An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 23, 2015

Land, Sea, and Sky

     What follows is an assortment of photos taken this past weekend on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The first few were taken during a morning walk along the edge of Metompkin Bay near my parents' house. The remaining photos were taken later in the day when we took the boat to Cedar Island, where the black skimmers were busy tending to their chicks. This part of the world is very special to me, and this blog has been to both places several times before. God willing and the seas don't rise, I'll be back again.
Via Dolorosa

Metompkin Bay (9)

Metompkin Bay (6)

Metompkin Bay (5)

Metompkin Bay (1)

      A cross is put here every Easter for a sunrise service, and is usually taken down shortly thereafter, but there is a slightly different dynamic here this year.
Metompkin Bay (2)

Metompkin Bay (3)

Metompkin Bay (12)

Cedar Island

Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) (1)

Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) (2)

Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) (7)

Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) (6)

Cedar Island (9)

Cedar Island (10)

Cedar Island (3)

Cedar Island (4)

Cedar Island (13)

Cedar Island (11)

Cedar Island (1)

     I've been reading too much lately about sea level rise, and I take the potential loss personally. Fortunately and selfishly, I will likely be dead before the worst of this apocalypse-in-slow-motion arrives. When people ponder all the many what-ifs, such as how our coastal cities will fare, and will there be mass migration from the coasts - is anyone thinking about black skimmers and where they will raise their chicks? They are very particular about their nesting sites, and unlike us, they can't just pack up and move. Their species will certainly be just one of many thousands affected.

Welcome to the Anthroprocene.


  1. How beautiful! I love your Great Blue Heron shot especially. The skimmers are so cool - you did a great job of catching them in flight and in plight. I too have been worrying about the fate of the shorebirds as many call my slice of coast home, at least for half the year.

  2. Your love for that area is evident in the pictures you take. This is were you take some of your best pictures. The one with your dog is a favorite (I can't remember which of them it is). I join you in hoping folks will wake up in time to avoid catastrophe, and we'll enjoy the beach through your lens for many year to come.

  3. I love estaurine habitats such as this one. The eastern shore is a beautiful area, indeed.

  4. I love your pictures. I was reading one of your first posts from 2008 where you were reporting about your son's Cub Scout outing at First Landing State Park.

    Unfortunately, the statement about Spanish Moss only growing in Virginia at First Landing State Park is not true. It has a very healthy and generous population, but there are other places in Southeastern Virginia where it grows. It grows at False Cape State Park, along Milldam Creek in Virginia Beach, in the Dismal Swamp, and along the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers south of Franklin Virginia. Plus, scientists recently found the most northern known population of Spanish Moss in Northampton County Virginia on the Eastern Shore near Eastville Virginia. It is small, but historical records indicate that it has always existed in that area. I have read several historical accounts from the Civil War written by Union soldiers recording sightings between Suffolk and Franklin. Perhaps you have discovered this fact yourself since you originally wrote that blog back in 2008.

  5. A terrific series of photos Les. I love the yellow grasses rising above the greener grass and the shots of the seashore. I am leaving for Nova Scotia on Sunday and hope to walk along such a shore. Nova Scotia is almost an island. Rising waters would certainly have an impact there as well.

  6. Marvelous photos, Les. Thank you.

  7. Gorgeous! The shells remind me of the ones you sent me a couple of years ago after the walk off. I see them every day and think of you.