Posts Tagged ‘nature parks’

Following is a semi-exhaustive picture dictionary of animals we don’t treat.

Bees

Bees

Butterflies

Butterflies

Dragonflies

Dragonflies

Slugs

Slugs

Goose, ducks

Geese with duck harem

Rude ducks that talk over each other

Rude ducks that talk over each other

and finally…

Otters carved out of wood

Otters carved out of wood

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All photos by Jennifer Miele.
Bee: Colonial Williamsburg
Butterfly, dragonfly, slug, quacking ducks, otter carving: Chesapeake Arboretum
Goose with ducks: Mariners’ Museum Park at Newport News

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Happy for the cozy temperatures and blue skies we’ve been blessed with the past two weekends, I took the opportunity to twice visit one of my favorite free parks in Virginia — Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield; and I got to know an area that’s new to me — the Mariners’ Museum Park  in Newport News.

I began two Saturdays ago by visiting Windsor Castle Park, just a short drive down the highway from a farm in Suffolk where I take weekend horseback riding lessons. I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do for myself after riding is to go for a nice long walk, to ward off next-day muscle soreness.

Keeper, my lesson horse at Indian Point Farm. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Keeper, my lesson horse at Indian Point Farm. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

At the park, I kept an eye out for wildlife slightly more exotic than the ubiquitous squirrels. To my delight, I caught sight of a nutria swimming around in the marsh. 

Water rat

He’s larger than he looks! Photo by Jen Miele.

Also spotted, but not photographed: hawks, turkey vultures, and fiddler crabs. I did get a kick out of two squirrels playing a game of tag. The game ended abruptly when Squirrel A jumped up on a bridge, saw me standing there, then turned around and high-tailed it up a tree. Squirrel B (the chaser) had already spotted me and took off in the opposite direction.

The real wildlife worth watching that day were the slightly buzzed folks returning from the Annual Smithfield Wine and Brew Fest held at the park. After chatting up some friendly locals, I turned my attention back to the marshes.

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Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele.

The next day, I toured the “Working South” exhibit at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center, then set out on the nearby Noland Trail at Mariners’ Museum Park, having forgotten my water bottle, not dressed for hiking, and not realizing the trail is 5 miles long. But I did bring my camera.

Dogwood blossom, Mariners' Museum Park, Newport News, VA. Photo by Jen Miele.

Dogwood blossom, Mariners’ Museum Park, Newport News, VA. Photo by Jen Miele.

Lake Maury. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Lake Maury. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Long-leggedy beastie sneaking around the pool. Photo by Jen Miele.

Long-leggedy beastie sneaking around the pool. Photo by Jen Miele.

Hungry turtle. Photo by Jen Miele.

Hungry turtle. Photo by Jen Miele.

This past Saturday, I returned to Windsor Castle Park and cleaned up on the animal sightings. There was yet another (or possibly the same) nutria, for starters.

My camera battery was giving up the ghost, so here is a list of animals I saw and did not photograph: a red-winged blackbird, a goose, turkey vultures, cormorants, cardinals, a skink, turtles, little fish that stay underwater and larger, splashy ones that breach the surface whenever I look the other way.

Sunlight sparkles on the surface of Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Sunlight sparkles on the surface of Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

I did capture this heron standing by the shore:

Egret on Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Egret on Cypress Creek. Photo by Jen Miele.

Continuing down the path, I enjoyed the view.

Natural beauty. Photo by Jen Miele.

Natural beauty. Photo by Jen Miele.

Cypress Creek at Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele,

Cypress Creek at Windsor Castle Park. Photo by Jen Miele,

Finally — and the absolute highlight of my day — I met the Princess of Windsor Castle Park:

Trail buddy. Photo by Jen Miele.

Trail buddy. Photo by Jen Miele.

Far from being bad luck, Princess was the perfect traveling companion. Though strangers at first, we snuggled on a bench at the end of a pier and admired the view, including the egret pictured earlier. A vulture circled above, then swooped down low to get a better look at us. Just as I was pondering the absence of cormorants in the park, one of the jet-black birds flew overhead.

Adding to the drama, a slate-grey military ‘copter hacked its way through the air over us, using Cypress Creek as its flight path. (Cue “Paint it, Black” by the Rolling Stones.) I waved to the occupants of the helicopter, and I like to think they smiled and waved back at the girl sitting on a bench over the water, cuddling a black cat.

Finally, I’d like to share yet another tree-hugger photo, proving once again that the most dedicated tree-huggers in the world actually live in the forest:

Is this how trees reproduce? Photo by Jen Miele.

Is this how trees reproduce? Photo by Jen Miele.

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