Friday, July 30, 2021


I am beginning with a few sights that greeted us as we walked through the wood.

A Fairy Door?  This was from a very tall tree which was hollow.  There were several holes like this one, inviting woodland creatures to take up residence, or fairies says I with a smile?  I stared into the various holes, and fortunately no eyes stared back at me in the darkness.

I saw two signs where people had begun to trample down the fauna and start their own trail.  There was a polite sign asking them not to do so, to protect the habitat.
We both said that the park was as lush and vibrant as we had ever seen it.  This is called a New york fern, a species of Parathelypteris.  Botanical name: Parathelypteris noveboracensis.  You can find more information here.
We have reached the boardwalk.  There are rules posted but there is a path on the left that you can take through more of the woods, if you have your dogs or anything else not allowed.
In all the years we have been coming to the park, visitors have been very considerate.  I did see a dog once but that was a long time ago, before this sign was posted.  The dog was very well behaved and rather sweet, but then it was in the winter time and there were no birds close to peek its interest.
Next are Cardinal flowers, a species of Lobelias. Other names are Scarlet lobelia, Red-lobelia and Cardinal flower lobelia.  Its botanical name is Lobelia-cardinalis.
One of my favorite wildflowers, it is a brilliant red, a native wildflower that grows in marshes, stream banks and low woods.  It is also a member of the Bluebell Family, and was named after the Flemish botanist, Matthias de L'Obel (1538-1616).  It blooms from July to September.  My information came from this link.
We noticed the water level was down, perhaps due to beaver activity.  There were signs of their engineering work (dam building) the last time we were here.  It is different every visit.

This interesting orange 'carpet' is a Dodder vine.
It is a slender annual vine that wraps itself around other plants, and is found in many states.   According to this website there are over 50 native dodder species listed that are known in the United States and Canada.  I have only ever seen this type grow at Huntley Meadows, so to me it was a surprising sight when I first saw it.
It was everywhere.  The white flowers seen in the photos below are Rose Mallow.  
The Common rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). We came at a great time as they were blooming everywhere.  I overheard a lady say that they hadn't yet reached their peak.  

These lovely flowers will be blooming until September.  The bloom is larger than okra, cotton or hollyhocks, all of which are members of the mallow family.  The flowers are usually white or pink, but may also be a pale yellow (the only ones I have ever seen are the white).  All have the red or maroon center and the longish column of stamens.

Many species of butterflies and humming birds are attracted by the Rose mallow's nectar, but apparently it is deer resistant.

"Hibiscus" is the Greek name for mallow, and "moscheutos" means "scented like the musk rose".  Many of the hibiscus are called "marshmallow" because of their family relationship to Althaea officinalis, a plant introduced from Europe from which marshmallows were made (now produced from corn syrup and gelatin).

Getting away from flowers for a little bit, we saw this.  It was a large Snapping Turtle and I noticed he had quite a lot of moss growing on its back.  

I wouldn't make a guess at its age but I did read that they can live up to 70 years.  It takes the average common snapping turtle 15 to 20 years to reach maturity. 
Their eggs are white and perfectly round, like ping pong balls.  They can lay anywhere from 20 to 60 eggs in one clutch.   You can see what one looks like if you go to this link.  They are very prehistoric looking.  If you ever want to help a snapping turtle, there is a good video here that shows you the safe way to handle one.  An  interesting fact I learned is that they cannot retreat into their shells like other turtles.

That's all for today.  There will be another from this visit.  I have many posts from Huntley Meadows over this blog's lifetime, and if you would like to take a look at them, you can click on the label at the end of this post entitled "Huntley Meadows Park_Alexandria_Virginia".

Thanks for looking and have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 29, 2021


or two. 

I took these photos at Walney Pond.  There was a bug in the middle causing all the ripples.  I liked the effect.  It is not a black and white photo, it just turned out that way.

My next post I will be sharing more from Huntley Meadows.

Thanks for looking and enjoy your day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


It was the most darling, comical sight as we watched this family of ducks heading our way.  There were six juveniles with no parent in sight.  I don't know enough about them to know at what age they are left on their own.

They followed the edge of the water mostly.

The stream soon changed direction and as I walked to the part of the boardwalk it went under, I was just in time to take several photos of these pretty young ducks.
You can read about mallard ducks at this link.

I will end this post with that very famous poem, 
The Duck by Ogden Nash.

Behold the duck, 

It does not cluck,

A cluck it lacks.

It quacks.

It is especially fond

Of a puddle or pond.

When it dines or sups,

It bottoms ups.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


I am very happy that we got to see these extraordinary wading birds.  This is a very unusual sighting and many birders have visited the park.  (Our visit was last Friday, July 23rd, 2021.) 

We arrived just after 9.00 a.m. and walked through the wood that takes us to the boardwalk.  The boardwalk crosses the marsh area.  All we had to do was follow the photographers.  There were those heading out of the park, and I asked one lady if she had seen the Spoonbills.  She had and told me to look for the other photographers.  

The birds were not close but Gregg got great photos and we were very happy with them.  We saw several photographers with longer lenses than we had, and their photos are probably the ones we have been seeing on Instagram.  There was another line of long lenses behind me as I took this photo.

In the United States, the Roseate Spoonbill can be found in southern Florida, coastal Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Their breeding range extends south from Florida through the Greater Antilles to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Roseate Spoonbills usually live in marsh-like areas and mangroves, and for a short spell at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.  Color us pink and very happy!
I have another post on this bird that I shared last week.  You can click here if you missed it.  It has more information.  I took those photos on a trip to Florida.  Gregg took most of these.
Originally I was told by one of the photographers, that there had been three Spoonbills, but no one had sighted the third for several days.  We only saw two.
Having read that they are very social, we were not surprised to see them looking comfortable in the presence of a small flock of Canada Geese, and a family of ducks.
Its mate was out of view of these photos.
A female lays a clutch of one to five eggs. Both parents share incubation duties, which last about 22 to 24 days. A newly hatched chick has mostly pink skin with a sparse covering of white down.  After one month, the chick will begin to exercise by clambering through the branches or foliage surrounding the nest, and by six weeks it will have developed wing feathers large enough for flight.
They can live up 10 years in the wild. 
Roseate Spoonbills have an interesting gait.  When they walk they swing their head back and forth in a sideways motion.
  • The light colored Roseate Spoonbills are the younger generation and they will darken as they mature.
Roseate Spoonbills will feed in both fresh and saltwater during the early morning and evening, competing with larger birds such as egrets, herons, and pelicans.  I have seen egrets and herons here but not pelicans.  Who knows what will turn up at the park.  I never thought we would see the Spoonbill.  
They will slowly walk with their beaks dipped into the water slightly open, allowing their bill to easily sift through the mud. Using their sense of touch more than sight, the Spoonbill will scoop up crustaceans, insects, newts, some plants, and more. Similar to flamingos, the canthaxanthin and astaxanthin in the Spoonbill diet causes their pink coloration!
We watched from a distance as a waddling march of young mallards made their way across the marsh.  They were very cute and I will have more photos of these ducks in another post.
The Spoonbill can be seen nearest the water with the Canada Geese resting nearby.
I have a few more photos and will share them soon.   For the most part this is all for now on the Roseate Spoonbill.  I am not sure how long they will be here but my goodness, I am so happy we were able to see them.  

If you would like to see great photos, you can find those if you click on this link.  It is an article by Alexandria Living Magazine.   If the link doesn't work for you, you can use the actual address following: 

In the article it says that a recent tropical storm in the southeast may have sent many birds flying for safer locales.

Thanks for looking and I hope the rest of your week is a great one.