Great horned owl

A great horned owl is sitting on a nest in the park where I usually take my photowalks. Last week it was pointed out to me, but the owl was not in sight, although others had seen it. Today I took a few pictures of the nest, came home, and brought them up on my computer screen, and I could see the little tufts on the top of her head. Can you see them?

According to the bird app on my computer, the owl lays one to five dull white eggs in an abandoned nest made by hawks or crows, which this nest is. She will incubate the eggs for 28-35 days, and it is mostly the female who does the hard work of sitting on the eggs until they hatch. If all goes well, we could see at least one nestling in four weeks or so.

I find that exciting, and I will keep you updated.
Carolyn aka Skip

Look what the sun brought out!

It’s amazing the difference a little sunshine will make after what seems like weeks of overcast skies. The sunny skies brought lots of walkers to the trails in the park and lots of birds too. The red-bellied woodpecker is usually too shy to come within range of my camera lens, but today I captured three pictures of him. Isn’t he a beauty? (Maybe it’s a she. I will have to look that up.)

Bonanza!

On my photowalk this afternoon, the first “almost sunny” afternoon we have had in a long time, I headed down the trail with some sunflower seeds in my pocket. Passing a bench, I sprinkled a handful of seeds, hoping to attract a few birds for a photo opp. Some chickadees and titmice flew in, grabbed seeds, and flew away, so I sat on the end of the bench and waited for more birds to arrive. Instead of the flutter of wings, I heard footsteps. Looking up, this is what I witnessed over the next few minutes…

deer_seeds

Earlier today I read some tips on this photography website explaining how to create a diptych that will tell a story. Since I had recently purchased an app called My Frames, that helps me create diptychs and collages, I thought I would give it a try. I’m fairly satisfied with the results, but I’m wondering what you think. Can you “read” the story these pictures are meant to tell? I could almost “hear” the doe thinking, “Oh, wow, sunflower seeds. I want some NOW,” as she headed for the bench and reached out with her long tongue. What do you see? Hear?

It was a fun experiment. I think I will have to upload the diptych and enter the challenge. I have never done anything like that before, but there’s always a first time. Becoming a better photographer certainly requires experimenting with new techniques, learning how to tell stories through pictures, and challenging yourself. It also makes my photowalks a lot more fun!

See you soon!
Carolyn aka Skip

Sparrows can be SO confusing!

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow -2

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow -2

I knew it was a sparrow, but I couldn’t find it in my bird app on my iPad. Then I had a brainstorm (Don’t know what took so long) and posted it to my Facebook page, asking for help with the ID. Within minutes, a friend I didn’t realize was an expert on birds chimed in with an answer. So lesson learned! If you don’t know, ask on Facebook! I am not much of a Facebooker. I only visit it rarely because I am too busy taking photowalks and then organizing and processing my pictures, but I’ve just discovered how useful Facebook can be as a birding resource. In my opinion, that’s a great discovery. Here are a couple more pictures of this pretty little bird:

Immature white-crowned sparrow
Immature white-crowned sparrow
His colors are more subdued than the adult.
His colors are more subdued than the adult.

Hope you like the little brown job that I now know is an immature white-crowned sparrow. Live and learn!

See you soon!
Carolyn aka Skip

A blanket of snow

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Much to my delight, snow fell last night and covered the muddy trails in the park. Winter without snow can be pretty dull and tiresome, in my opinion. The unremitting brown-and-greyness of it wears on me after a while…a pretty short while to tell the truth. I think my feelings stem from our location on the south shore of Lake Erie. We don’t get many sunny days from November to May, and a nice snowfall puts a whole new face on things and consequently lifts my spirits.

The bird you can see on the fence post is a red-bellied woodpecker. When I spotted it, my camera was wearing its 35mm lens. Opening my bag, I grabbed out the 70-300mm zoom, clicked it into place, looked up and the WP was gone! Darn uncooperative bird! It would have looked so good against the snow too. Instead I will offer you two shots of the downy woodpecker who agreed to substitute for his red-bellied relative.
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That’s it for today. I’m ready for some relaxation. See you soon.

P.S. If you want to see a few more pictures from today’s photowalk, they start here.
Carolyn aka Skip

Unusual pose for a nuthatch

Walking in the park, I am much more likely to see the nuthatches (and there are hundreds of them) land in a tree and walk down the trunk. That is typical behavior for the nuthatch, but this fellow decided to pose a little differently for his portrait. I wonder if he is more vain than the rest of them?

Carolyn aka Skip

Something different

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A late afternoon walk in the park garnered nothing more than the usual suspects: the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and other little birds. Then as the sun sank lower, it cast a soft glow on the scene, and I decided to go for a landscape shot of the power towers. Not my usual style, but I like it. I hope you do too. These wires lead to a power plant on the shores of Lake Erie, just a mile or less from where I was standing.

Carolyn aka Skip

I found “big bird!”!

Look at those holes he has dug in the tree.Look at those holes the pileated woodpecker has dug in the tree.

I have been tracking this big bird for weeks, actually for the entire winter, ever since I realized that there was one living in our neighborhood park. Now I know that there isn’t just one, but a pair, a male and a female. This is the female. The red streak along the jaw is what tells us the gender of the bird. One of the walkers I see in the park told me he had seen both of them together. Now that would REALLY be beyond exciting. Cross your finger and watch this space. I’ll keep looking!

Carolyn aka Skip

P.S. I posted a few more pileated pictures in my photo portfolio at SmugMug. Take a look if you are interested.

A photo portfolio

A pileated woodpecker has been here.
A pileated woodpecker has been here.
There is a pileated woodpecker nesting somewhere in our park, and I have been searching for him for weeks. Occasional sightings have not rewarded me with a good picture to post, so I will just have to keep trying. It is a very elusive quarry and perhaps, just perhaps, there is a pair. One day recently I was listening to him drill a hole when another park walker came down the trail and announced that he had just seen him on a different trail. So maybe there actually is a pair. I’ll let you know if (or when) I get any confirmation. Meanwhile, here are three more recent pictures that show how snowy and wintry it has been in our neighborhood…
2013_02_04_nature_058
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Last, but definitely not least, a picture of my hubby and our buddy Gulliver, taken on yesterday’s walk in the park.
2013_02_04_nature_100

On an entirely different subject…

I need some feedback. I have recently updated and upgraded my photo portfolio at SmugMug.com because I needed a place online to post my photo galleries. Take a look if you have time and let me know what you think about the presentation, navigation, etc.

Thanks!
Carolyn aka Skip

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