Wetlands and Pony Pasture

Another pair of local parks that I visit are Wetlands and Pony Pasture. They are side-by-side, nestled between the James River, subdivisions and a golf course. They are both part of James River Park, maintained by the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Since they are literally side-by-side, I was never quite sure why they were two separate parks, instead of just one larger park. I treat them as one park, however, so I guess it really does not matter.

One down side to Wetlands and Pony Pasture is that they are both very popular with dog owners, and it is very likely that you will encounter very happy, very friendly, and very off-leash dogs. I have no problems with dogs, but when they run free, they make bird watching and photography more challenging. This Barred Owl, for example, was in view for only a few minutes before a pair of dogs, both completely ignorant of the owl, tore through the underbrush and spooked it.

Barred Owl

To find a happy medium (so that I can watch the birds and the dogs can get a good run in), I try to get there as early as possible, or during the middle of the week, or when then weather is not perfect. Such was the case this past January, arriving early-ish on a day that was very overcast and very cold (at least, cold for Virginia). This Swamp Sparrow on ice illustrates my point.

Swamp Sparrow

During the winter months, the real star of the park is the James River, and the various ducks and gulls that might be present. With very challenging light and distance, these photos are acceptable, but certainly not great. They do, however, give you examples of what might be hanging out on or near the river. From top to bottom: Bufflehead (whoever named this species deserves a prize!), a raft of Redhead with a couple of Canvasback sprinkled in for good measure, and even a Lesser Black-backed Gull.


Redhead and Canvasback

Lesser Black-backed Gull


Evita said...

Wow I love the array of birds you have captured in your pictures here!

Isn't it amazing how the owl blends in so well with the trees. And the colors on all of these birds are just so awesome to see the different whites, greys and blacks melted together in various patterns. So beautiful!

T and S said...

Beautiful series. That owl is a stunning capture...Thomas