Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cape Henry Lighthouse and 1st Landing State Park (Va)

On our way to Va's Eastern Shore, my wife and I decided to stay on the mainland side of the Bay: 1st Landing (Va) State Park, on Cape Henry.

This cape is outside the Hampton Roads/Chesapeake Bay area of Tidewater and sits on the Atlantic Ocean. This is the site where the first colonists from England stayed on their way to Jamestown, further upstream.

First Landing State Park is open year round. RV's get to park nestled in between the large sand dunes, right on the ocean!

This park is strategically poised right adjacent to Fort Story, which houses both the original Cape Henry Lighthouse (first in the US) and the newer, operational Cape Henry Lighthouse. In addition, you are just 5 minutes north of Va Beach, with its boardwalk and associated amenities. And, you are a short jump to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel going north on US Rt#13 to the Eastern Shore.

During our first evening in the RV, fog was setting in from the ocean just as we set up. We listened to (and occasionally saw the lights o ) the ships at anchor, who would cross over the Bay Bridge Tunnel on their way up the Bay.

Previous RV, nestled in the sand dunes

Map showing Cape Henry, plus start of Chesapeake Bay Bridge TunnelWalk to the beach from our camp site
View of nearby boardwalk to the beach
Ships waiting for a pilot before crossing over the Bay Bridge Tunnel

The current Cape Henry Lighthouse, located on the grounds of Fort Story

An interesting section of the lighthouse

Still foggy, a view Old Cape Henry Lighthouse
View looking up into the dome of lighthouse

Looking down from the top of the lighthouse. I like the lines here.

The afternoon sun began casting shadows.

One of the original set of buildings on Va Beach's boardwalk
More shadows as you look out into the Atlantic Ocean

I like these shadows, late in the afternoon

Dune grass
Ships are lining up for the next day's transit

Gorgeous sunset

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Birding Trip to Cape Charles/ Eastern Shore of Va April 2008

My wife and I spent several days birding on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Va Eastern Shore, focusing on Kiptopeke (Va) State Park and the town of Cape Charles. These two places are located at the very end of the Delmarva Penisula, just before your cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to Va Beach.

We parked our RV at Kiptopeke State Park, which offers full hookups including sewer. Unfortunately, while the place has wonderful hiking and walking trails, fishing pier, and boat access, the park is operated by staff (and probably management) with a poor attitude. The men's bath house was disgusting...

A feature of this park is the collection of sunken "hulks" or old WW-II ships, which form an underwater reef below the surface and a place for birds to nest and congregate above the surface. I was told by a fisherman that when I got to the pier just before sunset, that I had just missed the dolphins swimming up the Bay. For any future trips, we will probably stay at a commercial campground such as Cherrystone or go further north to the town of Chincoteague and stay at the Maddox Family Campground.

Our last birding was on the rest area and restaurant on the final southern piling of the Bay Bridge Tunnel as you go south--that is where we got to see pelicans flying majestically as well as a rare, solitary mandarin duck.

Common Loon

Black Vulture greeting me on my way to the fishing pier

Common Loon, another view

Red breasted Merganser

Osprey with some nesting materials; an eagle knocked a fish out of its talons earlier

Male red-breasted merganser

Male and female red-breasted mergansers

Female red-breasted merganser

Osprey at the nest

Sunset over the hulks at Kiptopeke State Park, Chesapeake Bay

Deeper sunset

Birds against the sky

Sea gull against the sky

In-bound ducks

Unusual Mandarin Duck, as seen from the rest area on the Bay Bridge Tunnel

Pelicans passing by the rest area

Pelicans departing the rest area

Finally, some plovers