Batman has a utility belt

6 March, 2016            Batman has a utility belt

Batman has a utility belt, I have a jean jacket:

Selfie of my "Utility Belt" a.k.a. my jean jacket, complete with leashes.

Selfie of my “Utility Belt” a.k.a. my jean jacket, complete with leashes.

This morning I took five dogs to the river; I needed extra pockets. Thank goodness it was perfect weather for a jean jacket! 

The last week of February was the first week since last May that I’ve gone seven days without seeing a single Red-tailed hawk in our neighborhood. I was beginning to think the first week of March would pass without a sighting when Evelyn called me outside this afternoon and pointed to the top of a Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) across the street: 

First Red-tail of March, in a bare Tulip Poplar across the street from our house. Good eye Evie!

First Red-tail of March, in a bare Tulip Poplar across the street from our house. Good eye Evie!

So for eleven consecutive months there’s been Red-tailed hawks within sight of my house. Thrilling. There’s intermittent “new” bird activity now, you’ll only notice it if you’re looking for it. The full force of the spring migration won’t be felt here in central Virginia for a few more weeks. It’s loud, and you’ll hear it as much as (or more than) you’ll see it. Birders call it the “dawn chorus” and it’s just what you’d think – a chorus of birds singing at dawn. Today begins the final full week of Eastern Standard Time (EST). Sunrise was at 6:33 AM. A week from today, we “spring ahead” to Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and the sun will rise at 7:23 AM. I promise you’ll hear lots of birds in the morning.

Speaking of birds (raptors especially, of course) and spring, when my friend Ethan and I parked at Starbucks earlier this week, we looked up and saw this:

Black Vultures courting, I presume.

Black Vultures courting, I presume.

Those are Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus). I’m not positive, but I suspect that’s a courtship behavior or courtship ritual. It was slow moving and deliberate and in every way un-agitated. On the grass below there was a large crowd of vultures – twelve at least. Much more agitated. When we first arrived it was about half Black Vultures and half Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura). We took this picture of two on the ground. That’s a Turkey Vulture on the left (red head) and a Black Vulture on the right (black head):

Turkey vulture and a Black vulture face off over a fish carcass.

Turkey vulture and a Black vulture face off over a fish carcass.

We watched and took pictures for a while then went over to see what they were so interested in. It was about a two foot long fish carcass – just the spine and ribs – they’d gotten their beaks on somehow. It had fallen off a truck or they’d dragged it out of a dumpster or something. Perfect for hungry scavengers to scavenge on.

Here’s a brief reminder that the season is changing. I took this picture in front of my house Friday morning:

This was Friday. Tuesday it's supposed to be 76º. Crazy.

This was Friday. Tuesday it’s supposed to be 76º. Crazy.

The current forecast high for Tuesday is 76º. I don’t know if March will go out like a lamb, but it’s remarkable to see that snow on a Friday and 76º on Tuesday. Spring is in the air!

Here’s Dash enjoying the indoor sunshine last week:

It never snows in Dash-land.

It never snows in Dash-land.

There was a small herd of deer in the park this morning, I think three or four. Possibly more – they’re so hard to see. I regret the quality of this photo is poor. Wrangling five dogs plus trying to focus on deer is near impossible. Always a good opportunity to practice, though. There are three deer in this picture, though none are obvious. One is staring straight at me – or, more likely, staring at Mackey and Turner and Yuki and Lola and Luna. She’s in the bottom half of the picture and her eyes are on the left side – facing directly at the camera. The second deer is in the top half, you can see her tail on the right. The third deer is just barely visible, I believe it’s her back legs, on the very left side of the picture. It’s nice to see deer getting back in that spot:  

Deer, blending in - they're awesome at that.

Deer, blending in – they’re awesome at that. 

For those of you that don’t know this pack, this is the five dogs that were staring at the deer. Left to right it’s Lola (brown), Yuki (white), Luna (black and white), Mackey (black) and last (and he is for sure not least) Turner (brown): 

Canine vanguard

Canine vanguard

I’ve been remiss in my writing (and in a lot of other stuff) this week – and haven’t put together a little story here! I feel bad – I was getting in the groove. I’ll get right back in it. Next week I hope! Until then, 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.
This entry was posted in Birds, cats, Dogs, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Batman has a utility belt

  1. Jackie zaklasnik says:

    Love it love it! True dog whisperer, the house looks cozy for crazy weather . Can’t wait to come back. XO

  2. Hi Jackie! We can’t wait for you to come back either! It’s amazing that cozy-house-in-the-snow picture was on Friday – today it’s supposed to go up to 80º! Very, very wacky. Come visit soon! Have a great day, xoxo,


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