February 7, 2005 [LINK]

Road trip to Blacksburg

White-breasted nuthatch Jacqueline and I paid a visit yesterday to Blacksburg and environs yesterday, mostly to see our visiting friends from Spain, Montserrat and Josep, as well as their daughter Laura. It was a beautiful, mild day, with clear skies -- Could it be spring at last? While chatting and strolling around the rural home of their friendly and gracious hosts, Ed and Valerie Robinson, we saw this White-breasted nuthatch, whose eyes were closed when I snapped the shutter. I saw an Eastern phoebe (pictured below) as well, which is very unusual for this time of year; it eluded the other folks, however. During the cooler months, phoebes have a yellowish tinge on their bellies, which you can see in the photo. There was also a probable young Sharp-shinned hawk screaming in a nearby tree top, but it flew away before I could get a picture.

Eastern phoebe Later in the afternoon we were treated to a fine traditional country meal at the Home Place, a farm house converted into a restaurant in the village of Catawba. Pass the biscuits and gravy, please! Yum, yum. On our way home we drove on the recently-completed Rt. 460 bypass between Blacksburg and Christiansburg. It was one of those perpetual construction projects that used to be very annoying to us when we lived there, but now that it's done, getting around is a lot easier than it was before. As far as I know, the high-tech "smart road" project that will eventually connect Blacksburg more directly to I-81 is still years from completion. It was designed to test futuristic traffic control systems and includes a very high bridge over a river valley -- a veritable monument to "some day..."