Sunday, October 31, 2021



I think she had one too many potions before her ride.  I have been noticing a lot of these witches in such a position.  This one I found on our way back home from Occoquan the other day.

Not to make light of things...

When witches go riding
And black cats are seen
The moon laughs and whispers
'Tis near Halloween.
~Author Unknown~

Have A Safe and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2021


 We are walking along looking at the river.  We can see the State of Maryland in the distance.  It is very peaceful, the river on one side of the trail and trees on the other, with their colors turning into Autumn gold...and one of the many reasons to go for a walk at this time of the year and take it all in. We pass small streams, run-offs here and there... and notice that there are fish, what kind I don't know.A favorite quote next by A. A. philosophy basically, especially when on these walks."Rivers know this: there is no hurry.  We shall get there someday.""I don't need very much now," said the boy, "just a quiet place to sit and rest.  I am very tired."  "Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting.  Come, Boy, sit down.  Sit down and rest."  And the boy did.  And the tree was happy.

~Shel Silverstein~

"...the universe...sets out little signposts for us along the way, to confirm that we're on the right path."
~Michelle Maisto~
"I imagined your stick, washing in the waves for hundreds of years, turning to driftwood, smooth and hard like stone.  I imagined a little girl finding it on a beach so many years later.  Saving it on her shelf, where she put the things that made her feel like the world was magical."
~Ava Dellaira~
An old duck blind returning to the water, to become driftwood perhaps?
"Clouds, they make a painting out of the sky."
~Marty Rubin~
We found the loop back to our car.  Neither of us felt like going the whole way round, and took the shorter trail down the middle.
Gregg is in the distance taking his own photos, and I am lollygagging again...and my dear Mum used to complain when Dad was 15-20 paces ahead.  For some reason this photo made me think of Mum with Dad striding ahead.  We used to tease him that he only had three speeds, fast, very fast and faster still, but she was a lollygagger and yes I am smiling. This time I was taking photos of leaves on the path....
and I just remembered who I got my lollygagging from.  Thanks Mum, you taught me to slow down and smell the roses.  Or in this case, take a look at the leaves on the ground. As for Dad, one of his favorite hobbies was taking photos. He also passed on his love for animals and flowers, to respect all things in nature.  Thanks Dad!
One last bench before reaching the car.  It was in front of this area.  All water birds seem to have flown south for now.
I looked nearby and found this interesting plant next to the lily pads.  A new one for me.  It is Floating primrose-willow (botanical name Ludwigia peploides).  Its other names are Creeping water primrose and Water Primrose, and is an herbaceous perennial wetland plant.
Earlier at the side of the path I came across this pretty yellow flower, also a type of Primrose but this one an Evening-primrose (botanical name Oenothera biennis).  Also known as German rampion, Fever plant and Common evening primrose.  It is another herbaceous perennial, recognized by its flowers that open in the evenings and close again at sunrise.  It wasn’t exactly evening but this part of the path was very shady.  
Next we have Lateflowering thoroughwort (botanical name Eupatorium serotinum).  Also known as Late boneset and Fall boneset.  Native Americans and early settlers used the plant for medicinal purposes, and the name thoroughwort is given for this reason.  It has the intrinsic value of being native to the land.  Also, this flower has been part of an ecosystem special to North America for millennia.
I couldn't find the proper name for these grasses, other than it was a fountain grass.  I liked the look of it so took a photo...
and the same for this one, a dried up plant with an interesting oval shape.  When I took a photo of it in my plant app just now, it said it also was an Evening primrose.

And that's about it for our trip to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  I hope you have enjoyed it.

Thank you for stopping by, have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget to do a bit of lollygagging.  You deserve it!

Thursday, October 28, 2021


We reached the water and it was wonderful!  Across the river is Maryland.  We are on the Virginia side. More on this part of our walk in the next post.

In my previous one I promised you butterflies.  We found a pair on the Frost Aster (botanical name Symphyotrichum pilosum), but I won't go into any more detail on the flower today, as I am going to concentrate on butterflies (and later in my post the snails, which aren't quite as pretty but totally fascinating all the same.

 Gregg took photos of the pair.  

I couldn't tear myself away and took several single shots.  It has been a rare sighting for me this past summer.  I was very happy when I spotted them.Named for its conspicuous target-shaped eyespots, the common buckeye, Junonia coenia Hübner, is one of the most distinctive and readily-identifiable North American butterflies. 

The common buckeye is a resident across the southern United States and much of Mexico, and regularly expands its range northward each year to temporarily colonize much of the U.S., occasionally reaching southern Canada. Starting in late summer and continuing through fall, huge numbers of adults migrate southward into peninsular Florida, where the adults overwinter.  There is a very interesting article that you can read here, that also shows you photos of a microscopic view of their wings if you scroll down.

The brightly-colored eyespots are evolution's gift to scare away their predators.  The adult lifespan is 6 to 20 days, and during that time its food is the nectar of flowers such as tickweed sunflower, aster, gumweed, knapweed and chicory.
In the next photo I found this one on the same flowers nearby.  I didn't take a very sharp one.  It fluttered away soon after.  The closest I came to an ID was at this link, which said it was a white M. Hairstreak.  I haven't come across it before, or its name.  Hopefully someone out there will be able to confirm the ID, like last time.  I am always very grateful to my blogging friends who share more knowledge than I have.

Gregg walks on ahead of me. I am lollygagging as usual, taking photos of river snails left behind by the tide.

The information I found about them online was fascinating.  Feel free to fast forward!  They are called Mystery Snails.  It is said they got their name from the fact that during spring they give birth to young, fully developed juveniles that suddenly and mysteriously appear, while most other snails lay eggs.  They are the largest fresh water snails in the region, and can grow up to 3 inches.

  These snails can close their shells with something akin to a trap door, and survive out of the water for as long as a month. The snails feed on the algae growing on the river bottom, yet they excrete very little of the pollutants phosphorus and ammonium.  In their tissue the snails concentrate spilled oil and other toxins, a trait that makes them potentially valuable as tipsters on pollution.  When water temperatures rise above 59 degrees, a female snail starts giving birth to quarter-inch-long juvenile snails, a hundred at a time.  If pressured by predators she can reproduce at twice the normal rate.  

Females live for about five years, males for three.  They retreat to deep waters for the winter where they hibernate in the mud.  They were introduced by merchants and sailors to the West Coast in the 1890s, for the Asian food markets.  They are native to Burma, Thailand, South Vietnam, China, Korea, the Phillipines and Java. By 1911 the snails had escaped to California irrigation ditches.    

Later they were introduced in at least 27 states, especially in the northeast and the Great Lakes region, and now can be found in the Potomac River.  Demands for food, aquarium and water-garden markets helped distribute the snails across the country.  By 1960 mystery snails had found a haven in the Potomac River at Alexandria.

More information than is needed I am sure for this blog post, but I wanted to add this as I find it fascinating and always want a record of everything that peaks my curiosity.

Sadly the beach along the river is littered with plastic bottles and other debris that is washed ashore from all over.  I read on someone's blog that each time they visit this area, they take along a rubbish bag.  I thought what a good idea!  I know it seems that one person can't do much, but the next time we took a walk there I would like to bring along our own.  To my mind every little helps and I would feel a whole lot better doing my small part.

So, that's it for today.  I will be sharing Part 3 next time.

Thanks so much for visiting and I hope your day is a great one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


We recently came across a new (to us) area to enjoy a walk.  The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Reserve is 20 miles away, about 40 to 45 minutes by car.  We are fortunate that we can reach many of the areas we enjoy in the same amount of driving time, less sometimes.It is located where the Occoquan River meets the Potomac River in Woodbridge, Virginia, between Belmont Bay and Occoquan Bay.  It is a 644 acre site (2.61 km), and about half is wetlands.  You can read more about it here.

We had quite a long walk, almost 4 miles, which I have marked in yellow on the map above.  For us this is a long walk and I would be hard pressed to walk any further at this stage.  We do intend to go back and walk some of the other trails.  There is also a two-mile route that you can take by car.
By the time we saw the bench at the end of this path, it was calling to us like a siren song.  Benches have that effect, especially on me.  I am always grateful for them during our walks.  There were several along the way that we made use of.  With this being a week day I suppose, the place was very quiet.  We came across a handful of walkers, two couples and one lady.  All were very friendly. One couple said, "Did you see that?"  We hadn't but the lady told us that a deer had jumped out of the undergrowth and ran across the path directly in front of them.  You could tell it had made their day and  I was happy for their excitement.  

We came across all this deep red foliage and Gregg asked me what it was.  I told him I thought it was sumac. To be sure I looked it up on my 'Picture This' plant app and it is indeed sumac, Smooth Sumac to be precise.  It had tons of information.  Its botanical name is Rhus glabra, and its common names are Scarlet sumac, Vinegar tree, White sumac and Upland sumac.  It is native to North America.  My app said it is also one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices out there and yet its leaves contain chemicals that are harmful to humans when ingested, and can cause skin irritation, such as dermatitis when touched.  It also says it is inedible?  When planting you are supposed to wear gloves to protect yourself!  So I find the connection between 'the anti-inflammatory spice' and 'harmful to humans if ingested' a bit confusing.  We would have to ask a medical professional to explain this to us.
As you might guess, birds are attracted to the fruit which ripens in the summer and can still be seen on branches well into the winter, sometimes even until spring.  Birds you may see feasting include mockingbirds, veery, blue jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, red-eyed vireo, the hermit thrush, the American goldfinch and the American robin, and more.   They also attracts deer and opossums, and fox squirrels and cottontail rabbits like to eat its bark.  One last bit of information I read was that the leaves and wood can be used to create black ink.  Also Smooth sumac is dioecious and only the female plants produce berries.
The photo above is looking back in the direction we had come from, where the deer had run out in front of those walkers I mentioned.  When we started out it was very chilly and I had layered clothing.  I put an infinity scarf around my neck and was wearing a light cardigan over a short-sleeved top.  I was very comfortable wearing them, but as our walk progressed I didn't need them any more, and wrapped the scarf around my wrist and placed the cardy over my arm.
Near our first rest stop there was a sign.  We decided to leave the Painted Turtle Pond until next time, and headed towards Deephole Point Road.  We were eager to get to the water.
I didn't see a lot of thistles blooming, but perhaps my attention wasn't on them and I just didn't notice.  However, when I came across the one below, I snapped a photo.

There were many other things to take my interest away, and it wasn't until I got home and looked at my photo on the laptop, that I saw the insect below the bloom.  A search online revealed that it was an adult Spotted Cucumber Beetle.  These are a major pest to farmers.  Another common name for this bug is Corn Rootworm.  They are native to North America and found throughout the states.  More information can be found at this link.  
These were a few of the plants I noticed on our walk and I included the sumac in my collage.  The other plants I will go into more detail another time.
There's a butterfly in this photo but I will leave its close-ups for Part 2.

Thanks for looking and enjoy your day.