Road trip: Chautauqua Institution

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Lake Chautauqua

On Monday, a sunny, hot summer day,  Bob and I took a road trip from our home in the northeastern corner of Ohio to Chautauqua Institution, located on Lake Chautauqua in the southern part of New York State. The weather was quintessentially June, perfect for a “getaway day.” Some people describe Chautauqua as a modern day Brigadoon, and it does have a way of casting a spell on people who walk through the gate (and pay the price of admission). Although we only get there once or twice a summer, we’ve been taking this get-away trip for many years, so I guess you could say we are under its spell.

Built in 1874, the Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center beside Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of over 100,000 attend scheduled public events. Over 8,000 students enroll annually in the Chautauqua Summer Schools which offer courses in art, music, dance, theater, writing skills and a wide variety of special interests (Chautauqua website). 

Visitors  come to Chautauqua from all points of the compass for the opportunity to study, relax, and hear renowned speakers on politics, religion, literature, and much more. What drew us there this week was a morning program on the stage of the iconic Amphitheater, hosted by Roger Rosenblatt,  a conversation with television journalist Jane Pauley and her husband, writer/satirist Garry Trudeau and an afternoon lecture by John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop who was speaking on “Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy. Spong was once voted public enemy number 1 by the Ku Klux Klan in the small, racially segregated North Carolina town where he was serving as pastor. He didn’t earn many friends for his unpopular stands on civil rights, social justice, and a less literal interpretation of the Bible, although eventually the local Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year. Throughout a long career, Spong did not waver, holding fast to his beliefs. Retiring  in 2000 he has continued to teach, lecture,  research and recently wrote an autobiography titled, Here I Stand.

I could happily have stayed at Chautauqua for the rest of the week, one day was just not long enough, but our daughter, who was dog-sitting with Gulliver, wasn’t available for the full week, so we headed home, satisfied that our getaway day at Chautauqua was well worth the price of admission. We had been entertained, enlightened, challenged to consider new ideas, and we drove home happy.

I have hundreds of pictures from our numerous visits to Chautauqua. Here are just a few from our recent trip:

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I’m trying to stick to a schedule for posting my entries, e.g. Tuesday, Thursday, and once on the weekend, so I will be back with more pictures in two or three days.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

A glorious day in June

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My friend Marti joined me for a short walk in the arboretum yesterday. In search of butterflies, we only saw two, a tiny white one and a swallowtail. I didn’t get a picture of either, so I changed to Plan B and instead of butterflies, I began photographing dragonflies, damselflies, and birds. Click on the gallery to take a virtual walk in the arboretum.

You will probably recognize the red-breasted bird as an American robin. We spotted it hopping around on the ground, where it apparently found something interesting, picked it up and flew over to land on a sign post, while I snapped a few pictures. (Later at home, when I looked at the pictures on my computer, I was puzzled to see that the poor bird had no face. However, on closer examination, I realized it (the bird) was gripping a clump of dirt and weeds tightly in his beak. In several of my pictures, his face was completely obscured by his prize capture. In the picture above, you can see one eye peering around the dirt.)

Dragonflies are fun to photograph, but these were not really interested in posing for the camera, so I will include two water lilies. I can’t help loving the lilies because they are so delicate and colorful.

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Lily #1
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Lily #2

That’s it for today’s trail walk, but if you aren’t in a hurry to get home, you can join Marti and me on the bench overlooking the lily pond. We’re going to sit in the shade for a while and soak in the glory of this beautiful June day.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

One more week to go

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For the past three weeks I’ve been on a self-imposed break from my regular trail walks so I can take an online course in photoshop for photographers. As a result, I haven’t had much news to report from along the trail. Photoshop doesn’t come easily to me, but it is a lot of fun, and hopefully will lead to improvements in my blog posts. Only one more week to go in the course, then I plan to resume posting  Along the Trail three times each week on Tuesday Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday. Although sticking to a regular schedule for posting, doesn’t come easily to me either 😋, I believe it is the best approach to take, and I hope you will return to see my posts on those days.

As you have probably noticed, I am always interested in the behavior of birds. Today I want to share something I observed yesterday when one of the red-bellied woodpeckers (RBW) visited our yard. Between our property and the neighbors behind us are 12 very tall trees where the birds love to nest, rest, hide, and perch. The picture at the top of this post shows an RBW investigating a hole high up on the trunk of one of the trees. She was very curious about the hole, maybe checking out its potential for a future nest. I’m not sure what she expected to see, but she gave it a good look. Click on the gallery below to see her in action:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they nested in our tree, and we could watch their little family?

That’s it for today. Starting next week, I will resume regular posts and visits to your blogs. To those who have continued to visit and leave comments during my break: thank you for your patience.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

A surprise visitor at the back yard buffet

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In the past week the pileated woodpecker has made several visits to our back yard buffet. I heard her announce her arrival early this evening when I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I took my camera and sat on the patio after supper. It wasn’t long before she flew in. First she swung by the new suet feeder, but didn’t hang around long enough to take a taste of the bark butter suet. However, she soon returned and this time grabbed on to the large suet holder Bob hung from a post way back under the trees, and, finally, as I sat on the patio bench, she returned to the new feeder, the one that was closest to me. I snapped away as she feasted on the bark butter. She was happy, and so was I. Here’s hoping she likes it enough to return often. I think there may be a male in the neighborhood too because last week two pileateds arrived together. At the time, I didn’t have my camera, so I missed the photo opp. Today I didn’t make that mistake! Here are a few more pictures of today’s visitor:

Interesting facts about this big bird:

  • Male and female pileated look very much alike, but the male has a red mustache.
  • They nest in cavities in trees that they excavate. The noise they make while digging these holes can be heard for quite a distance.
  • They will make up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes in case a predator enters the tree, and they peck the bark around the entrance holes to make the sap run. That keeps some predators, such as snakes, from entering their nest.
  • Their favorite food is carpenter ants, and the young are fed regurgitated insects.
  • A group of pileated woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.
  • Sometimes people call them “Woody Woodpecker” after the cartoon, which definitely resembles a pileated woodpecker.

That’s enough for this post. I hope you enjoyed seeing the big bird.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

There’s nothing like a cedar waxwing!

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The cedar waxwing pictured above is demonstrating the fondness these birds have for fruit. According to the iBird app, they are the most specialized fruit-eating bird, but their diet also includes items such as carpenter ants, cicadas, caterpillars, cankerworms, and maple sap. Other strange information is  that they sometimes become intoxicated from eating fermented berries in winter, and they will also readily eat apple slices, currants, and canned peas. The yellow or orange terminal band on their tails are thought to vary in color depending on their diet. The most entertaining fact I read about waxwings is that a group of them could be called an “ear-full” or a “museum” of waxwings. Here are a few more pictures:

My walk today was a chilly one, and I was wishing for a warmer jacket. The temperature was only about 57 degrees with a stiff breeze, but the sun was shining, the waxwings came out to play, and I ran into several friends and caught up with their news, so it was a good day for a walk along the trail!

Thanks for joining me
Trail Walker

A bothered and bedraggled blackbird

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This tidy-looking red-winged blackbird with his sleek feathers is delighted with the new feeding tray that Bob set up yesterday. Although he wasn’t overjoyed with the heavy rain showers that came through this afternoon as he was enjoying his lunch at the back yard buffet, the rain didn’t stop him from feasting on the sunflower seeds and other tasty treats. The pictures in this gallery will show how bothered, bedraggled, and downright dismayed he became as the rain poured down on him, but eventually he resigned himself to the rain and finished his meal.

Joining him at the buffet was an equally bedraggled blue jay whose feathers had been well-saturated by the downpour.

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Here’s hoping “the sun will come out tomorrow!”
See you then!
Trail Walker

Penitentiary Glen

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Penitentiary Glen is another of the Lake County MetroParks. I don’t go there often because it is on the way out to the Arboretum, which is where I usually end up when I head in that direction; however, it has some good trails. I only had enough energy for a short walk, so the trail around the pond behind the headquarters building was perfect. It includes meadows, a bog, and a bridge from which I could focus my lens on water-dwelling critters. In addition to the frog at the top of the post, here are the pictures I captured along that trail:

It was a short, but very satisfying, walk because there was so much to see. I’m glad you came along today to check it out.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

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