Yesterday was a cold day, but I went for a short trail walk despite the 23 degree temperature, and I’m glad I did. Lots of little birds posed for pictures, mainly because they were hungry and hoping for some bark butter bits. There was also a little herd of deer along the trail, two that followed me right at my heels and were very difficult to shoo away. They must have been really hungry. And HAWK was out hunting, swooping from tree to tree, keeping a keen eye out for his prey. I have lots of pictures to share, but no time to post them all tonight, so I decided to feature one of the deer, just to show how clever she was at nibbling on the bark butter bits. That’s it for this time, but I’ll be back to post more deer pictures tomorrow, along with HAWK and the other birds.
The temperature hovered at a degree or two below freezing, and the sky was spitting snow, but the trails were calling, and I wanted to see what kind of images I could capture on a gloomy, grey afternoon. Here’s what I came up with:
Dog walking has to happen, even on cold, snowy days.
No competition for the bark butter balls today.
Playing with a leaf on a snowy picnic table
Definitely not good weather for cycling.
Robins aren’t discouraged by snow.
Waiting for spring
Nothing really great. No hawk. No owl. No sunshine! But my trail walk wasn’t a total washout today. I got some exercise, tested my new camera settings, and came home with a bunch of okay pictures plus one that I had some fun with. Can you guess which one that was? Here it is again:
On my way back to the parking lot, I cut through the picnic shelter and spotted this leaf on the cement floor. Picking it up, I sat down on a bench and played with the camera settings. Call me crazy, but I was satisfied with the results.
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON THE TRAIL TODAY.
Today dawned with sunshine and a blue sky, but by the time I reached the park in mid-afternoon, the sunbeams had done a vanishing act and left behind nothing but grey and gloomy. Nevertheless, I set out on a trail walk, mainly because I wanted to try out some new settings on my camera. Despite the clouds, the park was so crowded I was lucky to find a parking spot, and the trails were filled with dog walkers, photographers, families, and deer (lots of deer). I can’t explain it because it wasn’t sunny or warm, and there wasn’t a hint of spring in the air, but apparently half the population of western Lake County had decided that this was their day to visit Chagrin River Park.
My new camera settings worked well, HAWK, OWL, and many little birds were willing to pose for photo opps, and after an hour on the trails, I came home with quite a few images. Unfortunately, because the sky was such a featureless grey blanket, it added nothing to the pictures, giving most of them a sepia tone, which was definitely not what I wanted. So I have decided to share just a few close ups of HAWK for today’s blog post (Click on a picture to scroll through the gallery to really appreciate this beautiful bird).
That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed HAWK’S close up portraits.
NOTE: This is the second blog post about the adventures of the redtail hawk in Chagrin River Park. You can read the first installment HERE.
On my trail walk in Chagrin River Park this afternoon the first thing I decided to do was check out the screech owl nest to see if he was at home. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and I thought I might be able to get a clear shot of the owl if he was in the nesting box. So I followed the trail down into the bog, and standing right under his nest, I took this shot:
It’s almost identical to the picture I posted of him last week, except the light was a little better and I was able to show his toes in the picture because he was leaning out just a little farther and gripping the edge of the nest with his toes. They’re pretty lethal looking, don’t you think? And then something unexpected happened. A hawk flew in and landed on a branch over my head right next to the owl nest.
Of course the owl immediately pulled his head in and disappeared from sight, and I was only able to capture a few pictures of the hawk before he took off again. So I followed him, and it was pretty obvious that he was in hunting mode. He flew about a quarter of a mile away, landing again in the top of a tree, which gave me time to catch up with him and get some pretty interesting shots.
After surveying the area from his treetop, he flew to the ground and began seriously hunting for food. Scroll through this gallery to see in detail what the hawk did next:
Surveying the area
Ready to pounce on his prey
Look carefully to see what he caught.
There you have it: The end of the snake and the end of the story, but not the end of my attempts to chronicle the ADVENTURES OF HAWK.
Thanks for joining me on the trail today, and be sure to join me on the trail for future adventures. There are always new things to see!
Another week flew by already! Here we are in the first week of February, and once again I am frantically trying to get caught up with my blog posts…not to mention checking out the other awesome blogs I enjoy.
Gallery one: Birds
The last week in January was a cold one with snow still on the ground from last week’s storm. As a result, food for the birds wasn’t easily available, so they were looking for supplements. It turns out that they love the little bite-sized bark butter bits, as you can see from some of the pictures in this gallery.
A little fancy wing action
Red-Bellied woodpecker in profile
Another view of the nuthatch
Red coated cardinal
If you are a bird lover, you might want to check out the bark butter bits at the store that supplies your bird food. We purchase bags of Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter Bits (with calcium) at our neighborhood WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED store. Can’t vouch for the flavor personally, since I’m more inclined toward brownies or some other chocolatey treat for my snacks, but the birds sure love them. The pictures are proof of that!
Gallery two: Land and Riverscapes
So were the birds the only evidence that it has been a cold week? Take a look at this gallery of pictures of the river for more evidence. That chunky ice looks pretty cold, and the sky is grey and mostly overcast, typical of our January weather.
Finally: Two favorites from this week
To close this week’s Almanac, here are two of my favorites:
That’s it from the south shore of Lake Erie for the last week of January. Please stop by in a day or two for some February pictures. Meanwhile, wherever you live, whatever the weather, get out on a trail near you, take some pictures, and find a way to share them with some friends. That’s what I’m doing.
I heard a rumor that the high temperature for today set a record for this date. I’m not sure what it reached, but when I left home for my trail walk around noon, the temperature was 63 degrees. Really warm for February 3rd. Several hours later, when I went out again, the thermometer read 43 degrees, and a strong wind was blowing. I wonder what it is blowing our way?
For a few minutes there, I thought spring had arrived. Duh! Silly me! After all, this is northeast Ohio.
Deer are curious critters, especially in the winter when they think you may be carrying some delicious treats. Unfortunately for this trio, I had no treats, but I was carrying a camera. The snowy noses are the result of foraging for food buried under the snow.
Who was it that proclaimed, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” I’m pretty sure they should have said, “If you’re having fun (or not), time still flies!” I am a week late posting this issue of the Almanac. Admittedly I’ve had some fun in the past two weeks, but that isn’t the only reason I’m late. An ear infection plus snowy, cold weather kept me off the trails, so my Almanac for the past two weeks looks a little lean. Mea culpa, friends. I will try to stay on track in the future. but first I’ll have to get back on track, which I will do tomorrow by posting last week’s Almanac. Then I will be caught up. So here are the galleries for January 9-15.
Gallery 1: Our back yard bird (and squirrel) buffet
On a good day, a lot of birds visit the feeders in our back yard. Chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, and other birds live here year round. Here are some that visited this week:
Blue jay (Handsome, but bossy)
They don’t mind sharing.
Not a bird, but a visitor nevertheless!
The squirrel family is pretty large.
Gallery 2: Seen on the trail this week
Because of the weather and my earache, I didn’t go very far afield this week. It was snowy and cold. I didn’t want to spend too much time outside, so I only ventured as far as Chagrin River Park. That’s within walking distance (if I would choose to walk there, which I don’t because I prefer to spend more time in the park instead of on the way to the park).
Heading down the trail
One of many dog walkers I passed on the trail.
Found a peanut!
Well, hello there!
A young piebald deer
Gallery 3: Memorable Moments
The M.M. gallery only includes one picture this week, but it is a special one. Our grandson Bryan and his wife Nikki live in NY City where she is a pediatric resident at one of the hospitals. Bryan, who just graduated from the University of Michigan, was in Toledo, closing out the apartment they have lived in while Nikki was in med school and Bryan was in Ann Arbor. The other day, he packed a few things from the apartment into his car and headed for New York to join Nikki and their dog Maya. We met him for lunch in Streetsboro, and that’s where this picture was snapped. It’s a good memory.
That’s it for this issue of the Almanac. Because I somehow lost a week and got behind on my deadline, I will be posting another issue tomorrow. Then all I have to do is manage to stay on track and keep my promise to post every Monday the Almanac for the previous week.
Wish me luck with that goal! The days sure do fly by fast.
See you soon.
So many deer were walking the trails in Chagrin River Park today, it reminded me of a school playground at recess time…recess for a large class of does, bucks, and fawns, although the fawns are getting pretty big by now, and the only buck in the class is a young fella just growing his antlers. Take a look at them. I don’t have captions on the pictures tonight, so I will have to do that tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy the class picture:
Piebald deer, so named for the patches of color
Three does in different sizes.
Snowy nose from looking for food in the snow
Just two of the 15 or so deer I encountered on the trail
A very young one
A young buck challenged me on the trail, but ran when I steps forward.
And finally: Here’s a persistent deer that was walking in my direction and didn’t know when to stop. She definitely invaded my space, but she wasn’t aggressive. Definitely assertive, but not aggressive. I am sure she thought I had food for her, but I didn’t. She was disappointed when I waved her off and walked away.
I wonder if she is part of the herd that comes out of the park at night to visit my back yard bird feeders? Now that there is snow on the ground, they come every night and polish off whatever food the birds didn’t eat during the day.
It’s really neat to live practically next door to this beautiful park, but I do wish the deer would respect the park boundaries. However, I’m not going to hold my breath while I wait for that to happen.
When I arrived at Chagrin River Park today, my goal was to capture a few, say 10 or 12, sharp pictures of the birds and deer I see along the trail. The cardinals were happy to pose, and I was especially delighted with the handsome red-coated male who stood out in the snow-covered branches of the evergreen tree. They flew into the tree, I sprinkled a few peanuts, and all of us were pleased with the results.
And the cardinals weren’t the only birds I captured with my lens. There was this white-throated sparrow…
… the red-bellied woodpecker that rather comically stuck her head up from behind the fence post just in time to grab one of the last peanuts,
and at one point I interrupted a confrontation between a cardinal and a chickadee. The expression on the face of the chickadee makes me smile every time I look at it. The feisty little bird isn’t the least bit intimidated by the huge red one!
And then there was a herd of seven or eight deer. There was one medium sized buck along with quite a few does, and one of the does, a young one, was a dappled deer. You can see from the pictures that his coat is unique. I have no idea why, but it really makes him stand out in the crowd.
A young piebald deer
It was a beautiful day for a trail walk, and I am pleased that I got more than the 10 or 12 I had set as my goal for the day. To close this post, here is a beautiful young doe that posed in the late afternoon light. Thanks for joining me along the trail today. I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Keep your eyes on this space. You never know what we will see along the trail.