Birding Virginia Beach and other fun outdoor activities to check out while there!

Since my house is about the same distance to Virginia Beach as it is to the NC coast, I decided to take a trip there to explore some of the local birding spots and use the Virginia Beach Get Outdoors Pass. It is free and offers many deals and discounts on many local outdoor adventures and activities in the Virginia Beach area. Day 1: Our first adventure was a visit to First Landing State Park. The park offers 19 miles of hiking trails that traverse through various habitats: cypress swamps, salt marshes, maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, dunes, and 1 1/4 miles of bay shoreline…perfect for birding! There are trails for everyone, of all abilities, and the opportunity to see a variety of birds like herons, egrets, warblers, woodpeckers, and various songbirds, as well as other wildlife (we came across 2 Northern Watersnakes). We checked out the Osprey Trail and look forward to going back soon to check out the other trails. I couldn’t find a trail map online but you can ask for one at the guard gate on your way in. After First Landing SP, we went to see Cape Henry Lighthouse. We couldn’t do much birding since you are very restricted on where you can go due to the fact you are on an active military base but we enjoyed seeing the two lighthouses. As a retired teacher, I always like to enjoy a little history while traveling. […]

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Going way back…

My little brother came into town yesterday, we only had a few hours together but it was so good to see him. I hate that we live on opposite sides of the country. We spent time talking with our dad about our mom and it got me thinking of an old photo of her that I hadn’t seen in years so I’ve been digging around trying to find it but I keep coming up empty. I did, however, find few old gems that I didn’t even know existed! Ready to go back to the 70s? I can’t believe I am actually sharing these but I’m sure we all have photos that should never see the light of day. On the left is yours truly, with my first camera! That was a family trip we took in 1976…a road trip from Southern California to Memphis, TN for a family reunion. I remember that trip fondly. It was back in the day before mandatory seatbelts. My dad had traded cars with a coworker so we made the trip in a big, old van! My brother and I spent the trip playing in the very back of it, getting truckers to honk at us and all the other things one used to enjoy on long road trips. On the right is one of my first photos. I actually don’t even know why my dad kept it, I certainly wouldn’t have. It is from […]

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My pursuit to see Sandhill Cranes…

Ever since I started seriously birding a little over a year ago I have wanted to see Sandhill Cranes. There was just something about them that drew me in. Maybe it was their adorable colts or all the pictures I had seen of the large numbers that congregate in Nebraska during their stopover while migrating? Whatever it was, something bit me and I knew I had to see one! So imagine my excitement when I started hearing about seven of them right here in North Carolina! They weren’t that far away – I mean I can get to either end of the state in under 4 hours. I quickly started to devise a plan and was even able to convince my youngest (19 years old and not terribly interested in birding) to accompany me on this adventure. We set out early for Pocosin Lakes NWR, more specifically Pungo Lake, and spent the next 3 1/2 hours talking about school and life, just catching up (sure do miss her when she’s not around). I’ll admit, we were also hoping to find some of the large black bears that call the refuge home…but no luck! We were, however, greeted by thousands of Tundra Swan and 7 Sandhill Cranes! I actually squealed with delight when I saw them! Mind you, when I have a target bird I am not always lucky enough to find it so I tried my hardest not to get […]

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“The Bluebird carries the sky on his back”

I just love this quote by Henry David Thoreau! The bluebird is such a bright, beautiful shade of blue and always seems to evoke a smile from me, even when I am feeling down. It’s as if he really carries the Carolina blue sky on his back. They have been a favorite bird of mine for years. I had seen them around our neighborhood for years before ever seeing one in my own backyard. I remember that day vividly! I was so excited that three of them had landed in my tree but they didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a picture of them. They would return every once in awhile but never with any regularity even though I put out mealworms for them. But finally during the spring of 2019 a pair of them decided to nest in my backyard. My husband put up a nice Bluebird nest box for them, they checked it out and decided to move in. The female got to work and started building her nest over the course of about 10-14 days, and I would sneak out while she was gone and check on her progress. One day while checking on her progress I discovered a bright blue egg, one more the next day and each day after that until there were 5 beautiful blue eggs in the nest. Then she would sit on the eggs while her mate brought her […]

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Carolina Chickadee

Going back to the beginning… It all started with a simple, little bird at a simple, little feeder and grew from there. I still remember the day I noticed the little, gray, white, and black bird at my parents’ feeder and how interesting I found it to be. I quickly snapped a shot and set off to identify it. A Carolina Chickadee is what came up when I searched online. A Carolina Chickadee, a resident bird that lives in my area year round yet in the 8 or so years that I had lived in North Carolina I had never noticed one before. How unfortunate for me. These little birds bring big smiles whenever I catch a glimpse of one or hear one. That simple, little feeder has grown to include over 8 feeders spaced around my backyard. I have a few chickadees that regularly come to feeders now. Each time they seem to announce themselves with their call and I often wonder if they are letting me know they are here or talking to each other, I like to think the former. I now know that there are 5 species of Chickadees in the North America: Carolina Chickadee Black-capped Chickadee Boreal Chickadee – probably requires a trip to Canada to see Mountain Chickadee – need to head out the to California and the SW United States for this one Chestnut-backed Chickadee – need to head to Northern California and […]

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