Thursday, December 8, 2016

U.S. Botanic Gardens Thanksgiving Day blooms (2016)

On Thanksgiving Day we took a ride downtown to see a few exhibits and just enjoy the serenity of the day. Our first stop was at the U.S. Botanic Garden to see the Season's Greetings exhibit and I was surprised to see some flowers still blooming in the outdoor gardens, along with a few bees! Here are a few photos I took.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Peacocks and more peacocks! (Magnolia Plantation & Gardens)

In the last few weeks I've been focusing on our Charlston, South Carolina trip. I took numerous photos at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and am doing a series of blog posts from this one outing. Recent posts include one about the birds and another themed "reflections"

Today's theme is peacocks! These birds seem to have the run of the place and there are tons of them wandering about. Many are not shy and will walk very close to visitors. It was a lovely day out.

This peacock's attention was on a nearby female.

This fellow was spotted lounging out in one of the gardens

Spotted this white peacock alongside a path during one of our tours

The female in the background dropped a feather and the male in the above pic who was trying to impress her seemed to be attracted to it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Visiting with the kangaroos at Virginia Safari Park

Gosh, I'm so behind in sorting through the various photos I'd taken throughout 2016. Today I thought I'd take a break from our wonderful South Carolina trip and head back to last March. During that month we'd stopped by the Virginia Safari Park, located in Natural Bridge, Virginia. 

We all had a fab time during the actual safari (another topic for another day, but I did share some macros of animal eyes taken at the park in an earlier post). After we parked the car, we walked around the park. The kangaroos were so cute! Definitely a relaxed group of critters.

This guy was chilling out and not bothered by the crowds
Looked like one totally exhausted kangaroo!

Taking a slumber stretch

Kangaroo slumber party

This fella was hoping for some food I think. Or maybe he was just curious?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Birds spotted at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Today's post is another one from Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. When we visited, we decided to purchase the full package and take all the available tours. Unfortunately, the boat tour of the rice fields was not available during the time we visited, but we did take the garden tour (required for admission), Nature Train Tour, From Slavery to Freedom: The Magnolia Cabin Project Tour, the House Tour and the Swamp Tour.

While taking these various tours, we spotted many amazing birds. Here are a few flying beauties we saw:

This great egret was spotted as we were leaving the swamp tour and heading into the woods.

Several ducks were swimming in the swamp, the gators didn't seem to bother them.

This blue heron appeared to be a bit camera shy. We were wandering around the gardens and spotted this one near where the rice fields used to be.

Took this one from the car window on the way out

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Birds spotted on Isle of Palms beach - In photos

My last post was of photos taken on the lovely Isle of Palms beach in South Carolina. Today's post is a continuation to share photos of some of the birds we'd spotted.

Waiting for breakfast. I liked the way the bird's shadows reflected in the water.

This sea gull flew over my head

Birds gather along the show as a ship sails into Charleston Harbor

This bird appeared to be seeking to find his morning meal

Monday, November 14, 2016

A morning walk on the beautiful Isle of Palms

When we travel, we often like to build time in to "make it up" as we go along in addition to any scheduled plans we have. 

During our recent trip to Charleston, one evening we decided we'd get up and head out to the beach the next morning. En route to the shore we were looking at the various islands and decided to head out to Isle of Palms. We didn't get up early enough for sunrise (and this was the weekend the clocks changed) but we did arrive in early morning. We found it to be a beautiful beach and spent about two hours walking along its shoreline.

My first view of the beach as we walked off the pathway

The beach was full of tiny shells, in some places as abundant as the sand.

Reflections of the now risen sun

We really enjoyed our time on this beach and hope to return at a later date.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Reflections at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens (Charleston, SC)

In early November we took a trip down to Charleston, South Carolina. It was my first visit to this beautiful city, we spent four days there and tried to see as much as we could. Near the airport was Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, a historical property that dates back to 1676. Over the course of times, the Drayton family built elaborate gardens, some of the areas of it are more than 300 years old. In 1870, the gardens were opened to the public as a means of income after the Civil War. Today the gardens are considered to be the oldest public gardens in the United States.

I'll be doing several blog posts over the next few weeks to share photos I took at this property and in Charleston. Today's theme is "reflections" at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. The property is located along the Ashley River and also has a lake and a swamp. The dark waters in the region make for beautiful reflections.

Such a beautiful garden. We were told this was one of the most photographed places in the region.

This gator and turtle were basking in the sun together.

Reflections in the Ashley River

Friday, October 28, 2016

Macro shots of fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park

Last weekend we took a trip out to Front Royal, Virginia to take a ride down Skyline Drive. The fall foliage was said to be peaking in various areas and we try not to miss it every year. The views were stunning and many of the areas of the park were indeed ablaze with color. 

In addition to taking photos of the overlook and roadside views and milkweed seeds, I also wanted to try some macros and other close up shots. These are some of the results:

Not sure what kind of tree this is, but the leaves were bright yellow.

These were turning red and burgundy, so pretty

Flower seems to be a bit out of focus on this one

Amazing how things change along the ride. Some of the thistles were still purple, others had gone to sleep for the winter

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Snapping pics of milkweed in Shenandoah National Park

There is an abundance of milkweed in the Shenandoah National Park. In the summer it attracts beautiful bugs and butterflies. In the fall, the milkweed starts to go to seed. 

While there are still some bugs and caterpillars around, as the cooler temps come in, there is a lot less activity than there was in the summer. While the milkweed turns brown and dries out, I find it to be so beautiful.

Related posts:

Chasing butterflies on Skyline Drive (part 1)
Chasing butterflies on Skyline Drive (part 2)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gazing into the eyes of animals

In March we were traveling along I-81 in Virginia and made a stop at the Virginia Safari located in Natural Bridge, Virginia. The animals there get real close up and personal. Here are a few shots taken as the animals visited our car -

A zebra's eye

I believe this is also of a zebra - you can see my camera and hand reflecting in its eye

A doe's eye

Friday, September 9, 2016

Abandoned houses....What stories would they tell?

I am always intrigued, saddened and curious any time I see an abandoned home or the remnants of what was once someone's house. I always wonder what kinds of stories it could tell if its remains could talk. 

Today's photos were taken over the summer up in New York as I was driving by and had to briefly stop to take a few pics from the car. I remember when there was a house here and then remember a tree falling on it, putting a huge gap in its roof. A couple of decades later, all that is left is the foundation. Nature has now moved in to become the current resident.

I wish I could have captured the mist on the water a bit better, it really was a fascinating view that morning

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chasing dragonflies this summer

Dragonflies have always been pretty elusive for me and I usually catch a blur, but I got kind of lucky this summer. Where I live it's suburban and the dragonflies never set anywhere for very long, however, I found exploring other places they were in more numbers and easier to spot.

As the summer comes to a close I've been going through all the pictures I took during the last two months. We spent a fair amount of time chasing wildlife in the hopes of getting some good shots. Our travels were to various states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and, of course, Virginia. Here are some of the dragonflies spotted.
This dragonfly was spotted in Virginia
I'd never spotted a red dragonfly before. This one was on Kent Island in Maryland

Either the same dragonfly as the first pic or a family member ;)
This one was also found on Kent Island

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Flowers at Boscobel House and Gardens

In July we took a trip to New York and did a lot of exploring. One of the places we visited was Boscobel House & Gardens - it's a lovely historic property to tour with spectacular views of the Hudson River. Here are some photos I took in the garden (for more information about the history and the property, I have a detailed article on InfoBarrel with more photos).