Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Cathy and I went out to Poolesville to drop off a publication that we’ve had since I was in college. I had forgotten that the person we were taking it to was a classmate of mine since elementary school. From there we went to the C&O Canal at Riley’s Lock, where Seneca Creek empties into the Potomac River. We parked on the other side of the creek from the lock and lock house, near the old, ruined stone mill. It’s a shame it’s defaced by so much graffiti, but I suppose that’s something that’s just going to happen. When we got onto the towpath we walked west for a little over a mile. We didn’t expect to see much but I brought my long lens, just in case. Towards the end of the walk we spotted that particular green of the leaves of Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). It’s a little early for them to be in full bloom but they were starting to open and I got a few nice photos. We love bluebells.
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)
In addition to the bluebells, there were spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), cutleaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). There were Trillium leaves but they were not in bloom yet. In the turning basin there was a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) on the far shore and two pairs of hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus). These are lovely birds and I never get tired of seeing them. The females are a bit less noticeable but are also pretty birds. The turtles were also out in numbers, at least in a few spots. What a beautiful day for a walk.
Categories: Creatures, Flowers and Plants
Tags: Bluebells, C&O Canal, Canal, Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes, Lophodytes cucullatus, Merganser, Mertensia, Mertensia virginica, Potomac, Seneca
“Garden of Delight” Puzzle
As mentioned, we’ve been doing puzzles recently. We started one with a photo of succulent plants while at the beach last summer and finally got around to unrolling it and finishing it early this year. The next one, the 1,000 piece Dahlia Puzzle (Friday, January 20, 2023) was considerably harder. Then we did the larger, 1,500 piece Mandala Stone Puzzle (Monday, February 6, 2023). We didn’t exactly plan for each puzzle to be harder than the one before but this one, although only 1,000 pieces, was considerably harder than any of the preceding three. It’s a photo of a tapestry called “Garden of Delight” made by William Morris (March 24, 1834 – October 3, 1896). He was, according to the bio on the box, “a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.” There were times when we despaired of ever finishing it, but, eventually we did. There were times when I basically picked up every piece and tried it in every available spot until I found where it went or put it aside and went on to the next piece, starting over once I had been through all the pieces. In that way, eventually, it came together.
Dorothy’s friend Tony got five tickets to the Glenstone Museum (https://www.glenstone.org/) for today asked Dorothy if she wanted to be one of the five. She said she did and asked if I could be the fifth. They’ve both been a few times before but this was my first trip to the museum. It’s on a 51.9 acre property on Glen Road in Potomac, Maryland. As art goes, I can’t say that I was particularly impressed. The landscape is very nice, even now, before spring has come, it’s quite lovely. The ‘Pavilions’ (sic) is an interesting building but not at all my style, except for the water-filled courtyard, which I like quite a lot. This room, however, room 7, appropriately called the Viewing Gallery, is very nice. Not so much for the room itself but for the view. The front wall and a portion of the wall on the left is filled with a single, very clean pane of glass. In the room is a lovely, curved wooden bench that is wonderful. I could sit there for a long while. Overall, the landscaping is fairly young but nice and it will improve as it ages. I’d love to go in summer and see how different it is. Again, not so much for the art, which I can take or leave (and would probably leave). But for the outdoor areas. Regardless, I enjoyed myself and I’m quite thankful for being included.
Dorothy and Dodgy
It was a busy day today. Dorothy and a friend of hers came and we helped Yvette move two things out of her parents’ condo. We got a sleep sofa into the van and put a bookcase on the roof rack. Getting the sofa through the doors was a tight fit but we managed. Then I went to the office for a few meetings and for the retirement party for my boss’s boss, Marsha. I took pictures there but thought I’d post this one, instead, taken in the evening of Dorothy and Dodgy. I’m not actually sure how they spell the dog’s name. It’s really ‘doggy’ as mispronounced by their young daughter.
I spent the day working with Dorothy today. She’s been clearing a tree/fence line that’s about a quarter mile long. She has finished cutting out the brush and small trees and I came today with my chain saw to cut some stumps down to the ground so they wouldn’t be a problem when driving a tractor over them. Meanwhile she pulled out old fence wire and piled that up It was tiring work but we got quite a bit done and she’s nearing completion. Before I left for the day, she gave me 30 eggs. Egg prices have been crazy lately, although they have come down a little since their high a few months ago. Regardless, I’m always happy to get free food.
Chionodoxa forbesii (Glory Of The Snow)
We went to the Agricultural History Farm Park briefly today. There are bulbs coming up and some Lenten rose in bloom. The photo I’m posting is of a spring ephemeral commonly called Glory of the Snow. The genus name, Chionodoxa, comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I have a fair number of these around the garden at home, including C. forbesii and C. luciliae (which I think this probably is, but I’m not sure).
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Cathy and I decided to go to Meadowside for a walk this afternoon. We walked back along the entrance road because we heard a barred owl (Strix varia) hoot. We didn’t find it and it stopped calling. I got a few photos of a northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and then we walked down to the creak and back downstream to where the eagle’s nest is. One of the adult bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was perched on a tree near the nest and I got quite a few photos of it, although they were at a fairly steep angle up, so not as good as I’d like. Still, it’s nice to have a bald eagle in our neighborhood.
The locals gathered for mom’s birthday late this afternoon. Tsai-Hong was good enough to offer to host. She ordered food from The Big Greek Cafe and Cathy and I picked it up (since it’s so close to our house). As usual, there was a bit of noise from the younger generation, but I think a good time was had by all. From left to right: Dot, Iris, Tsai-Hong, Seth with Eloise on his lap, and Dorothy (plus the top of Silus’ head in the lower right). The others were all outside the frame of the photograph.
Cathy at Brighton Dam
We decided to walk around below Brighton Dam and Triadelphia Reservoir today. It was lovely out, although cool. We saw a heron on the river (the Patuxent), who flew downstream as we got closer. Later, when were were further down, we saw the heron again wading in the water with a few Canada geese (Branta canadensis) paddling around the same area. There were lots of little birds in the underbrush, as well. But I only had my 17-40mm lens, so close ups were not possible. On the far bank, camouflaged in the dried grass and weeds, was a fox. That was a treat. I can see it in a few of my photos but so small that it’s not worth posting any of those.
Cathy posed for me on this stone as we walked back up towards the parking area. Across the street from the parking lot and visitor center is the Brighton Azalea Garden, dedicated to Raymond W. Bellamy, Sr., the Chairman of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission from 1951 to 1955. “Mr. Bellamy took the first steps to start plantation of flowering trees and azaleas on the perimeter lands of this water supply lake. His idea ultimately blossomed to become this garden and offer this scenic by-product for the pleasure of the public.” At this point, it’s just evergreen shrubs. But come the spring, it’s really something to see.
Henry, with Chainsaw
I spent the day with Dorothy at Rocklands today. She has been clearing the undergrowth from an old fence line for a good while. It’s almost a quarter of a mile long and was quite overgrown in places, so it was a big job. Most of the brush has been cleared but some stumps needed to be cut closer to the ground. That was my task. This Stihl chainsaw was my dad’s and I’m very comfortable with it. It’s on the small side (only a 16″ bar) but for this sort of work, that’s actually better than something larger. As I get older, my upper body strength is a bit less than it used to be, as well, so if it were heavier, I’d give out that much sooner. I have it in for servicing a few weeks ago and it starts up very easily and runs very well.
While I worked on stumps, Dorothy pulled out the old fencing. It’s rusted and in places buried, going through an occasional tree. Getting all of that out is a big job. After I finished with the stumps (except for those I assume are still under the piles of brush) I moved Dorothy’s piles of wire to one spot where they can be loaded onto a truck and hauled away. It was a tiring day’s work but nice to be outdoors and away from the office.
Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
Cathy and I have walked many stretches of the C&O Canal together. We haven’t been to the stretch above Little Falls together. We both hiked—separately—from Georgetown back in the 1970 but decided to go there today. We saw a few turtles including this painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) and quite a few red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). I got one photo of a turtle I don’t recognize. I’m working on identifying that one. I got a few pictures of a Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), also. It was a lovely day and it’s always good to be outdoors.
Mandala Stone Puzzle
After the Dahlia puzzle (see Friday, January 20, 2023) we decided to put out a new one. This time it’s a picture of painted mandala stones. At a glance Cathy and I thought they were Murano (Venetian) Glass Paperweights but looking a little closer, they clearly are not glass. Ravensburger’s title for the 1,500 piece puzzle is simply “One Dot at a Time.” This turned out to be even harder than the Dahlia puzzle. We’d go for long stretches without finding any pieces and then we’d get a bunch all together. Each stone became a separate entity, although a few of them were similar enough that it was sometimes hard to know to which a certain piece belonged. Especially without the box to look at (because that would be cheating).
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Cathy, Dorothy, and I walked around Lake Needwood today, starting from (and ending at) Needwood Mansion and walking clockwise. I carried my long lens (and monopod) and at first didn’t think I’d see much. There were a lot of folks out so any little birds that might normally be near the trail were few and far between. On the north side of the lake, however, we passed a man with a long lens similar to mine. I asked if he was photographing birds and he said he was, that he had just seen a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). It wasn’t visible from right there but a little further along I could hear it’s call. We actually saw two of them and I got one photo with both in it, but I was shooting through branches and it isn’t worth sharing. Most of the shots, in fact, were not all that good, either blurry or with intervening branches. Even this one has a branch with stems in front of the bird, but they are small the bird is reasonably sharp. Not as good as I’d like, but pretty clear what it is. We also saw mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), and a ruby-crowned kinglet (Corthylio calendula).
Cathy, Dorothy, and I walked to Blockhouse Point today. I took my long lens with me but didn’t really see any birds today. I took some long distance shots of the river but only a few. I like this picture of a dried stump, though, mostly for its texture. We stopped again at Rocklands Farm and I took a few pictures there, but nothing to speak of. In the evening we celebrated Chinese New Year at Tsai-Hong’s house with the rest of the local family. That was a nice time. We brought Margaret with us, although getting her up the front steps was a bit of a chore. Next time we’ll go in through the garage (fewer steps and better light).
Cathy, Dorothy, and I have been putting together puzzles lately. The first one we’ve done recently was started at the beach over the summer but wasn’t completed. We rolled it up then and it’s been in that state since then. We finished that a while back and put out this as our next. I was pretty challenging. Nevertheless, we made continual progress on it and finally finished it this evening. It’s a 1,000 piece puzzle.
Our family is in the “you don’t look at the box” camp. Yes, that makes the puzzle somewhat harder (and sometimes considerably harder). But it also gives more satisfaction and gratification when the puzzle is eventually completed. I know we were all pretty pleased with ourselves when we finished this one. We have put it away and put out our next one, which promises to be at least as hard. It’s also larger, with 1,500 pieces.
Ayam Kampung Rooster
Chickens are thought to have originally been domesticated from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) native to multiple regions of southeast Asia. The Ayam Kampung chicken is a breed from Indonesia and Malaysia. It is a dual-purpose breed, raised for both meat and eggs. They are considered poor performers in terms of their egg laying ability, providing somewhere under 100 eggs per year. Of course, this one, a male (rooster) won’t lay any eggs at all. He’s a handsome bird, though, I think you’ll admit.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
I’m still learning when it pays to carry my long (and heavy) lens and when it’s better to take my ‘standard’ lens. The long lens weights 2.1 kg (4 pounds 10 ounces) while the other two lenses I generally use weigh between 531 and 610 grams (1 pound 2.7 ounces and 1 pound 5.5 ounces, respectively). Add to that the need for support with the long lens and it’s quite cumbersome as well as heavy. Anyway, yesterday I didn’t carry the long lens and I had some really good opportunities to get blue bird photos. Today Cathy, Dorothy, and I walked on a trail at the Agricultural History Farm Park and between the talking and faster walking, we didn’t really see any birds at all. I still took a few photos on our walk, but it wasn’t until we came back to the car that I had an opportunity to get a couple shots of this female eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) on a fence post. What I really need to do is go out alone so I can sit somewhere and not feel like there are people waiting for me. But I’m pretty happy with this picture. The girls walked around the old farm house and then watched the chickens. They were nice enough to let me wait for at least one bluebird picture.
We’ve walked the Kengla Trail a few times, always in the winter. We took this trail from Muncaster Mill Road (MD 115), under the Intercounty Connector (a.k.a. the ICC, MD 200) and then up towards Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park. There isn’t a lot to see, honestly, although I wish I had brought my long lens, because we had a flock of bluebirds in the trees just in front of us for a little ways, moving further ahead as we got closer. I took a few photos but nothing of outstanding beauty, I’m afraid. I do like the patterns in these fallen branches. There is one point north of the ICC where the trail crosses a side stream where the steam goes between two very large sycamore trees whose roots have grown into a solid mass of wood. I’ve taken photos of Cathy there on each occasion but decided to go with this photo instead this year. We really should come back and walk this trail in the summer, though.
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
We walked in the park around Lake Frank today, hoping to get a glimpse of one of our resident bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). There wasn’t anything visible in the nest but as we continued we met a man walking the other way who said that if we continued along to a particular spot and turned to face away from the lake we might see one near the top of the tallest tree in the area. Sure enough, when we got there, the bird was perched where the man had said. Being very high in the tree I could only get a view looking sharply upwards. It was also difficult to find a view that wasn’t obscured by branches. Still, I think this one does the eagle justice.
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
Cathy and I went to Croyden Creek Nature Center for a while today. I sat on a bench and took some photos of birds at the feeders, getting pretty shots of male and female northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), a white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), a downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens), a not quite as good shot of a black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), a slightly blurred shot of a white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). This show, of a red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) was taken from near the same place but the bird is not, as you can see, on the feeders. We walked down the remains of Avery Road and did the loop up Croyden Creek. Then we walked around in Rockville Cemetery before returning home.