Saturday, June 27, 2009

May 16 - 18 2009 Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Va.

Heading, to Smith Mountain Lake was the start of our vacation--three days, two nights, mostly with rain...Smith Mountain Lake offers over 500 miles of shoreline! The town on Moneta is a lot like the small beach towns found on the Atlantic--shops, ice cream, pizza parlors, and good restaurants, with highway and boat-slip access.

Smith Mountain Lake is located SE of Roanoke, Va., and SW of Lynchburg, Va.

I like this site--you can swim, fish, and boat with the mountains on the shoreline. All amenities from the state park are about 20 minutes away.

While I don't have any pictures of birds from here, this was the best birding site on the trip--hairy and redbellied woodpeckers outside our camp site, male and female blue birds, cedar waxwings, warblers, rufous crowned kinglets (including hovering), osprey, plus deer and wild turkey.

It was fairly cool on the middle day when I went for a walk. I ran into the camp host, who said that we were having a cool spell because the wild black berries were in bloom. Pictures of wild blackberries below.

Smith Mountain Lake, from the visitor's center.

Another view of the lake

A function of state park
Butterfly Garden by the visitors center

One of several spores found by the camp ground

Interesting texture on a cypress tree


I look for symmetry in nature

Wild blackberry, following blooming

Wild Blackberry in bloom


Pink Mountain Laurel


More wild blackberry

Another mountain laurel

I like this flower

Osprey Nest, down from the visitors center

Sunday, June 14, 2009

May 19 - 20 2009: Holliday Lake State Park, Va.

My wife and I spent one night at this fairly new state park. Amenities and facilities were rather new. The RV camping area was on the side of the hill, so I used all of my leveling boards.
Several remarkable things here: the sky was so incredibly clear and lacking of city lights that I had a difficult time finding the Big Dipper! I don't recall seeing such a stellar display! Unfortunately, the Milky Way was behind the treeline, so I could not see it. However, I did see four meteor bursts!

Second, we saw for the first time the Brown Thrasher! It *ran* the length of the paved roadway, stopping and looking for caterpillars. When a thrasher found one, it would pick it and start smashing it before eating it.

Also while here we saw a big brown bunny AND a mockingbird the size of an adult blue jay. Unfortunately, it flew off just as I pointing my camera at it.

Holliday Lake

Trail leading down from the campground to the beach area
Excellent signs along the trails
Reflections in the stream leading to the lake

Looking down the trail
Nice ferns

Pretty yellow flowers

Mountain Laurel

Nice set of ferns just off of the trail

The state park maintains the grounds for quail

Turtles sunning themselves

Female turtle digging a pit for her eggs

Overview of turtle laying her eggs

May 20 - 21 2009 Bear Creek Park State Park, Va.

My wife and I spent a night here in our RV. This state park is another in the Piedmont section of Virginia. While the campsites were a little tight, the facilities were new and clean. Bear Creek feeds the lake here. We apparently missed the spring bird migration here; I saw and spooked the local great blue heron.

However, I did see a number of flying insects and bugs, along with a few flowers. This lake had circular path around it; I accomplished about 25% of it before I turned back. I had about 4 ticks on me when I got back to the campsite.

Bear Creek Lake

Another view of Bear Creek Lake

The state park hiking trails are exceptionally well marked--it is very difficult to get lost, unless you choose a trail leading away from your goal

Beautiful Mountain Laurel
A mono-colored salamander on a bridge
"Blue Beetle"

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Bumble Bee

Common Water Strider

Another view of the Common Water Strider

The upper one was chasing the lower one (a female?)

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Another Black Swallowtail

Boat Dock on lake

Monster fish in lake

Turtle Crawling along the trail
Pretty, but unable to identify

Another pretty flower, unable to identify

Daisy Fleabane

Marshy area where Great Blue Heron was found
Canoes ready to go into the water

Interesting tree growth

Shelf lichen