02 May 2011
My New Favorite Natural Area
Back on April 17th I had the opportunity to scout out the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which I stumbled upon on the internet while searching for wildflower locations in the DC area. From all accounts and my scouting trip it looked like an amazing area for wildflowers. Many of the thousands (millions?) of large-flowered trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) were just about to bloom and I estimated that Easter weekend would be peak or close to peak. Unfortunately, I had too many family commitments to get out to the WMA on Easter Weekend. I returned to Thompson this past weekend on Friday night and again for a few hours on Saturday morning and it surpassed my wildest expectations. In my opinion, this location ranks among some of the best East Coast natural spectacles (such as the horseshoe crab/shorebird event in the Delaware Bay). Large-flowered trillium literally carpet the ridge encompassed by this wildlife management area for several miles. As if that weren't enough, this area boasts a great diversity of wildflowers. In addition to the trillium, I found yellow lady's slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) and showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis) and many others. From my scouting trip it was also obvious that this is an impressive location for blood root, rue anemone, and wood anemone earlier in the season. It is also an amazing spot for birds. I've never heard/seen so many cerulean and worm-eating warblers in my life, plus hooded warbler, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, two species of vireos, eastern towhees, and wood thrushes in great abundance. I was even serenaded by a barred owl on Friday evening.
Unfortunately conditions weren't great for landscape images of the carpets of trillium (there is also lots of underbrush and downed trees that make this type of image difficult to pull off) so I mostly focused on more intimate portraits of the flowers on these two trips. I hope to get out there again tomorrow evening, before the trilliums go by (they were a bit early this year). I've posted two images I took with my iPhone that give you a broader image of the environs, then here I'll include a slideshow of my favorite images from my "real camera". Enjoy and don't miss this spectacle if you live within driving distance!
G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area - Images by Elijah Goodwin