Nobody yawns…

6 January, 2019            Nobody yawns…

Nobody yawns when they’re surprised by a free roaming eagle

I am embarrassed. I am acutely and painfully aware of the poor quality of this image. I took it. What stunned me about it – what is remarkable about it, IMO – is this magnificent animal was perched in a dead tree five hundred feet from a CVS pharmacy to the west, a Domino’s pizza to the east, an Episcopal church to the south. A couple of wingbeats and it could have landed on the roof of any of them. A Bald Eagle! The national bird and national animal of the United States. I was born in the early 1960’s inside the Beltway in the Washington DC area, and the idea of ever seeing a Bald Eagle was far-fetched. It simply (I believed) would never happen. Now here’s one perched practically in a strip mall. It’s a crummy image but what a bird to see in what an incredible spot. The black lines above it and below it are power lines strung beside Patterson Avenue 

I read up on them a bit afterward – I’d heard something about Benjamin Franklin being unimpressed with their character. I found this on a Smithsonian Magazine web site. The article says Franklin wrote: 

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly.” 

[Read more:

Maybe they don’t make their living honestly – honestly I can’t say. I’m skeptical that birds have “moral Character” either way – they behave according to natural selection. They are at the top of the food chain. But they are spectacular to look at; you practically can’t turn your eyes away. You’d better believe you won’t yawn.  

Anyway, I’m still amazed. Hopefully the next time I photograph an eagle near a Domino’s, a 7/11, a CVS and a church I’ll get a better image.


From a more pedestrian point of view (in a manner of speaking) I was with my friend Clark at Hollywood Cemetery watching a trainload of covered hoppers moving east. These are probably full of grain or corn or something of that nature. I’ve been hearing and glimpsing mid-train locomotives for a couple of months, but Wednesday was the first time I’ve gotten a good look. It’s not exciting or award-winning photography but – like the strip mall Bald Eagle – it was unexpected and the first one I’ve ever seen: 

A mid-train locomotive

Thursday Mackey and Turner and I made it down to the river; it was muddy but not impassable. I believe the does that are going to get pregnant are pregnant, and they’re spending their mid-days bedded down in the woods. Chewing their cuds or “ruminating.” No great pictures, but here’s one: 

A white tail deer, a “ruminant,” ruminating at Pony Pasture Thursday morning

Just a few feet down the path I saw six gray squirrels at one time! If you’d drawn a 50′ x 50′ square in the air, a big frame, they would have all fit inside it. Plus there were probably more on the backs of the trees. I don’t know why or how that happened. Forget about photographing it – I don’t think it’s possible. Here is one of them; again a marginal image: 

Gray squirrel in view of deer at Pony Pasture. Part of a squirrel convention, IMO

I did have one image that came out well this week. It’s pretty tame, but it’s a Carolina Wren from Deep Run Park in western Henrico. My friend Kendall and I were hiking there Friday: 

Carolina Wren at Deep Run Friday

In quick succession from Pony Pasture this morning – because I’m tired and, not coincidentally, disorganized – three pictures then I’m done. 

A bluebird this morning, wearing drab winter colors: 

Bluebird sunning itself at Pony Pasture this morning

Second, a female turtle sunning herself on a log, while being ogled by two males – see their heads poking out of the water?: 

Two male turtles in the water, courting this female on the log

Finally, the river – I’m going to bed! Have an excellent first full week of 2019! 

Just look how beautiful our river looked this morning. It makes everything okay.

Have a great 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 Bald eagles, Birds, Carolina wren, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, squirrels, Trains, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nobody yawns…

  1. Jody Bambacus says:

    You are Mr. Rogers in mother nature’s neighborhood.

    • I’ve been working with a guy for ~15 years who LOVES to sing “it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood – won’t you be mine?” Then shrieks – with undiminished glee after fifteen years – “HI NEIGHBOR!” You just can’t make this stuff up. Keeps me from getting bogged down in petty, day to day squabbles.

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