Reasons to be cheerful 

27 February, 2022 Reasons to be cheerful 

I read a lot of news, and a lot of it is not cheerful. I am aware that many un cheerful things happen every day – many “reasons to be un cheerful” – but they’re outweighed by the cheerful things. And I recently discovered a web site or news source called “reasons to be cheerful” and it’s worth being aware of. The subtitle is A recipe book for solutions. No dietary restrictions. Check it out. 

A friend told me he enjoys reading my blog posts. It may be a polite way of saying my photography is poor. He is a deeply kind human being and a terrific photographer. No matter, I like posting (and taking) pictures so I’ll continue with that. And write a little. 

My most recent blog post was January 16, 2022 – six weeks ago today. Boy I have a lot of pictures. I think I’ll just limit this to my ten favorite. And hope to get another blog post up in less than six weeks. Enjoy this one – please! 

I saw this bluebird just a week ago at Pony Pasture: 

What better way to open a blog post titled “reasons to be cheerful.”

I heard Barred owls this morning at Pony Pasture – I heard a pair calling back and forth – but I never saw them, and so was never able to put a lens on them. But I have seen a lot of Barred owls there in the six weeks since my last post. I even got a picture of a pair, but they were shrouded in dead vines and I didn’t enjoy the picture. Here’s one I took in late January: 

I think they doze during the day. Or maybe I make them sleepy.

Coyotes aren’t around every day or even every week, but they’re in and out of the are these days. I saw one hit by a car on Patterson at the Henrico/Goochland border and another on 295 near 33. Anyway, the deer are not as sedate as they were in the pre-coyote days. I still got to watch a small herd ambling around after the the snow four weeks ago:  

Face shots of whitetail does are all similar, and similarly beautiful. Those eyes. Look at her.

Speaking of owls (more precisely speaking of raptors) I saw (again) a pair or Red-tails on the same cross at the same church. Scroll down and compare this with the one from the last post; same cross, certainly the same hawks, just different poses. I presume soon they’ll be feeding babies. This is just from eleven days ago: 

I first became enamored of Red-tailed hawks in high school. I have not grown less enamored.

Also, since I’m (somewhat incessantly) on the raptor theme, I came home less than a week after my last blog post to see this Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) perched casually on a branch across the street from my house, brazenly keeping watch on my bird feeders. When I say “bird feeders” I mean feeding songbirds, but hawks are birds too and I suppose this one thought it would come feed. Yikes. They sure are good looking birds though: 

This female Cooper’s hawk would have to flap her wings about three times to kill a bird on my front feeder.

I first started hiking at Pony Pasture in about 1990, when my old friends Marni and Jason lived here. They introduced me to it and although they’re in Oregon now, I’m still at Pony Pasture regularly – even this morning! So I’ve been hiking there well north of three decades, and I recall seeing my first Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola). I know it was a female because I distinctly recall looking at her and thinking “that looks exactly like a Nike Swoosh.” I was so ignorant in those days (compared with how ignorant I am in these days) that I had no idea what I was looking at. I was fortunate that the inimitable Betsy Slade enlightened me. That was probably in the winter of 1990 – they’re strictly winter ducks – and I saw her about a month ago and she is in every way unchanged. The flocks of Buffleheads on the river look just like they did in 1990 as well. They arrive here around the first frost (typically late October) and head back up north around the last frost (mid-April). Anyway, there were big flocks there this morning but I photographed this male in the fourth week of January. This is from behind, and I suspect he was showing off for a female, or just trying to show how much more fit he was than the other males in the flock:  

I don’t get a million bufflehead pictures I enjoy. But this one is cool:

If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen practically an infinite number of pictures of my old cat Dash. I take them all with my phone. He’s a lifelong indoor cat and I don’t use my camera for indoor photography. They’re pretty repetitive – he sleeps a lot, usually near the woodstove this time of year. In this picture he was awake (for the moment) near the woodstove: 

Warm woodstoves make Dash sleepy

I was standing in front of the Y a couple of days before I took that picture of Dash yawning. I was talking with my old friend Tom, who’s worked at the Y almost as long as I’ve been a member – possibly longer. Tom also enjoys hawks as much as I do, and while we were standing there a big Red-tail (it had to be a female; they’re much larger than males) swooped into the tree in the northwest corner of the parking lot. I went to my car and grabbed my camera and snapped a quick picture. If they’ve eaten they’ll sit around for a while but she was still on the hunt. I managed to get up sun from her and get one quick picture before she departed in search of a snack. Here she is a moment before she took off: 

Keeping the Tuckahoe area rodent population in check:

I got a quick look at her while she was heading for her lunch meeting. This is kind of far away and cropped but I like it anyway: 

See her up there in the upper left? Squirrels at the Y let out an audible sigh.

Flowers are poking out – you must already be seeing daffodils – and they’ll be filling our senses and this blog soon. Tuesday is March 1! To prepare, I’ll close with two from this week. They’re both from our yard (thank Evelyn if you see her) but soon they’ll be everywhere. The first is the trademark sign of Spring, a stunning yellow daffodil; this one is from our backyard: 

If you hadn’t noticed, Spring is just around the corner. (Daffodil, thanks to Evelyn and photosynthesis)

This big camelia is on our side yard; I took this picture about three minutes after the daffodil: 

Taken moments after that daffodil picture, about ten feet away. Again, thanks to Evelyn and photosynthesis.

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.
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2 Responses to Reasons to be cheerful 

  1. Gilpin says:

    Well, I LOVE your photos. These are some great ones. I especially like the bluebird. The ‘catch’ in his eye and the twigs framing him with the blue sky. What’s not to like?!!

    • Thank you Gilpin! I was definitely on the right side of that little guy – perfect reflection of the sun in his eye. And if you’re going to title a blog post “Reasons to be cheerful,” it’s great to start out with a bluebird!

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