Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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We visited a second National Wildlife Refuge last weekend: Blackwater. We usually visit Blackwater on the same trips at Chincoteague because it is ‘on the way.’ Of the two – Blackwater is my favorite. It is the first place I saw a bald eagle in the wild. It was back in 1990 when by daughter was a baby - a pleasant spring day and we were sitting out side on a blanket letting her finish off a bottle….and a bald eagle soared overhead. It was idyllic when it happened and in my memory. We saw eagles during this visit too. On the first day it was raining and the eagle was looking very wet. Note in the last picture of this series, the membrane eyelid on the right eye is closed (must have gotten a rain drop in the eye!).

The next morning when we drove around the wildlife loop again, it was sunny and there was an eagle on the same platform – maybe the same one – looking much happier. It took off before we could get pictures and continued to soar in the area until it vanished into the trees. There was another eagle on a snag near a blind – almost out of range for my camera.

The visitor center has a little garden at the back with small trees (like dogwoods) and a butterfly sculpture. There are bird feeders that attracted a few small birds. The red-winged blackbirds were very vocal. I saw a hummingbird sampling the clumps of columbine in the gardon on the sunny morning.

My husband saw a lump in the road and stopped quickly for us to get out and take a look: a baby snapping turtle. It didn’t move while we watched it, but it was in a patch of sun and would warm up enough to finish crossing the road soon after we left. It was already close to the edge of the road.

I’ll post later about the other birds we saw at Blackwater. I see something new just about every time we go to Blackwater…and this trip was no exception.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens – Part 2

We saw quite a few animals among the plants at Kenilworth last Saturday. The dragonflies were not quite as numerous as they will be later when the lotuses are blooming. There wasn’t as much vegetation for them to set on either. The best shot I got of one was on the path.

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There was a scruffy looking Great Blue Heron on a path as well. It was preening and then spread its wings – stretching. I was surprised it did not fly away --- but maybe it did not notice we were around. There were not many people in the garden when we first got there.

A little further along a snapping turtle crossed the path to get to another pool. We let it continue along its way. It was bigger than a dinner plate!

As we were walking back toward the entrance after our trek on the boardwalk over the flood plain of the Anacostia River, we saw a muskrat in on of the water lily ponds. It looked like it was eating a tuber. Hopefully the animals do not take a big toll on the water lilies and lotuses of the garden.

Close to the visitor center there was a group of Canadian geese – adults and large goslings. We gave them plenty of room since the parents can be very aggressive if they have their young. We managed to not be attacked!