A trio of snowy noses

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Three does in different sizes.

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.

Trail Walker
Trio

Photo Almanac-January 16-23, 2016

 

The best way to describe this week’s Almanac is skimpy. It is  embarrassingly slim. The weather was very cold, which normally doesn’t discourage me from trail walking, but my earache from last week persisted, so I just wimped out. True confession. Here are a few deer pictures and one little titmouse from the park.

In addition to these trail walk pictures, I snapped a few other desperation shots with my iPhone, so I will post them here too. Three were taken in the park, but the last was taken when I was downtown for jury duty on a nasty cold morning. The river scene looks rather grim and gritty because it was that kind of day, but it also provides an interesting glimpse of the industrial side of Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga River that meanders through downtown Cleveland is named for an American Indian word that means crooked river. As it winds through the city, it is an industrial river rather than a scenic one. Some years ago it figured in the title of a book, actually a very interesting book called Crooked River Burning, a fitting title because many years ago the river really did burn. It took the city a very long time to recover from that infamous incident, but it is a very different city these days. Hopefully, after the Republican National Convention meets here next summer, many visitors will go home and spread the word about all the great things there are to see and do here on the banks of the crooked river.

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Cuyahoga River on a frigid morning

That’s it for this week’s Almanac. Weather permitting, I expect to take more trail walks, and therefore more photos, next week.

Thanks for joining me on the trail.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Photo Almanac: January 9-15, 2016

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:

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).

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.

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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.
Trail Walker

Oh Deer!

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:

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.

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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.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

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

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