Nature

The Rapp for July 12

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Castleton Festival's upcoming weekend and beyond, historic doings in Chester Gap, a show-saving piano donation, a deal for Shenandoah National Park visitors, fighting invasive plants and lots more.
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Wild Ideas: Big storm, little moments of resilience

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July 12
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While we humans struggled in the aftermath of the storm to deal with losing the technology most of us have come to depend on, wildlife seemed to accept this as just another day in the great outdoors.
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Clark Hollow Ramblings: Safely home and the straight line windstorm

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July 12

I hope the derecho didn’t treat you too badly. It pushed my favorite apple tree over and blew off a shingle or two, but otherwise we fared pretty well. With a strong rope and the bucket on my tractor I have the apple tree standing up straight again. So far, the leaves haven’t wilted,...
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With power knocked out, volunteer power kicks in

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Though surely neighbors aided neighbors throughout the huge swath of mid-Atlantic infrastructure that had its plug pulled Friday, the stories of what happened in Rappahannock County during and after the storm prove that coping is one of this county’s top local industries.
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Wild Ideas: Bunnies everywhere

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July 5
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Lately I’ve been observing numerous eastern cottontails, large and small, in the yard at dawn and dusk. It’s that time of year when our native rabbits are reproducing like, well, rabbits – big bunnies, little bunnies, bunnies everywhere in open spaces and along forest edges.
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Letter: Snake report good; transporting not

I would like to compliment the Rappahannock News for publishing an informative article about living with snakes. However, there is one point in the article that needs further clarification. Not only is it illegal to kill a snake in the state of Virginia it is also illegal to capture and transport a snake to...
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Girl Scouts help you stay safe July 4

Girl Scout Troop 628 is holding a Safety Fair at the annual Rappahannock County 4th of July Celebration. The fair is being held as a community service for the county where the small but hard-working troop is based, as part of its Silver Award Project. From 2 to 6 p.m. in the shade of...
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The Rapp for June 21

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It's the Fourth (Estate) Friday of the month, so we'll see you in Sperryville; lots to do, including theater auditions and the start of the fourth annual Castleton Festival this weekend; a butterfly outing next month; local Eagle Scouts get their wings.
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The serpent’s role in paradise

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June 21
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Few local creatures (except perhaps the eastern mountain lion) are shrouded in more myth and fantasy than snakes. While some are indeed dangerous, experts say many are beneficial and a lot less mysterious than you might think.
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Wild Ideas: Closer look at my phoebe babies

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June 21
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Almost two weeks after hatching, the four nestlings in my eastern phoebe brood have pretty much filled up their nest and seem to be in danger of falling over the side.
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Editorial: Birds, bees and baby steps

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June 21
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We have two choices in the face of the earth’s environmental degradation. The first is to feel like we humans are all hospice patients just waiting for the inevitable, apocalyptic end. The other is to take action – countermeasures, albeit small but still meaningful.
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Wild Ideas: Poison ivy, the sneaky plant

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June 21
Poison ivy leaves appear to be growing out of a black locust, but a closer look reveals the branch came from huge intertwined poison ivy vines.

As a kid growing up in Virginia, I learned early to spot the trio of shiny leaves – “leaves of three, let it be” – that spelled disaster if I touched it.
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Wild Ideas: June is bustin’ out all over

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June 14
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For nature lovers, this is a great time of year, especially in Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions. By the first week in June, spring was going at full blast.
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Wild Ideas: The bluebird saga continues

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June 7
Wild Ideas: The bluebird saga continues

As I wrote about recently, an Eastern Bluebird pair had set up housekeeping in a nesting box in my yard that my landlord had provided. A day after submitting that column, I noticed a sudden change in the birds’ behavior. I’d been watching them through my bedroom window several times a day, so I...
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Photo: Mulling about

Photo: Mulling about

Bears – some of Rappahannock County’s earliest settlers – have been active this spring, including this youngish black bear who perched, contentedly and periodically over two days earlier this week, in a mulberry tree beside Mayhugh’s store in Amissville.
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Photo: Sperryville’s healing waters

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May 31
Project Healing Waters guides and veterans on the Thornton River.

Project Healing Waters founder and president, Navy Capt. Ed Nicholson (far right), and several fly fishing guides and veterans, stand by the banks of the Thornton River, where they spent a Friday last month fishing for rainbow trout and smallmouth bass on Cliff Miller’s Mount Vernon Farm in Sperryville.
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Wild Ideas: The hard-working dung beetle

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May 31
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I’ve always been fascinated with beetles since I saw my first Hirschkaefer (German for “stag beetle”) on the military base in Germany where my family was stationed a year after I was born.
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Free fishing days June 1-3

Retired teacher and pond owner Roger Flinchum shows off some catches of the day with 7-year-old first-time fisherman Anthony Ganz.

Gather the kids and grab your fishin’ poles; free fishing days are here again! This year anyone in Virginia can fish without a license June 1-3.
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Wild Ideas: A spring hike 

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May 24
Shenandoah Valley

With my brother’s bringing some sunny, springlike days with him on a visit earlier this month, hikes in Shenandoah National Park seemed in order. We first took a walk on the short Jordan River Trail, which climbs up a lovely wooded slope near Flint Hill.
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Town’s 9-acre deal seen as a potential conservation model

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The town of Washington plans to purchase one of the county's most develop-able commercial real estate tracts and, if all goes right, never develop it — except as a showcase of conservation.
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Wild Ideas: Young critters everywhere

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May 17
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The lower ponds are now coming alive with frog calls and the upper pond is now black with squiggling tadpoles. And those aren’t the only evidence of spring's wildlife reproduction cycle being well underway.
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Wild Ideas: Clouds of beauty in unexpected places

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May 10
The brightly colored Zebra Swallowtail butterfly depends on Paw Paw trees as a host for its larva, but the adults get nutrients from the nectar of several flowering forest plants as well as other sources of nutrients.

Last week, to see how spring was progressing in the lower elevations of Shenandoah National Park, I loaded my dog into the car and headed up the hollow to Thornton River Trail, one of my favorite local spots for an easy but beautiful stroll through nature.
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Letter: A perfect day for a hayride

Letter: A perfect day for a hayride

The day was perfect for the Rappahannock Youth Group’s inaugural event last Sunday – great weather, good turnout of youths, leaders and parents, and a fantastic afternoon of fun for all. Thanks to John and Dee Vest for allowing us to gather on their wonderful property where we began the hayride. The group was...
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Sperryville column for May 3

Anthony Ganz, 7, is clearly happy about catching his first fish on his first cast.

Fishing with the grandson, Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad news, and Miss Rappahannock pageant is coming up.
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The Rapp for April 26

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Fourth (Estate) Friday; internationally known pianist Audrey Andrist at the Theatre; "The Decendants" at RAAC's movie night; time to start planning for the fall's Farm Tour; turning wine into gold and more.
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Wild Ideas: Big black-and-yellow hovering machines

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April 26
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On a warm, breezy afternoon recently, I took a break from work and sat on my deck. It wasn’t long until I realized what a hub of activity it was for insects, especially for huge, yellow-and-black bees that seemed inordinately interested in me.
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Editorial: Good news, bad news

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April 26

The bad news: Rappahannock residents have to drive everywhere, whether to go shopping or to visit friends.  The good news: we live right next door to miles and miles of some of the best hiking and walking trails not only in the country but also the world. Like the proverbial “elephant in the room,”...
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Osprey cam up and running at Smith Mountain Lake

DCR's osprey web cam at Smith Mountain Lake.

For the past seven years, only visitors to Smith Mountain Lake State Park’s Discovery Center could view nesting osprey live via a closed-circuit camera system. Now everyone can watch the growing osprey family.
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The Rapp for April 19

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April 19
Ann Currie Shedding Light

Besides the Fodderstack . . . Scared of a little rain? Old football injury? Have an even better excuse for not running in Saturday’s Fodderstack 10K, which finishes in Washington? Don’t hide away in shame. There’s a lot going on in town that day: The Washington Baptist Church hosts its traditional Grandma’s Attic indoor...
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Wild Ideas: The precarious existence of bluebirds

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April 19
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Although bluebirds will nest in tree cavities up to 50 feet off the ground, they prefer to be closer to the insect prey they hunt for on the ground. Their propensity for picking such low nesting sites enables easy predator access.
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Editorial: ‘Earth Day’ weekend

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April 19

The weather forecast calls for possible rain on the parade of Fodderstack runners this Saturday. But few of these 10K racers will mind, I bet. Outdoor athletes are by definition in touch with the earth they pound – and understand that the small patch of the Planet Earth known as Rappahannock County could surely...
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Town authorizes $3,000 for nature trail

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April 12

The Washington Town Council Monday night this week approved spending up to $3,000 to purchase trees, plants and shrubbery for the Washington Nature Trail project – an expense it expects may be covered by by local organizations that have expressed interest in providing funding for the project. Mayor John Sullivan said that, while he...
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Wild Ideas: Virginia’s feisty little fish

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April 12
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The two lower ponds on the property are loaded with fish – mostly stocked non-natives, including some good-sized bass. There are also lots of one of my favorite Virginia natives, Bluegill, also known as Sunfish, Bluegill Sunfish, Bream, Brim, Bluegulli or Copper Nose.
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Wild Ideas: Critter naming, from Assassins to Hellbenders

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April 5
A nymph of the assassin bug Zelus luridus looking for prey on a peach-tree blossom. In its adult form, this bug will darken and have transparent wings and a curved beak used for piercing and sucking its prey.

Over the years, as I’ve plumbed the mysteries of nature, I’ve often been struck by our own peculiarly human take on it. So much of what we find wonderful, horrible or just odd in other species is often a projection of our own behavior and motives. Nowhere is this more obvious than in what...
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Early spring brings fears of late frost

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March 29
The Sperryville School House, seen last Friday behind the fresh blossoms on the young cherry trees that line the walkway leading to and from Sperryville’s Main Street.

In Rappahannock County, as in most of Virginia, spring has sprung early.

Fruit buds are blossoming, flowers are in full bloom, leaves are appearing on trees and shrubs, grass is popping up thick and dark.
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Fighting Lyme with an uptick in awareness

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March 29
Black-legged, or deer ticks, can transmit Lyme Disease to humans.

Living in the shadows of the lovely Blue Ridge here in Rappahannock County, surrounded by spring’s bursting colors of forsythia, dogwood and redbud, a Debbie Downer might ask one tragically sad but crucial question.
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Wild Ideas: Native plants for wildlife

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March 29
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By mid-March, spring is fully underway and ahead of schedule because of the mild winter. Trees and shrubs are leafing out, early spring wildflowers are blooming, birdsong fills the air at dawn and butterflies and bees are flying everywhere.
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Clark Hollow Ramblings: You just can’t count on nothing

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March 29

It’s getting really hard to know what you can count on. I have had a vegetable garden almost all my life, and Linda has, as well. We have heard, for as long as we can remember, when it comes to planting, what mom used to call, “your little early stuff,” which was, peas, radishes,...
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Wild Ideas: The joys of frog monitoring

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March 23
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In my youth, the calls of the early-breeding frogs, along with blobs of gelatinous eggs in pools and puddles, had marked the start of spring and put me into a frog-hunting frenzy.
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Sperryville column for March 22

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March 22

4-H news, World Water Day, and Shenandoah Ntt Park and the economy
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