Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

16 April, 2017            Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Pony Pasture (and the rest of the mid-Atlantic region) are bursting at the seams. I don’t know where to begin. But a lot of pictures this week. Zebra swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) are as bright and cheerful and iconic an image of Spring as you’re likely to see here in central Virginia. In the insect world, anyway:

A pair of Zebra swallowtails usher Spring in to Pony Pasture

The host plant for zebra swallowtails is the pawpaw (Asimina triloba). Pawpaws are practically the dandelion of Pony Pasture; they grow everywhere in the park. In our area they won’t have fruit until mid-August but they’re flowering now. I took this picture on Thursday:

Pony Pasture Pawpaws in Spring

Tuesday (the same day I took the zebra swallowtail picture) I also photographed this Barred owl (Strix varia):

Barred owl in Pony Pasture – a bird I never tire of seeing

Wednesday (the day after the zebra swallowtails, the day before the pawpaws) I “got,” in moderately quick succession, a pair of Northern Rough-winged swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) (my first, possibly), a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) singing so loud I’m sure they could hear him in his native state, a pair of Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) cobbling together a new nest at the edge of the parking lot at Fulton Bank off Chippenham, and a female Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) sorting through the grass at the edge of my front yard. First a pair of Rough-winged swallows perched on a sign: 

A pair of Northern Rough-winged swallows. Mighty cute, eh?


Carolina wren in Virginia, singing loud enough to be heard in Carolina. Not South Carolina, of course. 


A pair of late-arriving ospreys. These two do not have an air of quiet competence.


Female Brown-headed cowbird at the edge of my front lawn.

Just FYI, I am not a whiz at bird identification. I’m not one of those people who just looks at a bird and says “Oh, look, it’s a… ” I often have no idea. I “cheat” with a terrific app called Merlin Bird ID from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I had no idea what those rough winged swallows were and I did not know what that brown-headed cowbird was. But when you open the app and tough “Start Bird ID,” the first question it asks is where you saw it. And gives you possible locations, beginning with “current location” since it knows where you are. After you tell it where, it asks when you saw it, beginning with today. Then it offers seven possible sizes beginning with “sparrow-sized or smaller”, through robin-sized, crow-sized, and topping out at “goose-sized or larger.” Each question you answer narrows the field. The next choice is nine different main colors; you choose between one and three main colors. Then it offers a list of possible birds; hopefully you find yours. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but this one has been effective for me.

Flowers now are (of course) beginning to burst forth. I generally rely on Evelyn Flower ID for that. She taught me a year or two ago about the Spider wort at Pony Pasture:

Spiderwort. A month or two the whole place was brown and gray. Now just look at it.


Some flowers I’ve known since I knew what a flower was. This one is on a tree in our front yard; I knew that Dogwoods were my Dad’s favorite since I knew what “favorite” meant:

Dogwood – elegant, understated, breathtaking


The Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) began blooming this week; I took this picture this morning:

First Mayapple flower I’ve seen in Pony Pasture in 2017

Back in the fauna world, I saw this morning what I believe is my first Eastern Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in Pony Pasture. Its shell was maybe a foot long. This was in the creek at the western edge of the Willow Oaks Country Club golf course. In keeping with Easter Egg Hunt theme, there is a high  probability this is a female either going to lay eggs or coming from laying eggs. It’s that time of year:

My first ever snapping turtle at Pony Pasture

I’m running out of space! My blog post runneth over! Speaking of Easter and eggs and new birth, frog egg masses must be hatching; there are more tadpoles in the puddles every time I visit Pony Pasture. This is from this morning’s hike:

Tadpoles filling up the puddles at Pony Pasture

An enormous fungus, also from Pony Pasture, also from this morning:

That’s an iPhone 7+! Big! Big fungus!

If you were afraid I’d actually let a week pass without posting a deer picture, you can breathe now – I took this one Thursday morning at guess where:

Tadpoles and snapping turtles are graceful in their way. But look at this beauty. She’s demure.

White lilacs from our backyard:

White lilacs in our yard = and in our house. We smell them 24/7 now. Everyone should be so fortunate.

Rabbit (a.k.a. “Peter Cottontail”) also from our backyard:

The less well-known “Maundy Thursday Bunny”

Enough already! Come back next week – if you can stand it! Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring, Happy Sunday, have a wonderful 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 Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

  1. Jackie says:

    Love it! Happy Spring ! XO

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