Out and in with the old and new

31 December, 2017            Out and in with the old and new

When I sat down at my computer Christmas morning, I looked out the window and this was the first gift of the day: 

My favorite gift – you can’t buy this on Amazon

Who could ask for more? Later that day I walked into the backyard and there were six bluebirds on the two feeders, and four perched on the power line above their heads, waiting for a turn. I’m certain that’s the only time there’s ever been ten bluebirds in my yard at one time.

This is my last blog post of 2017 (since it’s my few hours awake in 2017), and I’m looking forward to more and better blogging in 2018.

Those bluebirds are a lovely reminder that, though the weather is frigid, Spring will appear again. 11:15 AM ET on Tuesday, March 20. But in the meantime, true story – I photographed these lilac buds in our backyard at around 4:30 this afternoon:

New Year’s Eve lilac bud – isn’t that remarkable?

I’ve lived in this house fifteen years (!) and those lilacs have budded reliably in the deepest, coldest part of winter – and burst into bloom every April. Another thing that’s happened reliably – it’s already happened this year – is a long-faced neighbor telling me they won’t survive the upcoming cold weather. They’ll bloom in April, right around tax time. 

Speaking of flowers (though not of flowers that smell like lilacs), I picked these up at the grocery store a day or two ago just to brighten up the place: 

If these were at Pony Pasture they’re probably be torn out as an invasive species but what can I say. December needs more brightness.

Speaking of Pony Pasture and natives, I was on the way back from the river Thursday afternoon when I saw a football in a tree. I rolled to a stop and snapped four pictures all in the same minute. Two of the bird sitting in the tree, this one, and one of it flying away: 

Bald Eagle ascends into a west wind on Williams Island Thursday afternoon:

I photographed a few different raptors (in addition to that eagle) this week, but none of the images were pleasing. This Red-tail on the power line tower near DS Freeman HS is adequate: 

Lots of birds soaking up sun when the opportunity presents itself

I apologize (yet again) for the quality of the next image, but it was such a great “catch” (though imperfect) I had to include it anyway. It’s quite difficult (for me) to photograph and often to even see Eastern Towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). Wednesday afternoon I looked out my window and there were two on the ground! I got one click before one disappeared. There’s an obvious bird in the center and another one lower left. Maybe I’ll do better soon: 

Towhee visible center and partial Towhee visible lower left

I took that picture of the two Towhees at around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. I’ve noticed going through my pictures from that day I photographed a Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) in nearly the same spot around 11:30 that morning. I guess these secretive birds are more visible with less cover (leaves) to hide in. Plus calories are getting scarce and they’re grateful – in their avian way – for reliable food: 

Brown Thrasher scooping up fallen bird seed

 I got another Red-tail the same day, but it was a dull picture. I caught a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) pausing momentarily in a trailside tree at Deep Run Park Friday. This is also a bird I don’t see every day: 

Hermit thrush at Deep Run Park Friday:

 A picture from Pony Pasture around noon today – the start of our final river hike of 2017. Hopefully we’ll have the first river hike of 2018 tomorrow! 

I hope 2017 has been superb and 2018 is even better. See you next year! All best, 


Three handsome hikers on a COLD river! Happy New Year!





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, Flowers, Fun, ice, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Out and in with the old and new

  1. auntbsite says:

    Love your blogs. Think of you all often but especially at this time of year. I know the first holiday without your Mom was likely difficult. I miss her so.

    • Thanks Becky, and Happy New Year. It was a little surreal during our Christmas holiday to remember Mom was with us a year ago. Even on New Year’s Day a year ago. This is an emotional week. Thanks again for the note and have a great day and a Happy, Happy New Year. All best,


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