Monterey Highland County Virginia
It had been a long busy season for the boys, so we headed to one of our favorite vacation spots and the tranquillity of the Wilson House in Monterey, Virginia in Highland County. We have stayed at this quaint country farmhouse with the majestic rolling hills several times and passed our time from one adventure to another. This time was different. My hubby the master photographer had tons of new camera equipment that he has been itching to use, and 11 days of some real downtime for this couple.
My hubby had been stealthily working his magic on our son and myself getting us hooked on photography, so we spent much of our time enjoying lazy days at the Wilson House in Monterey, Virginia in awe of all the beautiful birds in the area, working hard capturing them on a DSLR camera and giggling at their antics. We were geared up with a hefty 10 gallon supply of birdseed we brought for such an occasion. Well, at times it wasn't so lazy as we spent hours trying to get the perfect photograph, especially a newbie like myself, who is a point and shoot kind of gal and unfamiliar with all the intricacies of sophisticated DSLR camera equipment. We averaged about 3,000 photos a day between the three of us. My hubby was kind and set up all my settings and put me in the thick of the action to get the perfect photograph.
Highland County Virginia and the surrounding areas seems to be known for its bird population and have many a bird trail for your birding pleasure. What was funny with all the bird life in the area, there wasn't much bird activity when we arrived at the Wilson House in Monterey, Virginia.
Being the prepared man that our lead photographer is, he brought a couple extra bird feeders this time, and also sprinkled seed on the fence posts and rocks as we have done before. We have learned in order to get good photographs, you need to feed the birds for several days to get them comfortable with your presence. So, as the week goes on, the more activity you will see. During the last few days, we got what we are looking for...what we affectionately called the bird wars. We call it the bird wars because once you put that seed down amongst that many birds there is a nonstop fight for each and every bird to get their share. The birds got so comfortable with my hubby that they would watch for when he placed more bird seed around and start their descent while he was still very close.
Although the birds were highly entertaining and we even saw some birds we haven't seen before, such as the black-throated green warbler, Northern Harrier Hawk, and a Palm Warbler. The other wildlife at the Wilson House brought us hours of enjoyment as well. Our faithful friend, Riley the beagle dog, visited us several times a day for a snack and our undivided attention. It is always fun to have her around. During our stay, she proved her title (dubiously given at the time) of the great chipmunk hunter as we witnessed her capturing two chipmunks in the yard.
The beef cattle on the surrounding property were quite curious about us. Being the skittish lot that they are, they never got very close. If they did, Riley was quick to put them in their place. We also enjoyed the huge fox squirrels scurrying about the property. I have always noticed that squirrels would eat a variety of things, but we were surprised one morning when the fox squirrel smelled and then ate the flowers in the yard.
The most intriguing critter on the Wilson House property was the army of chipmunks that marched in to get their share of the birdseed. Those tiny creatures caught on quickly and helped themselves to every birdseed laden crevice of the property to running off birds in the process. Then, they even discovered where we kept the bird seed when we were doing photography in the front yard. Perceiving that we were busy doing bird photography and being hospitable hosts, they proceeded to help themselves into the bucket of birdseed. Troy wondered if they smelled it or saw that is where the feed came from. Then he noticed the man on the bucket was pointing to the chipmunks to get inside the bucket. See photo here.
The landscape of Highland County in Virginia, the surrounding counties, and West Virginia is just breathtaking. We thoroughly enjoyed the wide expanse of the countryside surrounding the Wilson House with moonlit early mornings, endless starry skies around a bonfire, painted sunsets over the mountainside, and mysterious fog rolling in the morning. We drank in the gorgeous views as we revisited Dolly Sods Wildness area in West Virginia. We hunted for our friend the beaver. But alas, we only found his impressive beaver hut in the Dolly Sods Wilderness areas not far from the main road. We did happened upon a few deer, friendly hikers, impressive forest and bog views, and few frightened voles scurrying for a nearby hole as well strolled over the floating bogs. We ventured down Bear Rock Trail for an easy hike as the fog settled in. Our trip was cut short by visibility and the chilly mist that spit and sputtered as we headed back.
We ventured out a couple days to do some macro photography. Much of the photos we got were found during a stroll on the property of the Wilson House, on the designated trail, flowers in the yard, and nearby fields. They say to stop and smell the roses, but there is nothing like seeing the amazing creatures that we pass by every day on the plants all around us. We also got some great macros from Bath County Recreational Campground. The elaborate details in God's creation is breathtaking when you take some time to slow down and look for it.
See impressive photo credits below to the all-star photography team that pulled out some great photographs.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Wilson House in Monterey Virginia and escaping the hustle and bustle of our city life and hot weather for while.
A few toys Troy accumulated this year for the gear bags:
- Canon EOS 6D DSLR Camera--needed a full frame Camera
- Canon 24-105mm f/4L Lens
- Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens
- Auto Extension Tube Set DG (12, 20 & 36mm Tubes) for Canon EOS Digital and Film Cameras
- Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 1.4x AF Teleconverter
- Jobu Algonquin Carbon Fiber Tripod
- DMG-HD4 Heavy Duty Gimbal Head MK IV
- Jobu Jr.3 Deluxe Gimbal Kit with Swing-Arm HM-J3D
- Universal Arca-Swiss Type Quick Release DSLR & Lens Mounting Plate (3", Red)
- Fat Gecko DSLR Camera Mount Quick Release Plate
- FX3 Better Beamer Flash Extender for Use with Telephoto Lenses
- HoodLoupe Optical Viewfinders for 3.2" LCD Displays
- SpiderPro Hand Straps (Black)