July 23, 2012, Occoquan Regional Park

Today I went to Occoquan Regional  Park – Northern Va Regional Park Authority (www.nvrpa.org)



Occoquan Water Trail, A Chesapeake Bay Gateway – according to the OWT brochure:  “64,000 square mile Bay watershed is complex ecosystem.”  Go to www.baygateways.net for more information….

Critters I saw today:  dragon flies, butterflies, indigo bunting, fish crow, osprey (at least 7 – to think they used to be endangered) !!!


This website helped me to identify the lizards I saw today.  http://www.pwconserve.org/wildlife/herps/lizards.htm

Eastern Fence Lizard
Sceloporus undulates hyacinthinus

Broad-headed Skink

which one?

Plestiodon laticeps (Formerly Eumeces)


Common Five-lined Skink
Plestiodon fasciatus (Formerly Eumeces)

Southeastern 5-lined Skink
Plestiodon inexpectatus (Formerly Eumeces)



This park has quite a lot to do:  Launch a boat, kayak, soccer and baseball fields and volleyball nets, concessions, batting cages, weekend river boat ride, picnic areas, paved and unpaved paths for walking, biking, jogging, some nature exhibits, plenty of nice benches and garbage cans, places to fish, some pavilions, places to fly kites, etc.  It is a lot of fun.




I usually spend most of my time here at the baseball batting cage end of the park (my oldest son loved coming here while he was doing baseball),  so today I went from the boat launch toward the entrance to see what was up there.  I had a lovely walk along the river and went by the restrooms and concession stand and started up the paved path to the entrance.   On the left was a sign post that said: scenic overlook – so I went that way.  It was a steep climb to the top of the hill and then the path took you along the top of the hill.   The path was unpaved here and covered in pine needles.   I was able to look through the woods and down the hill on either side.  The woods were filled with mature trees and little under- brush so you could see quite far.  It was beautiful and a few degrees cooler under the shade of the forest.


I reached the top and went to the Shepherd’s Point.  There were quite a few trees in the way but one could see a little bit down into the town of Occoquan.   I heard a bird just singing his little heart out and when I went in search of the singer found it was an Indigo Bunting; a beautiful iridescent blue bird.  I sat down on a lovely bench and enjoyed a little breeze and the forest view and was preparing to just be quiet and pray for awhile however the traffic noise coming up from route 123 was overwhelming.   So I jotted down a few notes and continued on my walk.  As I got near the descent to the entrance of the park I saw an Eastern Fence Lizard.  I had never seen one of those before.  I had to look it up when I got home.  Unfortunately he was too fast for me to take a picture.  As I descended to the entrance drive the hill suddenly blocked the noise of the traffic.  Ah – the blessed quiet.

Quiet – true quiet and silence are very hard to find in our world today.  But quiet is really necessary for our souls to rest and to create space in which to listen to the voice of God.  Psalm 46: 10 says:  “Be still and know that I am God!”  I did walk slowly and admired the view until I found a bench and sat down for awhile.  I just sat still and listened to the birds and the breeze.  Then I took out my notebook and began to make a list of all the other blog entry ideas that came to me.  They seemed to flow from my brain to my pen.  In that quiet space many things from the beginning of my sabbatical seemed to fall into place and other threads of thought seemed to coalesce in wonderful ways.  It was amazing what a beautiful nature setting and some quiet can do.







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