Archive for April, 2012

Recommended Reading: Silo Trees in the New York Times!

I saw an unusual spike in my stats for a Sunday.  It turns out the New York Times recently did an article on Silo Trees and my February 2009 post, “Silo Trees of the U.S.“,  is getting some link love!  I enjoyed the New York Times article.  If you get a chance, check it out!


April 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Recommended Viewing: Questing Ticks by MYRMECOS

Three years ago, Ryan and I got to witness the miracle of life. Some eggs we had in a specimen jar hatched and we became the adoptive parents of hundreds of baby ticks. (We weren’t good parents, mind you, our charges all perished). Although our hearts raced at the thought of the vial breaking in our home, we still were fascinated by the behavior of the little ones. They always wanted to be high up, so they would climb to the top of the vial. We would flip it over and they could climb back up and so on. In Ryan’s post “Fun with Tick Clockwork“, he described the phenonmenon as “like some twisted version of an hourglass, appropriate for some Tim Burton film.”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the verb for what the ticks were doing is called “questing”. I learned this from the blog MYRMECOS where Biologist and Photographer Alex Wild managed to make this creepy behavior look beautiful. He posted some Tick Questing pictures last week. I recommend a look-see!

Enjoy and may your summer be free of real-live questing ticks. : )

April 25, 2012 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Family Hike: Mason Neck State Park

In February, we snuck in a family hike to Mason Neck State Park. It’s an 1800 acre park surrounded by the Pohick and Belmont Bays.  My mother likes us to try to tire out her dog, so her dog “Willy” joined us.  On our drive there, we passed by other parks and trails I had no idea existed. I grew up in this area, but there is still so much left for me to explore!

Trail Overview
There are a little more than 8 miles of trail in the park– all flat and easy! Three of the trails (Beach, Dogue and High Point) are handicap accessible. This sets the park up to be very conducive to family hikes. We did have to pay a small vehicle fee of $4, still a great deal for an entire afternoon of fun.

We started at the Wilson Spring Trail, went along the Bay View Trail. Next we took the Beach Trail to Kent’s Creek Trail back to our parking lot. We did a quick loop on the Dogue Trail before heading back home. The only trail we missed was the Eagle Spur Trail.

Mason Neck State Park - Bay View Trail - Sagan and Mommy Smile at Observation Blind (By Ryan Somma)
Bay View Trail – Sagan and I

Mason Neck State Park - Bay View Trail - Marsh Walkway
Bay View Trail – Marsh Walkway

Mason Neck State Park - Bay View Trail - Trail
Bay View Trail – Trail

Mason Neck State Park - Bay View Trail - Tree and Fence on Hillside
Bay View Trail – Fence and Trail

Mason Neck State Park - Beach Trail - Willy, Sagan Smlies with Tongue Out
Beach Trail – Willy and Sagan At River

Mason Neck State Park - Kane's Creek Trail - Daddy Gives Sagan a Snack
Sagan Hiking Tip – Don’t Forget to Snack

Off the Bay View Trail we saw a nice patch of Mountain Laurel that will be worth a revisit come blooming time.  I found sycamores along the shoreline to be as captivating as usual.

Mason Neck State Park - Bay View Trail - Sycamore on Shoreline
Bay View Trail – Sycamore on Shoreline

We saw snail shells in the marsh water on the Bay View Trail and plenty of water fowl throughout.  One of the more interesting “fauna spottings” was a replica of a Bald Eagle Nest off the Beach Trail.  Although this particular nest was built by boy scouts, I was still taken aback.  I had no idea bald eagle nests would be so large.

Mason Neck State Park - Beach Trail - Replica of Bald Eagle Nest
Beach Trail – Replica of Bald Eagles Nest

We very much enjoyed our trip to the park and look forward to the return trips we will most definitely will be taking in the future.

Mason Neck State Park

Trail Map

Entrance Fee $3 Weekday, $4 Weekend

Length: Varies – 8 miles of trail in the park

Elevation Gain: Neglible

Directions from Occoquan, Virginia

Take I-95 North

Get off Exit 161 U.S. 1 N toward Fort Belvoir/Mt Vernon

Turn right onto VA-242 East

Turn right onto Harley Rd.

Turn right into the park

April 24, 2012 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

An Application of Peek-A-Boo

I thought this observation might be better presented in “cartoon form”  : )

April 23, 2012 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

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