Feathery Friday – Odd Ducks

Is that a thing? Can I make it a thing? I can try to make it a thing but we shall see. If you don’t know what I used to photograph, it wasn’t birds… and then it was! Before 2020 I was doing events, travel and the occasional portrait but then we all know what happened after the world came to a screeching halt.

I decided that I would go along with DH and his love of bird photography. Once upon a time it would be him looking for a bird and I would be off doing macro of a flower or a bee or a landscape but when there were no more events and people…I got into birding with him.

I have since learned to love it.

While it can be frustrating it is for the most part peaceful and nature is good for ones health. I never knew there were so many wonderful feathery critters out there but after my first year of being clueless about anything other than a Robin, Blue Jay or Eagle – I can identify many more birds and if I can’t I have ebird.org on my phone.

There’s an app for everything!

So for my first Feathery Friday here we go with a pair of Shoveler Ducks but wait! One of these things is not like the other, hmmmmm. The duck in the foreground is a hybrid and he caused quite a stir here in Central Ohio. Everyone agreed that it was a hybrid Shoveler but hybrid with what was the ongoing discussion in the birding community.

Guesses were Shoveler with a Blue Winged Teal (hence the white stripe across the face) or a Cinnamon Teal because of the rust colored feathers covering the breast area. We may never know but it was a very cool odd duck.

shoveler duck, duck, nature, hybrid, central ohio

Teri πŸ“·

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Finally the Falls

After the snowy detour that cut into our time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we finally made it to one of my must see stops – Linville Falls – located off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Marion, North Carolina. Trails near the Linville Falls Visitor Center lead to the three-tiered falls over the Linville Gorge via both strenuous and moderate hikes. According to their webpage – The steep-walled Gorge is known as the β€œGrand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.”

We didn’t have enough time to do all of the layers to the falls so we did the moderate hike to the upper falls, which was still gorgeous. I’d say visiting this area would involve an entire day to truly give it justice.

After finding a parking spot at the visitor center (and it can get full) you head off across the Linville River to begin your hike to whatever level of the falls you wish to visit.

Linville River, North Carolina

But I got a bit hung up at the first view before even getting close to the upper falls. Can you blame me? The mid October peak autumn colors scene kept me busy for awhile before we hiked off to the falls.

Linville River, Linville Falls, North Carolina
Linville River, Linville Falls, North Carolina, autumn, fall colors, river, reflections

It was an up and down hike through the woods and through some rocks before we arrived at the upper falls. And even there we had to scramble a bit over large rocks to get a good vantage point for the falls.I can only imagine how crowded the area can get when the weather is warm and people want to get in the water.

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait for anyone to move to get a shot of the falls.

Linville Falls, upper falls, north carolina , blue ridge parkway

It was time to hike back to the parking lot to have a picnic lunch and back on the Blue Ridge Parkway to hit my final must stop spot of the day.

Teri πŸ“·

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The Blues

I was very much intent on posting about the next leg of our epic road trip but then…not today. Having an allergic reaction to something and I’m not feeling very postable. It will wear off but until then the next chapter of the road trip is on hold.

Instead, here is a very dramatically posed Blue Jay. It only wanted to give me the over the shoulder look.

Teri πŸ“·

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It’s National Bird Day!

And in honor of the day here are a few of my favorite birdies I was fortunate to photograph in 2022…

Horned Grebe

horned grebe, ohio birds, nature, migratory bird

A very cooperative Carolina Wren

carolina wren, bird photography

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse

Male Northern Cardinal with his mouth full

cardinal, redbird, male northern cardinal

Happy National Bird Day and here’s to more beautiful birds in 2023.

Teri πŸ“· 🐦

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Picking up where we left off…change in scenery and weather

I hope your holidays were good ones and here’s to 2023 being a kind year to us all! When I last posted we were still on the Blue Ridge Parkway and guess what? We’re STILL on the Blue Ridge Parkway but we had not only a change in scenery but a change in the weather as well.

We had just gone past 5900 feet elevation when we stopped for a moment at the Looking Glass Rock overlook.

Looking glass rock, blue ridge parkway, blue ridge mountains

Onward and upward when at another overlook I heard a man tell some other travelers that the road was closed up ahead because of snow and ice. Say what? I have no idea why we kept driving in that direction but we did. And as we drove we saw mid October autumn foliage change bit by bit into a winter wonderland. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like driving on an unfamiliar road high in the mountains in weather like this!

I was anxious to say the least, especially since it was my turn behind the wheel! I carefully pulled into the parking lot of the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center to of course take photos and to ask the rangers how do we get to the other side. It was soooo cold and windy which was the opposite of where we had started on the parkway that morning.

blue ridge parkway
blue ridge parkway, craggy gardens

The view behind the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.

blue ridge parkway, Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

Since the tunnel to get to the other side looked like this (notice the tourists walking up the road towards the tunnel for what – a better view?) and the road was closed for at least 10 miles from this point…

blue ridge parkway, tunnel, craggy pinnacle tunnel, snow and ice

We had to double back and find a spot on the parkway that led to a parallel running highway in order to find another entry point to the BRP. That was an interesting side trip as it took us through a lot of twisting up and down roads through rural neighborhoods before we found our way back onto the BRP and on to our next two stops, with the clock ticking away on our time to reach two places I had to see before dark.

Did we make it in time to those two sites?

Next – The Falls

Teri πŸš™

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No Travel Posts This Week

Hopefully by next week I should be back to posting about our travels on the Blue Ridge Parkway and two other national parks. But this week I am in my happy Nana zone with a certain six year old artist.

They grow up so quickly. Can you find me in his art work?

Teri β™₯

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Blue Ridge Parkway – I developed a thing about trees

By this time on the drive the views – while still spectacular – were becoming a bit redundant. I mean, mountains and clouds and the trees on the mountains of many colors; a bit similar. So I began to look for something to make the images different/unique and decided to focus on single tree/s in the foreground or for the mountains to be framed by some trees.

What do you think? By this time on the parkway we were between 5500 and 6000 feet elevation. And then somewhere here in North Carolina we hit our first snag. A very cold detour…. stay tuned!

Teri πŸ“·

north carolina, blue ridge parkway

In this image if you look to the left midway in the image you can see the parkway winding away into the mountains. You have to drive up the path from the parkway to get here, the Waterrock Knob Visitors Center, North Carolina (elevation 6292) with its beautiful views and trees to shoot through.

waterrock knob visitors center, north carolina, blue ridge parkway, autumn scene
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Blue Ridge Parkway – This is why the speed limit is 45mph and less!

Yikes!

Teri πŸ“·

blue ridge parkway
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Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Big Witch Overlook

This is just one of the many pullover/overlook spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s at mile post 461.9 which is very close to Cherokee, North Carolina. MP 1 is at the north end of the parkway in Virginia. We drove south to north hitting a lot but not all of the parkway.

More about that later!

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, Big Witch Overlook

The name, Big Witch Overlook, comes from one of the last of the great Cherokee medicine men. Some of the pullovers/overlooks are gorgeous – like this one – while others showed views of cities down in the valleys or the trees had overgrown the view so much that there was no view! But this one? It was a beautiful view.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, mountains, autumn, October

It was time to pull out of this stop and up the parkway to the next one! Miles to go before we slept.

Teri πŸ“·

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Driving through the Smoky Mountains heading towards the Blue Ridge Parkway

We stayed in Gatlinburg, Tennessee which was very close to the Sugarlands visitor center and one of several entry points for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was also close to the main road that takes you from there to the end of the park, the Oconaluftee Vistors Center in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Oconaluftee Center is right around the corner from the start (or end depends on if you are driving north like us or south) of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It takes about an hour to drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee on Newfound Gap Road (elevation 5046 feet) but that’s if you drive straight through. And who would want to do that with such amazing views!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mountains, autumn, October

At this pullover, we were able to see the road we were going to be on once we drove down from our high position on the mountain. At this elevation it was cold and windy with snow flurries. Not what you’d expect from mid-October in Tennessee.

Newfound Gap Road, mountains, road trip, mountain views, tennessee

Finally after several pullovers to take in the stunning autumn views, we made it to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. There is more to see at this center than just maps, souvenirs, snacks and a bathroom before the long drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a mountain farm museum where you can learn how families lived in the mountains 100 years ago.

farm museum, Oconaluftee Visitors Center, Cherokee North Carolina

While I wish I had taken time to explore the farm, I was much more interested in these animals that were out in an open field… and causing traffic jams as people driving past pulled over to take photos of them.

Elk, Oconaluftee Visitors Center

After this it was time for the long drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Teri – with a very big tree outside of the visitors center.

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