Hello, my name is Erika and this is my first post for The Photo Garden Bee. As the Assistant Photo Garden Bee, you’ll be hearing from me every so often since I am the birding and wildlife enthusiast out of the two of us. Maymont is perfect for this first blog visit. Maymont offers more than gardens. A must see is the wildlife habitat. It offers up close views of animals native to Virginia. Some of these animals are common in the wild, but humans rarely encounter them.
Maymont has two black bears. We went to the habitat early in the day, so the bears were roaming around. Their home includes a pond and rocks to climb on. The enclosure is quite large. Red fox, turtles, and ducks also live there. According to Maymont’s website, the habitat “even hosts migratory birds”.
Other exhibits include bobcat, gray fox, sika deer, white-tail deer, and bison.
I was curious where the animals and birds had come from. They looked healthy and had no obvious injuries. All of the animals are captive-raised, found as orphans. or were injured in the wild. Maymont’s web page about the wildlife exhibits explains, “While most rehabilitated animals are released into the wild, some animals are deemed unable to survive without assistance and find refuge at Maymont, where they serve important roles as wildlife ambassadors in education programs and exhibits.”
One example is the bobcat. According to Alicia Rimmel of NewsVirginian.com, a couple stumbled on what they thought was a stray cat on the side of the road and they took it home. A stray cat it was, but not the kind they were expecting. Rimmel explains, “The couple sustained the kitten on Friskies cat food and cow’s milk before recognizing that its appearance belied its behavior.” Once they discovered they had a bobcat on their hands, they turned it over to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Rimmel states, “By then, the typically territorial and ‘ferocious’ feline had become utterly domesticated – and unable to return to the wild.”
Maymont as a whole looks like it would provide excellent birdwatching. It contains varied habitats including forest, meadow, and edge. An overlook over the Japanese garden looks like a good spot to check for warblers being that your view is tree-top level.
Of particular interest to me as I wandered about were the Robert M. Freeman Bald Eagle Habitat and Raptor Valley. Their holdings include a female bald eagle named Liberty, red-tailed hawks, a cooper’s hawk, a red-shouldered hawk, black vultures, barred owls, and great horned owls. I’ve seen all but the cooper’s hawk in the wild, but not up close. It was nice to have a chance to study them for a much longer length of time.
It was well worth the visit and I’ll be back to check for those warblers.