Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

SHINE ON, SHINE ON, SUPER MOON SO WAY UP HIGH… OVER VIRGINIA’S EASTERN SHORE ! AND IT DID ! SUPER MOON RISE/SET JANUARY 2nd/3rd, 2018

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

DSC_8077Not only did the Super Moon shine brightly on the night of January 2nd, there is still a second 2018 Super Moon coming on January 31st. The 2018 calendar year boasted 2 Super Moons- – the January 2nd and the upcoming January 31st, a moon which will not only be a Super Moon, where the moon is closest in its orbit to Earth, but also a “Blue Moon”, a second full moon falling within a given calendar month. Chronicling the January 2nd event from the harbor’s viewing stand overlooking Parting Creek in Willis Wharf sounded like fun. Moon rise was indicated for 5:56 pm, more than an hour past sunset so full darkness which unfortunately, for me, increases the difficulty of getting good photo takes which include surrounding landscape. Even more unfortunately, it was well after 6 when we rolled up, the moon already above the horizon, disappointing, because seeing the moon as it just peeks over is always special. And it was really cold, dare we say Super Cold – – but the night was crystal clear, the stars were like brilliant twinkling diamonds flung across the sky and the moon glowed a deep, lovely gold, an incredible sight as it began its journey westward. Only a few boats were tied up in the marina, the harbor’s street lights creating a rather erie feel, water sluggish, new ice everywhere, little chunks and ice pans undulating around the empty boats, the super-bright Super Moon above, all the while my shutter finger screaming Frostbite Alert ! Frostbite Alert !

Up early on January 3rd, hoping for some good photos of Super Moon Set on my way to an appointment across the Bay. By the crack of dawn, as the moon was rapidly DSC_8067cruising West and the sun was rising slowly in the East, I was heading down Bayside Road. Although it was barely 6 am, an early gathering of Franktown farmers was already out in the field, pick-up taillights glowing red, bright spotlights illuminating a big piece of machinery, the Moon now pearly white and huge overhead, moonbeams falling softly on wide fields and clattering diesel motors below. Farming by moonlight, that’s dedication! Moon Set was indicated for 7:31 am on the 3rd but an early appointment in Virginia Beach kept exploration for a variety of moon-set photo locations to a minimum. Luckily, still bright and still Super, the moon yielded some interesting shots near The Colony, the Oyster Farm Marina and the Outlook pull-off on the Bridge. So, Super Moon 2018 # 1 over, looking forward to Super Moon # 2/Blue Moon on the 31st ! And then – – that’s it until January 21, 2019.

 

 

 

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THE SILVERY BEAMS OF THE 2017 SUPER MOON ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

DSC_7212What appears brighter and bigger and might only appear but once a year ? A Super Moon ! And during the December 3rd the 2017 Super Moon, our moon orbited to its closest distance to earth for this entire year, making this silvery orb appear much brighter and larger than a normal full moon. Here are a few Eastern Shore Virginia Super Moon shots we took that night. From the vivid pink moonrise as it climbed above the horizon in Oyster, VA  to its pearly white aspect and glittering beams high in the sky above Cape Charles, it really was a beautiful sight !  I think Shakespeare said it best – – “How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank ! Here we will sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony. “

By the way, soon, another Skywatchers delight ! A Blue Moon is coming – – In just a few weeks, the two Super Moons of 2018 will both take place in January, on the 2nd and 31st. The Moon on the 31st will be a “Blue Moon” as it is the second full moon in a calendar month. So, once in a blue moon … get ready to “croon love’s tune” to your honey by the light of these two silvery Super Moons !

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The 15th Annual Eastern Shore of Virginia Artisan’s Guild Holiday Tour. A Real Pleasure, Always !

Friday, December 1st, 2017

DSC_6979If an event has been on going for 15 years and counting, it’s a pretty sure bet that its been very successful and is back yearly by popular demand. Such is clearly the case for the traditional Eastern Shore of Virginia Artisan’s Guild Holiday Tour held annually on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year was another delight and a terrific opportunity to shop for unique gifts, large or small, for those special people in your life.

From little items like the adorably cute “mismatched” sox from Ten Good Sheep or a bottle of luscious Chardonnay from Chatham Winery to strikingDSC_7004 handcrafted furniture at Windsor Chair to gorgeous paintings and jewelry at Lemon Tree Gallery, plus lots of creative offerings from artists too numerous to mention at the many other venues, Tour 2017 shone with the multi-talents of our many Eastern Shore artists. ( Including that so-cute and so-silky herd from By The Bay Alpacas who gave their wool that others might purchase hand- woven super- soft scarves and more ! )

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And, even though not on the official Tour and time was short, we took a moment, after a quick lunch at the always- delicious Janet’s Cafe in Onancock, to drop in at the gallery of Danny Doughty. We love to check out his latest work and his always elegantly decorated Christmas tree. Wrapped up our day in Cape Charles at Lemon Tree Gallery which has a most impressive collection, showing variety of work from artists all over the Shore. By then, nearly sunset, can’t help myself, it was down to the beach for yet another shot of the ever- photogenic LOVE sign before heading home. Tour 2017 over – – but there is always next year !

 

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Looking In The Rear View Mirror, It’s Goodbye Eastern Shore Summer 2017

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Golf carts sunset.brighter croppedDefinitely past time to bid farewell to that sweetest season of sun, sand and fun here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Summer. We clung tightly, reveling in the extra gift of many lovely days of Indian Summer we had this year. But now it’s time to just face it – – summer’s over ! The colorful vibrancy of Autumn is now upon us, with some chilly days in winter soon to follow. But not to worry, just close the eyes and memories of those lazy, hazy, glorious days of Summer 2017 shall ever sweetly spring to mind….  Goodbye Summer….

 

 

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From Pea Soup Fog To Clear As A Bell, A Beautiful Morning For Photos In Willis Wharf, VA.

Friday, November 17th, 2017

DSC_5021Up early one morning in late October and decided on the spur of the moment that it might be a perfect Indian Summer day to get some pretty sunrise pictures at the seaside harbor in the tiny Eastern Shore village of Willis Wharf, the picturesque aquaculture capitol of Northampton Co. But about half way down the driveway, I realized that a thick blanket of fog had settled over the landscape. Hmm, to stay or to go ? Decided to go. Although barely peeking over the horizon as I zipped into the harbor, the sun was already engaged in battle with the fog, valiantly trying to penetrate the thick mists hovering over Parting Creek inlet. It took some time, but the sun won, insto-presto, no more fog ! And thus rewarded with a real variety of photos, the early ones hazy and obscured by the fog, the last ones crystal clear, including some with gorgeous water reflections. All in all, an interesting hour in a quaint little seaside village.

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Oyster, VA — Your Connection To Some Fabulous Seaside Fishing

Friday, November 10th, 2017

For easy access to some great seaside fishing on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the boat ramp in Oyster is a prime launch pad.  And I have come to the conclusion, albeitB1 non-scientific, that there is a reason behind the term “fishermen” because several weeks ago, all the early Saturday morning boats launching from the ramps in this tiny Eastern Shore town were filled with fisher  “men”.   There were a few fisherboys, but not a fisherwoman or fishergirl in sight.  This surprised me because, even though I am not one of them, I know a lot of gals who are fisherwomen, Big Time !  I was in Oyster near dawn hoping to get some good sunrise photos of the harbor and fishing boats heading out to our pristine off-shore Barrier Islands and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, figuring a Saturday morning would offer a good opportunity to photograph a real variety of boats. After watching 7 or 8 boats push out from the ramp, it suddenly dawned on me that the folks in each of the boats were all guys, nary a woman in sight.  Not sure what this shows, if anything at all, except that quite a few guys probably had a great time fishing that Saturday, hope they caught their limits! 

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SUNRISE AT RED BANK

Friday, November 10th, 2017

DSC_4734If you haven’t discovered the newly renovated Northampton County boat ramp at Red Bank, you have missed a treat. Heralded at the end of a long narrow, winding road by a rugged, weathered sign announcing that you have arrived at Red Bank, you notice first the sturdy new pilings topped by shiny white caps that glisten in the early morning light. Nearby, a handicapped parking space is perfectly positioned for rolling right out on thick new planks of the docks. But best of all, a tangy salty aroma and a serene stillness broken only by sounds from Mother Nature greet visitors to this quiet seaside hamlet. As we arrived, the brick red sun had just begun its daily climb, barely peeking over the horizon, its first rays shimmering in the nearly crimson waters. Crystal clear reflections of the piers, boats, trees and nearby buildings began gleaming in the salty waters of the creek. Tide flowing out, seabirds calling overhead, herons strutting the low tide flats, stealthily searching out a tasty breakfast, just another peaceful Eastern Shore morning.

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25 Years Later Still Going Strong- – The C.B.E.S. Annual Eastern Shore VA Bike Tour!

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

DSC_5861The annual “Between the Waters” Bike Tour sponsored by CBES, Citizens For A Better Eastern Shore, is one of the largest eco-tourism events held annually on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This event is capped at 1000 participants and was again sold out this year which marks the event’s 25th Anniversary. The 2017 weekend actually began on Friday afternoon with a “Fun Ride” from Nassawadox into the surrounding neighborhoods. The official Tour start was from Sunset Beach Resort, with the 100 Mile Ride kicking off as the rooster crowed at 7:30 am. We arrived about 8:30 and registration was very brisk for the 25, 40 and 60 mile Rides as folks checked in and picked up their route info. In another corner of the room, raffle tickets were being sold for the original of the striking and vibrant Bethany Simpson painting which was commissioned to represent the Shore for this year’s Tour

Smiling bikers swirled around the room, selecting a treat or two from the complementary snack bar offerings of fruits, muffins, etc., trying to consume a last DSC_6086bit of energy before setting out to travel over hill and dale, traveling the Shore’s countryside. Oops, no hills and dales here, just delightfully flat terrain, easy on the legs, and a marvelous opportunity to enjoy the blue water vistas, serene fields and woodlands, the scenic views of autumn on the Shore.

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We set out to get some photos the 25 Mile Ride which took the bikers, peddling mostly on singles but some tandem bikes too plus a few recumbents, from a Sunset Beach departure. The route wound basically up the Seaside Road scenic byway, eventually to a crossover at Arlington Road with a rest and water break at a farm shed across from a field of ripe soybeans. From there, bikers pushed on past the Custis Tomb historic landmark on the Old Plantation Creek inlet and a pedal through the lovely little Chesapeake Bay neighborhood surrounding it, enjoying picturesque vistas of the Shore’s farms, woodlands and blue waters. The 25 Mile riders then headed south along Seaside Road back to Sunset Beach, then drove to Eastville for lunch. But the 40 Mile riders continued on north, with a rest stop at historic Travis Chapel near the harbor in Oyster, then north to a Rt. 13 crossing at Eastville’s Willow Oak Drive traffic light for lunch.

At picturesque Windrush Farm in Eastville, hungry bikers were treated to a rest and a boxed lunch of delicious assorted wraps, chips and fruit catered by wellDSC_6148 known Bill’s Restaurant in Chincoteague. Music and song entertainment by Nathan Travis & Company as well as plenty of tail wagging from a friendly dog with interesting face markings who was delighted to soak up much petting from just about everyone there. A little medic tent was on-site for those who might need it but fortunately there didn’t seem to be many in need. A volunteer with a pickup truck drove behind the bikers on each route, ready to help anyone with equipment or other problems but, fortunately, it didn’t seem like there were many of those problems either.

Clearly the real stars of this event are its many, many volunteers. I can only imagine the effort and organization it takes administratively to put on a 1000 participant Bike Tour each October. But on the actual day, the sheer number of volunteer “boots on the ground” needed to make the event run smoothly clearly is tremendous. From the Friday Fun Ride, to Saturday’s bustling registrations, pre-start helpers, all the different rest stops, the various lunch venues, etc., cheerful volunteers were there to make sure everything ran smoothly for the four different Rides. And run smoothly it did ! Plus special kudos to the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel whose personnel stood out in Rt. 13 for hours on end to assure safe crossings over the highway because nothing can take the fun out of an event like an accident ! Crowned by the evening Oyster Roast, the 25th Anniversary Tour was over and now it’s onward to organizing the 26th !

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The 2017 Eastern Shore Virginia Birding and Wildlife Festival

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

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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DUCK BREAKFAST A LA CARTE’

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

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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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