There’s an echo in here!

19 October, 2014        There’s an echo in here!

An echo of a few previous posts, that is. This post is full of echoes from previous posts. Plus a few new pictures and some info. To begin at the beginning – my most recent post (I cheated! 12 October, 2014). That post began with two pictures of Osage Oranges and one of an Osage Orange tree. I immediately got responses from two friends specifically about Osage Oranges! I mean, who even knew? It’s funny what turns up.


My friend Lou mentioned a trip to Osage Co., KS many years ago. And my friend Kim looked at the Osage Orange pictures and asked if I knew “…the story about them and wooly mammoths?”   I didn’t, but she sent me a link this article: The Trees That Miss The Mammoths  on the American Forests web site. Amazing. Osage Oranges. How much other crazy stuff is out there that I don’t know anything about but my friends know a ton of stuff about? Stay tuned to this space! Maybe we’ll learn new things together! Or – more likely still – maybe you’re one of those people who know tons of stuff I don’t know anything about! Don’t be shy – keep me informed. But those were the I cheated! echoes.

For those who do not recall what an Osage Orange looks like.

For those who do not recall what an Osage Orange looks like.

Then if you scroll down to the post before that one (Music on 5 October, 2014), you’ll see a couple of nice osprey pictures I was fortunate to take during the week. I got a strong echo from that post (indirectly) on the following Monday (13 October) in, “Central Virginia’s Gateway to the Outdoors.” Because – get this – on Saturday morning, there was an osprey stuck in a tree at Pony Pasture! Here’s a link to the article: Pony Pasture neighbors, arborists combine on dramatic osprey rescue by Andy Thompson. I highly recommend clicking on that link. There is a 52 second video of the rescue that is fantastic. It’s just somebody’s cell phone video and it’s perfect. And the article is wonderful – please read it. Happy endings are so excellent.

There's a good chance this is the bird that's in the video. Remarkable.

There’s a good chance this is the bird that’s in the video. Remarkable.

So here’s even another echo of a previous post. Although it’s another one from I cheated. Because there’s an unidentified damselfly picture on that post (sixth picture down) and I posted it to and it was immediately identified as a “female American rubyspot” (Hetaerina americana). What a resource.

Female American rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

Female American rubyspot (Hetaerina americana)

Final echo, and at this point if you don’t like spiders, you need to skip past, because this is where the new pictures begin, and they begin with a spider. Which I have not yet identified from but maybe next week. The echo – another indirect echo, but all echoes are indirect – is from the popular post Guest photographer! (and MUCH more!) 27 April, 2014). That post has a picture of  snake in it. This post has a picture of a spider in it. So I’ll put a link here to Jim Stafford’s 1974 song Spiders and Snakes. That’s worth watching too, he performs it live on The Smothers Brothers and I recommend taking a couple of minutes to watch. Also here’s the spider picture:

This spider has opened the breakfast buffet and is waiting for guests to arrive.

This spider has opened the breakfast buffet and is waiting for guests to arrive.

 I suspect some readers skip over the text and go straight to the pictures. Which I mean why not, I do that often myself. I was riding my bike at West Creek earlier this week. As soon as I arrived in my car I saw unusual ducks on the lake. In central Virginia, every large body of water has Mallards and Canada Geese. Even an amateur birder (me) can look at a lake and immediately notice a shape that’s not one of those two. I saw some right away. I wanted pictures right then but I always ride first. They were so close to the shore the pictures would have been fantastic. While riding I heard a noise coming from the lake’s edge – I’m not making this up – and looked up and saw this hovering near the shore:

A drone flying over the lake at West Creek. I'm seeing more all the time. But the lake at West Creek is man made too, so it works both ways.

A drone flying over the lake at West Creek. I’m seeing more all the time. But the lake at West Creek is man made too, so it works both ways. 

I saw the guys operating it too, it looked like they were having fun. The ducks didn’t get anxious enough to leave the lake but they moved way out of reasonable camera range. It’s too bad; they’re neat ducks. I’ve seen them a time or two at Pony Pasture but never at West Creek. Here are three males and a female Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris). These long range shots are un-crisp. But I always like pictures of unusual birds. Have a look:

Four Ring-necked ducks. A female in the background and four males in the foreground.

Four Ring-necked ducks. A female in the background and three males in the foreground.

Ethan and I were hiking at Bryan Park this week (a favorite spot) and there was a Praying Mantis perched on a bridge:

Praying mantis (Mantis religiosa)

Praying mantis (Mantis religiosa)

 I get up around five o’clock in the morning most weekdays and the sun doesn’t come up this time of year until around 7:15. So when it’s cold and clear like it’s been, I get to see gorgeous spectacular moonrises, like this waning crescent (23 day old) moon from Friday morning:

Waning crescent moon from ~6:00 Friday (10/17/2014) morning.

Waning crescent moon from ~6:00 Friday (10/17/2014) morning.

Have a great week,


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.
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7 Responses to There’s an echo in here!

  1. Gilpin Brown says:

    Jay, The praying mantis is my favorite – he (she ) is looking right at you -“What are you doing here?”
    And the moon photo is great


    • Glad you liked the way those came out! The praying mantis one is fun. It’s surprising to see pupils on an insect but it looks like this one has some. I searched a bit more on praying mantis gender. I learned this: “The basis principle is simple: female praying mantises have 6 abdominal segments while males have 8. The final segment of the female is much larger than the others while the male has several small segments towards the end of the abdomen. If you have to count the segments, you should look at the underside of the mantis.” I THINK that means this one is a male but not positive. Thanks for the note!

      Have a great day,


  2. Jean Yerian says:

    I was fascinated by the Mammoth link. It was also fun to think about your wonderful focus on the dragonflies and damselflies in contrast to the images in my mind from the Mammoth. Imagine what this blog might be like if those megafauna were the subjects of your Pony Pasture mornings! … And thanks for praying mantis picture. I think I’ve told you that I had a “PM” as a “pet” for a while when I was about five or six. It liked to rest on my bedpost at night and loved crawling up the legs of the ironing board to watch my mother iron and (I guess) be near the heat. My mother definitely didn’t like Spiders and Snakes (or anything remotely like them). That praying mantis must have been a real test of her love for this lucky little curious girl!

    • Thanks Jean! The Mammoth link is pretty fascinating. Kim knows lots of stuff about lots of flora and fauna. Including megafauna! Glad you liked the “PM” too. That was a lucky shot – he (more than likely a he) was looking right at me. Have a great day,


  3. jude mclaughlin says:

    Do you remember when someone, probably Kathleen, brought in a PM egg case and put it on the mantel on Braddock Rd.? Later, baby PMs started appearing all over the house. I think you kids caught and released 142!

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