We decided to have our Thanksgiving on Friday this year and that meant that today we had nothing specific to do. I thought we might go to Tridelphia Reservoir and Brighton Dam Recreation Park but when we got there, the parking lot was blocked off and the reservoir was mostly drained. I assume they are doing some sort of maintenance work on the dam. Anyway, there was nothing for it but to go somewhere else. I decided to drive to the Monocacy Aqueduct where the Monocacy River goes under the C&O Canal and then meets the Potomac River. It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were very few people about, so we had a really nice time.
Tagged With: C&O Canal
Abstract – Water
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Great Falls today, along with half of the county population. It wasn’t really as bad as that but there were quite a few folks there. Also, the National Park Service, in their wisdom, has not only quadrupled the entrance fee to $20 per vehicle, but they no longer accept what is otherwise considered “legal tender for all deebts, public and private.” This, of course, slows entrance to the park considerably,
It was a lovely, cool, sunny day and we enjoyed walking about 4.5 miles round trip down the C&O Canal past Widewater to the Angler’s Bridge. I took quite a few photographs, including a good number of a great blue heron. We also saw ducks and cormorants and a belted kingfisher. This photo is of reflections in the canal of rocks and trees on the far bank and I really like it’s abstract quality. Dorothy said it reminds her of works by Chuck Close, and I certainly see the similarities.
Potomac River from Blockhouse Point
I took the day off today and spent the morning reading (Rumours of War, by Allan Mallinson). Dorothy is home for Thanksgiving but both she and Cathy worked this morning. In the afternoon we drove to River Road and walked out to Blockhouse Point. It’s a nice walk pretty much any time of year and particularly with the leaves off the trees the view is really nice. We didn’t really have time to walk down the trail to the level of the canal but we will plan on doing that next time.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Violet’s Lock on the C&O Canal today and walked south past Blockhouse Point. The river was fairly high and very wild looking. It was fairly cold and there were icicles hanging from the rocks on the other side of the canal. We happened to see two adult bald eagles in a tree about where we turned around and then saw two more eagles—one adult and one juvenile—flying overhead. I took quite a few photos and enjoy this one quite a bit. It was a pretty day and nice to be out, although also nice to get warm again afterwards (not that I wore a heavy coat, mind you).
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
We went for a walk on the C&O Canal this afternoon, heading northwest from Pennyfield Lock. We saw a few great blue herons Great (Ardea herodias), including this one who posed for us very nicely. It was a lovely day and really good to be outdoors. The canal is nice, especially a little ways out from Great Falls Tavern, because it’s open and there aren’t a lot of people. More people than on some trails but not so many it’s a pain, trying to keep our distance from everyone.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
We walked on the C&O Canal again this afternoon, returning to Pennyfield Lock but walking southeast instead of northwest. We saw three herons including one in a tree over the canal and this one, wading in the water. It seems like a good time of year for them and it’s particularly nice to see them as close as this. The trees are all bare, of course, which makes things in the trees easier to see. It was cool out today but not cols, so a really nice day for a walk.
C&O Canal Rocks
These rocks are south of Pennyfield Lock on the C&O Canal. The photo was taken on the same walk as the previous one of the great blue heron. It’s an HDR composite photo made from three images taken with different exposures. This allows the camera to capture more detail in the shadows and highlights than it would normally be able to do. As amazing as our modern digital cameras are, they still have a ways to go before they can handle the extremes of light that we take for granted.
Moth and Eagle
We had some out of town guest this weekend but they were here mostly to do the D.C. tourist thing. Late this morning the headed downtown to hit the museums and Cathy and I decided to go to the C&O Canal, walking northwest from Pennyfield Lock. It was a beautiful day, warmer than I prefer but only by a little. In the shade and particularly when there was a breeze it was lovely. We saw lots of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and quite a few wildflowers. For today’s post I’m putting up two photos. The first is an ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) on a sunflower (Helianthus) of some sort. The larvae live in communal webs on their host trees. Interestingly, while they are thought to be native to South Florida, the ailanthus for which they are named (Ailanthus altissima, Tree of Heaven), is native to Northern China. It is believed that their original larval host was the paradise tree (Simarouba glauca) and Simarouba amara. It started moving north around the 1850s when introduced Ailanthus altissima contacted the moth’s native range.
The second photo is, as you have probably surmised, a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Cathy had walked a little further along and I waited in the shade at a pretty spot to take a few photos of the wildflowers there. While I was waiting for her to return I looked up and saw the eagle. I was able to point him out to a few others walking or biking on the canal but it was gone before Cathy returned. This isn’t the sharpest photo but it’s pretty clear what it is. The dark spot in the lower right is another bird. There were quite a few, flying fairly high in the sky.
A Little More Fall Color
We went for a longish walk on the C&O Canal today, starting from Riley’s Lock and heading towards Washington. We passed Violet’s Lock and turned around a little past Blockhouse Point. We saw a bald eagle (although I didn’t get a photo), a pair of deer, and lots of vultures. The nicest part of the walk was the fall colors. They are mostly past at this point but there area a few trees, mostly maples, that are still quite spectacular. The sky was the deepest blue and reflected in the still water of the canal, it was really lovely (although you can’t really see it much in this photo.
From there we met Dorothy at Rocklands and helped her set up the flowers for a friend’s wedding reception. We hadn’t really planned on that but it was a nice addition to our outing. I also got a photo of Dorothy wearing Janis’ mink stole and a vintage hat, which was a bonus.
C&O Canal, near White’s Ford
We took an outing to a new stretch of the C&O Canal today. Not that it’s really new and we’ve actually been there before but it’s been a long time. White’s Ford is a little ways upstream from White’s Ferry. We found out way to the parking area and walked downstream on the tow path, stopping to enjoy the large, old maple tree growing at Lock 26. We also ran into a coworker (and her husband) that Cathy knows. We headed off of the towpath and down to the river shortly after passing the marker for White’s Ford. We saw two barred owls (Strix varia), one of whom flew from tree to tree and gave us a really nice view. This photo is the view of the C&O Canal looking upstream from the bridge near the parking area.
We went to the C&O Canal today, walking southeast from Pennyfield Lock. We took a detour out to the river and saw quite a few different songbirds, enjoying them flitting about in the trees. Shortly after we returned to the towpath I spotted this raccoon at the top of a hollow tree. It went up the tree and into the hole and we didn’t expect to see it again. Then it popped its head back out and looked around before climbing around and generally putting on a nice show for us. I’ve seen raccoons before but this is the first I’ve seen on the canal. What fun.
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.
C&O Canal – Flowers and Birds
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.
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.