The pretty flowers
Lots of super pretty flowers at Meadowlark Gardens, but wasn't really there to take pics of them.
North Carolina Elizabethan Gardens
These gardens are on Roanoke Island, and well worth a visit.
Some pics from the gardens...
more pics from Burke Lake
Let's go to the caves!
Gomantong Caves consist primarily of two caves, each with a horizontal entrance and quite a lot of pit entrances up high. For the last two days I have been mapping the colonies of bats and birds that roost on the walls and ceiling of the lower cave, Simud Hitam (Black Cave). We are just trying to figure out how much stuff is living up there.
I am also working on figuring out which bats live where in the cave. In a big cave with very high ceilings, the way to do this is to spend a lot of time in the cave under the roosts and wait for a dead or dying bat to fall to the floor. Yes, where there is life there is death, and here it provides us an easy way to know what's up there.
So a few photos from my trip to the cave today, where I was happily wandering around solo with my lights, big flash and camera, and a ton of gear in my pack (it weighs about 20 pounds for this type of work).
We arrived at the visitor center and unlike a lot of cave trips, already had all our things ready to go. However, there was very nice bird sitting on a lamppost in the parking lot so it got some attention.
That would have been enough, and time for caves, when the monkeys started jumping around just down the road so I went over to photograph them.
And that would have been enough, and time for the caves, when the orangutans were spotted!
So unless an elephant was going to walk by, it was time for the caves. What a great start to the day, though.
Okay, so finally some cave shots. But that's all I have time for tonight. I leave you with a blue fly or bee of some sort.
A second pic today, This is partly to make up for getting some sleep rather than posting something yesterday, and partly because I really like teasels.
Theodore Roosevelt Island
So you may be used to the standard great president memorials/monuments on the National Mall. Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson. Wait, was Jefferson a president? Oh yes, he was the third president.
But the president who really understood the value of nature (and created the National Park system) is Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, he had his flaws, but his administration figured out how to conserve some of he great parts of he United States.
And his memorial is on an island in the Potomac River,
I was out to this island today, and here are some pics.
But let's go to Theodore Roosevelt island.
Seems like this will take two days to put up all the pics. So, more tomorrow.
Flowers in Northern Virginia
Holmes Run Stream Valley Park, Annandale, VA.
This park is a mix of ball fields and forest. I really didn't find anything amazing to photograph related to the park, and my telephoto lens wasn't getting anything, so I put on the macro lens for some flower shots.
First up is a shot with the telephoto lens before I switched. Spring has been late coming this year, but here is a bee on a flower.
So I put on the macro lens and took a few more pictures. I'm not known as a great flower photographer, and that is true here. But this was the only interesting bit going on.
Which is where I should end this, but I took one pattern shot that isn't awesome, but worth adding.
Accotink Park (part III - final)
The pedestrian bridge over the train tracks was not exactly on the loop around the lake. But seemed like a nice side bit if I was going to see as much of the park as possible during a loop trip.
So back to the trail...
And thus I end the photos from Accotink Park. As always, I hope you enjoyed my walk as much as I did.
And to finish, I include yet another great blue heron photo, which I started this bit with, and have said I wouldn't be posting more of...
Potomac Overlook Regional Park
With Spring really trying to break Old Man Winter's grip, it is time to get back to my park series. I still did some of this in the winter, but Northern Virginia parks really start to get more interesting come spring. Sure, some of the animals are harder to see with the leaves out, but then all the birds are singing and colors come out and it just more photographic fun.
So yesterday we finally had a warm day and I headed over to Potomac Overlook Regional Park. website: http://www.nvrpa.org/park/potomac_overlook/
This is a spiffy little park on a rise above the Potomac River (duh) with a lot going on. The nature center should not be missed, unless of course you do NOT wish to see the nice variety of live snakes and turtles within. Very nicely done, and for those cavers who read this, it actually has a "Kids Cave" downstairs with cave photos and information about bats and caves. Total surprise.
But just outside, I could hear what I have been waiting to hear, a group of...
Click on the video for a short bit to see and hear the frogs
And that wasn't the only sign of Spring. There were...
And I had been told that their was an aviary, and sure enough, there it was. These three beautiful animals were chilling out on the warm day.
They also have a butterfly garden and other things that aren't really useful yet. But after exploring around most of the park, I decided to walk down Donaldson Run (located just off the property) to the Potomac River. This trail crosses back and forth over the stream a couple of times, so plan on rock-hopping!
And before coming to the river, there is a spot that looks like a steep little trail going up. Well, the "overlook" had to be up, right? Wrong, I ended up on a deer trail and had to backtrack. And it was while on this trail that I saw my oddity of the day. Several trees were painted with designed and a couple even had sayings painted on. Weird. But I was out of time for more, so headed out.
Beech drops (Epifagus virginiana) is a wild flower with an unusual twist. It has no chlorophyll, and thus is not green. It is parasitic on the roots of beech trees. Generally considered not harmful to the trees, it sucks the sap from the tree roots, thus making it saprophytic in the jargon.
Found generally across the eastern United States, it is not really rare, just that most people don't recognize it as a wild flower, and well, mostly ignore it as it is not showy by any means.
The flowers in this photo are a foot tall or a little better, and were found at Burke Lake Park in northern Virginia.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist