Huintley Meadows Park is always a fine place to spend a day, but early Spring is quite interesting as the wildlife starts to wake up or migrate through. It is also known as a place to somewhat consistently see a red-headed woodpecker, which we did see while we were there.
Not so long ago I posted pics of American toads at Lake Burke. Now, there are tadpoles. This is not my finest hour of photography, but here are the toad tadpoles.
The old Latin name for these was Bufo americanus, which I still find useful. But the current name is Anaxyrus americanus.
Not so long ago I put up some pics from Lake Frank. Rock Creek Regional Park is pretty much just across the road, and leads to Lake Needwood. I went up there a second time to have a look at the Rock Creek end of things.
There were deer all over the place, so I took a few pics.
And just to make this post as complex as possible, I am including a camoflage animal shot. Can you find it and name it? Answer photo is at the bottom of this post.
And now, if you have read this far, it is quiz time. A bird and a feather. What species do you think these are (from).
As no one has taken a stab at this feather, I will tell you it is from a northern flicker.
And, since you have been waiting, here is the close-up of the camoflage animal.
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.
I can't find much historical information on this park, but it is a nice bit of green space with a mostly mature forest (a lot of tulip poplar as with so many parks in this area) and a small pond. I went out there today and found a single hiking trail through the park, which is mostly surrounded by subdivisions with nice houses on reasonable sized lots.
And just as I was finding a parking space, saw...
This one was just off the park property in a backyard. It didn't take long before the tail went up and it went off into the park and disappeared.
Next I saw two red-shouldered hawks, and grabbed a shot of one flying in a kinda quarter view, which is pretty good for showing the ID marks for the hawk.
And then there was the pond. All ponds are interesting for wildlife, and this one was no different. As spring is late here, it was nice to finally see some dragonflies at the pond. And I took this pic of...
Here the male is in front and has the blue abdomen, and is clinging to the female with the reddish abdomen. After mating, they fly around together like this and land now and again so the female can lay eggs under the surface on vegetation. This is the egg laying.
There is a good website on this species if you want more details at:
And finally, back to frogs. As previously noted, the wood frog is the first to breed in northern Virginia. Now, they are tadpoles, and the egg masses are just off-white blobs, as seen here...
And it has been brought to my attention that I mentioned the end of the breeding season for the spring peepers, without showing a photo of such. Well, this spring has been awful cold and all things are not on schedule and thus hard to predict when and where to find things. I heard spring peepers a couple of times, but not in anyplace I could get to. So here is a photo of one from a few years back taken in West Virginia, just to cover that photographic ground, so to speak.
The American toad (Bufo americanus) is another of the early breeding Amphibians in northern Virginia. With temperatures now near normal highs for this time of year, after so much cold, they are out and breeding. The wood frogs and spring peepers are now mostly done, and it is the time of the toads.
There are two common toads around here, the American and Fowler's toad (Bufo fowleri). The American toad breeds first. But just to say a bit about how to tell them apart. I find two things most telling (based on research). First, each toad has black spots on its back, and while the American toad has one (sometimes two) warts inside the black spot, Fowler's typically has 3-6 warts inside the black spot. The second bit is that the crest above the eye does not join with the big lump just behind it (the parietal gland) in American toads, while it does with Fowler's toad.
So, with that babble in mind, here are some pics of American toads, in action.
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...
Without being able to get out for a while, I had to decide where to get out to today as I had about four hours of free time. I chose to do the trail around Lake Accotink, knowing that it is about 4 miles long and thus quite reasonable given my time frame.
The park's website is: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lake-accotink/
But from a photo standpoint, I started with this pic..
Yes, I vowed to not post more pics of great blue herons back in the Fall, but I lied. Maybe I just said I would post fewer of them. Either way, here is a GBH.
And a lot more to continue this tomorrow.
First of all, that title is accurate and misleading. It is the first day of Spring, but my post isn't full of robins and daffodils. More of a photo tip for publishing or sending around pics
What I do want to demonstrate, is the idea of photos competing against themselves. Lots of folks post multiple pics of roughly the same thing on websites, Flickr, whatever. But by posting multiple shots you degrade the whole bunch of them, as they compete against each other.
My example is kinda artsy, but I like patterns and took a series today. Planned to post one. But figured to use the series to show that is is always best to post your favorite and not the whole set.
So, here is a pattern shot I took and I like.
So, that is a likable image. It's not something to go on your living room wall, but has some power and interest.
I should leave it at that, but to continue...
Another pic of the fence, a bit wider.
So go back and think about what you thought of the first photo, and now look at the three photos. If I just posted the first one, most folks would find it nice. Now with competing photos, none look all that amazing. They compete against each other instead of against other photographs.
Now let's add an element...
Again, different but the same. This pic solo would get much more reaction than here in a series. Something to think about when putting up photos.
As a final bit, I have a very short video of the sunset on the first day of Spring. It was finally close to normal high temps, around 55 degrees out, with sunshine today. People were out and about, and was at a park at sunset.
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.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist