Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Continuing my search for spring

Rain and thunder  through the night and into the morning hours convinced me that this would not be a good day for another trail walk. Instead I will continue with part 2 of yesterday’s post: Searching for Spring in the Arboretum.  I ended that post when we reached the entrance to the Rhododendron Garden, so I will pick up there and return via the Blueberry Pond trail to the Corning Visitor Center, where we parked the car.

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We won’t take time to visit the Rhododendron Garden on this walk because its most important features, the Canopy Walk, Emergent Tower, and the rhododendrons themselves, aren’t on display this early in spring. The Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower open for the season on April 1, and it will be June before the rhododendrons and azaleas burst into glorious full bloom. We will need to be patient and return on future trail walks to see them.

But there is still more to see from yesterday’s walk, so we will follow the sign post and wend our way back to our starting point at the Corning Visitors Center.

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The view from a bench along the trail

Imagine you are sitting beside me on a bench where I paused to soak up a little solitude (and take a welcome rest). Gaze into the distance, and you might notice, on either side of the trail, small green leaves just beginning to unfurl on the trees. That’s a welcome sign of spring that wasn’t visible a couple of weeks ago. Another early sign of spring here in northeast Ohio is the sound of the spring peepers.

Because we’ve had a lot of rain recently, the vernal pools along the trail are filled with these tiny frogs in full voice. Even in full daylight I have been treated to their song as I walk along the trail.

As we reach the end of the woodland trail, we can see the entrance to the wildflower garden (another future blog post). Up the hill to our right is Lotus Pond, but right now we will take the trail to the left, skirt the edge of Blueberry Pond, pass the white birch trees on the left side of the trail, and stop for a good look at the pond.

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White birch trees along the Blueberry Pond trail
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Blue skies over Blueberry Pond
A feature I find fascinating near Blueberry Pond is these bald cypress trees perched right at the edge of the water.

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From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) website…

The Baldcypress is “native to wet areas of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley drainage basin, the south Atlantic and Gulf Coastal states, and especially Florida of the south coastal states,” but it has been planted extensively in other areas, including Ohio.

“As a deciduous conifer, the leaves of Baldcypress drop off in autumn, and its cones are round balls that release their seeds in autumn and winter. Trees in Ohio may reach 80 feet tall by 30 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Baldcypress Family, it is also related to Dawn Redwood and Giant Redwood.

Not far from the Baldcypress trees, stands this tall, majestic Dawn Redwood, another deciduous conifer mentioned on the ODNR site,

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Dawn Redwood tree, Holden Arboretum, August 2014

Whoops! Sorry! I’m a little bit off the trail here…actually more than three years off. Because I didn’t stop to take a photo of the Dawn Redwood on this visit to the Arboretum, I decided to dig into my archives and find one to include in this post…a detour relevant to the topic of today’s walk, although definitely off the trail.

Back to the trail…

From Blueberry Pond,  it’s only a short walk down the hill to reach this footbridge that will lead us to the stairs and back up to the parking lot. The sign points back toward Woodland Trail, which is the trail we followed until we reached the Blueberry Pond trail. Now we are going to leave the Blueberry Pond trail, cross the little footbridge, and climb the stairs leading to the parking lot.

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It’s time to go home! I hope you have enjoyed this trail walk.
Thanks for coming along! ~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, Northeast Ohio

Dreary…AGAIN!

Part one of a two part post in which we continue our 
Search for Spring in the Arboretum.

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Thunder, buckets of rain, and puddles deep enough for ducks to take a swim! That’s today, drowning in dreariness,  but yesterday was beautiful…a great day for a trail walk at Holden Arboretum. That’s where we will continue the search for more signs of our elusive spring.

Let’s start  at Lotus Pond where daffodils bloom in the foreground and no ice remains on the surface of the pond, ice that was still visible on our last visit a week ago. That’s definitely promising.

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Lotus Pond without ice

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Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a few tiny clumps of netted iris. These irises are early bloomers, so they have passed their prime by now, but they are still lovely with their delicate shades of soft blue and yellow. I hope you agree!

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Netted Iris…past its prime

We will end today’s walk, on the trail that leads into the rhododendron garden.

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Entering the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron garden
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The Overlook, a recent feature in the rhododendron garden
That’s it for part one of this walk in Holden Arboretum.
Come back tomorrow to continue our search for spring!
~Trail Walker
Posted in animal photography, Chagrin River Park, My trail walks, nature

Twice surprised!

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In the afternoon, the sky cleared a little, and I took advantage of the break in the clouds to do a little birding before sunset. I knew there would probably be a variety of birds along the trail near the fence post, so that’s where I headed.

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To my surprise, a bluejay joined the others in their game of “grab and go.” It was fun to get his picture because the jays usually keep their distance. Instead of joining the other birds in the fun, they linger in the branches of nearby trees, occasionally squawking and swooping from branch to branch; however, one of them was curious tonight, and I was able to get several good shots of him in action:

A song sparrow also joined in the fun.
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Then, as I was squinting through the lens, waiting to see who would appear next, I got a surprise. Instead of a bird, here is what I saw on the top of the post:
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Dusk was falling, and it was a few seconds before I realized the  chipmunk had scurried up the fence post to get his share of the peanuts, but when I did, I got a good chuckle at how quick and clever he was. Light was fading by that time, so I decided it was time to head for home. And that was the end of this trail walk, but it was fun while it lasted!

Thanks for joining me on the trail.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Lightroom processing, My trail walks

Dreary…again!

Hoping to see a little sunshine this morning, after a cloudy weekend, I was disappointed to wake up to overcast skies. Had it been a sunny day, I would have grabbed my camera (and jacket) and headed to the Arboretum. However, completely unmotivated by the dull weather, I decided instead to park myself in front of my computer to practice some new processing techniques. Choosing three birds I photographed earlier this month in Chagrin River Park, I specifically focused on white balance, cropping, and using the graduated filter. Here are the results:

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Tufted titmouse

 

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White-breasted nuthatch
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Red-bellied woodpecker

If the sun decides to peek out later on, I may go for a trail walk, but meanwhile, I’m staying inside! No trail walking this morning, but if you stopped by to say hello, I’m delighted you’re here.

Thanks for visiting! Have a good Monday. 😀
~Trail Walker
Posted in Chagrin River Park, Lake Metroparks, My trail walks

A didgeridoo: An unusual sight to see (and hear) along the trail in Chagrin River Park

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Anyone familiar with my blog is aware that most of my posts originate from my experiences along the trail in local parks. Today’s post is not an exception, but it is somewhat unusual and definitely different from the usual sights I typically see along the trail.

That’s not the didgeridoo pictured at the top of the page,  but except for that little tufted titmouse, a common sight along the trail, I took all of today’s photos around the fire pit at the bottom of the sledding hill in Chagrin River Park. Someone had built a little fire in the fire pit, but there were no frozen sled riders warming up around the flames. Yesterday’s high temperature topped out  somewhere around 73 degrees, truly an anomaly for March in northeast Ohio. However, the usual group of regulars had gathered around the fire, and were being entertained by Ryan and his didgeridoo.
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For the uninitiated, the didgeridoo is a wind instrument. Said to be the oldest wind instrument in the world, it originated with the Aborigines in Australia, many, many years ago. People who play it well, need to have excellent breath control and be willing to practice…a lot! Ryan, who brought his didgeridoo to Chagrin River Park, told me the instrument has been used to help people who have sleep apnea and by people who practice meditation. Ryan teaches yoga and has also used the instrument with his yoga classes. One more interesting fact about this unusual instrument: It is traditionally made from eucalyptus trees that have been hollowed out by termites.

I was curious and wanted to know more about the didgeridoo, so I googled it and found plenty of information online. A large number of recorded TED Talks included expert performances.  If you’re curious and want to hear this instrument played, here are a couple of links to help you get started…

… and below are a few more pictures of Ryan and his didgeridoo.

You never know what you might see along the trail in Chagrin River Park, and I’m glad I ran into Ryan at the fire pit today. It was an unexpected treat to hear his didgeridoo.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

And then the sun came out!

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As I wrote in my last post, Tuesday morning was chilly and completely overcast, but my friend Lisa and I had agreed to meet at Holden Arboretum for a “walk and talk,” so off I went.  As I drove down Sperry Road to the Arboretum entrance, the clouds parted, the morning haze vanished, and then, suddenly, the sun came out. Truly an unexpected event.

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Lotus Pond, still partially covered by a thin layer of ice.

Lotus Pond was beautiful in the early afternoon light, so we wandered over for a closer look and a few photos of the pond and the golden willow tree.

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Lisa at Lotus Pond
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Leaning against the Golden Willow tree
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Distant view of the willow
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The willow framed by the trunk of a river birch tree.

Leaving Lotus Pond, we headed toward the rhododendron garden, and on the way we met Hank, a beautiful corgi walking with his human.

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Hank posed for a profile shot…
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…and smiled for the camera, convincing Lisa there should be a corgi in her future!

In the rhododendron garden, Lisa spotted a carpet of purple blossoms, and agreed to pose for one more photo.

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On the trail back to the parking lot, we walked along the edge of Corning Lake where one lone duck was enjoying an afternoon swim.

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Before we reached our cars, Lisa pulled out her cell phone and took one shot of the photographer at work:

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We had reached the end of our “walk and talk” at the Arboretum. It wasn’t our first “meeting” there and probably won’t be the last because Lisa and I both love walking in Holden Arboretum.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in celebration, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

Celebrating spring!

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My friend Lisa and I took at trail walk in Holden Arboretum today. The morning sky was completely overcast, but as I drove down Sperry Road to the arboretum entrance at about 1 pm, the sun came out. Admittedly it was still only about 50 degrees, and winter hasn’t entirely loosened its grip on northeast Ohio, but with the sun shining down on us from a deep blue sky, we couldn’t have had a better day for the first spring trail walk!  Today we’re celebrating spring and hoping it will soon be here to stay.

Thanks for coming by today to say hello. See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, My trail walks

Winter just won’t let go!

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Low temps, high winds, and snow: That was our weather forecast for Sunday through Wednesday. Thankfully the nasty weather loosened its grip by Tuesday afternoon, and the temperature rose to about 28 degrees, comfortable enough for me to take a short trail walk in Chagrin River Park. The river looked cold…

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…and so did the bog!

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The cardinals, however, didn’t seem to mind the weather. After taking a little walk along the river, I decided to visit the rail fence to see if any birds were hanging around. They were there, but unfortunately I had forgotten to put some peanuts in my pocket, and I had nothing to offer them. It was sad to see them fly in from every direction and check the fence post, only to find it empty. I even heard some unhappy chirps. It sounded as if they were scolding me for being so forgetful. I won’t forget next time, but this was an impromptu visit, and I forgot to put the peanut bag in my pocket! I still managed to get some pictures, and I was pleased with how they turned out. (I love my new lens!)

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As you can see, the sun was shining. That was totally unexpected, and it made for a short, and delightful (but still cold), trail walk.

Thanks for walking with me today.
See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in Lake Metroparks, My trail walks

The river runs through it!

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Many of my trail walks are centered in Chagrin River Park because it is within walking distance of my home. Not surprisingly, the park is named for the river that runs through it, but there is some uncertainty about where the name of the river originated. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The Chagrin River is located in Northeast Ohio.[1] The river has two branches, the Aurora Branch and East Branch. Of three hypotheses as to the origin of the name, the most probable is that it is a corruption of the name of a Frenchman, Sieur de Seguin, who established a trading post on the river ca. 1742.[2][3][4] The Chagrin River runs through suburban areas of Greater Cleveland in Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Portage counties, transects two Cleveland Metroparks reservations, and then meanders into nearby Lake County before emptying into Lake Erie.

Whatever the origin of the name, the Chagrin is a great river for fishing, and at this time of year, when the salmon are running, fishermen come from far and wide (even from out-of-state) to try their luck. One afternoon recently, I spotted a flurry of activity along the river bank. Upon closer investigation, this is the event I witnessed:

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I learned, after the fact, from the two bystanders (on the right in the pictures), that the man with the rod is an avid retired fisherman who dedicates all his time to fishing the river. The bystanders, friends of mine, told me he had regaled them with amazing “fish tales.”

Just as they were leaving the scene to continue their walk, he hooked this fish and called them back to watch the drama play out. The man with the net was another fisherman who entered the fray when the fisherman called out, “Does anybody have a net?” They landed the fish, measured  and admired it, and ultimately released it, as required by law. The last two pictures show the release with the one bystander, at the request of the fisherman, snapping a few pictures of his catch of the day (The fisherman apparently didn’t know that I was standing at the top of the bank, capturing the entire scene).   Sometimes you just get lucky, and that afternoon the fisherman did, and so did I!

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