Evelyn says I try too hard

22 May, 2016            Evelyn says I try too hard

I floated a dozen cockamamie ideas for blog titles past Evie over the course of this week. When I made it a Baker’s Dozen earlier today Ev said “you’re trying too hard.” Sometimes I do that. I spend an inordinate amount of time not trying hard enough, but sometimes the pendulum swings the other way.

I’d begun to think the spring would pass and I’d never see a Prothonotary Warbler at Pony Pasture. Our hikes have been limited by the incessant rain. But there was a break in the action Thursday (a short break) and Mackey and Turner and I made a quick loop at the river. And saw a Prothonotary Warbler!:

Bright prothonotary warbler at Pony Pasture

Bright prothonotary warbler at Pony Pasture

That’s really not my favorite picture of the week. I love it, but I love hawks even more. I just think maybe some people are tired of hawks. That never happens to me – ever – as you’re aware – but we’re all wired a bit different. Thank goodness! It’s still hard to imagine anyone could not see the appeal in this image. This is the same baby hawk I’ve been photographing at Bryan Park all spring. I took this picture Monday evening around 5:30:  

Look at that gaze. Evelyn has mentioned before it's hard to believe it'll grow up to kill cute little mammals.

Look at that gaze. Evelyn has mentioned before it’s hard to believe it’ll grow up to kill cute little mammals. Life lives on lives.

There has been zero good light this whole week. Even when it hasn’t rained it’s been gloomy. That’s part of why that Prothonotary Warbler was so appealing. It was the brightest thing I saw outdoors all week. Most of the big birds are getting ready to fledge. I’m not sure if the ospreys on Parham Road have gone yet, but there was a pair of adults on the nest Wednesday. This is across Parham Road from the West End Assembly of God, just one tower south of their south entrance:

Parham Road osprey pair. I believe they won't use this nest much longer. But I'm not certain.

Parham Road osprey pair. I believe they won’t use this nest much longer. But I’m not certain.

Thursday afternoon it was gray (it hasn’t been not-gray on any day this week) but wasn’t raining so my friend Ethan and I went to our favorite haunt at Bryan Park. I was bird-watching – as always – and saw this bluebird on a wire:

Bryan Park Bluebird

Bryan Park Bluebird

Ethan has an ability to notice snakes that is in every way uncanny; he points them out wherever we go. He’s a skilled snake photographer, even in poor light. So when he sees a snake, I just hand him the camera and let him start shooting. I do zero – he has mastered snake photography. Even if you do see and/or photograph a lot of snakes, I’ll bet this is a rare sight. Look closely at this picture. It’s not one but two Northern Water Snakes!! One’s head is obvious on the left side of the picture. The second snake – look closely – is draped chummily across the first snake’s back. This is a remarkable photograph. Way to go Ethan!!  

This is how snakes hang out. Photo credit and congratulations to Ethan L.

This is how snakes hang out. Photo credit and congratulations for this amazing image to Ethan L.

I took a neat picture of a snail at Pony Pasture this week plus a few more items but I’m concerned this post will be bloated. So let me put the snail in and move to the next section. I hope you enjoy it! And I hope you come back next week! All best, 

Jay 

PS Check out this snail. Plus I got a really neat looking velvety red fungus the same day at Pony Pasture: 

This is a handsome snail. In my opinion.

This is a handsome snail. In my opinion.

Check this out! Isn't it gorgeous? Seriously? It's amazing what you stumble across.

Check this out! Isn’t it gorgeous? Seriously? It’s amazing what you stumble across.

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Different from my normal blather

Yesterday I drove to the town of Shenandoah, Virginia and met my mother at the Town Hall. We’d planned to get together for a meeting on the banks of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River near our property in Ingham, VA, but the rain forced the meeting indoors. I took Turner and Mackey for a little hike near the river before the meeting. You can see my car on the other side of the road, and the river just past my car:

Mackey and Turner on a drizzly day in Page Co., looking at the Shenandoah River.

Mackey and Turner on a drizzly day in Page Co., looking at the Shenandoah River.

Here’s the tunnel under the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, headed out to the river:

Tunnel under the railroad tracks, headed out to the river

Tunnel under the railroad tracks, headed out to the river

I was fascinated by this stone in the foundation of the tunnel from the first time I saw it when I was thirteen  years old. In the picture above, this stone is near the bottom, on the right side:

7 May, 1901. 116 years ago this month. Think what it was like when that stone was laid. 35 years after the Civil War ended.

7 May, 1901. 116 years ago this month. Think what it was like when that stone was laid. 36 years after the Civil War ended.

The meeting was just around the corner from the Shenandoah Elementary School at the corner of 4th Street (a.k.a. Virginia Route 340) and Maryland Avenue. We noticed this cannon in front of the school when we first bought our cabin in Shenandoah in the early 1970’s. But this is my first ever picture!

WWI cannon at Shenandoah Elementary School

WWI cannon at Shenandoah Elementary School

On the commemorative plaque it says “WWI Canon 1906 Model Donated to the Town of Shenandoah on October 29, 1934 by the American Legion, Stewart Comer Post No. 106. The gun measures 25 feet in length and weighs 7,420 pounds.”  

I thought as I posted this about the dates on that tunnel, plus the cannon, plus other historical markers. The tunnel, on “7 May, 1901” was oldest – it predated WWI even by more than a decade. But 1901 is five years after my dad’s father was born (1896) – remarkable. He was in the Navy in WWI (and WWII and Korea). So he wouldn’t have seen that gun – that’s for the Army. And it was donated in 1934 – a year before my father was born. All of this stuff before WWII even started. So much history everywhere.

See you next week!

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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, fungus, ospreys, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Shenandoah River, Shenandoah Valey, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Trains and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Evelyn says I try too hard

  1. J.Mark Wittkofski says:

    Hey Jay, great photos as usual. I think you should send some of your photos to Scenic Virginia for them to use!

    • Hi Mark! I’m glad you enjoyed them! I had a great streak of photographic luck during all this miserable light. Sending them to Scenic Virginia is a terrific idea – I’m going to follow up. Thanks! See you soon at Starbucks I’m sure,

      Jay

  2. Marcia Broxton says:

    Jay, I always enjoy your posts with the birds, snakes, etc.; but, love, love, love the historical pics and info. More history, please. A big favorite of mine!

    • Hi Marcia! Long time no talk! Isn’t it time for lunch soon? I’m glad you enjoyed the historical places and info. I’ll keep my eyes open! Talk with you soon,

      Jay

  3. Clare T says:

    hello hello! i haven’t piped in in a while – THANK YOU so much for showing us that nature flaunts its stuff no matter the weather – blue birds, yellow warblers (first one i’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting!) handsome snakes & snails and puppy dog tails 🙂 LOL

    keep up the good work!

    • Hey stranger! I thought you’d disappeared! Pony Pasture’s buzzing the way it always is. Bryan Park is great too – just (an hour ago) got more great video of the baby hawk stomping around its nest. It’ll fledge soon I’m sure. Come down to the river or Bryan Park and reacquaint yourself! Have a great day,

      Jay

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