Don’t look down!

17 December, 2011        Don’t look down!

If you know me or anyone in my family you know what “don’t look down” means. Fortunately it applies to driving and not to hikes at the river. Earlier this week on a late hike I looked down a lot and pointed my camera down a lot and took a handful of interesting pictures.

In about our first minute on the trail a deer bolted away from the river’s edge and dashed across the trail and headed for more solitude. Including less dogs. The dogs were still very interested at the river’s edge even though the deer was gone so I started looking down to see what they were so interested in. Last week the river had a significant flood and crested at nearly sixteen feet. The morning we were at Pony Pasture it was around six feet. When the river’s gone down from a big flood like that it leaves a smooth surface on the mud and the animal tracks  stand out. Also we were late getting down there and it was sunny and beautiful and the tracks were easy to see.

This wasn’t from the deer we saw (I don’t think). It was much farther downstream. Nice looking print though:

Heading for higher ground

There are many deer tracks at Pony Pasture. But by far the most ubiquitous mammal at Pony Pasture is Canis familiaris:

I have tracks like this in my yard as well

Plenty of tracks from these slow moving primates:

These reportedly spend many of their daylight hours walking upright.

We also saw many of these tracks. Those of you who know, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s a raccoon. It may also be a skunk or an opossum or a porcupine but I’m pretty certain it’s a raccoon. There were lots of them:

A raccoon, I am reasonably certain.

I was a little surprised not to see beaver tracks. Beavers (and probably muskrats) have been around; you can see where they’ve chewed down trees. Maybe the flood drove them out. I think the park would be happy about that. They were becoming a nuisance.

This being the riverbank, not all of the tracks were of course from mammals. I’m not sure what bird left these. There are a lot of seagulls now but I rarely see them on land. Could have been crows but not certain of that either. There are also tons of geese but when they leave prints you can see the webs in their feet. This bird was good sized:

A large bird. That's as much as I know.

Another bird was down there earlier too; this was larger than good sized. I think it could only have been a Great Blue Heron. Some Bald Eagles are larger, but Great Blue Herons are by far the largest bird we see down there on a regular basis:

They're called "Great" Blue Herons for a reason.

There were even invertebrates. This looks like a worm of some kind:

Worms keep a low profile

This picture was not even from this week; I took it a couple weeks ago. Mackey’s a little wet and a little muddy but this is a nice pose in nice light:

Looking like he crossed a river to get to a dog show

When I looked at the tracks I was happy to see the river even left one of its own. These are little wave marks from where the last waves lapped at the sand as the water receded:

The river leaves tracks of its own. That's just so cool.

I also left off an important picture from my last blog post. I wrote about my trip to Virginia’s Eastern Shore with Evelyn. While we traveled back down Rte. 13 we passed through Machipongo, VA. I like the different types of place names on the Eastern Shore. For every “Machipongo” there’s an “Exmore” just as for every “Parksley” there’s a “Nassawadox.” Native American to English and back, every few miles. Only in America would we name a peninsula that spans Delaware, Maryland and Virginia the “Delmarva” peninsula. Anyway, as we past through Machipongo Evelyn asked me to stop at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack, owned by friends of hers. She came out with this gift:

I also need to learn it.

Have a great day,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!). Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Don’t look down!

  1. Evelyn says:

    OK, let’s get the comment ball rolling! I look down quite often when I’m hiking and have never seen as many perfect tracks in one day – this is a wealth of images! And you are quite kind to share them.

    • Hi Evelyn,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the images! And I’m glad you enjoyed our hike yesterday morning. There were still plenty of clear, crisp tracks left in the mud. And the light was perfect too! Have a great day,


  2. Anne Adams says:

    I love the tracts. Maybe we do leave a trail. We did a MOM project on the eastern shore. We were in the high school in Onancock. We had a good time and did good for the residents. We were improving smiles one at a time.
    I love your blogs.

  3. Hi Anne,
    Great to hear from you! Amazing also about the MOM project – I never new! Neat that you were up there on the Eastern Shore too. It’s a fascinating place. We all do leave our own set of tracks. Thanks for the comment and have a great day,


    PS For those of you who are unaware, Anne is my long time friend and superb dentist, and this is the MOM project:

  4. Pingback: A lot of life | NEWFAZE

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