A Year’s Worth of Adventure!
2015 was a pretty busy year for us here at Frog Pond Farm. With a lot of projects in the works, our “day jobs” kept us pretty busy the entire year. But we did manage to squeeze in some adventure here and there! Here are our highlights from the past year. We hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we enjoyed the experiences. And we are looking forward to an even more adventurous 2016!
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Remember the Polar Vortex? Yeah, we are trying to forget about that too. While things down here at Frog Pond Farm weren’t nearly as bad as other areas of the country, weeks of record-breaking cold and ice storms just made January miserable, The weather definitely impacted our ability to get out for the special day trips we like to share. For us personally, the “high” point of January was catching a local production of the musical HAIR. It was a cold but enjoyable night out in Wilmington NC, beginning with a wonderful seafood dinner riverside at Elijah’s Restaurant. Then off to the historic Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. with 2nd row seats in hand! Groovy, baby! Kudos to the Cape Fear Theatre Arts, LLC dba City Stage, and the entire cast and crew for an incredible presentation. We loved their addition of a “time travel” twist; which made this timeless story of Freedom, Peace and Love even more relevant today! Let the sun shine in!
We call February “Silly Season” here at Frog Pond Farm for a reason. We have Valentines Day, birthdays and our anniversary all within the span of a couple of weeks. So each February (at least as our time and budget allow) we try to do something special. This year we planned a special getaway to the Florida Keys. If you recall our post on the old defunct site, you are familiar with the challenges we encountered on this trip. Weather and an “unnamed airline” conspired against us and we wound up losing a substantial portion of our vacation time. However, those challenges were surmounted and we still had a great time!
We went from this……
Along the way we enjoyed some great food and drink, snorkeled the waters of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Marine Sanctuary and offshore of Key West, enjoyed strolling through the the gardens of the Audubon House and Harry Truman’s “Little White House“. Of course no trip to the Conch Republic is complete until you’ve had a drink at Sloppy Joe’s and Capt Tony’s Saloon!
And then to wrap the day up with a beautiful sunset from Mallory Park? The ice and snow at Frog Pond seem very far away…..
We’ll try to tell you more about this trip (with lots more pictures!) at a later date.
March started out still cold, damp and windy…. and busy. However we did make time for a weekend trip to High Point NC to accompany the Cape Fear River Rowing Club to participate in the High Point Regatta. While the host club made the most of their “home court advantage” and took the majority of trophies, Cape Fear represented well; with the Men’s 8-Man team bringing home the gold!
April is when we truly kicked off our “Year of Citizen Science” activities, beginning with preparations for “FrogWatch“. FrogWatch is an international organization sponsored by the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums; and is devoted to enlisting people to track species of frogs within their natural habitat. There is a reason we call our home Frog Pond Farm… We are surrounded by wetlands and more than 20 species of frogs and toads can be found nearby! So we do what we can to contribute to scientific data about the wildlife whose home we we are privileged to share.
We continued our Citizen Science activities into May with participation in “Terrapin Tally”. The Tally is a joint effort by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the Marine Biology Department of UNC-Wilmington, and the NC Coastal Reserve at Masonboro Island. Over the course of three consecutive weekends; volunteers paddle canoes, kayaks or SUP’s on pre-set courses around Masonboro Island to conduct a population census of endangered Diamondback Terrapins. We participated in two of the three weekends (the middle one was washed out by the early arrival of Tropical Storm Ana – the first of many rain events for us in 2015) We had a great time! Utilizing program provided navigation and specimen logging apps for smartphones; we recorded 15 sightings of these fascinating reptiles.
Our granddaughter accompanied us on the first of our paddles, and she truly enjoyed the experience as well. On the second; we were escorted back across the Intracoastal Waterway by a pair of dolphins! Then we were treated with the full moon rising off the Atlantic over Masonboro Island. Who knew that contributing to scientific knowledge could be so enjoyable?
After the Polar Vortex of January/February, you’d think we’d be welcoming summer by this time. But June rolled in with a vengeance; with an extended heat wave that stifled most of our outdoor activities. Even our local snakes and lizards were laying low and trying to stay cool. Yes, we disabled the “Inside Temperature” display. Knowing what the electric bill was going to be for AC, the differential was just too depressing to look at.
We did manage to find some time to cool off with a bit of surf fishing on Topsail Island…..
July was a good month for backyard astronomy. The month arrived with one of the most spectacular Full Moon’s we’ve seen in a while!
We also spent an interesting afternoon in the backyard with our granddaughter. For some reason, a really curious dragonfly wanted to play. It would flit around, land near us, or even land on our hands! It was a pretty cool experience!
The month closed out with yet another Full – or “Blue Moon”. A Blue Moon isn’t blue in color, but refers to a second full moon in any calendar month; or a fourth full moon in a 3 month season. It doesn’t happen often, only once every two to three years depending on the synchronicity of the lunar and the Gregorian calendar. Since it’s a relatively rare occurrence; this leads to the phrase “once in a blue moon”.
In August, we renewed our commitment to Citizen Science by affiliating with HerpMapper. Herpmapper is another smartphone app that lets users log observations of reptiles and amphibians anywhere in the world. Since Rambler is (or thinks he is) a herpetologist, this was yet another natural fit for our interests to make a contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Even our granddaughter got into the swing of things! A little “book learning” first, before we hit the field for observations.
Here near the wetlands of SE North Carolina, we do have the opportunity to observe and appreciate reptiles of all sorts – turtles, lizards, alligators, snakes – and we appreciate seeing all of them in their natural habitat. We further appreciate that we can co-exist with them here at Frog Pond Farm. Here is a sampling of some of our observations.
September provided us with meteorological challenges, as well as a “Supermoon” eclipse. So our eyes were once again on the skies – either in anticipation of wonder, or wondering if we would be washed away.
In the last week of the month, we had an un-named storm that spun off the coast for several days. Winds reached tropical storm strength a few times, but not enough to cause any damage. In addition to dropping several inches of rain on the area, it washed out our ability to see the much hyped “Supermoon Eclipse” on the 27th. While we missed the actual event; as luck would have it there was a slight break in the clouds just prior to the start of the eclipse. Just enough for this hazy shot through the clouds….
After the prior storm, there was little time to rest until we saw Hurricane Joaquin and it’s associated “river of rain” start to move into our area. While we were lucky to avoid the amount of Joaquin related rain received by Charleston; we definitely got our share. Based on the rain gauge on our back deck; we absorbed 27 inches of rain in an 18 day period. That is approximately 1/3 of our average annual precipitation.
Once the skies finally cleared, it was just about time to join the Cape Fear River Rowing Club again, for their Halloween Row! We’ve seen a lot of rodeo’s in our time; but not much can compare to joining this competitive but fun loving “crew” on the beautiful Cape Fear river. The Wilmington waterfront and the Battleship North Carolina only made this day more beautiful. And these folk made this 20K row in full costume!
In November, we were honored to be guests of the Cape Fear Raptor Center. Doctor Joni Gnyp, Scott Shimp, and the dedicated staff of volunteers and interns of CFRC are doing some incredible work to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured owls, hawks, eagles and other raptors native this region and across the SE United States. We have a detailed post of our visits with CFRC coming soon. Watch this space!
December was definitely an interesting month. After starting the year in the grip of Arctic chill courtesy of the Polar Vortex, we ended it on a note of late spring temperatures. You know it’s unseasonably warm when your local anole feels the need to find a cooler spot on Christmas Eve!
Once the usual Christmas Morning Mayhem had subsided, we decided to take a little jaunt over to Surf City. Temperatures in the low 70’s this time of year should not be wasted!
But all in all – we would have to assert that the highlight of December – as well as of all 2015 – would be the birth of our first grandson. We are looking forward to sharing our love of nature and adventure with this young man for many years to come!
So all in all, 2015 was a pretty good year for us. We have high hopes that 2016 will be even better! We’ve got some plans in store for February which we’ll share with you later. As always, we will be looking out for those events, situations, and serendipitous encounters that truly “Picture the South”.
Thanks for dropping by! Check in often, as you never know what we’ve been up to!
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