Where to start? Embarrassment of riches

7 July, 2019            Where to start? Embarrassment of riches

I didn’t know where to start this week – too much fun stuff. I was parked at a gas station  near a busy intersection Tuesday morning when I heard a bird singing louder than the traffic. The gas pumps were next to my passenger’s side door. I took this picture out of the open driver’s side window, resting against the steering wheel: 

Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) Isn’t this a fun picture?

Mackey and Turner and I went hiking with our friend Sam Tuesday afternoon and Sam took this excellent picture of the Virginia State Insect, a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus). Great job Sam! (This took a lot of patience – butterflies don’t sit still very long): 

Tiger Swallowtail – the Virginia State Insect – excellent picture taken by Sam. Nice work Sam!

There’s going to be another northern water snake a ways down this post, by the way. They’re still going strong at Deep Run Park in western Henrico. 

I should also mention Sam and I were hiking back when Mackey and Turner suddenly, simultaneously, became fascinated with something in the woods to our left. We saw the telltale brown patch of fur on one of Pony Pasture’s large herd of resident whitetail deer. Mackey and Turner were polite (probably too hot to run after deer) so they contained their excitement. Sam and I passed the camera back and forth and each took a handful of pictures. The deer was in a real tangly spot, so this was the best one we came up with: 

Pony Pasture whitetail just a few minutes down the trail from Sam’s butterfly!

A break in the rain allowed me time to take a nice bike ride Saturday at Deep Run, so I was coming east on Patterson Avenue just before noon instead of my normal time of around 9:30 AM. Sure enough there was a raptor on the dead tree across Patterson Avenue from St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 10627 Patterson Avenue. There was a very nice lady there working outdoors in the heat, doing some gardening and weeding and sprucing things up. Very dedicated! We talked a bit about the hawks and ospreys that frequent that area. 

The bird in the tree was a young male Red-shouldered hawk. I’d seen birds drying their wings before in the sun, but I don’t think this guy had gotten wet. I am convinced he was letting the breeze cool him off. I’ve never seen a Red-shoulder or a Red-tail sit in this position: 

Red shouldered hawk probably cooling off on the edge of Patterson Avenue

On the Fourth of July Mackey and Turner and I took a quick hike around 10:00 AM. I finally got a picture of a Prothonotary warbler! I’ve been hearing them a lot this  year but not yet been able to point my lens at one. There are a few things I’d improve about this picture if I had it to do over again, but one of my favorite things about wildlife photography is you don’t get to it over again – you have to get it right the first time! It makes the experience very immediate. This is what I came away with: 

Prothonotary warbler with an insect in the canopy at Pony Pasture on the Fourth of July

Evelyn’s roses are stunning – continually. These were on our windowsill twenty-four hours before I took this picture, so they’d faded a bit. But still: 

Evelyn’s stunning roses, classic rose look, classic rose smell

Think I’m going to leave it at that for this first week of the second half of 2019. I hope you had an excellent Fourth of July and your summer is off to a great start. See you next week (I hope!), 


PS If anyone is interested, this is my 400th blog post. My first was on 2 March, 2011, a trim 62 words with no pictures. It’s interesting (to me, anyway) that my thoughts and feelings today reflect precisely what I wrote in those seven brief sentences. It was called Rivers are always different and always perfect 

Out of the four hundred posts I’ve done, the top three most viewed were all about ironmans I was doing in those years (2011, 2012, 2013). My #1 most viewed post of all time was Owl pajamas, candy corn, a beautiful day – Beach2Battleship 2013. It doesn’t have great pictures but the race recap is pretty fun. I’ve loved endurance athletics for my whole life, and they’re what’s helped me recover from my accident and brought me whatever success I’ve had. My next triathlon is in August at Quantico. I can hardly wait! 

PPS Perhaps you’ve noticed, I didn’t put a snake picture in here. There were so many of them this week – they’re really out in force. But I don’t think I’ll get lots of complaints that I didn’t include one. Maybe next week.

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, Flowers, Fun, love, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Rivers, roses, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Snakes, triathlons, whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Where to start? Embarrassment of riches

  1. Jackie says:

    Warbler very cool and beautiful,
    no snakes no problem!

    • Hi Jackie!
      Glad you liked the Warbler – I was very fortunate. And you’re not the only one who’s happy to see a snake-free blog post!

      Have a great day,


  2. Nate says:

    That looks like a Scofflaw Sparrow to me in that first picture…

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s