Where do I start?

8 July, 2018            Where do I start?

Northeastern tip of Pony Pasture:

I’ll start at the river, the mighty James River, at Pony Pasture, this morning, with dogs – what better place? And with what better company? 

This was a mile or two upriver, just when we arrived: 

Once again, words fail. Heaven does not need to be an improvement – this is fine the way it is.

I was practically standing on their leashes when I took the preceding picture: 

Ready to hike

We dropped Yuki off at his house on our way home. Evelyn and I had dinner on the back porch. Turner and Mackey and Dash joined is for this “after” picture:

That’s the way dogs are supposed to look after a great hike. That’s the way cats always look. 

I almost started with an “oldie” – a picture I took in June of last year from the parking lot of the Kroger on Ridge Road in Henrico, VA

I took this picture from a grocery store parking lot! In Henrico Country! (last year)

I was thinking about clouds and sunsets after I went on my first two short “cross-country” flights this week. My instructor and I flew about 35 miles to KXSA (Tappahannock-Essex County Airport). We just did a few touch-and-goes but it’s still really exciting to actually fly to a different place. Hopefully we’ll go a bit farther afield this coming week. This was our plane:

Pre-pre-flight (the wings and tail are still tied down)

Mea culpa – no raptor last week – could have gotten an osprey but it’s shooting fish in a barrel. So that’s the second week in 2018 that I have not photographed a raptor. This week I didn’t get one every single day, but I came close. I just don’t know what happened the week before. I was checking all of their usual haunts.

This week I “got” both an osprey and a Red-shouldered hawk on Monday. Tuesday I got a Red-tail near my house. Wednesday (7/4, Independence Day) I would have liked to be more in the patriotic spirit and  photographed a Bald Eagle. But I was feeling more independent than that and got a Red-tail on the cell tower near Henrico Fire Station 13. This is that same “red-headed red-tail” I’ve photographed here before. Station 13 is at the corner of Lauderdale and Church Road. I would have cropped this picture more but I left in some detail on the left side. If you zoom in carefully on that panel (it’s a brand new addition) on the left center of the image you can read the words “Lauderdale beta.” I always stumble across the oddest stuff when I’m editing images:

Red-headed Red-tailed hawk in center; “Lauderdale beta” on left

If you’re thinking “this is the time when he usually writes ‘I’m starting to run out of gas,’” you’re thinking correctly. Evelyn continues to grow incomparable gardenias:

Snowflakes of the lower world – each different, each perfect

And incomparable nasturtiums:

We never had these when I was growing up. But Dad would have remarked about them every single day. He always noticed everything. 

My week was a bit busier than usual and my hand is still in a splint so I can’t decompress the way I normally do (swimming and cycling). So Friday I was under a bit more stress than I’m accustomed to and I was driving near Freeman HS when I saw two Red-tails on a cell phone tower. I immediately pulled in the parking lot and took a not-great picture. But it always calms me down. Double Red-tails are not easy to get:

Double Red-tail pics are like magic to me. Male top left, female bottom center

I’ve mentioned previously I participate in an online book club at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The book we’re currently reading is Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur by Carl Safina. At one point Mr. Safina is talking about photographing and counting ocean going turtles and he says “Among wildlife biologists – just as with indigenous hunting peoples – the company of wild animals produces a deep sense of well-being and connection that feels spiritual.” The company of wild animals always “produces a deep sense of well-being” with me, and I felt it – with a palpable sense of relief – when I took that picture.

Anyway, now I officially am out of gas. Have an excellent 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, Cessna 172, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, James River, koans, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), sunsets, Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Where do I start?

  1. Peter Meiller says:

    nice pics, Jay!

    • Thank you Peter! The pics did come out well this week, mostly due to the bright sunshine. Bright sunlight ALWAYS makes pictures look great. Thanks again and have an excellent week,


  2. Jackie says:

    ❤️ the pictures!

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