Monday, April 25, 2016

Connecticut. We Are Here. Well, we were.

Last we left you we had made a few stops along the coast of New Jersey.  Knowing that the craziness of Newark and the outlying areas of NYC were ahead of us, we made a beeline for the quiet of Connecticut.

                    Crossing the GW Bridge into the Manhattan Mahem.

The Audubon has quite a few preserves and bird sanctuaries in CT (19 of them).  We had plans to visit several along our travel route.  Our first Walmart wake-up presented some promising discoveries with these colorful Rock Doves prancing around.



We headed out for the day to explore the Bird Craft Museum Sanctuary.  This was the first private bird sanctuary in the United States.  The museum is currently closed for renovations which left a walk around the well laid out gardens and sanctuary area. 

2016-04-23 Conecticut, Fairfield - Bird Craft Museum Sanctuary - Water Scene
We did not, however, see many birds and the sanctuary sits literally on the edge of I-95 which tended to drown out the tiny peepers.  The museum and education center here does a world of good though and when open is worth a look around.

Looking for a more 'natural' experience, we made a run for what we hoped would be a more isolated-feeling sanctuary; The Coastal Center at Milford Point. 

                                          Ah.... Now, this is more like it.

Just 50 yards from the van we headed out to an overlook on the salt marsh side of the preserve and spotted our first new bird of the day.

                                                       Brant Geese

These birds breed in the high Arctic tundra and winter along the northern reaches of both U.S. coastlines.  No other geese nest as far north as the Brant, and few migrate as far.  Thanks to the binoculars Nicole's brother loaned us, we were fortunate to catch a distant glimpse of these stragglers. 


It was super windy on the river side.  So, we took a stab at the part of the preserve that is on the Long Island Sound.  It was way more pleasant over there and we spent hours walking on the sand, exploring the shells and watching the birds.

                        We found this really neat Spiny Spider Crab shell.

Whelk Shell Egg Cases were everywhere but for some reason we didn't get a photo.  Here's one pilfered from the inter-web.

compare pear lightning whelk egg case chains
                                         Whelk Shells and Egg Cases

As we walked, we gazed across the water at a spit where a lot of gulls were hanging out.  Darlene spotted something the looked like a black lump sitting in the sand and with the binoculars we confirmed that it was indeed a bird.

          Not just any bird.  This was our first American Oystercatcher sighting.

         These beautiful birds were near the top of Nicole's 'I'd like to see' list.

The contrast of black and white with a bright red bill and reddish yellow eye make this a real beauty.

One of the other things we spotted across the way with our binoculars looked to be a bench.  Since it was closer to the Oystercatchers we thought we'd walk over and have a seat for a while.

Not exactly the bench we thought we had seen.  More like ocean trash.  But, it worked.

How many birds do you see in this photo?  None.  Right?  That's what we thought until the rocks started to move!

Here's the same exact photo zoomed to show the FOUR moving rocks - aka Sanderlings.  We even numbered above each bird to help you out.

             This was some of the best camouflage in nature we've ever seen.


As much as we enjoyed this sanctuary area, we found a lot of Connecticut to be busier than we had anticipated.  So, we moved across it faster than we had planned.  Although as we traveled east it did quiet down, we also got more and more excited to get to Rhode Island. 

And, that is where you will find us next time.  Or at the very least where you will find our blog.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Catching Up - Three States - One Post

No, really.  We're serious this time.  We're going to just throw a bunch of photos at you and get caught up.  That's the plan anyway.  We'll see how that goes.

We saw this adorable turtle at a museum in Maryland.  He managed to stay at the bottom of the tank and still extend his neck all the way to the surface to take a breath. 

Also saw this beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly while walking in the woods in Pocomoke City, Maryland.

Moving on to Delaware, Annie had a first time experience here. 

It was sort of a funny story.  Sort of. 

As we were driving along the Delaware beaches road Nicole heard a light pop. Then a repetitive and much louder popping.  We pulled over in a parking lot to check out all of the front suspension.  Nicole concluded that it was the right front bearing but was in no position to complete the task given no parts store nearby and essentially non-existent parking resources. 

So, we picked the nearest repair shop we could located and limped there.  We pulled into the place (which was closed since it was Sunday) and figured we'd set up for the evening and greet them when they got in on Monday.  Just so happened the owner stopped by and we talked with him quickly.  He said it our description didn't sound like a bearing but he would try to look at it in the a.m. 

We debated for a bit and then decided that since we'd driven before on some questionable suspension and he seemed pretty sure it wasn't a bearing that we could try to make it to a larger town 12 miles away.  Two miles down the road, that dream died and we prepared our girl for the only other option.

Annie's Tow
                                                Annie's first tow!

Back at our original repair shop stop and all patched up the next day we headed off and squeezed in a trip to the Prime Hook NWR.  While we didn't see any new birds we did meet a really great couple and had a lot of fun talking with them for a good while. 

We then moved on to explore the Dupont Nature Center where we saw more familiar birds like


                                                         and Willets.

               We also saw our first Dunlin though so that was pretty cool.

The next day we headed off to explore the 12 mile long wildlife drive at the Bombay Hook NWR. 

       We were greeted by the largest number of American Goldfinches we've ever seen.

Yet another beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly this one showing off its underside.

   This Wood Thrush was a tough one to spot as it rooted around in the underbrush.

                         Blue-gray Gnatcatcher amongst the blooming of spring

       Darlene worked her macro skills on these pretty little Autumn Olive flowers.

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           Nicole found an Eastern Painted Turtle.

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                             They are quite pretty on the underside.

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                                      We saw several Immature Bald Eagles

                                  and a few beautiful mature ones.

                          Jack In The Pulpit

                       Jack a little more exposed

                     Grape Hyacinth was in bloom

                                We saw our first Black Bellied Plovers.

                        So, we're doing pretty good with seeing new birds.

Only a few miles after we entered New Jersey we stopped off at Riverview Beach Park in Pennsville.

                                 It was a pretty day and things were a-bloom.

                                              We walked around for a bit.

                                           The babies were out and about.


                   This one found laying down a less tedious way of eating.

     Darlene found a Frisbee Golf Disc and we both tried our hand at a short throw.

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         The trajectory looks a lot better than it really is.  Just ask the tree!

Speaking of trees....

                               Man Made

                              Nature Made

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                       This one found laying down a good use of the day.

We found walking around this lovely park a good use of the day.


       And, that was our attempt at catching up.  Darn it if we aren't already behind again!

                                Ah, well.  We'll get there next time.  Maybe.

                                                   See You Then.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cape Charles LOVE

Departing the Eastern Shore of VA Welcome Center we headed for a Nature Preserve in Cape Charles.


It was an interesting little area bordered by a Chemical Company, large Marina and a Golf Course.  There is a boardwalk through the woods and down to the bay (beach is protected though so you can only look) and a few boardwalks across the ponds in front of the Chem Company.

                             A walk in the woods is always a nice treat.

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                               These twisted trees were quite a site.

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                             It was nice to get out and stretch our legs.

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                                      So pleasant to be near the water.

While familiar birds fluttered about, this unique American Snout Butterfly made an appearance.  Can you see the very long 'nose'?

                                    Coral Honeysuckle was blooming.

                    Juvenal's Duskywing Skipper Butterflies fluttered about.

       We headed over to the pond area and walked the boardwalks... carefully!

                              All of the local slitherers were out sunning.

              Most of them were pretty docile and didn't mind our walking by.

   This one, on the other hand, wasn't too happy, coiled up and struck out at Nicole.

                  On a different note... check out the eyes no this horsefly!

After visiting the Nature Preserve we decided to take a drive through the main part of the town of Cape Charles and we are glad that we did.  What a cute little town right on the water with a 'beach' on the bay, sand dunes and a pier. 





                                             We saw a flirty Common Loon

                                 and this (new to us) Red-breasted Merganser.

All in all we spent several hours exploring down near the shore.  At some point we may return to explore the cute little shops too.  Meanwhile, we find it safe to say that we discovered a

                                                  for Cape Charles, VA.