Happy Memorial Day!

29 May, 2016            Happy Memorial Day!

My friend Skye and I did the First Annual Autism 5k on Memorial Day weekend 2003 at Dorey Park in eastern Henrico County. Skye moved to North Carolina a few years ago and although we stay in touch, he doesn’t make it back up here for the 5k. My friend David and I did the Fourteenth Annual Autism 5k yesterday at its current home in western Henrico at the Innsbrook Pavilion. It’s presented by the Autism Society of Central Virginia and I’ve loved it every time I’ve participated. This year, as you may imagine, was no exception.

In 2014 there were 1,600 participants; I don’t know how many were on the course this year but it was that many or more. It is such a cheerful event. For better or worse I’m attracted to environments where people don’t take themselves very seriously, and the Autism 5k is Ground Zero for not taking yourself seriously. I’m sure in the lead pack there are some very serious athletes running their hearts out, and I always – always – admire them. Triathlons, 5k’s, swims, anything. But I’ve never experienced any race that way myself, and it’s easier for me to relate to people who are just out to enjoy the day. As most of us are.

I didn’t take any brilliant pictures at the race, just a handful with my phone. Here’s one of the pre-race gathering and celebration area, including moon bounce castles and enthusiastic hula hoopers:

Multiple moon-bounces and multiple hula-hoopers - what's not to love?

Multiple moon-bounces and multiple hula-hoopers – what’s not to love?

The light’s better in this picture, and you can see more of the crowd. Plus, in the middle, check out the Amelia County Sheriff’s Office cruiser painted pink with the Autism Awareness logo:

Check out that excellent pink Autism Awareness police cruiser from the Amelia County Sheriff's Office. That is so cool.

Check out that excellent pink Autism Awareness police cruiser from the Amelia County Sheriff’s Office. That is so cool.

This picture was just before the start, moments after we sang the National Anthem; the starting line is just after the flags: 

Looking at the Star-Spangled Banner while we sang the Star-Spangled Banner before the race

Saluting the Star-Spangled Banner while we sang the Star-Spangled Banner just before the race. Gives me goose bumps at every race, predictably but uncharacteristically. 

David and I finished in just under an hour, according to my timing; I had an excellent time and I think he did too.

I had a terrific birding treat on Wednesday – a Red-shouldered Hawk (not a Red-tail) landed on a wire in my backyard! Not figuratively – the same backyard where Mackey and Turner run around and where I even cut the grass on occasion. Look at this pose:

It still amazes me this wild animal stopped in my tame backyard and posed long enough for me to take this picture.

It still amazes me that this wild animal stopped in my tame backyard and posed long enough for me to take this picture.

Of course I spent some time at Pony Pasture and Bryan Park this week, and of course took a few more pictures of the baby hawk at Bryan Park. Evelyn has our home and yard looking more beautiful all the time; look at these nasturtiums she has growing on our front porch. There’s an equally prolific patch on the side of the house:

Front porch nasturtiums. Thanks Evie! You can even eat them!

Front porch nasturtiums. Thanks Evie! You can even eat them!

I recommend eating nasturtium flower petals if you have the opportunity. The texture is as delicate as you’d expect a flower petal to be, but they’re crunchy and tender and flavored with a gentle but unmistakable hint of pepper. Just do it for the experience! 

The Red-shouldered hawk in my backyard on Wednesday was of course a treasure, but the subject of my most enthusiastic focus continues to be the baby Red-tail in Bryan Park. It’s still unmistakably young, but it looks more like an adult and less like a baby every time I see it. This is my most recent picture of the baby. I took this in the afternoon on Thursday, May 26:

Sometimes they look like they're posing. It's a treat every time I get to see one.

Sometimes they look like they’re posing. It’s a treat every time I get to see one.

I also visited the nest on Tuesday. The little Red-tail performed this curious head-tilt maneuver. I’m not sure what the purpose of this maneuver is, but it’s cute:

I’m sure there are baby ospreys on these nests, but I’ve managed to photograph precisely zero. This is (I’m guessing) the female osprey sitting on the nest just south of the West End Assembly of God (WEAG):

That's the nest - if you drive on Parham Road, you can't miss it.

That’s the nest – if you drive on Parham Road, you can’t miss it.

This one is (guessing again) her mate, possibly giving me a piece of his mind, or not. He is one tower north of her, at the same time, just across Parham Road from the south entrance of WEAG:

It's hard to imagine he's scolding me, but he certainly gives that impression.

It’s hard to imagine he’s scolding me, but he certainly gives that impression.

Same bird, more conventional pose:

Not a beautiful perch, but the bird is gorgeous

Not a beautiful perch, but the bird is gorgeous

Mackey and Turner and I came around a corner at Pony Pasture on Tuesday morning and saw this big fungus. I always feel driven to put something in the picture for scale. I took this picture precisely sixty minutes after I took the picture of the nasturtiums. What a difference photosynthesis makes: 

Fungus with keys

Fungus with keys

I took a few toad pictures this week and an odd looking skink but nothing that really put a smile on my face. I also got an interesting moth this morning but still not blog-worthy. So I’ll close with rampant roses from our garden this morning – when the sun was still out – it’s disappeared now (it’s ~5:30 PM) and we’ll likely not see it again in the next twenty-four hours. Or longer. Oy. So enjoy these beauties! And come back next week!

Roses today before the rain

Roses today before the rain

Have a great week,

Jay

PS Couldn’t resist adding one more picture from Pony Pasture from this week. The light was poor and I rushed the shot a bit but I don’t see many Spotted Sandpipers so this is worthy of inclusion. I took it Tuesday morning, after I took the nasturtium pictures but before I took the fungus/key picture: 

Spotted Sandpiper at Pony Pasture

Spotted Sandpiper at Pony Pasture

And, I broke down, I took two toad pictures this week, here’s one – nice background, but it’s challenging (for me) to take an attractive picture of a toad. Maybe after a few more attempts: 

Toad on a rotting log at Pony Pasture

Toad on a rotting log at Pony Pasture

One last picture, Pony Pasture, all the same day: 

Almost as bright as the nasturtiums! Turtles & nasturtiums seek light; fungus not so much.

Almost as bright as the nasturtiums! Turtles & nasturtiums seek light; fungus not so much.

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Nothing exciting here – just a quick heads up. Hopefully something more substantial next week. If you’re interested in those hawks at Bryan Park, I’m putting together a time line of the pictures I’m taking. You can click on the link at the top of this page (or on this link) that says “Bryan Red-tails 2016.” I’m still working on it – may get caught up this evening. It currently only goes from 4/12/2016 (our first Red-tail sighting in Bryan Park) through 5/11/2016. But I’ll bring it up through 5/26/2016 (my most recent pictures) soon. Click on the pictures – they get larger – if you’re interested. And if you know anyone who would enjoy seeing this, pass it around. I’m sure something like it exists somewhere, probably with a better angle and crisper photography, but this is a great resource. It’s been a gift to watch this family develop. I’ll bet that hawk is going to fledge very soon, if it hasn’t already.

In addition – at the bottom of each blog entry, in a tiny font, there is a place you can click and “comment” on the blog. I love to get comments! Even comments of the other-than-positive variety – that’s what it takes to make improvements sometimes!

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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, Insects, James River, ospreys, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, roses, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Turtles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Happy Memorial Day!

  1. Sue says:

    Fun photos Jay! When we to Zoe for her walk in the park today, we saw a juvenile hawk. Of course we had no camera or cell phones for a picture…. Fluffy and awesome!

  2. Jean Yerian says:

    That red-tail hawk is gorgeous!

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