Merry Christmas!

25 December 2016            Merry Christmas! 

Merry Christmas! Isn't this just stunning? Thanks Evie!

Merry Christmas! Isn’t this just stunning? Thanks Evie!

Merry Christmas! Evelyn put that together with roses from the store and magnolias from our driveway. Lovely!

The James River in many ways never looks better than it does in winter. Inevitably when I see it I think of the 2009 song Blue Lips by Regina Spektor. She says “Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away.” I inevitably think of that line when I see this:

Stops me in my tracks

Stops me in my tracks

My friend and fellow birder Gilpin told me he’d been seeing Bald Eagles just west of the Willey Bridge when he’d been driving across (south to north) recently. Wednesday (12/20) I finally saw what he was talking about and began looking at Google Earth to find a place I could get a good look at them. I found it – but it was across the river. At least one eagle was perched on the tower nearly every day this week. You can often see this bird or its mate from the Willey Bridge if you know where you’re looking:

James River resident Bald Eagle:

James River resident Bald Eagle:

I drove about 2.5 miles west from Huguenot Flatwater to take that picture.

My friend Pat and I paddled his canoe this afternoon (Christmas!) from Huguenot Flatwater to a small beach just below the Bosher Dam to see if we could get a better picture. There was an eagle on the tower while we were paddling up but by the time we arrived it had flown off. And when I drove home, it was back again. So it goes. Wonderful day for a paddle though. It takes around forty-five minutes to paddle there from Huguenot Flatwater. Here’s a picture from the north bank of the river looking back across Bosher’s Dam

Looking south across Bosher's Dam on the James River

Looking south across Bosher’s Dam on the James River

Since there were no eagles on the tower I walked directly under their nest and took this picture pointing straight up: 

Underneath the nest, looking straight up

Underneath the nest, looking straight up

Never fear – our hiking and canoeing and photography didn’t disturb the eagles in the least. I crossed the river on the way home and looked back and there was another eagle perched comfortably on top of the tower we’d just photographed and paddled away from. 

There are dozens and dozens – maybe seventy-five or more – buffleheads in a constantly moving flock at Pony Pasture now. The whole flock flies up the river then they drift down in unison, picking up little clams off the bottom. Then fly back up. I am rarely able to catch them still and close and in good light. Here’s a handful I photographed Thursday:

Bobbing buffleheads, always a long shot

Bobbing buffleheads, always a long shot

The river is full of Ring-billed gulls now too – I like the one flying across this picture. All of these are from Pony Pasture: 

Flying gulls, swimming gulls, standing gulls

Flying gulls, swimming gulls, standing gulls

There are lots of bluebirds in Pony Pasture this week – almost the most I’ve ever seen – but I struggled – and failed – to catch any in good light. Here’s my least-worst attempt, taken Tuesday (12/20) a bit after 11:00:

Bluebird at Pony Pasture in sun and shade:

Bluebird at Pony Pasture in sun and shade:

Here’s one I got on my home feeder two days later:

Bluebird at home in no sun!

Bluebird at home in no sun!

Evelyn and our friend Ariel and I went out for dinner Friday (12/23) evening at a Halal Afghan Kabob house in Chesterfield called The Box. Service is slow so order ahead but the cooking is out of this world and the service beyond compare. We can hardly wait to go back! “Halal” and “Kosher” are not identical concepts but neither are they dissimilar. I’ve eaten both and love them equally!

After dinner the three of us went to the Metro Richmond Zoo to watch their remarkable Miracle of Christmas production with living animals. I’d long been skeptical of it and never gone. Now I want to go every year! Here’s a picture Evelyn took of an actual Bactrian Camel from the production:

Photo of Bactrian Camel taken by Evelyn at Richmond Zoo on Friday!

Photo of Bactrian Camel taken by Evelyn at Richmond Zoo on Friday!

That’s it for this week – I hope your Christmas has been spectacular and your New Year’s is even better. Have an excellent 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 Bald eagles, Birds, buffleheads, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, roses, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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