Springtime at the Park Dr pond

 

 

 

Spring has arrived on Park Dr!  Sandy and I have noticed the trees and flowers around the neighborhood blooming and an abundance of rabbits hopping around when we take our evening walks.

 

And all of the hard work we’ve put into the backyard is beginning to pay off…
I’ve recently added two beautiful butterfly koi to our pond at a painful $30 each (ouch!)  We now have 2 comets, 2 shubunkins, and 5 koi.
or at least that’s what we thought… we’ve noticed the fish behaving rather friskily, swimming up into the shallow areas and squirming over rocks.  Then one day when I was standing on the edge of the pond, I looked down and noticed this little shadow slowly moving across the shallow rock shelf.  It’s interesting how the fry blend in with the rock and can be quite hard to spot except that they’re shadows give them away.

We have dozens, perhaps over a hundred, of these young fish.  In the few weeks since we initially spotted them they have been growing and some of the older ones are perhaps three-quarters of an inch long now and have begun to get some color.  We’ve got a half dozen or so now that are white with small red dots on them.  I tried taking pictures but the damn things won’t hold still so my pictures have all come out blurry or out of focus so far.

These juveniles would mostly hang out in the shallow rock ledge around the edge of the pond, or they would hide in the rocky plant shelf on the back end of the pond.  In the last week though, I’ve noticed some of the bigger ones have begun venturing out into the main part of the pond, apparently feeling secure enough to explore the deep waters there.

 

The fish aren’t the only ones looking to raise a family (well… I guess the fish aren’t really “raising a family”… they just like to squirm around on those rocks!)  A couple of english sparrows have moved into this bird house that we got for christmas.

 

We’ve also seen a family of squirrels running around the backyard.  One larger adult followed closely behind by five youngster, scrambling across tree branches in a fairly orderly line (extremely orderly by squirrel standards!)

I remember seeing a chipmunk running around the yard last summer and sure enough the little fellow was back again this year.

One day Sandy and I were out on our porch and we noticed a second chipmunk.  Did our fellow find himself a friend?

(no I have no idea if this is the second chipmunk or the original chipmunk or somebody else entirely… I’m sure they’ve figured out some way to tell each other apart but they haven’t let me in on the secret.
I imagine one of you scientist types out there will tell me it’s by scent or something along those lines… they haven’t let me get close enough to test that out.)
We were watching the chipmunks and one disappeared into the bush and a moment later a chipmunk appeared on the other side of the yard.  Is this possible?  Did we actually have three living back there?  We debated whether that was a third chipmunk or if one of the two just managed to get across the yard very quickly undetected by us.  It wasn’t long until we got our answer… we saw all three at the same time… and then a fourth… and a fifth… and a sixth.  Wow!  They were enjoying a feast, gorging on all the seed that birds have flung out of our birdfeeder.
But sex and free food is not the only thing that brings animals to our back yard.  They also come for the spa.
We frequently see cardinals, robins, english sparrows, starlings and other birds taking a bath at the top of our waterfall, at the bottom of the water fall, and in the stream.
Nothing feels better then a nice bath after picking at free seed from my feeder all day long.  This cardinal is rolling over on his back to make sure he doesn’t miss a single spot.
This is the first dragonfly to visit my pond (okay… the first one I’ve seen).  I grabbed my camera to get a picture and he flew up away from my pond and smacked right into the big picture window that overlooks our backyard.  “Oh god!”, I thought, “I’ve killed the dragonfly!”  But fortunately, he buzzed around slightly stunned for a moment and then flew off, apparently okay.
My mom’s house borders Lake Accotink Park and I went down there one saturday to find some tadpoles.  There were hundreds of them swimming in a shallow marshy area just off the shore.  Holding my net and a bucket, I walked into the water which was only a few inches deep and quickly sunk down to my knees in mud.  I should have gone in barefoot… at one point I pulled my foot up and my sandal was still stuck under a foot of mud… I had to reach down with my hand into the mud and pull it out.  Ah yes it was like being a kid again!  By the time I got back my mom’s house I had a bucket of tadpoles (and other critters… water bugs and snails) and I was covered with mud from head to toe.

 

They’re a little hard to see… but here’s a couple of water beetles that I must have scooped up with the tadpoles.  I frequently see them speeding around over the rock ledges in the pond.

 

Biking to National Harbor

We woke up Saturday morning to an absolutely perfect day. It was a little cool out as we enjoyed breakfast out on our porch and planned our days adventure. On a previous trip to national harbor we had noticed the new Woodrow Wilson bridge had a nice wide bike path on it and I’ve wanted to bike there every since. Sandy was a little more hesitant, concerned about the distance. It would be just our third bike ride of the season and a far longer trip than our other two.

The small amount of humidity in the air evaporated while we ate and talked. We finished breakfast, did a few tasks around the house and soon we were ready to go. 

There were surprisingly few people out, considering how nice the weather was. We stopped at a small pond we frequent along the way and watched the turtles and bull frogs for a few minutes before continuing our journey. We made surprisingly good time and Sandy remarked how the trip was much easier than last time we went down this path. In the back of our minds we both new that the first half of the trip would be a little easier because it’s all downhill. Still I was feeling pretty good about our ability to make it all the way to National Harbor and back. 

We reached the end of the W&OD trail and merged onto four mile run. After following that for a bit it ended and we switched to the Mt Vernon trail which runs alongside the Potomac river and down to Old Towne Alexandria. We stopped along the way to take a little break and watch a flag football game that was being played near the Washington Sailing Marina. We soon continued and road over a boardwalk through a small swampy area and then back alongside the Potomac until the trail took us onto the streets of Old Towne. 

Sandy has a bell on her bike which she’s supposed to use to warn people when she’s going to pass them. She never does use it though… I think it’s in an inconveinent spot… She complains it’s not loud enough. So we stopped at a little bike shop along the wy to pick up a new, easier to use bell (which she also didn’t use on the remainder of the trip… Oh well, I tried). 

When we got to the southern side of Old Towne, we followed the trail the way we used to go before the finished the new Woodrow Wilson bridge a couple of years ago. Apparently the path has changed. The trail led us underneath the bridge but as we rode up to where we thought we could get onto the bridge we realized the entire area was fenced in.  We could actually see people going along the path we were supposed to take, just on the other side of the fence.  Fortunately, after some searching we found where a hole had been cut in the fence and were able to get through and hook up with the correct path.

We made slow progress up the steep slope and made our way to the beginning of the bridge.  A large medallion lay embedded in the ground pointing the way towards Maryland.
We followed the arrow and began biking over the bridge where we had a nice view of Old Towne and DC.

 

When we got to the Maryland side of the bridge, we biked through a small park that they had built above the highway and then around a corkscrew ramp that took us down to ground level again.

Travel back through time: when I was searching for aerial pictures of the bridge I used microsoft live.  As I scrolled over to the left, trying to get a bit more of the bridge, the picture suddenly changed and took me back in time to when they were still building the second span of the bridge. 

It didn’t take us much longer until we had arrived at our destination.  Where we stopped to have lunch before riding back home.

Yes… blogging is hard work… I’ve been falling behind and you can see in this entry how it begins with overly verbose paragraphs which become shorter and shorter as I get tired of writing and just try to get this thing published!

Sanibel Island

We did lots of laying on the beach and lots of biking when we went down to Sanibel Island.  I’ve put together a little video of our trip.