“Well that’s a blessing!”

5 March, 2017            “Well that’s a blessing!”

"Well that's a blessing!"

“Well that’s a blessing!”

“Well that’s a blessing!” That eagle stroked its broad wings a time or two and soared aloft  on a mid-morning thermal above Williams Island. I had just snapped a picture; I could not possibly have been happier. A woman was hiking with her dog and I breathlessly showed her the image on the back of my camera; I was beside myself with excitement (perhaps you’ve noticed). She took one look at the image and exclaimed “Well that’s a blessing!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was a blessing that she walked up at that particular instant. An unexpected visit and she gave me a free blog post title! 

I’d seen the eagle from the car on Riverside Drive just as the dogs and I were passing the Williams Island dam headed downstream toward Pony Pasture. It was Mackey and Turner and me and we parked at Pony Pasture and hiked up to the dam. Right through the Riverside Meadow Greenspace and up to the edge of the dam. The eagle was still there but took off a moment or two after we arrived. We eventually headed back toward Pony Pasture. As if seeing the eagle and meeting the woman and her dog wasn’t enough of a blessing already, a female Red-shouldered hawk flew across the road and landed on a branch. I couldn’t get in position for a decent shot; this was the best I could manage:

Red-shouldered hawk on Riverside Drive

Red-shouldered hawk on Riverside Drive

She flew off up the riverbank before I could improve that image. A moment later another Red-shoulder screeched; it was (I presume) her partner, perched momentarily high in a sycamore on the hillside. The dogs and I resumed our downstream saunter. Lots and lots of buffleheads still but I have not yet seen an osprey. Rich Young got a nice image recently so I know they’re on the river. But I think he was downstream, closer to downtown. 

A momentary aside – I’ve noticed osprey nests were removed from at least two Dominion  towers over the winter. One just above Bosher Dam on the north bank of the river and another across Chippenham Parkway from the Stony Point Shopping Center. I’ve looked into it; nests of migratory birds (including ospreys) are permitted to be removed when they’re inactive. And according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office, All nests are deemed inactive from September through February when ospreys are at their wintering grounds in Central and South America. Inactive nests do not need a migratory bird permit or permission to remove nests.” I found that on a web site called Guidelines to Protect Nesting Osprey in Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia; those are Federal guidelines and I presume they are the same for Virginia. The site went on to say that “Ospreys return year after year in early March, often re-occupying the same nesting territories.” So I’m sure they’ll be back up here soon. This week, I suspect.

Speaking of spring, Evelyn put tulips on the dining room table and bought chocolate bunnies. Daylight Savings Time begins a week from today. Spring officially begins here in Richmond at 6:29 AM on Monday, March 20, the Spring or “vernal” equinox. Easter is on April 16. This image will help us get through the coming weeks:

Spring is near:

Spring is near:

Speaking generally of “that’s a blessing” and also of images to help us get through the coming weeks – or of images that will help us get through any challenging experience – look at our river. This is from Pony Pasture Thursday afternoon. Words are always inadequate. Which shade of blue would you start with? There’s so much oxygen in the air they should put up a “no smoking – fire hazard” sign:

Please go see this for yourself - it is a treasure you shouldn't settle for just a picture.

Please go see this for yourself – it’s too much of a treasure to just “experience” through a photograph. “Virtual reality” is an oxymoron – go down there and breathe. 

When I got home later that day – this weather has been so lovely – this youngish Red-shoulder was perched amiably in a tree on our street. I don’t believe I’ve ever noticed an amiable Red-tail. But Red-shoulders let you get closer. For some reason there are more Red-shouldered hawks than Red-tailed hawks so far this year. It’s still moderately early in the season. We’ll watch them progress. Nice pose:

All over town. It's just remarkable.

All over town. It’s just remarkable.

Evelyn learned about an Australian paper company that just opened in the US. All the paper is made from bamboo. We just bought all three of the products currently in their inventory. Paper towels, tissues, and this:

Who gives a crap? Bamboo toilet paper!

Who gives a crap? Bamboo toilet paper!

Check them out at Who gives a crap? Rather than thinking of this as an advertisement, I offer this as an enthusiastic endorsement of a product I am thrilled to have discovered and begun using. As always, YMMV. Here’s what a new roll looks like: 

Bamboo toilet paper. Making America great again, one square at a time.

Bamboo toilet paper. Making America great again, one square at a time.

My friend KD and I visited Deep Run Park Friday; it was another bright and lovely late winter day. The light brings out the blue on this Eastern Bluebird:

Have you ever seen a bluebird that was not photogenic? Me either.

Have you ever seen a bluebird that was not photogenic? Me either.

I’m dog-sitting this weekend and got to take my “big pack” to the river today – Mackey, Turner, Yuki, Lola and Luna. I always get in great conversations with total strangers when that hairy little crowd is swirling around me. We were walking through the Wetlands and I met a person with a particularly engaging little brown Spaniel. I regret that I do not recall the dog’s name or the kind person who was walking it – but I asked her if she’d take our picture. She obliged; that’s her little brown dog climbing on my lap from my left side. Notice Turner is concerned that I might, somehow, have forgotten about him:

It was so cold that if we were in Australia they'd call it a "six dog morning."

It was so cold that if we were in Australia they’d call it a “six dog morning.”

This week is the sixth anniversary of this blog. The first post ever was on March 2, 2011 and it was called Rivers are always different and always perfect. And it doesn’t have a single picture!! The post you’re reading now is my 277th; I think the first one is the only one with no pictures. If you click on that blog post and look at the top of the page on the right there’s a link to the next post, March 3, 2011, Mackey and Roux at the river this morning. That only has one picture but it’s wonderful. If you like rivers and dogs. I ended up doing sixteen posts that first month, a pace that would be fun but unsustainable if you also wanted to e.g. have a life.

Here’s a post from around a year later, on March 21, 2012 (I only did two posts that month) called Quick!

The following year, March 21, 2013, Bliss.

March 2, 2014, Harbinger

After that (in May of 2014) I began weekly blog posts. This is the second March blog post from 2015, on March 8, and it’s called The best of times. That one is worth (in my opinion) a look if you’ve not seen it. Or a second look if you have. It has two dark but good closeup pictures of an osprey at Pony Pasture, sitting on a branch on the side of the river clutching a fat fish in its talons. Lucky day for me, for the fish not so much.

This post is from March 13 of last year and it’s called I’ll have to ruminate on it. It’s got an actual five second video I took at Pony Pasture of a whitetail deer chewing its cud.

Anyway, have a spectacular week, get outside as often as you’re able. Central Virginia is great on any day that ends in “y” but this late-winter/early-spring time is the freshest and greenest and most invigorating season. Enjoy it! And come back next week! 

All best,


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, Dogs, Fun, James River, ospreys, Pony Pasture, red-shouldered hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Well that’s a blessing!”

  1. Sheila Wiese says:

    I think you should look no further than your recently-discovered Australian paper company for the title of next week’s blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s