More Shoutouts

We’ll start with another shoutout. But this time to the planners of the 2018 Riverfest, which raised everyone’s awareness about the progress that is being made to restore the Indian River in Chesapeake, VA. This may not be an exciting photo, but to me, it speaks to the beauty of this Elizabeth River tributary.

Indian River, Chesapeake, VA
Indian River, Chesapeake, VA

I realize the Indian River has received a failing grade (per the 2014 State of the Elizabeth River Scorecard). But I think the view here grades out as an “A.” Readers of this blog know my fondness for the word “imagine.” One might look at this photo and at the very least imagine a cleaner, healthier river.

A Shoutout to Mary Reid Barrow

And here’s a second shoutout, this time to Mary Reid Barrow whose “Wildlife and Nature” column appears in the Virginian-Pilot. I recently sent her one of my blog photos (the young heron with the grasshopper), which she graciously posted in “Close Encounters.” You’ll need to scroll down a bit. She also posted a great story about the restoration of another Elizabeth River tributary, the Lafayette River, in the “Environment” section. She noted the following, but I’ll note it, too. Thanks to the Elizabeth River Project and its many partners, the oyster population in the Lafayette has recovered. Talk about milestones reached.

A Paddleboarder Story

No post is (usually) complete without a story, so I’ll attempt to tell one here. A week or so ago I went over to the Top Rack Marina in Chesapeake. Brian, the marina manager, had emailed me that 10 dolphins had just swum past the marina at high tide and were all heading north. This is becoming a regular occurrence there. I notified Jeff Thompson at the Virginia Aquarium. I went over with my photo gear the following day. I stayed for about two hours. Alas, there were no dolphins. There were, however, good numbers of butterflies and gulls. And there was a good amount of boat traffic in the channel. All in all, though, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I should have brought along my Ben Franklin biography.

As I was about to leave, a tall shadowy figure on a paddleboard showed up out of nowhere. The man was slowly making his way south, and he was wisely staying close to shore. I knew I had a subject as soon as the slightly askew straw hat, the oversized shades, and trim white beard came into view. He was a head-turner all right. But not in the usual sense, of course. I continued to look hard, but there was no dog riding shotgun.

Paddleboarder on the Elizabeth River Chesapeake, VA
Paddleboarder on the Elizabeth River, Chesapeake, VA

I scrambled with my gear, which included a long 500mm lens. I had to run ahead, stop and compose–and repeat that sequence several times–in order to get the man and his board centered in the frame. I failed at most attempts. But I did succeed at this one. Whew! We’ll add this capture to our growing list of “indicator photos.” And just what are indicator photos? They’re photos that indicate the health and importance of the Elizabeth.

You can see a defocused channel marker #32 in the background. Two Osprey chicks had fledged from the nest there this past summer. And for that matter, two other chicks had fledged from the cell tower nest just a stone’s throw away. Two Osprey nests on two different substrates and in unusually close proximity. The iconic Osprey. And the iconic Elizabeth River.

A Shoutout to Our Birds

Since we’re shouting out to everything and everyone, how about a shoutout to some great birds? In a talk I gave at Paradise Creek last year, I hailed the first spring arrival of Indigo Buntings to the Hampton Roads area. They arrived first that year at Paradise Creek Nature Park. This year, we’ll hail the first fall arrival of a few migrants to the area. Both a Merlin and a Savannah Sparrow  (first Chesapeake sightings for both) were found recently at Money Point.

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

Ospreys are still being seen there, too, as are migrating monarch butterflies. And a Wood Duck was just discovered at Paradise Creek. That would be the second fall sighting in the Portsmouth/Chesapeake area. Ospreys are still around there as well. And they’re still angling.

Osprey carrying a fish in its talons
Osprey carrying a fish in its talons

Notice that the fish is being carried head first. Ospreys carry fish this way to minimize drag.

And This Just In

Paradise Creek Nature Park is in the running to become part of Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail Coastal Region trail system. As always, we’ll keep our fingers crossed. If included, it would be great news for the park and great news for the Elizabeth River Project. If included, it would also be great news for birders!

Quip, Question, Quote

“They [referring to birds] are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding.” novelist Jonathan Franzen



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