The color of our planet

19 November, 2017        The color of our planet 

“Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away” – Regina Spektor, “Blue Lips”

The preceding picture is Pony Pasture rocks at a very civilized hour this morning. 

Another “primary color” at Pony Pasture this morning

There are three “primary colors” – blue, yellow and red. This completes the set

Every year as the leaves drop away and the sky turns its brightest blue I think of the words “Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away.” (Blue Lips, Regina Spektor, 2009). I don’t think of the rest of the song – just that line. From now through about mid-February, on clear days, the river reflects the sky back even more dazzling than its actual color. It may be my ignorance – never discount that possibility – but I have no idea how that happens. The reflection is brighter and bluer than the original. To me it’s like alchemy. 

I understand a bit more about how yellow leaves become yellow leaves and red leaves become red leaves. Knowing how it works doesn’t make the leaves any less stunning. The science doesn’t make the reality less miraculous.

The light didn’t cooperate as much for this Red-tailed hawk near Freeman High School Tuesday. But they’re among my favorites and I smile more when they’re around:

Neighborhood Red-tailed hawk

I smile when Red-shouldered hawks are around too. This one found nicer light. And a more pleasing backdrop:

Different bird, different day, different light – Red-shouldered hawk

Despite the miserable light in the first picture, those two images clearly show the difference between Red-tails and Red-shoulders in a frontal view. See how the background of the breast in the Red-tail (top picture) is mostly white? And the background of the breast in the Red-shoulder (bottom picture) is mostly orange? No matter what light they’re in, if you get a good view of the front, it’s easy to tell them apart.  

Blue is the color of our planet, and of Bluebirds and Bluejays and of course Great Blue Herons. This one was way out on the river – not looking extremely blue – but the turtles are looking up to it. See them in the lower right?:

Great blue heron mid-river. Turtles in the lower right – see them? – making sure nobody sneaks up from behind. They’ve got his back. 

I’m always – every year, there are no exceptions – grateful when buffleheads return to Pony Pasture. They’re not easy for a person of my middling talents to photograph well, so I’m always happy to get a non-typical image. I snapped this picture just as a little flock splashed into the air in front of us. It’s funny. In all the years I’ve watched buffleheads, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them fly downstream. I think they fly upstream a moderate distance, call it a quarter of a mile or maybe half a mile. Then they drift and eat, drift and eat, drift and eat while they go back downstream. Then fly up and do it again. All winter:

Buffleheads splash-flying upstream this morning

This was later the same morning (today). Yuki on the left, Mackey front and center, Turner uncharacteristically seated on the right:  

Yuki left, Mackey center, Turner right. All three handsome, all three happy. I am too.

I rode my bike at West Creek this afternoon. I do loops through there, crossing this lake twice on each loop. I stopped on the way out to take this picture. I took it with my camera. I’m not a big fan of “man made” lakes, and that’s what this is, but there is no denying this beauty:

Man made lake at West Creek this afternoon. I don’t think of “man-made” and “beautiful” at the same time. But there you go. Shows how much I know! 

Enough! For now, anyway. Have a terrific week, 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 Birds, buffleheads, Dogs, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Turtles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The color of our planet

  1. Jackie says:

    Beautiful, looks like a gorgeous day!
    The boys look gorgeous as well!

    • Thanks Jackie! I wish you and your pretty sister had been here too – and the boys would have been happy for the extra company! But it looks like nice weather up your way too. Thanks for the note and have a great day,


  2. Peter Meiller says:

    nice pictures Jay!

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