Maybe I'm a bit biased because I worked at Flag Ponds Nature Park one summer on weekends. Named after the Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) flower that grows in the ponds, the park has five hiking trails, a cozy visitor's center, several historical markers including a fully furnished beach house, and an ever changing beach where you can see the endangered tiger beetle. It's not a large park, but you can fish from the beach and the really big pier, or picnic at the tables, or take your dog on a refreshing walk (keep your pets on their leash, please). You might spot an osprey, manta rays, and any number of forest critters. There's delicious raspberries in season, duck blinds to discreetly watch the water fowl, a boardwalk through one of the ponds, and plenty of shark teeth washing out of the cliffs just to the south.
Directions to Flag Ponds Nature Park.
Map of Flag Ponds Nature Park.
Pictures of the park:
At the beach:
The boardwalk out to the beach.
Seagulls on the beach.
A fisher on the beach. In the distance is the eastern shore of the Cheseapeake Bay.
My dad enjoying a quite moment of reflection.
From the pier.
On the pier, looking back at the shoreline.
Under the pier, low tide. When the tide is in, this is where I always imagine the five inch shark tooth is.
The lowest tide I've ever seen. The wind had blown the water out of the bay. I'm sure the young one in the picture would like to know he looks like Anakin.
A view of the treeline from the beach. The quantity of the driftwood reflects Hurricane Floyd.
On the boardwalk parallel to beach, going through treeline.
The visitor's center:
Outside the visitor center in spring.
The hearth inside the visitor's center (winter). Yes, there was a nice warm fire going.
One of my favorite views of the world.
Things to see on the trails:
On one of the nature trails.
Obvious animal signs.
A bird house.
Not so obvious animal signs (there's a cardinal in this picture).
A field of mayapples (also known as mandrake).
Violets and Duchman's Breeches.
Spring Beauty and Duchman's Breeches.
Is this the start of a blue flag, one of the flowers the park is named after?
The boardwalk through the swamp.
Some moss in the swamp. A terrible description for such a beautiful moment in time.
In the swamp.
Swamp to pond. Here's a swan!
When I worked at the park, hanging in the entrance building, there was a comic sketch of a man holding up a fish skeleton and asking, "Is this a shark tooth?". Before I knew any better, I thought this was funny. I got asked that question a number of times by hopeful people carrying bits of driftwood, ray bars, barnacles, shells, and rocks. My response was always gentle, "You seem to be getting closer. That's the right shape [or color], but not a tooth. When you find one, you'll be certain without asking. They're very distinct." If I had one in my pocket, I'd dig it out and show them. Often I'd give them mine.
I also got asked how to find shark teeth. Well, everyone who finds them seems to have their own "system". Here's what I do. First, you look for the right section of the beach. The right section will have a larger portion of blackish things compared to shells, and probably a few fossils and ray bars. Stand so you aren't searching your shadow. Squat down close, and look carefully. Until you've got the swing of finding them, pick up anything black and check it. It's best at low tide, but this is not a requirement.
I also like to stand in the water and look at the water's edge where the shells and rocks are being pulled a few inches at a time back toward the ocean. Shark teeth are easier to spot if they are moving as they will have the classic tooth-shape visible, but much harder to catch. If you think you see one, grab it, and worry about sorting out the sand and shells in your hand. Shark teeth tend to look a bit shiny when wet, and are heavier than the same size shell, so the water sorts it for you rather nicely.
What a shark tooth in the sand looks like. Guess which feet are
mine, and which belong to my dad and my brother, Mike.
Same shark tooth in the sand only closer. Do you see it yet?
Even closer. You can't miss it.
Your turn to try and find the shark tooth we missed.
Here's my hairy toe next to a tooth. See where the sand has washed
away from the tooth, leaving a trail, much like a comet trail?
This one was rather hard to spot so I put a green box around it so you wouldn't be confused by the nearby shells.
Another fine picture of my toe!
Here's a tooth hiding under a shell.
Here's the same tooth, with my hairy toe pointing to it.
After taking two pictures, of course I had to pick it up!
A picture of me standing in the water, getting ready to look for shark teeth. I promise that after you get absorbed looking for shark teeth, the water isn't nearly so cold. My toes were only blue for a short while, and then the water started to feel warmer than the air.
The Poison Ivy Tutorial - More than you ever wanted to know. This is next on the webring, because it became large enough to be its own category.