Monday, February 3, 2014

Back to Blackwater

Last week we decided to throw caution to the winter winds and take a road trip to Cambridge, Maryland to visit with friends and attend a dinner party thrown for members of my old book club (the Dorchester Divas) and our spouses.

The snow started flying almost as soon as we arrived at the hotel in South Hill, Virginia the first day of the trip. 

Wednesday morning we inched our way to Virginia Beach and found the roads in deplorable shape. 

Thursday we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (another white-knuckle adventure) and spent the night with friends in Cape Charles. We finally made it to Cambridge Friday afternoon.

As I've written before, during the 15 years we lived in that area we were treated to an amazing parade of birds: herons, tundra swans, ospreys, egrets, woodpeckers, all manner of ducks, red-tailed hawks and "regular" birds including catbirds and hummers. 

I once photographed seven American bald eagles fighting over a dead duck stuck in the ice. We saw Great Horned Owls land on our dock. 

We watched the sky darken as thousands of Canada geese headed back to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge from the local cornfields. We listened to the haunting cries of the loons at night.

Now that we've moved to the mountains, I realize how very lucky we were to have so much wildlife on our doorstep. We took it all for granted. So knowing I would be close to Blackwater on the trip, I packed up all my cameras in hopes of finding some exciting photo ops.

Blackwater was established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds and today encompasses over 27,000 acres of tidal wetlands, freshwater ponds, open fields and forests. The refuge is one of the chief wintering areas along the Atlantic Flyway and can serve as home to as many as 50,000 geese, ducks and tundra swans during the fall. 
From an earlier visit on a sunny day

20 species of ducks and over 250 varieties of birds can also be seen there along with 35 species of reptiles and amphibians, all manner of mammals and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. 

You can motor through the refuge on the 4-mile Wildlife Drive, or walk and bike along the Drive and various trails. An impressive new Visitor Center opened in December where you can watch live video on the Osprey Cam or Eagle Cam. 

The Eagle Festival is held every March.

Unfortunately the day I was there, it was too windy and cold to walk or even get out of the car. Still, I managed to get a few nice pictures.

And despite the miserable conditions, it was good to be back.

The view across the creek from our old house


Les said...

I am glad you decided to share this. Your inventory of birdlife is much greater than what I saw at Pleasure House Point, but any day on or near the water, no matter the weather, is a good day.

Lynn Hunt said...

Amen, Les. If you have not been to Blackwater do try to go next fall and you will be richly rewarded.

Unknown said...

It's great to see pictures from Dorchester County. Makes me a bit homesick. Don't envy the harrowing road trip and glad you made it safely. Did you have any white swans in Woolford? When we lived there, we had a pair who nested near the waters edge each Spring and stayed until their cygnets were ready to make it on their own. What an exciting parade they made along the shoreline, and the sound of them in flight always made my heart sing. Thanks for sharing your recent trip.

Lynn Hunt said...

Thank you Ann! I think we used to see your swans swimming by our dock from time to time - they were so graceful and lovely. I miss the calls of the loons as well. It was a beautiful area with so many amazing birds and ducks.

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