The joy of hiking 52 weeks/year

14 February, 2021 The joy of hiking 52 weeks/year 

Long time hikers understand a simple relationship in the park – the worse the weather, the fewer the people. If it’s really messy out, it’s like your own private park. When I arrived just before noon today there were four cars in the parking lot. If this was a pretty Sunday in May there wouldn’t even be four spaces

Tuesday was sloppy weather too. I left the dogs home (today too) but hiked ~1.5 miles in the park. On the first loop I saw a single Barred owl: 

Little did I know this owl’s partner would arrive in a few minutes

I’m looking at that picture on a big clear monitor. It’s very easy to see droplets of water on top of the owl’s head, and on the feathers on the side of its head near its right eye. 

I walked a few more minutes and came across a large crowd of deer. This one gazed at me for a while: 

I’m curious about what she’s thinking. Probably evaluating me as a threat.

I’m currently reading a book called The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal About Being Human by Noah Strycker. It’s the next book (for the April meeting) of the Wildlife Center of Virginia Online Book Club. One of the things that book claims is to reveal “why birds do what they do… .” Possibly it’ll give me some insight into why deer do what they do. We’ll see.

On the return loop there was a double owl! A pair on the branch. I took a couple pictures but I used the light so poorly they didn’t come out well. Meanwhile – the birds on my feeder are never far away. And my shoes don’t get muddy! Here’s a handsome male bluebird from yesterday: 

Bluebird yesterday

I don’t have a million pictures today, so let me add one I took one minute after I took that bluebird picture. This cardinal was on the feeder at the same time as that bluebird: 

Cardinal a foot or two away

Soon I’ll get a male goldfinch and add the third primary color. But not today! 

I was thinking about those birds. It’s ~5:15 PM on Sunday and it’s getting dark and it’s going to stay that way for twelve hours. And it’s going to get cold. And those birds live out there. Every night. They really look so delicate but it must be an illusion.

Ah – one more picture. From my dogless hike at Pony Pasture this morning:

Hiking at Pony Pasture this morning

Have a great 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 Barred Owls, Birds, cardinals, Endurance, Fun, ice, James River, love, newfaze, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), thoreau, whitetail deer, Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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