February is the new March

18 February, 2018            February is the new March

Happy Birthday Sheila! Today is my sister Sheila’s birthday. Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I texted her birthday greetings from the river this morning. This was the photograph (more or less) we sent:

“Frog Dogs” at Pony Pasture this morning. Listen to the 7 second video to hear why

But the sound is what sets it apart – the frogs in the background. This video is seven seconds long – and it’s partially why I chose the title for this blog post:

I’m not sure what all those frogs are. I know people who do – Kim H, I’d be interested to hear your take. Years ago I would have said “Spring Peepers” and that is correct but imprecise. There is a web site called iNaturalist that catalogs naturally occurring phenomena, at least across the United States and perhaps across the world. I did a search on the page for “James River Park amphibians” and you can see them all here – and maybe decide for yourself: James River Park amphibians

There was a deep flood at the river early in the week. The river crested above fifteen feet at the Westham gauge, a couple hundred yards upstream from the Huguenot Bridge. At fifteen feet, most of the paths at Pony Pasture are under water. My friend Sam and I took the dogs and had a good hike, but only the high ground was passable. And it mainly has trees on it and you can’t get great river views.

Mackey and Turner on one of many newly dead-end trails (Monday, 2/12/2018).

Today marks the end of the sixth week of 2018. I am six for six in my quest to photograph a raptor a week in 2018. Nothing magazine-worthy this week, but there are hawks everywhere. I could almost do one a day. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to get any good pictures yet – but soon. Here’s a wet one I took on Valentine’s Day near Freeman High School:

Wet Red-tailed Hawk near DS Freeman HS

That one was shortly before noon. A friend of mine and I went to Hollywood Cemetery later that day, and looked down the bank at the flooding river. We saw a Richmond Fire Department River Rescue Team practicing in the rapids. Next time you think your job is difficult, consider whether you’d trade places with these folks. Remember, this is February:

Training for work. These people are hard core.

My feeders are covered with birds most of the time now – the “Dawn Chorus” will begin soon. When I came home yesterday there were the usual starlings on it. There are certain birds that, if you are an elite photographer, you can take a good picture of them. I am less skilled than that, and I have  yet to take a good picture of a starling. But this big Red-Bellied Woodpecker had muscled them out of the way. It appears to be flaunting this prize it got from the feeder, but I suspect it’s just a way to eat it more easily:

I don’t know why I think they deserve seed and starlings don’t. But there it is.

I hiked at Deep Run Friday; the light was elusive. This is far from a gorgeous bluebird picture, but I was interested in the unusual color and texture on its breast:

Odd light, odd color. Cute bluebird. It’s Spring. After a fashion.

I think it’s because their colors are about to “pop” for spring courtship and mating, but they’re not quite there yet. Here’s one fattening up on my front feeder: 

Everybody is filling up for Spring!

I also photographed a flicker, a bird I always enjoy, but the light was too thin. Another time. 

The days are getting longer and lighter and (eventually) warmer. I’ll be here! Hopefully! Hopefully you will too! All best,


PS Oops! I photographed my first flower of 2018 today just before noon at the north end of Charlie’s Bridge. Feast your eyes – this is only the beginning: 

That’s an appetizer. The main course will take about two months.


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, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to February is the new March

  1. Sheila Wiese says:

    Thanks for the call-out in your blog and for the b’day greeting from your boys! I had a great day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s