February 29, 2020

Goldfinches and Downy Woodpeckers

Recently Seen in My Back Yard. 

Spinus tristis
The goldfinches eat a variety of seeds. Here they are perched on a pre-filled finch feeding tube. They stay around all year.

The downy woodpeckers are our smallest woodpecker. They stay around all year too.

I was happy to get a photo of two of them together. The one with a red cap is a male.

On the Streets Where We Live

Strasburg, Virginia
I don't actually live in town but I go through it pretty often.

St. Patrick's Day is coming and the print studio has decorated for it.

Weekend Reflections.
I have two reasons for sharing a picture of the Strasburg Town Hall. One is that it's a municipal building, and that happens to be the theme for March 1st on City Daily Photo. I'm planning to post a different picture for that, so this one is advance notice.

This afternoon I spent some time in the town hall hanging pictures for a photography show with other members of a local group. The title of the show is "On the Streets Where We Live," which is why I used that title for this post.

Below is a brochure for the show. Town Hall is open on weekdays, so drop by if you are in the area.

February 28, 2020

Update on Our New State Park.

Woodstock, Virginia.

Seven Bends State Park is scheduled to open in May! It is already open for hiking and fishing, but May is when the restrooms will be open and regular activities will begin. I've been following the development of the park for a couple of years, and participating in planning and educational meetings through the Friends of the North Fork.

The park has two entrances, one near Muse Vineyards and the other at the end of Lupton Road. I took these pictures near the Lupton entrance one afternoon.

Some of the trails have been marked with signs and blazes but work is ongoing with the help of volunteers.

I parked in a new parking lot and followed a trail for a short distance toward the river. I was surprised to find a swinging bridge! I already knew there was one near the vineyard but this one is not as tall and I had not noticed it before.

It leads to private land on the other side, but could be used in an emergency; that is, if someone was hiking in the park and came back to find the road was impassable at the low water bridge. It does flood sometimes!

On this afternoon, the river was still high and had just gone down that morning enough that the low water bridge was reopened to traffic. In the picture of the steps to a canoe access point, note that the water level is over the bottom step. 

A "low water bridge" can only be crossed when the river is low enough. In the photo below, you can see that the water is still pretty close to covering the bridge. Access at both entrances to the park are currently limited to days when the river is not flooding, so in stormy weather, call ahead or check the VDOT reports for Shenandoah County.

When I crossed the bridge, I noticed there was still some debris on it that had washed up when it was under water.

See more blog posts about this park.

February 27, 2020

Strasburg Signs: Serious and Silly.

Handmade signs are intriguing because we no longer see them very often. These are in the front yard of an animal-lover (apparently).
"Stop the trophy hunting of lions, elephants and other endangered species."
"Rage Against the Machine Resistance Activist Here."
"Cats domesticated us, Taught us yoga and meditation. Be kind to animals."

And the sign in front of Borden's Lumber changes monthly. Unless the store is advertising a special event, the message is usually humorous.

"Crushing pop cans is soda pressing." 

Don't blame me for the pun! I'm only sharing signs with Tom's Sign Linkup.

February 26, 2020

Bunches of Birds.

These white geese live as wild birds but do not fly very far. I believe they are descended from farm geese who made their way to our neighborhood lake and decided to stay.

Canada Geese.

I didn't get a close look at these birds. I saw them flying overhead.

February 25, 2020

Bethel Community Center

Warren County, Virginia.

This building is rented to groups for community events. It is on Kendrick Ford Road at Totten Lane.

It appears to have been a school, but I did not find a history of it. It appears to be associated with a nearby church.

February 24, 2020

McGaheysville Random-osity

The Good: I was pleased to find a couple of murals in McGaheysville. This lost civilization scene is on an "Escape Game" center near Massanutten Resort.

Monday Mural: The second mural is a decorated daycare center.

The Random: Except for the ski resort, Mcgaheysville is in a rural area. The name is pronounced "mə-GAK-eez-vil." The first European to settle permanently in the area was Adam Miller (Mueller), a German immigrant, in 1726.

Mosaic Monday, The Barn Collective.
The Fun: After I left that area I drove east to Shenandoah National Park. It's always fun seeing the deer. At Big Meadows and Skyland, they were close to the road.

February 23, 2020

Saturday at Renzall's Church

This is a storefront church. Agape Worldwide Ministries is in Springfield, Virginia.  

On Saturday, they held a memorial service for my friend Sarah Fields. My daughter Lynn and I went. Sarah's son Renzall is pastor of the church.

Sarah passed away in mid-January in North Carolina and a service was held there a month ago. This second service was for her friends in Virginia, where she lived for many years and was a beloved member of Renzall's church.

The service was full of fond remembrances. A number of people remembered Sarah from her years as a 4-H club organizer, which is where I met her.

My children and her children went to 4-H camp together and took part in other activities including a parade.

Pastor Renzall Fields poses with Lynn.

February 22, 2020

Away from the Feeder.

The easiest way to get pictures of wild birds is to feed them! Squirrels too. But I'm more excited to get decent photos of them away from the feeders, because then they look more natural.

I have hundreds of pictures of birds and squirrels at the bird feeders. Here are some that are not, starting with a red-bellied woodpecker and a gray squirrel.

Next we have a grackle. He looks splendid when the light is just right, bringing out the iridescence of his feathers.

This Northern Flicker is a female. The males have a "mustache" streak. Flickers often find insects in the ground, so I guess that's what this one was looking for.

I used a zoom for these photos and then cropped them to look up-close. A zoom lens eats up light so sometimes you don't get much depth of field. I was lucky that the House Sparrow stayed still long enough to get his face in focus.

The last bird of the day is unreal. 😉

Sharing with Saturday's Critters and 

February 21, 2020

Here and There but Not too Far.

Willy Nilly Friday.

1. Gallery 3 is a new art gallery in Sperryville. It's not a very big space but they do offer art classes.

Black and White Weekend.
 2.  Here's the North Fork of the Shenandoah as seen from the low-water bridge at Hollingsworth Road.
Weekend Reflections.

3. Friday Bliss: I spotted this dish garden in a gallery and thought it was nice enough for a picture.

4. Skywatch: Purple! Like all the pictures in this particular post, this is a cell phone photo.

5. When I was working on photos for my post on the Lincoln Homestead, my laptop started having memory problems so I could not do the usual processsing in Photoshop. I had to delete some old files and applications so I didn't get around to posting all the pictures I wanted. This one shows the top of the front door.

February 20, 2020

Welcome to Bears Den!

Bears Den is a lodge serving hikers on the Appalachian Trail. It is on the crest of the Blue Ridge between Bluemont and Berryville. 

The lodge was built in 1933 in the style of a Medieval castle. A doctor and his wife, an opera singer, lived here for years. In 1984, the vacant property was purchased by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

I had seen it mentioned a few times as a location for events, and I became curious. Recently we drove up there to take a look. I'll have to go back on a warmer day and walk out to the overlook. There is a small fee for parking.

Note the metal rails with a big "A.T." symbol. That's the Appalachian Trail symbol!

In addition to serving as a hostel for hikers, Bears Den hosts events and has a small primitive campground. There are some short trails if you are not up to hiking the mountains on the Appalachian Trail.

Sharing with: Signs, Signs, and

Someone did not let this dead tree go to waste! They carved out a family of bears and some owls!