Quarentine at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge with Kelley Studholme
Green open space close to home has never been more important.
April 5 2020 -- I love the Spring just before total leaf out, here in Prince William County. We are so fortunate to live in a place near the Occoquan River, Belmont Bay, Occoquan Bay and Potomac River; all of which are tidal, causing a constant ebb and flow of the water and wetland areas. Each day is new and different offering migrating birds and ducks and other water fowl, not to mention the many plants, reptiles, and animals.
Due to the quarantine, I have limited my time outdoors to only a few locations in the area to observe wildlife and get a little exercise. Lately, Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge (OBWR) has been my go to place to enjoy nature. My back yard also works but I don't get as much exercise there.
I am a very amateur birder/naturalist but my husband is a very good one with many years of experience of observing and reporting on nature, i.e. birds, water fowl, reptiles, bugs, mammals, wildflowers, and plant life especially trees. As such, we can turn a one hour walk at OBWR into a 3 hour walk quite easily.
On our last trip to OBWR with binoculars and spotting scope in hand, we had a wonderful time looking out into the bay and into the wetland areas. On this particular day (4/3/20) the tide was out, the sky was partly cloudy, and the wind was gusty so much so that when we looked out at the bay the water was very stirred up and wavy.
Even so, at Deep Hole Point and at the main out flow we saw Pied Billed Grebes, Mergansers (Hooded, I think), Common Loons, Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Eagles and Osprey. Then we retraced our steps back to the parking lot and along the way observed in the wetland areas some Spotted and Mud turtles, some Bull frogs and 2 Black Rat snakes, ( looking quite cozy on a tree limb) and an Eagle incubating eggs in a huge nest.
All of this wildlife was observed because we took our time and were at the refuge to see and enjoy the wildlife all around us. On other occasions there we have observed, Otter, Beaver, Muskrat, Deer, Fox, Coyote and tons of cool birds, butterflies, dragon flies, wildflowers etc.
I am truly thankful to the handful of people, headed by Jim Waggener (Kim Hosen included), who worked hard to make the case in the early 1990's to save a piece of property that the US Army was moving out of and instead of developing it to make it into a wildlife refuge. In the 1990's they saw the property as a grasslands oasis but now the property landscape has changed, but is still an oasis.