Insert your favorite blog post title here:

28 August, 2016           Insert your favorite blog post title here:

Celebrating my 55th birthday with Evelyn at l'opossum in Richmond. Photo by our friend Ariel.

Celebrating my 55th birthday with Evelyn at l’opossum in Richmond. Photo by our friend Ariel.

I turned 55 on Tuesday (8/23) and that picture is Evelyn and me at my birthday dinner at l’opossum in Oregon Hill in Richmond. Our friend Ariel joined us and took the picture with my phone. One of the blog post titles I considered and threw out (too dark) was how a friend of Ev’s refers to birthdays: “another orbit without an obit.” So, insert a title of your own. The original title of this post was Ace in the Hole after the 1980 song of that name by Paul Simon. Here’s a great line:

“Once I was crazy and my ace in the hole

Was that I knew that I was crazy

So I never lost my self-control”

But my mind’s been in other places so, insert your favorite blog post title. Possibly next week my mind will be more fertile. I recommend clicking on that “Ace in the Hole” link – it’s a terrific song. 

I’ve gotten a couple of neat osprey pictures this week. Nothing award-winning, but I like it when they’re moving. This is one of the birds on my “normal route”; I pass two active nests every Wednesday. Since I photograph it so often I might call it my “boring route.” This one is from the WEAG nest:

Coming in for a landing

Coming in for a landing

But – this week I got an osprey when I was hiking with the dogs at Pony Pasture! I was unfortunately pressed for time, which I never like to be when I’m hiking, but life does not always operate according to my personal schedule. I took several of the bird soaring, but I was fortunate to snap the shutter once as it “stooped.” “Stoop” is a noun (in this case) used with birds of prey. It is defined thus in “Definition: (noun) The swift, steep dive of a hunting raptor.” This is a characteristic posture for many raptors as they stoop. When this happens above an unsuspecting fish, it often doesn’t end well for the fish. I took this picture standing at Half Moon Beach at Pony Pasture: 

Osprey "stooping" or beginning its plunge toward the water for fish:

Osprey “stooping” or beginning its plunge toward the water for fish:

Ospreys and cormorants both eat fish. This is a true story, and I’m not kidding – I photographed this cormorant precisely one minute after I photographed the osprey: 

Cormorant stoop. Not really, but they both folded their wings simultaneously:

Cormorant stoop. Not really, but they both folded their wings simultaneously:

It looks for all the world like the cormorant is imitating the osprey. If you know cormorants, you’ll know cormorants spend a lot of time standing like that and drying their wings. An osprey “goes over the top” in a stoop like the one in that picture and it only takes seconds. But cormorants just stand on rocks posing like that.

Also at Pony Pasture this week – this is so exciting every year – I’ve begun eating paw paws that are falling off the trees. If you find an undamaged paw paw on the ground and want to know if it’s ripe, pick it up. Test it for ripeness the same way you’d test a peach at your favorite peach store. If it’s too hard, it’s not ripe. If your thumb goes right through and gets all juicy it’ll taste awesome but it’s a bit too ripe. If it’s ripe, you’ll know it. Here are a couple before and after (before and after I ate them) pictures of pawpaws from this week.

Here’s one before I began eating it: 

I was stooping above this pawpaw just before eating it

I was stooping above this lovely ripe pawpaw just before eating it

And here’s one after I gobbled a few delectable bites: 



I took this one this morning; it was from a long way off but I enjoyed it. The cardinal flowers (and most other flowers) are fading a bit as summer wanes, but this butterfly was a pretty addition:

Not my best work, but that's a pretty late-summer image

Not my best work, but that’s a pretty late-summer image

The dogs faded as today’s hike progressed; only Mackey and Turner were lying down at this point. A few minutes later when I stopped, all three lay down – they had too much fun swimming back when we were at the water’s edge:

My posse

My posse

Just FYI, it’s a bit after 8:00 PM as I’m typing these words and Mackey and Turner are lying down again. Yuki lives at our friend’s house about halfway between here and Pony Pasture; I suspect he’s lying down too.

Now I need to lie down! Or in an hour or so anyway.

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, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, l'opossum, ospreys, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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