A brand new treasure at Pony Pasture

13 August, 2017

I began hiking and photographing in Pony Pasture in 1995. This morning – after twenty-two years – I photographed my first Indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea):

My first ever Indigo bunting – Pony Pasture this morning

I don’t have a million pictures this week and I am (as perhaps you have detected) enchanted with this gorgeous blue bird. So one more view of the same bird: 

What a fun surprise this morning

The surprising thing is not that I saw one today; it’s that I went two decades without seeing one. Indigo buntings are not a rare bird. And goodness knows they’re hard to miss. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that male Indigo buntings (that one is a male) “…looks like a scrap of sky with wings.” That’s as good a description as anything I could come up with. Here’s picture of my three boys this morning at the northeast tip of Pony Pasture:

Yuki, Turner and Mackey. Turner is the one who is the color of a scrap of riverbank with fur.

I got so excited about the Indigo bunting I almost neglected the beauty that’s always on the riverbank in August. I took this a few minutes before I took the picture of the Indigo bunting:


Monday morning Evelyn photographed a cicada metamorphosis in front of our house. The excitement was over by the time I arrived – I only got to photograph the finished product. This is the recently emerged cicada to the left of its recently discarded shell:

Recently emerged cicada on left. Recently discarded shell on right.

Local raptors are going through their own metamorphosis, only in birds it’s called “molting.” Their feathers look unusually scraggly. This Red-tail was on the tower near our house, the same day as the cicada metamorphosis:

A Red-tail in poor light going through its own metamorphosis

A “metamorphosis” is a five-syllable word for a “change” and we’re just watching them go by quickly with some of these animals. We’re into the late part of summer now and the first leaves are beginning to drop on some trees. The seasons are in constant change, and here in Richmond, the trailing edge of summer is overlapping with the leading edge of autumn. But on Thursday (August 10) we woke to perhaps our most spectacular gardenia blossom of 2017. I’m confident it will be our last gardenia blossom of 2017 but what a sendoff. It’s still glowing and fragrant in a cup of water on our kitchen windowsill. But this was on Thursday morning:

Have you ever seen anything so spectacular? I have an uncontrollable urge to eat an entire bowl of whipped cream.

Friday afternoon across River Road from Starbucks, a Red-shouldered hawk was screaming and screaming and screaming. It was a long way off but I got a marginal image. This one is molting too:

Not my best work. I’m just so delighted every time I see one.

If you enjoy birds, keep your eyes peeled. I believe the autumn migration is beginning. These northern hemisphere birds don’t mate (or advertise for partners) at this time of year so their plumage is unspectacular. But I think the autumn migration is the reason I saw that Indigo bunting. There will be other birds. When the dogs and I got out of our car when we got home today, a hummingbird flew right past us! I drive out to the far West End, well past Short Pump Town Center quite early in the morning. Sometime between the middle of August (now) and the end of the month, every year without fail, I see my first   V’s of Canada Geese. The seasonal metamorphosis. You may notice the name of this blog is “NEWFAZE” and my car license plate (my dog car) is also “NEWFAZE.” The metamorphosis never ends. Have a great 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, Gardenias, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A brand new treasure at Pony Pasture

  1. Jackie says:


  2. Clare Thompson says:

    Thank you Jay for keeping beauty, love and awe of creation before us.


    • Great to hear from you Clare! And I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. I am grateful every time I’m near that river. Even more grateful when I get to see a beautiful new bird I’ve never seen before! Thanks for the note, excellent to hear from you, have a great day,


  3. Pingback: Turns out I was wrong | NEWFAZE

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