Highland County VA in the Spring

Spring season in Monterey, VA and our 20 days of fun didn't disappoint with beautiful scenery, wildlife encounters, and great photography.  We stayed at our favorite place, the Wilson House in Monterey, VA located in beautiful Highland County, VA. Like all things, the journey is half the fun, and there is nothing like driving through the Virginia mountains and the Shenandoah valley to get to your destination. The views in Highland County Virginia are always so beautiful. It's a place you can visit again and again, and it never looses it's beauty.

As we arrived and settled in from unpacking all our photography gear, we sat back on the porch relaxed some more. Our view from the Wilson House in Monterey, VA is grand. It sits between two roughly parallel ridges that look like backbones, and you can see all the way down the valley in certain spots on the property.

As we sat overlooking the beautiful landscape and scenery, we formulated a plan for the week. Checking weather patterns for the weeks ahead and deciding our destinations for photography. We decided to try some more landscape photography this trip and see how it turns out. So we got some ideas together for the photography landscape spots and when would be the best times to shoot those spots. Most of the time landscape photography is good with drastic weather changes, clouds, clouds, clouds...are what you want in the mountains. Blue skies usually are boring without clouds. So to help us plan the lighting we use an APP called PhotoPills for Landscape photography. You can get it for Android and Apple. Buy this APP if you don't have it. This APP does everything you can imagine and things you don't even know exist yet, not a better APP for landscape photography out there.

One spot we wanted to visit was a mansion called Swannanoa Palace in Afton, Virginia. Swannanoa Palace is an Italian Renaissance Revival villa built in 1912 by millionaire and philanthropist James H. Dooley, who was an executive with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. James H. Dooley built this 52-room marble palace as a token of love for his wife, Sally May. Around 300 artisans were hired to create the palace as a replica of the Villa de Medici in Rome.

Highland County VA always provides us with the thing we love the most, Wildlife Photography and Bird Photography. We have our favorite spots and found a few new ones along the way this year in nearby Bath County. One such spot was a Blowing Springs Campground on Highway 39. We decided to stop and check out the campgrounds, and it was right beside the river so knew this would be a good spot for birds. As we walked up to the information post, we heard a very vocal bird singing nearby. We quickly grabbed the photography gear and proceeded to follow the singing. We were rewarded with an American Redstart. He was tucked back in the trees a bit and didn't quite want to come out. So we grabbed our favorite bird calling APP I-Bird Pro (Apple Version) and proceeded to make a few calls to entice him out of the woods. Success, it worked. He was just a few yards away in a clear area of a tree. He was singing away.

We have photographed several birds this way using the same APP.  We photographed a Yellow Warbler, Female Baltimore Oriole, Black-Throated Green Warbler. Sometimes you need to use a Bluetooth Speaker to make the sound louder if they are not real close. We use this Bluetooth Speaker along with bird calling APP I-Bird Pro. We also photographed an Osprey hunting at a pond in Bath County. In Highland County we got a decent photograph of a Wood Duck, still working on this shot. We hope to do better next year now that we know where they are.

One thing you will see all over Highland County in the spring time is baby sheep everywhere. Most beautiful little things you will see. We saw several that were just born and the ewes were cleaning them off and they couldn't even stand quit yet. Just traveling the back roads doing photography is fun.

Along with Wildlife Photography and Bird Photography, we love doing Macro Photography. We found plenty of things to photograph in the Macro world in Highland & Bath County. We finally were able to get close to what we thought were frogs at first, turns out they were toads.  We found a pair and then another male tried to push the existing male off. He tried for at least 10 minutes with out success. So finally he quit and sat on the edge of the water calling out again. I pushed the grass aside to expose him. He wasn't bothered at all by me doing this, so I edged closer to get a better shot. I decided to lay on my belly to get down to his level and before I knew it I was inches from him, and he sat there calling with no cares. I got a shot right when his vocal sac expanded....perfect timing. Every year we head back to Highland County in the spring time, to see all the beauty it holds. It never disappoints. Traveling the back roads doing photography is the life for us.

If you're on vacation, you have to go fishing to make the trip complete. We have found a great place to Fly Fish for wild trout. This little stream is just gorgeous for photography and it has tons of wild brook trout in it also. We hike about 1/2 mile back up in there before we start fishing. We also like to go to the Bath County Recreational Ponds and fly fish for Bass and Sunfish too. Fly Fishing with poppers is always fun.

Every year we head back to Highland County in the spring time to do photography, and to see all the beauty it holds while we wet a line or two. It never disappoints. Traveling the back roads doing photography is the life for us.