From Mountains to the Sea

Yesterday morning, driving south from Wytheville, Virginia, the splendor of the Ridge and Valley Province spread out before us, backed by the higher terrain of the Blue Ridge.  Upon reaching the crest of the latter, near the Virginia-North Carolina border, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the Carolina Piedmont, stretching away to the south.

After passing Lake Norman, northwest of Charlotte, we continued southward through the Catawba River Valley to Columbia, South Carolina; there we turned east toward the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Wateree, Black, Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee Rivers en route, each flanked by wooded swamplands.

Our destination was the home of relatives along the South Carolina coast; there we were greeted by cloudy and unusually cold weather and decided to delay our beach walk until this morning.  Enticed to the shore by a warmer breeze and partly cloudy skies, our three mile walk offered fresh air, exercise and good birding as well.  Semipalmated plovers, willets and sanderlings foraged on the beach while black scoters, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants and northern gannets fed offshore; joining these sea birds were a few red-throated loons, a first for my life list (an event that rarely happens after 40 years of birding).