A joyful ending to 2016

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A little flock of Eastern bluebirds came by this week to help me finish off my backyard buffet posts for 2016. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out the window and saw them because I have NEVER before seen a bluebird in our neighborhood. They aren’t uncommon in northeast Ohio, but they are usually seen in spring and summer. I did capture this one in November at Holden Arboretum,
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…but was completely taken by surprise to see a little flock in my backyard on Wednesday, dining with the sparrows, starlings, titmice, and other familiar year round birds. On Thursday, I was away from home from before sunrise until long after dark, so on Friday I kept an eager eye out the window, hoping they would return. They didn’t, and I began to wonder if they had just made a brief stop here on their way to a warmer climate and had already moved on. Imagine my joy this morning (Saturday) when they reappeared among the usual breakfast time visitors. I picked up my camera, which is always on the shelf below the window, held my breath, and began snapping away. Here is a little bluebird portrait gallery, some taken on Wednesday and some today.

I’m excited to be able to share a “new” bird (new to my backyard buffet) on the last day of 2016. Every year has its ups and downs, and every day brings things for which I am thankful, but, as we come to the end of what has been a very unusual year for many of us,  it gives me joy to share these beautiful birds with you.

Happy New Year, Trail Walking Friends!
Let’s look forward to 2017 with hope, faith, joy, and love.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

Sharing Christmas joy

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Joy to the World!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Christmas is a joyful holiday, especially for those who celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus. But I believe that those who celebrate Christ’s birth should do everything we can to spread the joy of this celebration and share it with others in our community and beyond. That is what our church, Willoughby United Methodist, was doing on Christmas Day when we prepared a delicious Christmas dinner and sent out an open invitation to our community to come and enjoy it with us. Weeks of planning and several days of cooking turkeys, hams, cookies, and more, culminated in a festive celebration that was enjoyed by many.  Chatting with the guests and snapping their pictures added to my joy, and I hope sharing this Christmas Day dinner with others added to theirs.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Friends!
See you in 2017

Meanwhile, enjoy this rendition of “Joy to the World,”
sung by a boys’ choir from Ireland in 2013.

Trail Walker

 

Everybody loves a teddy bear!

On Christmas Day, our church (Willoughby United Methodist) serves a free turkey and ham dinner with all the extras to anyone in the community who wants to join other people for a delicious holiday dinner. This year it followed our Sunday worship service. We give teddy bears as gifts. We also take bears to give away when we go Christmas caroling in nursing homes. People of all ages love teddy bears!

That’s Not What A King Looks Like

One person’s thoughtful reflection on the meaning of Christmas.

Backyard Bird Nerd

A couple of months ago, while on a trip to Dauphin Island, I had the joy of encountering a king – a King Fisher, that is,  perched on his throne overlooking the lake.

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Despite his title and his crown, his appearance is rather comical. He’s not what you picture a king should look like.

For the last several days, I have had the joy of hanging out with another king – a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, who has set up his royal residence in my own backyard.

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This itty bitty flitty little bird, with his cartoon character appearance, seems unworthy of his name.  He too is not what you picture a king should look like.

Today, Christmas Day, I celebrate the birth of Jesus, who came to this earth not looking like a king.  His majesty was robed in meekness; His sovereignty was seen in His serving; and His royalty was best revealed when He laid…

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Merry Christmas!

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Despite all the snow and ice that have plagued blessed us in recent weeks, this is not going to be a white Christmas here in northeast Ohio. Warmer temps and light rainfall have melted most of our snow, so there will be no beautiful pictures of birds or deer in gently falling snow. It’s just not going to happen this year. But despite the un-Christmassy weather, I still want to send greetings to my blog, Blipfoto, and Facebook friends. Whether you are experiencing rain, snow, or sunshine, I wish for you a wonderful Christmas, a happy New Year celebration, and many special trail walks in the year to come. I will be taking a blog break in the week ahead. See you in 2017.

This picture was taken last month, before the recent snowfall, at Lake Farmpark.

It can be a challenge…

… to keep up with the visitors to my back yard buffet. Looking back through recent posts, I realized I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up with the ordinary little birds who visit the “buffet.” The fallen tree episode, starling invasion, Christmas cookie baking, and rapscallion deer visitors have dominated my posts for the past month, so I thought I would make up for it today and post a few beautiful birds that have been recent visitors to the back yard buffet. First the cardinals:

…and then the red-bellied woodpecker, providing a little competition for the starlings…

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And then the downy woodpecker, both male and female, have been frequent visitors at the suet feeders.2016_12_16_places_back-yard-birding_0124

And I can’t forget the house finches who are always hanging around.

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House finch checking out the area below the feeder
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I love the way this cardinal is waiting for the finches to give him some space. Very unusual!

So there you have it, a few of the little back yard birds that haven’t been getting their share of blog space recently. In the future, I will try to dedicate more space to them because they’re really too cute to ignore.

Thanks for visiting the back yard buffet today.
Trail Walker

Return of the Rapscallions!

The new bird feeder, destroyed by the rapscallions last week, has been replaced, thanks to a warranty from the manufacturer. Yesterday I hung it in the back yard buffet, in place of the feeder the deer had destroyed, wondering how long it would take for them to discover it. It was mid-afternoon, well before dark, but unfortunately I didn’t have to wait long before five or six of these ladies came wandering into the back yard buffet.

They cavorted around our back yard and next door in our neighbor’s, wandering around and browsing for food under the snow, while I kept a close eye out the window in case they got too near the new feeder. All was going well, and then this fellow came onto the scene.

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…and he was definitely interested in food.

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As I watched through the window, camera in hand, he came closer and closer…

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…until he finally reached the tree stump, just a few feet from the window from which I was watching and only a few feet from the newly replaced feeder. Thinking it was about time to chase them away, I moved. He looked up, spotted me standing inside the window, and apparently unsettled by how close I was, he turned his back and, stepping over the fallen tree trunk, left the back yard buffet.

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As soon as he was gone, I put on my jacket and hurried outside to bring in the new bird feeder…or is it a deer feeder? I’m really not sure.

Thanks for stopping by the Back Yard Buffet today.
Trail Walker

A rare event

Many years ago, when Bob and I relocated from central Pennsylvania to the south shore of Lake Erie, I was a stay-at-home-mom with three little girls. We moved into our new home in January, and we hadn’t been living here for long when I realized that something was missing, something I was accustomed to in my former home, something I had taken for granted: sunshine!  That’s when I first realized that living on the south shore of Lake Erie is a mixed blessing…great in the summer, but not so great in the winter, unless you really like grey days!

That long ago experience is significant today because this morning the sun was shining, and I was finally able to get a few good pictures of the little juncos, or snow birds, that are winter residents of the back yard bird buffet. They are adorable little birds and fun to watch, but getting a sharp picture of the little snow birds is a challenge because they blend right in with their surroundings. The sunshine made a big difference this morning, and here are the pictures I captured. It was definitely a rare event.

 That’s it for today.
Thanks for visiting the Back Yard Birds.
Trail Walker

Cellpic Sunday: Cookies

I think I may have eaten my fill of Christmas cookies with these thumbprint cookies and the sand tarts Becky and I baked on Sunday. Enough is enough! It was way too icy to take a trail walk, but the baking was a great substitute activity.  As soon as the ice melts and the trails are clear, I better hit the trails. After baking (and eating) so many cookies, I need the exercise!

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