Trumpeter swan: a first for me


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The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl species native to North America, was at one time considered an endangered species. They had been hunted to near extinction for their feathers, skin, meat, and eggs, and by 1900 the species had greatly declined in numbers, until, by 1970 fewer than 70 were known to exist in the wild. Then a small population was discovered in remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, and in the early 1950s, a larger population was found in Alaska. By 2010 the North American population had increased to over 46,000 birds. Now it is  no longer a rare bird, but this is the first I had seen one, so I was delighted with the opportunity to take some photos of this beautiful bird that can have a wingspan that exceeds 10 feet.

Except for a black bill, legs, and feet, the trumpeter swan is completely white, although, like the one we saw, their head and neck may be stained a rusty brown because of the ferrous minerals in the wetland soils where they make their habitat. They feed on aquatic plants, and I was fascinated to watch this solitary bird floating gracefully in the marsh, repeatedly dipping its head under the water to search out tasty plants. Click on one of the pictures below to scroll through the gallery, and you will see that he has been doing exactly that. At one point, I saw him trying to pull up a heavy clump of wet plants.


NOTE: Sometimes these birds are confused with the mute swan, which is an  unpopular invasive species, but the two are not the same.  A group of swans can be called by many nouns, including a ballet, bevy, drift, regatta, and a school!

Trail walking can be educational as well as good exercise and lots of fun.Thank you for joining me on the trail today.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Is it Spring yet?

Happy Spring, friends! Just a few pictures to show everyone what Spring looked like in northeast Ohio when I took my trail walk in Chagrin River Park yesterday.

It definitely didn’t look like SPRING, but at least some people were loving one last chance to have fun on the sledding hill.

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And to be honest, a little part of me was having a good time too, taking pictures in the snow. On the other hand, I am definitely yearning for some real spring weather. Do you think we might get some soon?

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker

Would you like to try…

…a tasty bark butter bit? I’ll share. You can have this one!

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I don’t know how humans feel about bark butter bits, but I know the birds love them, not just red-bellied woodpeckers like me, but all the birds, and even the deer. Trail Walker sometimes brings a handful of these to the park to share with us, but I recently  heard her tell one of the other people that it’s not good to feed the birds. Not good to feed the birds? That is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Do you think it’s just because she is stingy and wants to keep most of the bark butter bits for herself? I wonder? Sometimes people have the strangest ideas.

Hope you enjoyed this message from the RBW.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

Another day, another bluebird!

It was a cold morning (30 degrees), but the sun was shining brightly, so I took to the trail in search of the elusive (to me) bluebird, and today, he was there, right on the nesting box where I hoped to see him. There was only one, no mate, but possibly she was inside the nesting box. One can hope, at any rate.

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Eastern bluebird
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Eastern bluebird

How can you not smile when you see these bright-eyed little birds? When the sun shines all day and a bluebird shows up to pose for his picture, the day is off to a good start!

On another note, I saw a tiny bird that I can’t identify flitting from branch to branch of an evergreen by the sledding hill. I didn’t get a good picture, but I’m posting him anyway, hoping that someone can give me an ID. He was one of the fastest moving birds I’ve encountered in a long time, and an expert at hiding behind branches.I snapped a lot of pictures, and this was the best I could do.  If you know what it is, please leave a comment.

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Thanks for joining me along the trail today.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

A blue bird, but not a bluebird

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I’ve been keeping an eye out for the bluebirds at the nesting boxes, so when another walker told me he had sighted a bluebird there, I was excited. However, when I checked out his information, I discovered that the “blue bird” was actually a tree swallow. It’s true, they are blue and, yes, they frequently inhabit the same nesting boxes that the bluebirds use, but this wasn’t the bluebird I was hoping to see.

Then, another photographer told me he had photographed bluebirds at the picnic area near the pedestrian bridge, but there were none to be seen when I reached the picnic area. However, I did get a good picture of a hawk standing like a sentinel in a tree overlooking the picnic tables.

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So, at that point, my score was zero-for-two in my quest for bluebird photos, but, as I see it, I still came out ahead. The beautiful blue swallow and watchful hawk were only two of a good crop of pictures I collected on my memory card that morning. Here are a few others:


It was an amazing day for bird photography, and, as soon as the weather clears up, I’ll head for the trails to continue my quest for those bluebirds. (I know they’re there because I saw my friend’s pictures on Facebook).Why don’t you join me on the trail to continue the quest?

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Take off!

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I’ve been using manual mode a lot these days, trying to get the look I want in my shots. I like the results this time…a little blur, but still clear enough to tell what is happening as the cardinal flies away with the “bark butter bit” he has just grabbed off the post. The blur may be off-putting to some, especially those who prefer a tack sharp image, but I’m okay with it. I would love to know what you think.

Settings: Shutter speed:1/400 second; aperture: 7.1; ISO 200

See you tomorrow, somewhere along the trail.
Trail Walker

A little sunshine…

…makes a BIG difference! Obviously this red-bellied woodpecker would agree, especially if Bark Butter Bits come along with the sunshine.

I had other sunny photos from today’s trail walk, but I’m sticking to my plan to post one photo a day. Is it cheating if I post three pictures of one red-bellied woodpecker? He looks so happy, I just had to make him a blog star today.

Join me for another trail walk tomorrow.
Trail Walker

Hawk goes hunting

As I wandered along the trails in Chagrin River Park today, I encountered a red-tailed hawk in six different locations: by the fence rail, near the bluebird nesting boxes (oh no, not good), by the sledding hill steps, in the bog, and across the river perched in a tree. Obviously, the hunt was on.

The last hawk encounter happened when I was standing by the bog where some mallards and canada geese were swimming. I had already spotted a hawk in the area, but I didn’t have my eye on it, when suddenly an unholy, raucous racket burst over the bog. After the racket, and water, subsided, I looked around for the cause of all the commotion, and this is what I saw:

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Perched proudly on a nearby tree limb, clutching a collection of leaves, lots of leaves, was a proud looking hawk. Possibly he was anticipating the delicious dinner he would soon enjoy: A small sparrow? A mallard? A Canada goose? He must have been aiming for something big because he had plunged right into the middle of a swimming party. Now look at this:

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Staring at his talons, where where he should be gripping something he could soon devour for dinner, all he sees is a bunch of wet leaves. Whatever he was aiming for when he plummeted into the bog, escaped to live another day. Hawk will have to keep on hunting.

Afterword: I believe there were at least two different hawks out hunting today. I saw them in a number of locations, and the timing of my encounters suggests multiple hawks.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon.
Trail Walker

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