Dust bath at the borrow pit

18 July, 2021 Dust bath at the borrow pit

I often hike at Three Lakes Park in Henrico County, near where interstate 95 North intersects 295. It’s east of 95 and slightly south of 295. It’s roughly 1.5 miles east of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The biggest lake (#1) is 7 acres and #3 is 5 acres. #2 is the nature center lake and is closed to fishing. It appears to be 4 or 5 acres. 

I read that “The three lakes are actually old borrow pits dug during the construction of I-64.” I didn’t know what a “borrow pit” was so I googled it. I read that “A borrow pit is a term used in construction for a hole, pit or excavation that has been dug for the purposes of removing gravel, clay and sand used in a construction project such as when building an overpass or embankment.” Fascinating. I don’t learn something new every day, but pretty often. 

The temperature Thursday (when I visited the park with a friend) topped out at 94º and the humidity was approximately sweltering. My buddy and I sat down for a break in a shaded picnic shelter. A small bird popped out of the woods and perched on a branch ten feet away. I didn’t know right away what it was but I knew it wasn’t a “regular” so I snapped this picture. It’s an Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe): 

Phoebe on a branch:

I was grateful for that image; that’s a very pretty picture. That’s one of the little treats about being a photographer. You can be hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, and as soon as a picture like that appears, all your discomfort vanishes as if it never existed. I knew I’d gotten a good image too, so my discomfort stayed vanished for a while. Anyway, I’d barely taken my finger off the shutter button – my camera says I took both pictures in the same minute – when the phoebe hopped off the branch and started taking a dust bath! 

Same phoebe after it hopped off the branch to take a dust bath

A website called The Spruce says that “Dust baths, also called dusting, dirt baths, or sand bathing, are part of a bird’s preening and plumage maintenance that keeps feathers in top condition.” That was a fun little sequence to watch.  

Evelyn’s flowers evolve each week to grace our yard throughout the season – even when it’s hot. This is one of the many hibiscus following the sun around each morning. They’re enormous; I couldn’t resist adding a quarter for scale:

Massive Hibiscus with a quarter for scale.

Wednesday was Bastille Day, similar to our Fourth of July. The Red-tail gazed down on it all from the cell phone tower at the Westbury Apothecary: 

Bastille Day Red-tailed hawk at the Westbury Apothecary

The same day I saw the phoebe at Three Lakes Park I saw a Great Blue Heron stalking along the third lake: 

Great Blue Heron stalking the middle lake at Three Lakes Park

Evelyn and I drove out to RAY’S ITALIAN WATER ICE & FROZEN CUSTARD. This is a true story – we got ice cream with rainbow sprinkles – and looked up in the sky and saw this: 

Rainbow at Ray’s Italian Water Ice:

I said to myself/thought to myself “OMG!” – and had to snap this picture before it melted (and before I ate any more): 

Which came first – the rainbow or the rainbow sprinkles?

I’ll close another blog post with Dash. He was snoozing on the living room windowsill yesterday morning around 10:00. Notice my sunflower slowly growing behind him. I put that seed in the ground on April 21. It’s ~6.5’ tall as I type these words. It’s not bursting with good health, but it may get another foot or two (or more) taller. It’s a fun experiment. Always a great day to take a picture of Dash! 

Dash turning sunlight into a nap while the sunflower turns it into leaves

Have a great week! All best! Come back 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, cats, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, love, People, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dust bath at the borrow pit

  1. Sheila M. Wiese says:

    Lots of great pictures! Next time, I think you should take a selfie with the hibiscus so we can use your head for scale instead of the quarter!!

    • Thank you! Maybe next week I’ll post a picture of myself standing next to my sunflower “for scale.” It’s a scruffy looking plant but it’s taller than I am. For smaller stuff I’ll maintain the Big Mike tradition of a quarter for scale.

  2. Nate says:

    Great pictures Jay. Couldn’t help notice this may be your first post without a dog picture.

    • Thanks Nate! I’ll be sure to put them both in the next post. We’re staying indoors a lot to beat the heat. Maybe I’ll post a picture (or more) of Dash pestering them. It’s not happening this particular instant, but the three of them keep each other “entertained” regularly.

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