Even a blind hog…

10 January, 2016            Even a blind hog…

…finds an acorn sometimes. Or so goes the old saying. Wiktionary refers to this as an “English proverb” and attaches this terse explanation: “Being right once doesn’t prove anything.” I came at it from a different angle; this post was originally going to be titled with a U2 song from 1991 called Even Better Than the Real Thing because of this picture (and a few others):

It was beautiful in real life but I don't think it was that beautiful. I don't know how that happens.

It was beautiful in real life but I don’t think it was that beautiful. I don’t know how that happens. It’s like magic.

I took that picture, I was standing right there, and the picture looks better than the real thing.

Mackey and Turner and Lola and Luna and I took a brief jaunt at Pony Pasture Thursday. Turner went more haywire than normal (that’s saying something, if you know Turner), to the point where I had to see what was getting his attention. I suspect these two adolescents hadn’t been paying attention and bolted up a tree when Turner appeared:

Turner surprised them in mid-frolic.

Turner surprised them in mid-frolic.

This was what the pack looked like:

Striking fear into the hearts of raccoons wherever they wander.

Striking fear into the hearts of raccoons wherever they roam.

Those were clearly young raccoons and I believe had made a poor choice about where and when to frolic on the ground. No hollow tree nearby, no tall tree nearby, they just scrambled up the nearest one and were not about to come down. Which, can you blame them? I tied all four of the dogs’ leashes around a nearby tree and was able to photograph the raccoons at will; they weren’t about to come out of that tree.

The same day we went all the way to the other side of the park and watched this Carolina Wren nibbling away at something under the bark on a fallen oak tree:

Carolina Wren. They only ever look cute - it's their default setting. But they don't hold back when they're scolding.

Carolina Wren. They only ever look cute – it’s their default setting. But they don’t hold back when they’re scolding.

Ethan and I often hike on Thursday afternoons when the weather is fair, and we made it to Bryan Park that afternoon. Several pair of Hooded Mergansers have landed on one of the ponds there. Here’s a male by himself:

Handsome male Hooded Merganser at Bryan Park

Handsome male Hooded Merganser at Bryan Park

This was the object of his affection; maybe on my next post I’ll photograph them in the same frame: 

Female Hooded Merganser

Female Hooded Merganser

I have pictures of pairs together, but the light was unspectacular and none were “keepers.” Maybe next week.

The sky this week has alternated between crystal blue and milky gray; the season is uncertain. It was warm and over 60º today (Sunday) when we were  hiking. Tomorrow it’s not predicted to get out of the low forties. When it’s crystal blue it’s great for birding and for photography. And now it’s January and there are close to zero leaves on the trees and when it’s not cloudy the light is always attractive. Twice I’ve looked up at tall dead snags in Bryan Park this week and gotten unexpected images:

Blue background #1:

Blue background #1:

Blue background #2:

Blue background #2:

 

It’s a safe bet in January that if it’s clear, it’s cold. On Tuesday – a dazzlingly blue-skyed day – the temperature maxed out below freezing, and the wind gusts were over 30 mph. When Ethan and I got to the park that day we saw this mourning dove perched in the sun, puffed out against the cold:

Puffy dove

Puffy dove

If I let a week go by without a hawk picture, it’s because I didn’t see any that week. But Tuesday (same day I took that dove picture) I saw this Red-tail lit up on the tower about ten minutes before the sun dropped below the horizon:

Red-tail minutes before sunset. Probably waiting for a late dinner to wander past.

Red-tail minutes before sunset. Probably waiting for a late dinner to wander past.

Tuesday evening (see above photograph) the sky was crystal blue. Thursday morning – the day we saw the raccoons and mergansers and wren – the sky was milky gray. I photographed this Red-tail pair together as Mackey and Turner and I were headed for Pony Pasture:

Red-tail pair on a gray winter morning

Red-tail pair on a gray winter morning

They don’t always sit that way. but that’s often their preferred tandem-seating style. One facing each direction. They cover a lot of territory that way. 

Have a terrific week, all best,

Jay

PS Early yesterday afternoon Evelyn and I took a quick trip to Charlottesville. I brought my camera along but it was cold and overcast and I never took it out of the car. My friend Clark gave us a nice gift for Christmas and we used it first for a superb late lunch at a place called feast! There was even gift left over for an excellent cup of coffee at Albermarle Baking Company. And we made a delicious visit to The Spice Diva; you should smell the cinnamon. I think we’ll return to Charlottesville soon. Maybe I’ll take my camera out of the car.   

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, Bryan Park, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Pony Pasture, Raccoons, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), sunsets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Even a blind hog…

  1. Gilpin Brown says:

    Wonderful photos, Jay!!!

    • Thanks Gilpin! Ever since I stumbled on that raccoon picture I’ve been meaning to send it to you; I was in the right place at the right time. That Carolina Wren came out well too. It was cheating to use that bee on the flower; I took it last summer and there are sure no colors like that in January. It was fun to get the mergansers too; they surprise me every year. The dove was decent too but could have been better. It’s been a fun week. Today I got a white-throated sparrow and a bluebird, both medium-quality images. We’ll see what turns up this week.

      Thanks again for the note, have a great day and I’ll talk with you soon,

      Jay

  2. Jackie says:

    Love the pictures, trees especially

    • Thanks Jackie! Your sister brought my attention to those pictures and that’s why I used them! Perfect blue skies are always a big help. It was another lovely day today. Thanks for the note, have a great day and I’ll talk with you soon,

      Jay

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