Birds and other critters!

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…

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… 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,

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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!

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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.

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.

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Keep your eyes on this space. You never know what we will see along the trail.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Photo Almanac: January 1-8, 2016

A new feature on my blog, the Photo Almanac (originally titled The Week in Review), will appear every week to highlight some of my favorite photos from the previous seven days. While many of them will have already been included in other posts throughout the week, some will make their first appearance in the weekly Almanac. This week I have categorized the selected photos and  posted them in three separate galleries. You can click on any picture to open and scroll through the gallery.

Gallery one: Wildlife

As you know if you have been following my blog, I love being outdoors, and trail walking is one of my favorite activities. It is on the trails in local park that I usually take most of my photos. This week, after experiencing Northeast Ohio’s warmest December on record, things began to cool down. In midweek we had a few very pleasant days with temperatures in the forties and low fifties, but by the end of the week, they continued to drop. Happily (from my point of view) there was little snow or rain and not a lot of windy days either, so I  headed out on the trails almost every day.  My most exciting day on the trails this week involved a confrontation between a red-shouldered hawk and a hapless field mouse, but other critters made an appearance too. All the photos in this gallery were taken on trail walks in Chagrin River Park.

 

Gallery two: Landscapes

Although Chagrin River Park is my most frequently visited place for trail walking, Holden Arboretum is another favorite. At Chagrin River opportunities to observe and interact with birds and other wildlife are plentiful, while at the Arboretum there are seemingly endless trails and gardens, each with its own special beauty. I try to visit Holden at least once a week, and this week I was lucky to be able to enjoy it with my grandson Michael. Here are a few pictures from our visit on Thursday.

 

Gallery Three: Fabulous Friday Faces

In December 2013, I screwed up my courage and began asking  many of the strangers I encounter on the trails if I could take their picture for a special feature on my blog called Fabulous Friday Faces. Prior to that time, when I saw people I didn’t know, I would pass by with little more than a smile and a nod or brief “hello.” I was essentially a solitary walker and happy to be that way. I’m not sure what triggered my decision to change, but, however it happened, I began to pause, engage strangers in conversation, and ask them to pose for photo opps. It was difficult at first, but has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made as a photographer. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have come to enjoy these brief encounters immensely. Of all the new people I have encountered, only one has refused the request to pose for my camera. Over time, I have learned a lot, met many fantastic people, and become much more connected with the world around me when I am on the trail. I keep an ongoing gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces and an explanation of the process here on my Smugmug site if you want to know more. Here are two new FF Faces that I added during my trail walks this week followed by  a new photo of one of my earlier Fabulous Faces. One of the benefits of the FFF is the number of friends I’ve made. I repeatedly meet some of them in the park, and it’s always a great feeling to see them.

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Bill Arotin, Chagrin River Park
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Tom Dodge, Chagrin River Park
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Joe Morandini, Chagrin River Park

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Photo Almanac. If you have enjoyed this new feature, I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Another Fabulous Friday Face!

Friday was a great day, photographically speaking. I ran into my old friends, JESSIE AND JOE, sitting at the fire pit in Chagrin River Park. On another bench by the fire was someone I assumed was a regular park visitor, although I had never really met him and didn’t know his name.  Since Jessie and Joe were already in my FFF gallery, after  a short conversation with the group, I asked this stranger if I could take his picture to include in my gallery.

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know that meeting strangers and getting their picture for my FFF gallery is something I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. People are all different in their reactions when I ask for a photo opp. Some are visibly surprised, but then cheerfully agree. Others are a little reluctant, but decide to go with the flow. I can only remember one who refused to be photographed. To make a long story short, this stranger, who introduced himself as Tom, indicated that having his picture taken by a strange woman with a camera was no big deal, so I took Tom’s picture and posted it HERE.

After that, I said goodbye to Jessie and Joe, and moving on down the trail,  I headed for my favorite bird watching spot to see what birds might be willing to pose for my camera. Arriving there, I encountered another photographer I had never met, so we  introduced ourselves and, since I was on a roll today requesting photo opps of strangers,  after a brief conversation (about photography of course) I asked if I could add his portrait to my FFF gallery. He agreed. (You gotta love these agreeable people! They can really make for a great day.) So here’s Bill.

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And HERE he is, officially added to my gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces.  FFF is a (fairly) regular feature on my blog, but the ongoing gallery is posted on SmugMug, where you can read more about it and see the other fabulous faces I’ve added since December 2013.

This particular Friday was really becoming a photographic gold mine. And, although I didn’t know it yet, there was still more to come down the trail before I headed for home. However, I think this post is already long (and confusing) enough, so here is a link to the episode about the HAWK AND THE FIELD MOUSE. Go on, click the link. You don’t want to miss my final thrilling trail walking experience on this amazing day.

See you there!
Trail Walker

Peaceful trail walk in the Arboretum

In contrast to my recent exciting (and slightly gory) hawk and field mouse gallery, today’s photos were taken on a peaceful trail walk my grandson Mike and I took this week. Mike carried his Canon, I brought my Nikon, and on Thursday afternoon we set out for a two hour walk through several of the gardens in the Holden Arboretum. It was a great day, cold but not quite freezing, dry, calm, and blessed by a beautiful deep blue sky filled with amazing clouds. Most of the photos are landscapes, although a few dogs got into the mix because I love dogs, and the Arboretum is a great place for dog walking.

That’s enough talking for now. Let’s head out on the trail and enjoy the beauty of Holden Arboretum. You can click on the pictures to scroll through the gallery and read the captions.

That’s it for today. I promised peaceful landscapes, and that’s what we saw. I hope you enjoyed the trail walk. Tomorrow I plan to post my “week in review.” I hope you will come back to see some of my favorites from the past 10 days.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

The hawk and the field mouse

I was nearing the end of an afternoon trail walk in Chagrin River Park. More than happy with the images I had collected on my memory card, I was ready to head for home when a large hawk, perched on a fence post just off the trail, caught my attention.

It must be a decoy, I thought to myself. I had heard other people talking about the hawk they had seen along the trail, but I hadn’t been lucky enough to spot him, so I didn’t believe my eyes until his head moved, and I realized it really was a hawk, a very large one! Lifting my camera, I began shooting frame after frame, while any minute expecting him to fly away.

Instead, he spread his wings, rose a few feet into the air and plummeted into the gully next to the post where he had been perched.

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After a short skirmish, with a small field mouse gripped tightly in his talons, he returned to his perch to enjoy his lunch.

If your sympathy lies with the little mouse, you will probably agree that nature isn’t always pretty because the field mouse didn’t have any hope of surviving his encounter with the redtailed hawk. The hawk, on the other hand, was happy to capture a meal and survive for another day of hunting.

That’s it for today. Although I actually have more pictures of this encounter, I decided not to post the most graphic parts of the sequence.

I’ll be back soon with another post, one that I promise will be more cheerful! I hope you will join me then.

Trail Walker

Fabulous Friday Faces: Tom

2016_01_08_Trailwalks_CRP_0015Regular followers of my blog will know about the feature I call Fabulous Friday Faces. On my trail walks in the park, one of the things I enjoy is meeting new people and taking their picture to add to my gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces. I haven’t been very regular about it lately, so I am trying to get back on track in the new year.

This week, I was walking past the fire pit in Chagrin River Park  where four people were warming themselves around a blazing fire. Two of the people, Joe and Jessie, are old acquaintances who are already members of my FFF gallery, so I stopped to say hello, and that’s when I met Tom. Like Joe, Jessie, and many others, Tom is a regular visitor to CRP. As he told me, it is a great little park, a peaceful place where you can appreciate nature and also enjoy conversations with lots of interesting people that you might not get to know otherwise. Thanks for giving me permission to add your portrait to my FFF gallery. You can see it HERE, along with Jessie and Joe,and the other Fabulous Friday Faces I have been thankful to meet in the past two years.

Hope to see you again soon!
Trail Walker aka Carolyn

Highlights of the Week: A new feature

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Not much snow so far this year

This is the inaugural post of my “Highlights of the Week”feature. At the end of each week, I will review all my images and choose those I believe best represent the week.  At the end of the year, if I manage to remain faithful to my concept, I will have posted 52 eclectic galleries, not all taken from my trail walks, but a mixture of pictures from the places and events that constitute my week. More photos than words, it will be a summary of where I’ve been and what I’ve done during the preceding seven days. I will begin with images captured between December 25, 2015 and today, January 1, 2016, so the pictures will be a mix of our family Christmas, our church Christmas Day community dinner, and our New Year’s Eve trail walk, the last one of 2015.

I chose the photo at the top of this page because it gives me an opportunity to show the tiny bit of snow, mostly sleet, that  has fallen in the past 12 hours. According to the newspaper, last month was the warmest December on record. I, for one, am not complaining.

On Christmas morning we helped serve a Christmas dinner for anyone who came through the door in search of a hot meal. Volunteers from the church and community prepared and served the meal, then cleaned up the kitchen and fellowship hall before heading home to spend the rest of the day with their families:

After helping with the cleanup at the church, we gathered at Alison and Mike’s home for our Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

 

During the week between Christmas and New Years, we helped to undecorate the church, updated the sign in front of the church, and took the very last trail walk of 2015.

That’s it for this week. I have had a tough time completing this post. Apparently WordPress has made some changes since I last posted that I will have to figure out before I do my next weekly update.

Happy New Year everyone.
See you soon!

Trail Walker

 

Another Fabulous Friday Face

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Kym with Piper

Last week I ran into Kym and Piper along the trail in Chagrin River Park. We chatted a little bit, that is Kym and I chatted while Piper kept an eye out for other dogs and observed the activity around us. After a few minutes, Kym and I realized that we had met before. I had taken her picture at the Arts Festival in our community way back in July when she was modeling the hats she creates and sells. (You can see the picture here). Most of the FFF (Fabulous Friday Faces) I post are people I have never met before, but occasionally there is an exception. Kym and Piper were both so photogenic, I decided that they should be added to my FFF gallery together (See the gallery here).

I love dogs and often take pictures of people and their dogs in the park, so here are two more pictures of Piper. He wasn’t enthusiastic about posing for his portrait, but I’m happy with the results. Maybe I should start carrying treats to reward my canine models. ;)

Thank you, Kym and Piper for posing, and thanks to everyone else for joining us along the trail today.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

You’ll never hear the words…

Those of you who, like me, regret the rapid passing of Autumn and its transitory beauty , need to read this celebration of winter. Yes, I just used “celebration” and “winter” in the same sentence. Maybe we will find more pleasure in the coming season if we sprinkle it with at least a little bit of celebration.

it's (almost always) about the water...

I hate winter come out of my mouth.

20151120-DSC_5148-4Winter is not a season, it’s a celebration.

Anamika Mishra

We were hit hard with a winter storm this past week; one that communities south of us are still recovering from.

I am happy to be sitting at my desk with the power restored after a few days without. It makes one feel grateful and appreciative for all that we do have. We were warm and toasty, aided by our wood stove. We weren’t hungry. We had candles and flashlights and we were together as a family.

Winter brings these kinds of storms that depending on the timing, can wreak havoc in the Northern climes but you won’t hear me complain.

Winter also brings a beauty with it that is varied and intricate. Always changing the landscape and added a layer of simplicity as it gently blankets the debris left behind in…

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Autumn’s amazing display

Two months ago, around the end of September, I wondered if we were going to witness the glorious Autumn colors that we have seen in other years. If the amount of light and rainfall has been just right, the display will be eye-popping. This year didn’t start out looking so promising, but it gradually turned breathtakingly beautiful. As an example, here are four photos of the gingko tree in Holden Arboretum, taken on three different dates:

 

 

This sugar maple tree is another example of stunning beauty. On October 12th (top picture), it was displaying some promise, but I was worried that it was peaking and this would be “as good as it gets” for this year.

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However, when I returned to the Arboretum 10 days later, I was greeted by this sight, and it made my heart sing.

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This is why Fall is my favorite season, and it is a reminder of how blessed I am to be able to take trail walks, especially during Autumn.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today!
Trail Walker