Pony Pasture has the blues

19 March, 2017            Pony Pasture has the blues

In deep winter, Pony Pasture is dominated by gray granite and gray tree trunks and brown soil and brown leaves. It’s bright blue on the river itself – always – on sunny days, and the evergreens are ever green. You can see the gleam of bluebirds or the flashes of cardinals 365 days a year, and no green matches the glow of a mallard’s head. The real explosion of Pony Pasture color is just beginning, though. Daffodils are lighting the edges of the trails, and this morning I was delighted to see my first Virginia Bluebell of 2017. The first blue flower of the season:  

Gorgeous Virginia Bluebell – first I’ve seen in 2017

If the sky is blue, the river is too – 365 days a year. In a world that can be unpredictable and uncertain, this will always be there:

If you’re ever feeling blue, just spend a few minutes here – I think it absorbs the blues. Then they just flow downstream. Look at them!

You can count on a Great Blue Heron in Pony Pasture and its environs almost year round, but like all birds they’re getting friskier as the days lengthen. This one led us down the creek on Thursday before it finally got tired and hopped up into a tree to let us pass: 

Great Blue Heron in a tree

This isn’t from Pony Pasture, it’s from Deep Run, and you can’t see the eyes, but I like the vibrancy:

Bluebird turning its back on me at Deep Run on St. Patrick’s Day

Crows are not colorful, unless you’re talking about their personalities. This pair was in my backyard; I suspect this was courtship behavior. I’m sure – somewhat sure, anyway – that this behavior didn’t seem colorful or silly to them. It did to me: 

On reflection, this is really no sillier than some human courtship behavior. Look at the foot on the little metal bird’s head.

I’m just seeing my first 2017 ospreys. I think the best nesting sites are down the river closer to downtown. These are latecomers, rebuilding nests off Parham Road across from the West End Assembly of God. This isn’t courtship; this is mating. It’s difficult to see, but there are two ospreys in both pictures. The female is on the nest; the male is on the wing: 

Male osprey approaches female on nest

Osprey pair on nest

Speaking of other monochromatic birds (besides crows), there are still large flocks of buffleheads at Pony Pasture. They’ll be heading north soon, though. I photographed these two pair this morning. I wish they had babies here; they have got to be the cutest imaginable ducklings. But that all happens up north: 

Nearing the end of bufflehead season here in Virginia

My handsome pack had a great hike this morning:

My handsome boys. Turner in front, brown, Yuki behind him, white, Mackey, as always, bringing up the rear. Black dogs matter.

The Spring or “vernal” equinox begins here in Richmond tomorrow morning at 6:29. That’s the official start of spring. If you’re interested (even if you’re not) the sun has been north of the earth’s equator for the past six months (autumn and winter). Tomorrow morning at 6:29 EDT it will cross the equator and spend the next six months (spring and summer) south of the equator. Here in Virginia, the hours of daylight will lengthen – with no exceptions – and  get warmer – with occasional exceptions – until the summer solstice on June 21 at 12:24 AM.

Enjoy spring! Beautiful flowers, colorful birds, warm breezes – they’ll all arrive soon. Some are here already! 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, buffleheads, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, ospreys, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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