12 June, 2016 My second favorite smell
Before Evelyn coaxed these gardenias into indescribably lush blossom next to our front stoop, chocolate chip cookies baking were my favorite smell. Move over chocolate chip cookies – there’s a new sheriff in town:
There is nothing on this planet that smells like a gardenia. It’s almost like it has calories. Like if you’re kind of hungry and if you smell a gardenia, you can wait a little while longer to eat. It’s a smell that has substance. Also, if you ever smell gardenia soap or gardenia candles or gardenia perfume, then you smell a real gardenia, you will immediately realize what a tepid imitation anything else is.
Heads up for snake-loathers, there’s a snake picture on this blog post, a northern water snake eating a bluegill. It’s the sixth picture down, just after the Red-tail screaming in the tree. Just so you know. If you dislike snakes or are fond of bluegills, best you avoid the sixth picture.
This is a rose in our backyard – I took this picture this afternoon – a flawless flower:
This magnolia is in bloom next to our driveway:
This butterfly posed so often and for so long at Pony Pasture this morning, it’s like it was begging me to take its picture:
There are a lot of beautiful images to start this blog post – all of the rain the week before last burst everything into bloom. But my sharp-eyed friend Ethan spotted a Northern Water Snake eating what looks like a bluegill earlier in the week at Bryan Park. I snapped a fast picture before the snake swallowed. So if that’s not your thing, skip past this next part. But due to Ethan’s sharp eyes and fast reflexes we did get one shot – and it’s remarkable. First a picture of a Red-tail taken the same day a few minutes later, then an Eastern Phoebe. And finally the snake and the unfortunate bluegill:
The butterfly (above) was from this morning at Pony Pasture, and the rose was from our backyard this afternoon. Also at Pony Pasture this morning we saw this lovely red mushroom. I don’t know what had been eating it. I don’t know what eats mushrooms. Turtles or birds or frogs or toads or snakes or deer, it’s a free-for-all at Pony Pasture. I do know that my late, analytical, precise, scientific father inevitably referred to them as “toadstools.” It’s a nice looking organism:
Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the perfect segue into this Fowler’s Toad we photographed at the river’s edge about a half hour earlier:
Maybe opossums eat mushrooms. Or maybe they eat toads, or possibly both. I’ve just (today) been reading up on opossums and I suspect they eat both. They’re called “generalists;” they’re not picky eaters. My recent uptick in interest about opossums is because today around lunchtime I had my first ever Pony Pasture Possum sighting. The whole encounter was pretty mellow. Mackey discovered it (thank goodness Turner didn’t) and it was a low-key experience. Everything was moving slow in the heat, and I believe this opossum was too:
So – I can hardly believe it – we walked for another five minutes – possibly less – and I heard a strange noise in the trees. I’d seen some beautiful owl photographs Rich Young had taken at Pony Pasture, but didn’t know the precise location. I heard a strange noise when Mackey and Turner and I were walking near the canal so I stopped and looked around until finally I saw this:
That’s a young Barred Owl (Strix varia) and it’s panting! I’d located it by listening to it call back and forth to its sibling, also on a branch, about twenty yards down the creek. I tried to take a video that had both of them in it but I couldn’t make it work. I did get a moderately good picture of the downstream sibling. Look at this one’s feet:
Here is the movie (my old shaky style) of the owl panting. I first saw a bird pant last year – a Red-tail, of course, in July. But it still catches me off guard to see a bird pant. I thought that was a mammal only behavior, but no. This is a poor quality video, but it’s only nine seconds long, and you will seen an actual Barred Owl panting. Which you definitely do not see just every day of your life:
I’m so overstuffed with pictures this week I’m actually omitting a nice picture of a locomotive I took Wednesday. It was nothing new. I’m also omitting a moderately good picture of a bluebird, but I wasn’t in love with that one either. Non-vibrant colors which, if you’re taking a picture of a bluebird, why even bother. On the same day (Wednesday) I did get a reasonable picture of a mini-colony (part of the much larger colony) of Cliff Swallows perched directly above the railroad tracks:
Wednesday is also “osprey day” and I did get this one; it’s rewarding to photograph these beauties. Ospreys only eat fish, so when there’s ice in Virginia, ospreys are not in Virginia. Always a pretty sign of summer. I believe this is a female:
Enough! Possibly too much! Thanks for dropping by. I hope next week’s great too! Have an excellent week,
Love it! Great pictures , skipped the snake !😳 Flowers are beautiful!
Good morning! I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures, except for the snake and unfortunate fish. The flowers are beautiful because of your sister’s magic touch!