bombogenesis and/or relentlessly pragmatic: Happy New Year!

7 January, 2018            bombogenesis and/or relentlessly pragmatic: Happy New Year!

Bone white and ice blue – sycamore against a January sky at Pony Pasture

Temporary sculpture exhibition

Even more temporary

I took all three of those pictures while Mackey and Turner and I did our first ever four mile hike at Pony Pasture – yesterday. We got to the river before noon and we were having so much fun we hiked until almost two. This is the route we took – lots of photo-op stops:

Our 4+ mile hike route Saturday:

If you haven’t been to Pony Pasture recently, you owe yourself a visit. There are no mosquitoes and there is no mud. That middle picture of the top three – the one of the scalloped surface of the river ice – just watching that happen is worth the visit. In this brittle cold weather, there is one smell at the river, and it is fresh. It smells like regular air only with extra oxygen. And the sight is the same way it always is, which is to say always changing. The frozen surface of the water looks like sculpture, constantly added to and chipped away at by puffs of wind, by swirls of water, by shifting temperature. The plates of ice are enormous and they heave and bend, and on quiet mornings (this morning) it sounds like muffled rifle shots or the sporadic thud of distant cannons.  

During the four years Mom was alive and Dad wasn’t, if I thought of either of them, I thought of them separately. Mom died a year ago this past Thursday, January 4. Now I think of them together more often. I had grand visions for my first blog post of 2018 (this one) but reality didn’t support my grandiosity, and I thought of my Mom’s relentless (in my opinion) pragmatism. When you’re one of five siblings talking about your parents, it’s always “in my opinion” because we have different perspectives.

“Bombogenesis” is a nod to Dad’s and my shared love of both meteorology and the English language. Did you hear about it this week? Bombogenesis I mean, not Dad’s and my shared love of meteorology, etc. This is an article from the NYT on Wednesday, January 3 calledWhat Is a ‘Bomb Cyclone,’ or Bombogenesis?”. If you’re disinclined to click on that link, this is the second sentence of the article: “What makes a storm a “bomb” is how fast the atmospheric pressure falls; falling atmospheric pressure is a characteristic of all storms.” Here in Richmond we didn’t have (I’m reasonably certain) a true “bomb cyclone” – we were too far away – but we had a fast fall in our atmospheric pressure. This is my barograph printout from last week. See the steady and steepening drop from 10:00 Tuesday morning through 6:00 Thursday morning?

Richmond air pressure, Sunday through Sunday, first week of January, 2018

It was my intention (this is where pragmatism, or lack thereof, comes in) to be well organized in this post with the first birds of 2018. But they were overwhelming. Due to the cold and my feeders, I am moderately certain every bluebird in Henrico County came to my house. Plus Downy woodpeckers, Brown-headed nuthatches, White-breasted nuthatches, Carolina wrens, Ruby-crowned kinglets, Tufted titmice, Cardinals, brown thrashers, chickadees, sparrows, towhees, finches, crows, starlings, bluejays, I don’t know how many others. I’ve left some out. I was idealistic going into this; I was well organized and if you could have seen what I had in my head, you would have been really impressed – I’m here to tell you. My relentlessly pragmatic mother would have observed this somewhat haphazard final product and said “well, you did the best you could.” So what the heck.

On Monday (January 1, 2018, the first day of the New Year) I’d visited all my usual haunts and seen precisely zero raptors. I went to the Y and swam in the afternoon and detoured down Riverside Drive before heading home. Hoping to catch one raptor before darkness fell. I was rewarded with this handsome fellow (pretty certain this is the male) at the western tip of Williams Island at 4:00:

Bald eagle on Williams Island – 1/1/2018 – my first raptor of the year

This was my last raptor – of the week – and my first red-shouldered hawk of the week. It was facing south and sunning itself in a tree on the southeast tip of the Huguenot Bridge at 11:00 this morning:

My first Red-shouldered hawk of 2018, 11:00 this morning near the Huguenot Bridge

Red-bellied woodpecker on my front feeder Thursday:

Brown thrasher in my backyard, same day

New Year’s Day Bluebird:


Male Northern Cardinal – the colors this week are astounding!

I’m going to wrap this up – I have so many pictures this week. I’ve been on the river a lot – more than usual, believe it or not – and I took lots of pictures of the river. If you lined up the pictures side by side, you’d see differences in the ice and what have you, but they’re all variations on this theme:

Pony Pasture Rapids during early January freeze, 2018:

I almost forgot – I got so caught up with the river and all the birds. The whitetail deer in Pony Pasture are settling into what I think are their deep winter routines. I predict they’ll be spending their middays in the little fenced patch of woods and underbrush a bit south of Charlie’s Bridge. I haven’t seen any in the wide open yet, but I’m beginning to catch glimpses. Here’s one from this week:

My first Pony Pasture deer photograph of 2018.


These are all the birds I photographed this week. I’ll put in a few but there are too many: Bald eagle, Red tailed hawk, Red shouldered hawk, Ring billed gull, Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, Eastern bluebird, Bluejay, Brown thrasher, Northern cardinal, White headed nuthatch, Brown headed nuthatch, Hairy woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, Red bellied woodpecker, Ruby crowned kinglet, House sparrow, House finch, Tufted titmouse, Bufflehead, Canada goose, Goldfinch, American crow, mockingbird, Red-bellied woodpecker. I’m not even sure if that’s all of them. 


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, Blue Jays, buffleheads, cardinals, Carolina wren, Dogs, Downy woodpecker, Fun, ice, James River, mockingbirds, moon, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-bellied woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Snakes, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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