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Outdoors

Herons and More on the Pipeline

Taken over a couple of mornings this week.

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The Pipeline is one of my favorite spots in Richmond. I tend to hit on weekday mornings as evenings and weekends it can get crowded. This week the Great Blue Herons have been gathering to feast on the fish. The heron have been the stars of the show but you’ll find plenty of other things to check out.

Duck vs Heron – Heron won put it was a battle.

Prothonotary Warbler

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Downtown

New Valentine Museum exhibit “Breathing Places” tells the story of Richmond’s carefully crafted greenspaces

The Valentine’s newest exhibition Breathing Places: Park & Recreation in Richmond opens at the museum on May 5th and explores the design, use, and evolution of Richmond’s many parks, recreation areas, and natural spaces.

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The Valentine’s newest exhibition Breathing Places: Park & Recreation in Richmond opens at the museum on May 5th and explores the design, use, and evolution of Richmond’s many parks, recreation areas, and natural spaces. Over the last 170 years, the region has developed and maintained these greenspaces for some residents while limiting and denying access to others. The new exhibition will explore this complex story while providing a window into the ongoing effects on residents today.

“Breathing Places both celebrates and critically examines a central part of community life,” said Christina K. Vida, the Elise H. Wright Curator of General Collections. “As spring approaches and Richmonders with access take to their local parks, fields and yards, it’s the perfect time to explore the histories of those important spaces.”

The exhibition’s title comes from an 1851 recommendation by Richmond’s Committee on Public Squares, which advised “securing breathing places in the midst of the city or convenient to it.” This recommendation would have dramatic (and disproportionate) impacts on Richmonders.

The debut of Breathing Places comes on the heels of the Valentine welcoming visitors back to the museum with new outdoor programming, spring and summer events and more.

“As residents and visitors alike begin to return downtown to enjoy many of the greenspaces they’ve missed for over a year, now is the ideal time to open this exhibition,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “Breathing Places is not only an opportunity to fully explore the history of parks and recreation, but to inspire visitors to experience these spaces for themselves while considering how we can improve community access going forward.”

Breathing Places will also include a slideshow of rotating images featuring community-submitted photos. Richmonders (both individuals and organizations) can submit images of themselves, their families or their friends enjoying greenspaces across the region.

Breathing Places: Parks & Recreation in Richmond will be on display on the Lower Level of the Valentine from May 5, 2021 through January 30, 2022.

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Outdoors

Photos: Eagles on the James

We got up early Saturday and joined Capt. Mike’s Discover the James Tours. We were lucky enough to see eagles, lots of eagles.

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Capt. Mike runs the Discover the James tours and on our expedition, we saw around 15 different eagles. There are quite a few nesting pairs that have staked out their territory along the James and this time of year there is an almost equal number of transitory eagles in the same area.

The James River runs through it … through the City of Richmond and just minutes downriver is an incredible opportunity to see resident bald eagles in their natural habitat. This 3-hour, pontoon boat tour takes you into the midst of an ecosystem rich with wildlife, history and beautiful scenery. Discover the James’ Bald Eagle Tour takes you through an six-mile stretch of the James River known as Jefferson’s Reach, encompassing eight territories of resident bald eagles.

The tour focuses on the sixteen resident bald eagles in Jefferson’s Reach. Resident eagles do not migrate and live within their territories all year long. During the year, two additional populations of bald eagles migrate into the area. In May, summer migratory bald eagles, from the south (mainly Florida), arrive and these eagles are gone by the end of September. In mid November, winter migratory eagles arrive from the north and stay into February, then begin their departure, returning to their breeding grounds.

The tour is currently operating under Covid-19 restrictions and limiting the number of folks on each tour and masks are required. More information on Facebook and here.

Eagles aren’t the only bird you’ll see.

This is Bandit and she has an amazing story of survival.

Read more about Bandit (aka Dolly) here.

Bandit enjoying lunch.

The wingspan of an adult Bald Eagle can reach 7.5 feet.

A juvenile Bald Eagle. It takes about 5 years to get full adult plumage.

 

A few more Bald Eagle facts from Cornell Lab.

  • Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to Bald Eagle piracy. See an example here.
  • Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”
  • Sometimes even the national bird has to cut loose. Bald Eagles have been known to play with plastic bottles and other objects pressed into service as toys. One observer witnessed six Bald Eagles passing sticks to each other in midair.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest on record, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons. It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day. Some young birds from Florida have wandered north as far as Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.
  • Bald Eagles occasionally hunt cooperatively, with one individual flushing prey towards another.
  • Bald Eagles can live a long time. The oldest recorded bird in the wild was at least 38 years old when it was hit and killed by a car in New York in 2015. It had been banded in the same state in 1977.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




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Community

Photos: Surfing Z Dam

Floodwaters bring out the skilled river riders to take to the waves at Z Dam. These photos were shot Saturday afternoon.

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