Early Spring at Pony Pasture

13 March, 2014    Early Spring at Pony Pasture

I had a catchier title in mind but it drifted away. Hopefully next post.

I first drafted this post and took some of the pictures on Tuesday, when it went up to 80º and actually felt like early spring. I saw my first snake and first turtle of 2014 at Pony Pasture on Tuesday. When reptiles begin to appear it’s always a sign of spring being right around the corner. Today I don’t think the temperature went above 40º and with the high wind it felt distinctly less spring-like. But Spring is inevitable – it’ll be here soon. Also, spoiler and/or phobia activation alert: there is a snake photo in this blog post. I’ve been informed (via facebook, of course) that some people are unfond of snake photos.

The dogs and I managed a quick loop at Pony Pasture Tuesday and were surprised at the outburst of early Spring. I hadn’t planned on a post but the light was so nice and there were so many animals around (some crawling) that I thought I’d pop out a quick post. The high temp in Richmond Tuesday was 80º.

So March came in like a lion, then turned into a lamb, and as of today (Thursday, 13 March) it has turned back into a lion. Looking at the weather forecast, it’s going to turn back into a lamb Saturday (high of 67º) then into a lion again Monday (high  of 35º with an 80% chance of “ice pellets”). At some point, though, it will turn into a lamb for good – you have my word on it.

Tuesday, when it was warm, I got this chickadee picture. They’re great looking birds. At this time of year they’re the #1 bird on my feeder but I like to take pictures of them in a less contrived fashion. This was of course at Pony Pasture:

Nice looking bird in nice light on a nice day

Nice looking bird in nice light on a nice day

I got another nice picture of a Red-bellied Woodpecker the same day. I’ve had them on this blog before and I’ll probably have them on again. They’re quite striking. This handsome male was also in good light:

There are several birds I don't tire of. Red-bellied woodpeckers are one.

There are several birds I don’t tire of. Red-bellied woodpeckers are one.

Birds are out 365 days/year but it takes 80º (or close to it) to bring out the reptiles. I’ll open with a picture of my first turtle of 2014 but snake-o-phobes be forewarned, this is the beginning of the reptile section:

First day in the sun this year, I suspect

First day in the sun this year, I suspect (look at those claws!)

Some people who watch this blog are Pony Pasture regulars. I got a picture of the same turtle from the other side and it has a very distinctive piece missing from its shell. You can see it here, and watch for it if you’re hiking at Pony Pasture. This is the same turtle as above, in the canal in the middle of the park, about ⅓ of the way down between the very wide bridge and the river:

See the crack in the shell? At about 8:00 if you were standing above it? Very recognizable.

See the crack in the shell? At about 8:00 if you were standing above it? Very recognizable.

OK snake-o-phobes, I hope you got while the gittin’ was good; here is another handsome reptile taking the air (and water). I believe this is a garter snake, but please correct me if someone knows different. There was nothing there to compare size to; one person told me it looked big and another told me it looked small. I guess it was 22” long, give or take. Maybe half and inch thick or so. Wikipedia says that “It is the single most widely distributed genus of reptiles in North America.” A very handsome animal, although still a little muddy:

Snake-o-phobes, don't say I didn't warn you. So handsome.

Snake-o-phobes, don’t say I didn’t warn you. So handsome.

The change yesterday evening from a balmy spring afternoon to today’s blowy cold was abrupt; a storm blasted through around 6:30 PM. I stood on my front steps facing east and took a picture of this rainbow. It’s a double. The first, on the left, is obvious. The second one is to the right and it’s more faint but you can see it. Also, if you look closely, you’ll notice a feature common to every double rainbow – although I am currently uncertain of the reason. Notice that the main rainbow starts blue on the left and goes to red on the right. The secondary rainbow starts red on the left and goes to blue on the right. So fascinating:

I wonder if this means there are two pots of gold. I'll have to consult with the rainbow coalition. They're the raining authority on this subject.

I wonder if this means there are two pots of gold. I’ll have to consult with the rainbow coalition. They’re the raining authority on this subject.

For a “transition” picture, allow me to  present a lovely bouquet of small daffodils from my driveway. Nothing says spring like daffodils. They’re popping up like mad at PP now too:

Gracing the side of my driveway

Gracing the side of my driveway

Also – think of this as an intermission – I took a cute picture of a junco eating bird seed out of the snow outside my front window last week when March was coming in like a lion. I took this through my office window (it was nice and warm in here) so the resolution is less than perfect. Look at the way the snow sticks to its bill:

Junco with a beak full of snow! And bird seed!

Junco with a beak full of snow! And bird seed!

A chunky mourning dove hunkered down in the same place a few days later to pick up dropped seeds:

A very peaceful looking dove

A very peaceful looking dove

So anyway, this afternoon, March was in every way returned to lion-mode. It was clear and windy and very, very cold when I went for a hike at Bryan Park with a buddy. We saw some birds flitting around in the mud and I couldn’t tell what they were but I hadn’t photographed any before. I managed to snap a few pictures before they took off. And still didn’t know what they were. I got home and looked at them on my computer – and they were Cedar Waxwings – the first I’ve ever seen! This background is dreadful, but I’m happy to get the picture:

Cedar waxwings! Isn't that great? My first ones!

Cedar waxwings! Isn’t that great? My first ones!

And there is a very, very healthy population of bluebirds at Bryan Park. I’ll never tire of bluebird pictures:

A bluebird in the sun always looks cheerful:

A bluebird in the sun always looks cheerful:

Soon I’ll do a little bit more writing on this blog, I have some fun (in my opinion) stories to put up. But I’ll do that when I’m less tired. For now, I’m going to post this. Until next time, have a great day,

Jay

PS Mackey and Turner were looking very handsome on Tuesday when we were enjoying the warmth at the river. The light was kind to them:

Best buds in their favorite place

Best buds in their favorite place

And while I was looking around for dog pictures I found one of Mackey doing his signature “lean” on Evie at the river on a recent hike:

Mackey love to hang out with Evie

Mackey loves to hang out with Evie

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 Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Early Spring at Pony Pasture

  1. Pingback: PP Fauna | NEWFAZE

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