NO POLITICS, NO ADVERTISING, NO RELIGION

5 June, 2016            NO POLITICS, NO ADVERTISING, NO RELIGION

I hadn’t visited Pony Pasture early in the morning for months. I had Wednesday morning off and Evelyn was up early anyway so I took the dogs and headed for the river. How’s this for a reward:

If you don't believe every day is a gift, stop at Pony Pasture and watch the sun come up some morning.

If you don’t believe every day is a gift, stop at Pony Pasture and watch the sun come up some morning.

I digress (only slightly). I met a person recently who was interested in my blog, and I gave her my blog card:

My blog card

My blog card

I told her it had a lot of outdoor photography, but was most notable for what it did not have – no politics, no advertising, no religion. She said “you should put that across the bottom of the card!” Good luck staying away from politics, advertising and religion – they’re hard to avoid these days! And thus it has always been, I suspect, but politics, advertising and religion are near deafening in 2016. It’s quiet here (on this blog), though. I made several trips to Bryan Park this week; on Tuesday I caught this bird stopped on a wire for a moment. Possibly a phoebe, and given the time of year this is perhaps a youngster. Not a lot of color but a pretty bird. I’m open to suggestions about what precisely it is. Credit will be given in this space unless you specifically request anonymity. Like if you’re in the Witness Protection Program or something: 

Currently unidentified swallow - your help will be appreciated!

Currently unidentified bird – your help will be appreciated!

Purple martins are also in the mix here. Plus barn swallows and possibly tree swallows. Just not sure what that one is. But here’s another bird I photographed on that wire this week.

This one looks like a swallow

This one looks like a swallow – but still also needs identification

There are also – make no mistake – colorful birds at Bryan Park. Many, many bluebirds: 

I'm always happy evolution selected for this particular combination.

I’m always happy evolution selected for this particular combination.

The timeline of this post is not linear; I apologize. Because on June 1 (see sunrise at Pony Pasture picture at the top of this page) I also photographed this toad at Pony Pasture. I’m underconfident about my toad identification skills, but my guess is this is a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri):

American toad? Possibly?

Fowler’s toad? Possibly?

The sun was out for a little while that day, and although I was never able to take full advantage of it, I did get a marginal picture of one of the ospreys near the West End Assembly of God on Parham Road. This was the female (I’m moderately certain) on the nest (I am 100% certain). I am not a wild-animal-mind-reader but I believe they feel neither approval nor disapproval. But it’s still easy to interpret this as a disapproving gaze:

They just stare at you. Don't they? Robins never look like this.

They just glare at you. Don’t they? Robins never look like this.

The Westbury Drive red-tails that were so abundant last year are not in evidence in 2016. They’re in the neighborhood, just not on our street. That’s led to there being many more chipmunks in evidence. We have them in the front yard and we have them in the backyard and we have them in the garage. They like to hang out on the front stoop, enjoying the shade under Evelyn’s gorgeous nasturtiums:

I don't think chipmunks feel cheerful any more than ospreys feel approval. But this chipmunk looks kind of satisfied.

I don’t think chipmunks feel cheerful any more than ospreys feel approval. But this chipmunk looks kind of satisfied. 

Speaking of gorgeous plants Evelyn’s nurturing in our yard, she brought our hydrangeas back from the brink. She cut these and brought them in to grace our dinner table: 

Dinner table decorations from the side yard to the back porch.

Dinner table decorations from the side yard to the back porch.

I have also – possibly you anticipated this if you’ve seen this blog >1 time – photographed Red-tailed hawks at Bryan Park this week. There’s no more referring to the hawk born at Bryan Park this spring as a “baby.” It’s still dependent on its parents, and stays in the vicinity, and is visually identifiable as non-adult, but it’s big. It flies away from the nest tree but comes back. I don’t know precisely how this works, but my guess is it’s equivalent of a 15 or 16 or 17 y.o. human. It could survive if necessary, but it’s not quite ready to be on its own. I took this picture on Tuesday, May 31 at 3:32 PM:

young redtail contemplating its talons

Young Red-tail, contemplating its talons

I left and came back just over an hour later. This time the youngster was on the nest, eating something I couldn’t see. But if you watch this movie, it pulls up a piece of meat at the six or seven second mark. I don’t know if this bird caught it or if its parents brought the meat home. I saw this bird fly on Sunday; I think it’s already been flying. I don’t know if it’s captured any food on its own but I’d be unsurprised. Have a look – the whole video is only twelve seconds long:

I’d been watching the area around that tree since Ethan’s and my friend Adolph pointed out the nest in early April. And there were always squirrels running around underneath it, literally on 100% of the days we visited. The squirrels always appeared unconcerned that an alpha predator lived directly over their heads, although certainly they were aware. Or maybe not; most mammals don’t look up. But I thought about why those hawks didn’t swoop down and grab the stuff that was on their figurative doorstep. Possibly they were saving them “for a rainy day,” e.g a time when they couldn’t go farther away. Or possibly they were saving them so the young hawk wouldn’t have to fly far for its first kill.

PS Two more images. This was the youngster at Bryan Park around noon today. It had just flown back to the tree. And the first word that came to mind when I saw this image was “vulnerable,” a word almost never associated with raptors. Maybe it’s the light. All raptors – Red-tails, eagles, ospreys, all of them – have a pronounced  bone over their eye called the “supra-orbital ridge.” It practically defines what it means to be “hawk like.” But as I researched this post I read these words on a falconry web site: “Immature birds are frequently not seen with a developed supraorbital ridge.” Anyway, here’s the bird this afternoon, looking a bit vulnerable, in my opinion: 

Is it just me? Compare this with that osprey a few pictures back. That bird is not lacking confidence. This one, hard to say.

Is it just me? Compare this with that osprey a few pictures back. That bird is not lacking confidence. This one, hard to say.

And finally, bright orange fungus with a couple of hickory nuts from Bryan Park this afternoon:

I'm always surprised how bright these fungi get without benefit of photosynthesis.

I’m always surprised how bright these fungi get without benefit of photosynthesis.

===========

think the youngster has fledged. I say that because I visited today (Sunday) and I think I saw him fly back on to the tree. I still don’t know enough about Red-tail behavior – maybe in another year. But my guess is the young one stays in the vicinity of the home tree/nest until it is proficient at finding its own food. Check back periodically at Bryan Red-tails 2016 if you find this interesting.  I add on to the bottom periodically. I got to watch the youngster for a while this afternoon; I love being out there. Have a great week, 

Jay 

===========

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, Flowers, Fun, fungus, James River, ospreys, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NO POLITICS, NO ADVERTISING, NO RELIGION

  1. Pingback: Credit where credit is due | NEWFAZE

  2. Pingback: Turns out I was wrong | NEWFAZE

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