There are several hummingbird feeders in front of the visitor’s center at Raven Rock State Park. Both times we’ve visited, the feeders have been full of tiny, zipping, chattering birds.
It was overcast all morning and had rained earlier, and many mushrooms were out.
There is a stairway down to the base of the park’s eponym at the bank of the Cape Fear River.
It was drippingly humid along the river. There are turtles resting on the logs on the far bank.
There is only parking for a half dozen cars or so at the Concrete Bridge entrance to the Korstian Division of Duke Forest off of Mt Sinai Rd (35.999663, -79.023752). Walk along Concrete Bridge road/trail and then take the right onto Wooden Bridge road/trail to the promised wooden bridge over New Hope Creek. There’s a small trail on the east side of the bridge down to the creek. Along this delightfully green trail in early June we saw several toads and frogs, a salamander, mushrooms, snails, turtles and fish. The trail is easy to follow but brushing up against the grasses is unavoidable, and I got several bites.
In early May, spring was not yet in full bloom at the edges of the Appalachians. There was lots of fresh green, the first mountain laurels and blackberry flowers were out, but it was not yet time for the rhodedendrons.
Stream crossing on the trail to Middle Falls. Following the main Stone Mountain Loop Trail a bit further from here we were lucky to see a mountain crayfish.
Stone Mountain Falls. A large number of steps takes you from the top of the falls to the base.
Stone Mountain State Park is named for its 600-foot granite dome, which can be seen from the Hutchinson Homestead.
There are several restored buildings on the homestead, which was built in the mid-19th century. The main home was small with low ceilings. Often the homes that end up preserved are large, architecturally relevant, owned by properous families. These homes feel both similar to modern life, in that they have lots of furnishings and fixtures, and yet removed, in their show of wealth and household staff to keep running. This homestead was striking in that it grew to be fairly successful, with a blacksmith shop to serve the surrounding area, yet the mode of living was still very personal, by the hands of those that lived there. The grounds spoke strongly to the uncompromising self reliance needed to live then, not so long ago.
female ruby throated hummingbird drinking from a cardinal flower?
striped mud turtle
bass and sunfish
After the cold snaps but before the mosquitoes emerged we headed up to the Great Dismal Swamp NWR in southern Virginia in early April.
We hiked out and back along Washington Ditch, which takes a straight line for nearly the entire 4.5 miles to reach Lake Drummond.
Although there was lots of birdsong, most birds chose to stay high in the treetops. The bright prothonotary warblers were nearly the only ones to come down to human eye level.
Skink and bee
Usually a rare sighting for us, there were crowds of zebra swallowtails puddling
Likely a red-bellied watersnake
We also stopped at Merchant’s Millpond, a North Carolina State Park containing a proper cypress swamp. We’d like to go back and rent a canoe at some point.