Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Fall cleaning

I always think about sorting and cleaning in the spring, but never seem to do it. I’d rather be outside hitting the New River Trail or planting tomatoes and peppers in the garden than inside scrubbing walls and windows, weeding through mountains of paper or cleaning out closets.

I tend to get in the mood for major overhauls in the fall when the flowers are beginning to wane and the air gets a cool crispness to it. I’m not sure if anyone else feels that way, but that’s when I start to feel restless and begin to look at all the clutter accumulated in corners. I get an urge to file things away, get rid of things gathering dust and update my wardrobe.

The past few days I’ve been throwing away old business cards, frig magnets and mail, and stacking up books and clothes to donate. To me, when the sunflowers start to turn brown and there are more cool days than warm, its time to renew my space and life.

Maximillian sunflowers

Maximillian sunflowers

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April snow

It wasn’t that many days ago I sat at our patio table studying. It was sunny and warm. Who could ask for anything more in early spring?

Today was supposed to be a cool 40 degrees Fahrenheit with some rain. Now? It’s snowing. Here’s hoping that the saying “April showers bring May flowers” also pertains to April snow. 🙂

Cardinal

    


Snow at the N.C. Zoo

While in N.C. celebrating Christmas with my family, Chris and I headed to the N.C. Zoo for a few hours last Saturday.

While we were there, it started snowing!

Snow at the grizzly exhibit.
The grizzly was asleep earlier when we saw him. We woke up to check out the snow, I guess.

Here’s the grizzly sleeping earlier in the morning.

Instead of taking the tram back to the parking lot, we chose to walk, stopping at some of the North American exhibits.

Here’s some more photos from the trip:

I’ve never seen this snow fox up walking around before. I guess he was happy to see the snow.

Sleepy bobcat.

Bison.

An elk in the pasture with the bison.

Red wolves.

This hummingbird flew up to the fence and chirped at me several times. I don’t know if he was happy or mad to see me.

The coati (pictured) and cacomistle were up and active.

Some orchids in the Aviary.

More flora in the Aviary.

Eclectus parrot in the Aviary.

More flowers in the Aviary.

Victoria crowned pigeon.

Gorillas in the Forest Glade exhibit.
A close up of the gorilla.

I thought there were new Australian exhibits, but I guess, like the red kangaroos, those were only temporary. So those have come and gone before I got a chance to see them. 😦

The lemurs were also not out. I guess, like the elephants, giraffes and rhinos, it was too cold for them. Maybe next time.


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Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

On a recent trip to the Wheeling, W.Va., area, we stopped at two locations for the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge headquarters
On the way up, we stopped in Williamstown, W.Va, home of the refuge’s headquarters. There, you can find a visitor center with some exhibits and a few short trails, including a trail that’s 0.9 miles (with a 0.5 mile shorter loop).

You can’t get across to the islands at this location, but you can hike, hunt and fish. The refuge has 22 islands and three mainland tracts.

We had a nice picnic lunch under a shelter before heading out.

Here’s some pics:

This turtle has a pointy snout!

This is a washboard mussel. The visitor center had several examples of the mussels protected along the refuge’s riverbank.

A buckeye! People from Ohio are called Buckeyes, but after a nut, not this butterfly.

I’m standing beside the Ohio. One of the trails travels along the riverbank.

Middle Island
On our way back home, we stopped at Middle Island, which is located at St. Marys, W.Va.

This is the only island in the Ohio River Island National Wildlife Refuge you can visit.

We walked a 3.77 mile loop, but never saw a visitor center that I thought would be at the top of the loop.

Here’s some pics:

Things to do nearby
While in Williamstown, visit the town’s wetlands. It’s just up the road from the refuge and is a new, short trail located in the middle of town.

Here’s some pics:

Williamstown is also home to the Fenton Glass Factory, which you can tour, and the Henderson Hall Plantation.

Chris enjoyed seeing how the town was built around the railroad. Get out and walk around town to check out the buildings and see how homes and businesses were built near and around the tracks.

While in Willimastown, we saw lots of locally-owned businesses and wilfdlife:
birds: goldfinches, pigeons, ducks, sandpiper-type bird
butterflies: sulphurs, buckeyes, whites, red spotted purples, monarch or viceroy
dragonflies
Some more photos:
A dragonfly at the Ohio River Islands refuge.
There was so much algae, this bird was able to walk on the water at the wetlands. I think this is a type of sandpiper.
A dragonfly at the wetlands.

Ducks at the wetlands.

I think this is a viceroy, but it could be a monarch.

Williamstown is also across the river from Marietta, Ohio. Chris wanted to visit, but we didn’t have any time to stop. In and around Marietta, there’s a lot of Underground Railroad sites.

You can’t see it here, but there’s a sign along the bank that says “Marietta.”


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Devil’s Den, Fancy Gap, Va.

Last weekend, Chris and I decided to walk at Devil’s Den, a nature preserve in Fancy Gap, Va.

Chris had heard that warm weather grasses and flowers had been planted and was attracting a lot of butterflies. With camera in tow, we set out.

We saw black-eyed susans, purple monarda, milkweed, cone flowers and Queen Anne’s lace. Here’s some scenery shots and close-ups. I’ll spare you the many, many landscape shots I took: (All photos by E.A. Seagraves. Do not use without permission.)

My hubby and puppy. Do you see the storm clouds behind them?

Queen Anne’s lace

Milkweed

Black-eyed susans

We saw lots of yellow tiger swallowtails, red-spotted purples, buckeyes and black swallowtails.

Buckeye

Yellow tiger swallowtail on milkweed

Black butterfly on mondara

Yellow tiger swallowtail on a cone flower.

More black butterflies on mondara.

We also saw a couple of indigo buntings. It was an awesome nature viewing day.

We pulled into the preserve right after a storm was going down the mountain. We walked around about an 1 1/2 hours, taking pictures of the meadow and walking down the 0.43 mile trail to the cave, which gives the preserve its name.

The trail to the cave is pretty steep so it’s not for those who do not want to or cannot climb rocks and tree limbs.

The cave

As we walked back up the mountain side from the cave, mist started rising from the valley below. The valley must have gotten a good, cooling rain after the hot weather we’ve had. By the time we left, the preserve was covered in a thick fog.


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An American Copper

Chris took a picture of this butterfly in our yard yesterday. It landed on one of our many daisies.

(All photos by Christopher Brooke. Do not use without permission.)

Chris was excited to capture it in a photo because he believes it’s an American Copper, a butterfly he doesn’t have a photo of yet.

His plans to plant as many butterfly-friendly flowers and host plants as possible is really paying off.

I don’t think I shared these photos with you yet, but the yard has also attracted a pair of hummingbirds.

This is the female hummingbird. She’s in the middle of the photo.

This is the male hummingbird. He’s checking out the second flower from the left.

They’ve been visiting the yard, especially the bee balm, for close to 3 weeks now. Chris was happy to see we’ve made a nice home or them too.
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We have both of these books and are useful in identifying birds.


National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds--E: Eastern Region - Revised Edition  National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Fifth Edition