Monday, September 1, 2008

Back Bay NWR

I spent Sunday afternoon and all day Monday in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach, and this morning decided to go to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I got up about 6:45, slapped some strawberry jam between two hunks of bread to take along for breakfast, and drove two miles to the parking lot at Back Bay NWR. Then I spent two hours rambling around the refuge, which is a beautiful spot. I probably covered about five miles, spending a lot of times looking for animals and exploring different habitats. The most prominent wildlife were deerflies, which drilled a few holes through my skin and tried to make my life miserable, but I wasn’t biting on that one! It is too much fun being outside.

Other than a large group of American egrets in the distance, a few other egrets, and gulls, sanderlings, and ghost crabs along the beach, it was a fairly sparse outing when it comes to wildlife sightings. I’ve had some other trips to this area when it was one animal after another, but not today. Last year, I took a short hike here with a friend and her three young sons, and we saw so many animals that she said that her boys took to calling it "Nature Land"! Even without seeing as much wildlife today, it was still a fun outing. Here are some pictures from my morning in Back Bay, along with a couple of others from trips there last year.

Waterfowl management is the primary purpose for the refuge, so there are a lot of fresh water pond, channels, and marshes.

Walk about 9 miles from this point along the beach, and you will reach North Carolina. It is a spectacular and undeveloped beach the entire way, and then solid huge beach homes once you get to the Tarheel State - quite a contrast.

This is what dunes should look like along Atlantic Beaches.

More well developed and vegetated dunes.

This little guy along the boardwalk to the beach was wary of me but knew he was fast enough to get away if he needed be.

These beautiful flowers, resembling trumpet vine flowers, grew on this tree, along with the huge seedpods that they turn into.

Near a little pond, in a very pretty spot, is this memorial to Richard McCormack Hodge. He died so young, only 30. I don't know who he was, and couldn't find information about him in Google, but what a beautiful and moving tribute this is to him. The memorial looks like a real tree, and has a frog sculpted on a branch. The inscription reads "This site is dedicated in loving memory to Capt. Richard McCormack Hodge, November 24th 1963 - April 14th, 1994. Son, brother, and friend." I always try to come by this spot when I visit the refuge. It is about a half mile walk or less from the parking lot.

Widespread marshes that go out to Back Bay.

These remaining two photos are from two different trips last year.

This gray fox was amazingly tolerant of me being close enough to snap this photo.

These two black racers or black rat snakes were either a male and female mating, or two males having a territorial battle. It was an amazing sight, and just a few feet from them was a large hognose snake. Other than a zoo, I've never seen so many snakes in such tight quarters!

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