The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a place I have been wanting to visit, and today seemed like a great day to do it.
Located 15 miles south of Virginia Beach, and ~ 7 miles above the North Carlina border, the mission of the refuge is to to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people, provide resting and feeding areas for migrating water birds and passerines;provide and conserve a variety of habitats representing coastal Southeastern Virginia.
The Refuge contains over 9,000 acres, situated on and around a thin strip of coastline typical of barrier islands. Habitats include beach, dunes, woodland, farm fields, and marsh. The majority of refuge marshlands are on islands contained within the waters of Back Bay.The Refuge habitats support a wide variety of plant and animal life some of which we saw today.
I recommend a stop at the visitor center, where they have maps and guides and some "preserved" animals and birds.
I definitely recommend hosing down with...
...which was also the recommended brand at the visitor center! We could see the flies, but none of the 6 of us got a bite!
We walked around the trails, keeping our eyes out for something interesting. While we didn't find anything truly exotic, it was fun just the same to shoot things that are more "common."
Hedge Bindweed, Wild Morning Glory (Calystegia sepium)was growing here and there. Considered by some to be a noxious, invasive pest...it is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. I like morning glories...even noxious ones.
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird that generally prefers wetlands, and inhabits both freshwater and saltwater marshes. It is also found in dry upland areas, where it such inhabits meadows, prairies, and fields. They defend their territory aggressively, both against other male Red-winged Blackbirds and against creatures they perceive as threatening, including crows, Ospreys, hawks, and even humans! They are omnivorous feeding on plant materials, including seeds and grains as well as insects and other small animals.
Well, I have stated clearly how I feel about snakes...ew! Mr.B actually likes them... so for the snake lovers, the Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus) is found throughout the eastern US. Ribbon snakes are semiaquatic and are frequently found at the edges of lakes, bogs, and salt marshes.They eat small fish and amphibians and often swim in water near the shoreline (exactly where we were!)They are viviparous...giving birth to live young in the late summer.
White tailed Deer...totally non exotic, but still sort of surprised us standing in the mucky marsh.
I think this is an Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly (Perithemis tenera)but there are so many different dragonflies, I just don't know. I did read that they are the fasted flying insects...one source said they can fly 83 miles per hour!!!
Sort of cracked me up that the lower flag had a picture of a bison on it...if we would have seen a bison in southeastern virginia...that would have been SOMETHING!!!