April 2- flowering trees in C’ville

Another Charlottesville tofu delivery day.  While the flowering trees are just beginning to do their thing at Twin Oaks, the blossoming is in full-swing in C’ville.  I’m not quite sure why that should be– urban heat island effect?  Elevation?  Microclimates?  Whatever the reason, it certainly provided for a visually stimulating morning of driving around town.  I tried to photograph some of the most impressive flowering tree displays, but, really, there was some sort of tree or bush covered with white, pink, purple, or yellow flowers pretty much everywhere you looked today.

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The daffodils have been blooming for a few weeks now, but they are pretty much at their absolute peak right now, great masses of them along the highway, in medians, in people’s yards, just all over the place. Image

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After finishing my deliveries, I drove to Quarry park to do a bit of walking along a part of the Rivanna Trail that I hadn’t yet explored.  The first challenge was actually getting to the trail, as the bridge connecting the park to the trail appeared to be partially missing.  As I climbed closer, I encountered this most unwelcoming sign, which I promptly ignored, preferring to take my chances with the sketchy bridge rather than detour all the way to the highway.

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The view from the ‘forbidden bridge:’

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Once I actually got onto the Rivanna trail, the bit that I walked was actually pretty scenically underwhelming, passing through a viny, scrubby, garbage-strewn bit of brushy, too-close-to-the-interstate woods that  reminded me as much of California chaparral as it did of a proper Virginia forest.  The smaller shrubs along the trail have fully begun to leaf out, giving everything a nice greenish tint, but overall I was less impressed with this section of the Rivanna Trail than others I have explored.

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I got as far as this ‘inspiring’ view of Carter Mountain, in an area that will surely be overrun with Kudzu or some other invasive vine once the weather warms up a bit.Image

In spite of the generally uninspiring scenery, I did have a few cool animal encounters.  The first happened when I startled a large hawk, which allowed me to (unknowingly) get quite close before giving a classic hawk-screech and flying off through the brush.  Later on, I had the pleasure of sitting and listening to a mockingbird perched high in a tree, as he ran through a seemingly endless variety of bird-calls.  Encountering a mockingbird is always a treat– I feel like I could spend hours just sitting and listening.  I made a 15-second video, which I will post if I can figure out how to do it on wordpress.  And throughout the walk, I spotted a number of butterflies, of which I have seen very few this year.  A whole bunch of little spotted gray ones, and one slightly larger spotted lilac blue one.  So even though I don’t think I will be returning to this particular stretch of the Rivanna Trail, I continue to believe that any hour spent walking around outside with ones eyes and ears open is an hour well-spent.

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