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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Middle Island Lunch Break

St. Marys, West Virginia is home to one of the most accessible of the islands that make up the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  Middle Island was once a farm with access coming off of the Ohio River bridge which once linked St. Marys with Newport, Ohio.  That main bridge was demolished over over thirty years ago but the access ramp to the farm was left intact as it remains now that it is part of the national refuge.  If you get a chance to view the bridge, you may disagree with the description of the bridge as "intact." There are a few chips, dents and rusty places.
A lunch break from work gave me an excuse to revisit the island recently.
The road runs the length of the island, along the bank of the river though much of the view of the river is obscured by trees and brush. A neatly mowed edge guarantees that summer visitors will see rabbits and groundhogs while the close proximity to trees and brush allows people to get up close and personal with the island birds.
Nature has been given free range on much of the island which is being allowed to return to a wild state in many places while at one end humans have helped nature along by planting dozens of trees.  A few spots along the well-maintained gravel path allow drivers to pull off to read signs telling about some of the natural aspects of the refuge including invasive plant issues with which the naturalists must deal.

Along the road, raspberries abound during their season

When they are at their peak, about mid-July this year, the gravel road is lined with cars and people carrying five-gallon buckets, picking the over-sized bright red berries.  They ripen later than the more common black raspberries or blackberries we often find locally.

A great place for birders, Middle Island offers plenty of food in the way of fruits, nuts and seeds while providing thick cover for the birds' protection. Staghorn sumac is one of the plants offering both benefits as evidenced by this healthy example I spotted alongside the road.  
It was just a few minutes drive to a good spot to park, roll down my windows and eat some lunch while listening to the sound of sparrows and robins as a great blue heron flew overhead and Canada geese floated nearby.
But lunch cannot last forever.  It is soon time to return to work. . .
Back across the questionable bridge. . .
into civilization.


Anonymous said...

I never heard of this place. It looks worth a visit on our next trip to WV.

Beyond The Garden said...

Abraham, the island is no Disney Land, but for a naturalist or anyone who loves nature, it is a nice place to hang out for a bit, walk around some paths then just sit still,listen and watch. Let me know if you come. Perhaps I can provide another respite.