The 2017 Eastern Shore Virginia Birding and Wildlife Festival

October 10th, 2017 by Marlene email

DSC_5254For the past 25 years, on the first weekend in October, excited Birders throughout Virginia and nearby states flock to Virginia’s Eastern Shore to celebrate the annual Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival. As migrating birds fly south each fall, they are funneled into the narrow tip of the Shore so Northampton County is a truly critical part of the Atlantic Flyway. Each fall literally millions of songbirds and thousands of raptors migrate through our area, taking advantage of an important opportunity to feed and rest before continuing their long and difficult journey south. ( And not just birds, this is the time of year when beautiful clouds of butterflies, the gorgeous orange and black monarchs, float through on their way to tango in Mexico for the winter. )

The Festival headquarters were at Kiptopeke State Park and offered numerous activities including hikes, an DSC_5273evening “owl prowl”, bird banding, hawk observatory, kid’s craft activities, hay rides, information booths sponsored by numerous environmental groups — plus a surprise appearance by a stalwart Smokey the Bear ! The fascinating “Flight of the Raptor” show featured such fine feathered friends as Scooby Doo, a great horned owl, and Salim, a Lanner falcon. It was quite interesting to see these magnificent birds swoop and chase the lures presented to them by their trainer, and being carnivores, then munching on the attached rewards of raw chicken. Learned several interesting raptor facts … The leather hoods covering the birds heads are placed there by the falconer to help the birds relax. ( Who knew birds needed R&R ? ). Harris hawks work together to hunt their prey and are called the “wolves of the sky”. Peregrine falcons are some of the fastest birds on the planet and can reach an amazing 300 mph as they dive. Unlike most other birds, the raptor males are smaller, therefore faster than the females, making them more suited to their role as the hunters while the larger females are busy protecting the eggs in the nest. If a hawk is on the ground when it catches it’s prey, it spreads its wings around its catch to keep it safe from interlopers, called “manteling”.

DSC_5083Also integral to the Birding Festival fun are the wonderful boat tours originating from the harbors in Willis Wharf, Oyster and Wachapreague which meander out to the Barrier Islands to observe the shorebirds. Offered by various local tour captains, including Broadwater Bay EcoTours, Seaside Ecotours and Eastern Shore Adventures, these trips offer a fine vantage point to enjoy waterfront bird watching and present a unique opportunity for visitors to observe and photograph the many species of marsh, wading and shorebirds found in the marshes lining our waterways and out on the Barrier Islands.

 

 

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4th ANNUAL “ART ROCKS THE INNS” IN CAPE CHARLES, VA WAS A BIG SUCCESS

August 22nd, 2017 by Marlene email

Bay Haven 1This past weekend, art lovers on Virginia’s Eastern Shore were treated to the 4th Annual “Art Rocks” walking tour to discover the many creative treasures to be found on the gracious porches and grounds of the 5 Bed & Breakfast inns in Cape Charles. Part of the annual Cape Charles, VA “Harbor For The Arts” Festival, “Art Rocks The Inns” featured numerous local artists showcasing their work on the porches at Alyssa House B&B, Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles, Cape Charles House B&B, Fig Street Inn and Sea Gate B&B. Attendees traveled between venues not just by car but by bike, golf cart and shank’s mare, and lots of oohs and aahs could be heard over the beautiful art pieces being shown at every Inn. Even Foster, the brown dog mascot of the famous Brown Dog Ice Cream, winner of many awards, came to support the arts.

Lots of art mediums were represented— from painters, potters and photographers to weavers, jewelers and Fig Street 4carvers, plus lots of other artisan types, including copper working and garden art. A myriad of beautiful original creations were on display and available for purchase at each venue. Food “art” was available from Parisian Sweets, which makes gorgeous and delicious handmade macaroons and Bay Haven’s famously colorful homemade chow-chows were on display, along with some juicy looking heirloom tomatoes. Thanks to innkeepers Kathy Glaser, Tammy and Jim Holloway, Bruce and Carole Evans, Donna and Greg Kohler and Chris Bannon for hosting this charming annual event and to the many accomplished artists who participated, it was definitely a delightful afternoon and many who attended when home with a new treasure!

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Clams, Carnivals, Chesapeake Cowboys And A Shriner’s Parade –The 3rd Annual “Shuck and Suck” Festival Weekend In Cape Charles, VA

August 11th, 2017 by Marlene email

DSC_3807“Lots of fun” is how the town-wide 2017 “Shuck” Festival in Cape Charles, VA last weekend is being described. Headlined by the Shriner’s Parade, a favorite part of the weekend — their crazy mini-cars and mini-tractor trailers are such fun and Shriners is a great organization that helps so many sick children, hats off to them !! And of course “kids” of all ages loved the Fireman’s Carnival.

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Over on King’s Creek at the Oyster Farm, several very popular contests pitted numerous talented challengers against last year’s winners, including a clam eating competition, the much anticipated oyster eating contest, the daring Smith Island Skiff race, a cornhole championship, and, of course, the exciting “Chesapeake Cowboys” boat docking competition. New this year, a “Chesapeake Cowgirls” docking contest too. Way to go, ladies!! Lots of lively music out on C-Pier as well as under the main tent, some line dancing going on too. At the Town Harbor, the tall sailing ship Virginia was back in port offering Chesapeake Bay sunset cruises. To top it off, a lively fireworks display at the Oyster Farm. Definitely it was a jam-packed weekend!

 

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DUCK BREAKFAST A LA CARTE’

August 1st, 2017 by Marlene email

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This is a true Eastern Shore duck tale, not a tall Eastern Shore duck tale.  But “breakfasting with friends” took on a whole new meaning for me down at the Bayford crab shacks in Nassawadox, VA recently. I had left home at first light, hoping to shoot a few photos of  some colorful puffy clouds reflecting over the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and the Nassawadox Creek inlet at Bayford.  

But once I got there, what really ended up captivating me was a duck breakfast.  (Very different than breakfast atDSC_0735 Duck Donuts for those in Duck, NC  and Virginia Beach, who are addicted to those fabulous treats).  Dawn was just breaking as I pulled in. As it grew lighter, I noticed 2 ducks paddling steadily up the inlet towards the boat ramp. Arriving, they proceeded to walk directly up the ramp and onto the land, totally ignoring me.  They waddled, quack-quacking,  over to an old pier adjacent to the ramp in what I initially thought was just random meandering. But immediately 2 additional ducks popped up to greet them from a large crevice by the dock pilings, which apparently are a duck version of Air B’nB accommodations, emphasis on the “air”, as in very open air!

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 Then the 4 of them, like the group of old buddies they were, immediately turned back around, waddled down the ramp and straight into the water. These old  friends of a feather swam leisurely over to a nearby dock offering plenty of mud and barnacle-encrusted pilings and began to nibble around them, devouring what I assume was their idea of a delicious meal, probably bristle worm ceviche, served with a mud aioli and finished with chiffonade of eel grass.  Duck Breakfast a’ la carte!   Thereafter the sunrise, with soft pink glows, huge billowy clouds, vivid water reflections, everything I had come to see and photograph. Voila’, full daylight and off to my people breakfast.  Thankfully, no worms, mud or eel grass on that menu!

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Fabulous Beachfront Lot In Cape Charles, VA Ready For Your Dream Beach Home

July 14th, 2017 by Marlene email

The ColonyLonging for a life lived with your toes in the sand? Look no further than this gorgeousDSCF0205 beach lot located in Cape Charles, VA in The Colony Village at Bay Creek Golf Resort on the scenic Eastern Shore of Virginia. Save money– this property is a terrific value, priced at just $239,000. With soft warm sand underfoot and blue skies and golden sun above, The Colony is a perfect place to build your retirement, vacation or full time home. Imagine your dream home rising up from just beyond the shoreline, comfortable and breezy, abundant light from floor to ceiling windows, an inviting deck for entertaining, the real essence of a relaxing coastal home. Get ready to live the Eastern Shore sweet beach life!

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And you will love the brilliant sunset views as the sun sinks slowly below the horizon,  streaks of pinks, purples and golds nightly painting the infinite sky. Wine on the deck at twilight, tangy Bay breezes and waves quietly lapping the shoreline, all adding to the relaxed coastal ambiance. Boaters, this is just a hop, skip and 2 jumps from two state-of-the-art marinas — perfect for sailboats and power boats alike. Time to embrace your inner mermaid and come see this impressive property.

 

P.S. For frosting on the cake…Palmer and Nicklaus Bay Creek Signature golf courses, pool and tennis and memberships available in the Bay Creek Beach Club. Lots of amenities available for properties owners at The Colony at Bay Creek.   http://www.blueheronva.com/golf_course_home/

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Second Season Underway For The Cape Charles, VA Farmer’s Market

July 7th, 2017 by Marlene email

DSC_1671The long awaited second season for the brand-new-last-year Cape Charles Farmer’s Market finally rolled around in May and now the vendors are getting into high gear with loads of summer goodies. ( Hours this year will be from 3-6 pm, rain or shine, from now till October.)  So if it’s Tuesday afternoon, whether you’re a local or a visitor, it’s time for foodies and farm-to-table enthusiasts to break out the walking shoes, a wicker market basket and head out to the spacious, grassy Museum grounds on Stone Road in the little Eastern Shore of Virginia coastal town of Cape Charles to shop for the fine local farm produce… and much more.

 

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I found last year that the best way to tackle the cornucopia of goodies on offer was to take a stroll, making a circuit around the whole Market, to preview all the little vendor tents and the tempting items on offer, then circle back around again to make selections. This proved to be the right strategy again this year. Starting on the north end across from the handsome brick Museum building was Shore Beef and BBQ, where owner Ron was fielding multiple customers drawn by deep smoky aromas and intent on securing some of his delicious beef brisket and vinegar- dressing cole slaw.

 

Mattawoman Creek FarmMoving counter-clockwise, Mattawoman Farms CSA’s counter was heaped high with loads of fresh organic veggies including the most beautiful red and green lettuces, soft yet crisp, just gorgeous. And kohlrabi, which after some indecision I decided I would finally try this year, as well as some tatsoi, a deep green plant similar to bok choi. Mattawoman had tall racks of healthy looking plants, perfect to pop immediately into a home garden. Across the way, the honey guy’s wares were shining golden, the sun glinting off the jars, you could almost savor lush sticky sweetness on the tongue merely by looking at it. At our house, local honey is the go-to sweetener for tea, especially green teas, it just smooths out every cuppa.

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Moving down the line, waving to the Bread Lady from The Bakery at Riverside Farm who had sold out in the first hour. And no wonder, she has fab sour dough breads and at my house we are addicted to her cinnamon raisin bread (which we often buy on Thursdays year-round at the Gull Hummock gourmet shop on Mason Avenue.) Toasted, spread lightly with peanut butter, so divine with morning coffee ! Next door to Bread Lady, a new vendor this year, the cleverly named Kitchen Sync Catering, whose chef, Louise Oliver, is offering a scrumptious menu of prepared foods that can be ordered on-line and picked up at their kitchen at the Eastville Inn on Friday or purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Tuesday. Their samples looked delish, especially the colorful layered salad with a side of cilantro avocado dressing and the chopped broccoli salad with cranberries and almonds with a honey yogurt dressing. Just around the corner, Copper Cricket Farm’s table was piled high with totally gorgeous veggies including crispy fresh spring onions, arugula and Swiss chard.

DSC_1715Further down the line, another new vendor, Lauren Gardner of Parisian Sweets, was offering French style macaroons. Or rather, not offering, since, unfortunately for me, but nice for them, she was also sold out.  But lucky early birds to the Market were able to indulge in her lemon, raspberry cheesecake or mocha flavors. Going to go earlier next week ! Did manage to snag some of Pickett’s Harbor Farm’s just-picked-this-morning peaches though, a favorite of my husband’s, but do peaches compare to lemon or mocha French macaroons ?  A tough decision but one I didn’t have to make since there were no macaroons !  Too many other great vendors to mention here, offering everything from The Flying Pig’s traditionally fermented organic sauerkrauts to organic veggies, local seafood as well as organic eggs and meats from several different local farms. The Cape Charles Farmer’s Market will not disappoint, check it out, 3-6 pm, rain or shine, every Tuesday, May through October

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Celebrating the Fourth of July, 2017 In Cape Charles, Virginia

July 6th, 2017 by Marlene email

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On July 3, 1776, John Adams told his wife Abigail that when Independence Day came, it should be celebrated with ” pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports… and Illuminations.” Then, voila’, on July 4,1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and as a country, we’ve never looked back ! Now, in 2017, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the historic little coastal town of Cape Charles, VA celebrated America’s 241st Independence Day with the very same traditions John Adams wished for… and more ! This year, the festivities kicked off at 10am with the traditional Parade, the best ever in my book, led by the Color Guard from the US Coast Guard Station Cape Charles.

 

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The Cape Charles Parade is always a marvelous combination of local pageantry, floats, banners, fire company trucks with air horns blasting a loud ” howdy”, antique tractors and cars, horses, kids on bikes, motorcycles, decorated golf carts, etc., from local organizations, clubs and individuals. They march enthusiastically down Bay and Mason Avenues, tossing candy, beads and even a few yellow rubber duckies to the appreciative spectators lining the streets cheering them on ! This year, however, the parade within the parade, the Golf Cart Parade, was truly amazing ! Golf cart entries were dressed to the nines, red, whites and blues galore, flags, balloons, Pom-poms, streamers, banners, signs, Uncle Sam top hats, creativity shone everywhere. Since they are street-legal in Cape Charles, many residents own electric golf carts and a little friendly competition among neighbors resulted in dozens and dozens of fantastic cart entries this year, all the better to enjoy the Parade !

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After the Parade, it was on to the arts and crafts tents and food vendors out on Bay Avenue by the beach. Lots of fun stuff to see and buy. Business was brisk at the Italian Ice stand and yummy aromas wafted from the taco tent and the shrimp po boy tent, with nearby hot dog and burger venders ladling on mustard and ketchup at a fast pace too. Down at the Gazebo, Mistress of Ceremonies, perennial favorite Trina Veber, announced all the Parade winners, including best golf cart float which celebrated the now-extinct Cape Charles ferry and best Novelty entry, awarded to Reid Diggs, who drove his boat-into-a-car conversion in the Parade.

 

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Next up on the events schedule, the “Guppie Challenge”, a fishing tourney for kids, held out on the Cape Charles Fun Pier and sponsored by New Roots. Seemed to be lots of entries, excited kids milling around the LOVE sign, waiting for parents to finish the sign ups. And right next door, the medical assistance tent in case anyone got hooked by their hook… or whatever ! Teams were registering for beach volleyball and the corn hole contest. ( If you’ve never seen Corn Hole played, it’s a pretty simple set-up, a wide tilted board with round holes cut through it, hence the name corn hole ). The object of the game is to toss little bean bags through the not-much-bigger-than-the-bean-bag holes. One of those things that sounds easy but in practice is complicated, no doubt a metaphor for life in these days. ) Out on the Gazebo, live music all day and into the evening, keeping everybody rocking and rolling through sunset and last light.

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My young great-grandkids love the fireworks on the 4th of July best of all. As soon as darkness starts to fall, it’s like a road trip — but instead of “are we almost there ?”, it’s “are they going to start soon? ” Meantime, I’m still fooling with camera settings, hoping to get a few good shots of the fireworks, which seems always to be a challenge. Suddenly, the first loud booms and the crackly sizzles of lacy sparklers. Then oohs and ahhs, the squeals of sheer delight, wide young eyes staring at the sky with amazement as brilliant colors and shapes streak upwards, illuminating the darkness, then fading, softly falling back towards earth. Each seemingly more beautiful than the one before, going on and on and on, until the spectacular Grand Finale, the always perfect conclusion to a marvelous 4th, a Cape Charles 4th !!

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Contemporary Home On Eastern Shore Virginia Waterfront Point

June 27th, 2017 by Marlene email

100_1363_0001Boaters, set your course for this impressive 3 bedroom, 3 and a half bath custom built contemporary home nestled into a 1.25 acre+/-partially wooded waterfront point near Cape Charles, VA  listed by Blue Heron Realty Co.  Priced at $799,000 and located in Franktown, VA, on the scenic Eastern Shore of Virginia, this single story home is on a quiet cul-de-sac in a tiny upscale waterfront hamlet. Sitting atop high banks, it offers gorgeous views of the clear blue waters of its colorful saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay. The handsome dock with good boating water would provide the perfect home for your boat, with fast easy access out to the Bay for fishing or just a relaxed cruise.  Love kayaking ?   The pristine, calm inlet with its many prongs makes exploring by canoe or kayak a real pleasure.

 

 

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Exceptional construction, dramatic window package and an open floor plan with lots of natural light offer coastal living at its best. This unique home is truly a work of art starting with a bronze fountain featuring elegant blue herons which greets visitors at the front door created by famed Eastern Shore artist, William Turner. Lovely mosaic tiles by local artists throughout, including, in the foyer, an amazing marble mosaic reproduction of Vincent Van Gough’s “Starry Nights” by internationally known Eastern Shore tile company, New Ravenna.

 


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Interior details include elegant teak floors, custom cherry cabinets, granite kitchen and bathroom counters, amazing floor-to-ceiling custom windows, skylights, barrel ceiling and luxurious bathrooms. Everything from the custom details and the dramatic window package to the mature landscaping, trellises, many decks, hot tub and lovely in-ground swimming pool work carefully together to create a special synergy with the home itself, producing a truly inspiring waterfront haven. Only about 20 minutes to Palmer and Nicklaus signature golf and the sparkling sand beach in Cape Charles. This unique home definitely must be seen to truly appreciate. http://www.BlueHeronVa.com/boating_properties/

 

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First Annual Live Auction At Lemon Tree Gallery And Studio

June 22nd, 2017 by Marlene email

Crowds Looking at Art 2Another exciting  “First Of ” event in Cape Charles,VA  kicked off recently with the “1st Annual Live Art Auction” hosted by the Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio in Cape Charles to benefit Experimental Film Virginia.  At the door, attendees were greeted with a sparkling limoncello prosecco cocktail before moving on to the registration table (manned by Blue Heron’s own Luisa Gazzolo), then flowing into the main gallery to view the tables laid out with the myriad works on auction. Entitled the “Sail On Sale” and sponsored by GEAR ( Global Exchange Arts Roundtable, a 501 (c)3 non-profit led by Renata Sheppard, daughter of Clelia Sheppard ), the Silent Auction and the Live Auction proceeded simultaneously.

 

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Well-known names such as David Turner, Christine Harris,  Anne Bois and dozens of other talented local artists donated 100% of auction proceeds from the sale of their work to GEAR. Pieces ranged from embroidered wall hangings, oil paintings, prints and carvings to exquisite blown glass, jewelry and bronze sculpture. Gift baskets, a romantic weekend getaway, etc., even an eye procedure, were donated by local businesses for this event. Item # 4, a cocktail party at Lemon Tree Gallery for 20 guests including live music, beer, wine, mixed drinks plus cheese and antipasto platters resulted in some fast paced bidding action.

 

 

 

 

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Crowd and Stage

Several of the donating artists present were coaxed to take the stage while their works were being sold, including Melinda Blanchard, who paints amazing pet portraits. During her item’s bidding, Rosilina, Clelia’s super-soft, super-cuddly long haired dachshund, whose portrait is featured on Melinda’s brochure, made a surprise appearance on stage to the delight of the audience. Auctioneer William Summs kept the bidding lively throughout and by the end of the evening over $5000 had been raised to support this year’s crop of experimental filmmakers. Concluding with musical entertainment by Bruce Brinkley and Scott Wade, it was definitely a delightful evening. Much fun was had by all — especially by the successful bidders!

 

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P.S. A group of nearly 50 experimental filmmakers who will be accepted by GEAR for its 2017 program will arrive here in July and spend 2 weeks living in Cape Charles, creating unique 3-5 minute films centered on the Shore. And the public will be able to see the results when their films are premiered on July 15th at the Palace Theatre. So save the date on your calendar, it’s going to be an interesting evening.

Contemporary Eastern Shore Virginia Waterfront Home With West Indies Style Architecture

June 15th, 2017 by Marlene email

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Located in Cape Charles, VA, on the beautiful Southern tip of  Virginia’s Eastern Shore, this colorful contemporary West Indies style custom home is sited on a small freshwater lake with long dramatic views down the lake and out to the Chesapeake Bay. Take advantage of its low maintenance construction, with Hardie Board siding and a standing seam metal roof, making upkeep a breeze.  Priced at $445,000, the bright and flowing floor plan includes 3 bedrooms and 3 full baths. The extensive floor-to-ceiling window package fills the interior with lots of comfortable natural light, adding to the casual coastal feel. Lots of intricate detail work, custom built-ins, a great room fireplace, granite counters, etc. Small lot for easy maintenance, but very nicely landscaped.

 

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And a very special place to hang out at sunrise or sunset is the sunroom with its wall of windows bringing the outdoors in and magnifying the spectacular sky colors . Or later maybe out on the deck  in the hot tub, Milky Way twinkling overhead, stars seeming so close you could just reach out and touch one.  Fabulous ! As part of The Colony village at Bay Creek Golf Resort, this home enjoys deeded beach access, indeed a soft sand community beach is within easy walking distance.  Pool and tennis are also on the amenity list.  It’s easy to take a swing at some great Eastern Shore golf because the owner’s golf membership to the Bay Creek Palmer and Nicklaus  Signature courses as well as their golf cart will convey with the property. Frosting on the cake — it’s located just a few minutes from a state of the art deep water marina. So you can have it all beach, boating and golf with this great coastal home  http://www.blueheronva.com/golf_course_home/

 

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