!  We highly recommend Merroir's if you are in the Saluda area.

Next on our itinerary was exploring Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve.  The preserve consists of 204 acres located in Northumberland County on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay near Kilmarnock.  It offers trails, tidal and non-tidal wetlands, undeveloped beaches, dune and upland forest.

We intended to photograph some Eagles, shore birds and waterfowl that we do not see in the Midlothian area.  While we spotted some Eagles during lunch, they were too far away to photograph.  At Hughlettt Point, there were few birds when we were there about 4:00 pm.  Perhaps we needed to arrive in the early morning hours to catch more birds.  We did spot some Buffleheads bobbing in the waves.  Again, too far off to capture a decent photo.  So we walked the 1.9 mile trail shooting landscape photos which we love to do.

Click on my photos below to see them in high resolution on Flickr.  You can view the entire set in high resolution by clicking here!

Pilings @ Merroir's


Hughlett Point marsh

Observation stand

No idea!

More Marsh


Driftwood on the Chesapeake Bay

Some more driftwood on the shore.

Late afternoon sun over the marsh.

You can view the entire set in high resolution by clicking here!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dominion GardenFest Of Lights

Spend an evening exploring the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this Christmas!  You won't be disappointed!  For the Dominion GardenFest of Lights, the botanical garden has been transformed into a fantasy of light.  One can not turn without finding an attractive light display.

Pam and I visited the gardens this past Friday (12/20/2013).  It was our first time to visit for the annual Christmas light show.  It was totally worth it!  We arrived around 8:30 pm to avoid the crowds.  Be sure to visit the garden's tips page.  You can easily spend one to two hours there.  Here's the map of the gardens.  Advice to my fellow amateur photographers: take your tripod and bracket your exposures!  Here is their location!

Click on my photos below to see them in high resolution on Flickr.  You can view the entire set in high resolution by clicking here!

Conservatory At Night



Light Tunnel

Tree House

Conservatory Dome


Some of my apparently creative shots are accidental.


Snowman & Friends

Unicorn & Child

Conservatory Lit

Christmas Tree


Bird Ornament

Fountains @ Night


You can view the entire set in high resolution by clicking here!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Exploring Ocracoke

The weather was good yesterday for outdoor activities so Pam and I walked both nature trails, explored the beach and town.  Wise choice.  Today was overcast and misting most of the day.

First stop was the Hammock Hills Nature Trail directly opposite Ocracoke Campground.  Both are located in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and are managed by the National Park Service.  The 3/4 mile loop trail meanders through a maritime forest with tall pines to a salt water marsh.

Carolina anole lizard on the railing of an overlook along the Hammock Hills nature trail.

Fishing on the beach opposite the Pony Pens.

Ocracoke Lighthouse overlooking Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor.

Wading bird.  Too tired to ID it now.  I'll do that when we get home.

Howard Street is one of the oldest streets on the island.  A very pleasant shaded walk.

Good advice for driving on Howard Street!

Springer's Point Nature Preserve

Even though the mosquitoes tried to carry Pam and I away with them, we enjoyed our morning walk through Springer's Point Nature Preserve.  The preserve is located southwest of Ocracoke Village.  It juts into Pamlico Sound.  The preserve, managed by the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust is believed to be the favorite hangout of Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard.

Springer's Point Nature Preserve consists of 120 acres of forest, marsh and beach.  A trail winds through the forest.  The trail splits into a loop that takes you through the forest and along the beach.  We highly recommend this walk because of the dense maritime forest and the beautiful beach!   There are some really large trees.  A cemetery adds some mystery.  Just bring some bug spray.  There is no parking at the entrance, so you will need to walk or bicycle to the entrance right off Loop Road.

The northern portion of the beach on Springer's Point.

Fishermen headed out to the sound.

Sea Oats

Salt water marsh before the trail heads back into the forest.

Golden Rod

Ocracoke Light Station

Yesterday started with a visit to Ocracoke Light Station.  It is the second oldest lighthouse in the US that is in operation.  Instead of a rotating lens, the light just blinks.  This light is the second light on Ocracoke Island.  The first was built on Shell Castle Island in an area that was frequently flooded.  The current lighthouse was built in 1823.  Occasionally, it is open for tours.  Nearby is the keeper's house which is now a private residence.  The lighthouse is operated by the US Coast Guard.

Ocracoke Light Station

Keeper's House & Light

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Escape to Ocracoke Island!

Pam and I decided to escape to Ocracoke Island, NC to celebrate our 29th Wedding Anniversary.  It took us about 7.5 hours from Richmond, VA to get here.  But that included a wait of 45 minutes for the ferry at Hatteras and an hour lunch.  The ferry only runs once an hour on the hour in the off season.  During the summer, the ferry ones every half hour.

Anyway, we arrived at 4:30 pm with plenty of time to relax on the balcony overlooking Ocracoke Harbor also known as Silver Lake.  Enjoyed supper at Dajio's restaurant.  Crab cakes for Pam.  Cioppino (seafood stew) for me.  Great food!

Cool beach house stands guard over the entrance to the Ocracoke ferry terminal at Hatteras.

The NC ferry Hatteras approaches us as we pass midway to Ocracoke Island.

The view from our balcony of Ocracoke Harbor.

Where we are staying - Ocracoke Harbor Inn.

Ocracoke Sunset


You know you are a weather geek when you can ID weather stations!  This is a Davis Vantage Pro with solar powered wireless transmitter.  Similar to mine.  I've got a solar powered fan aspirated shield for my temperature sensor (at the bottom) to eliminate the effects of direct sunlight.  Mine also has UV and Solar Radiation sensors.