Backyard bird gallery

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Male Eastern bluebird
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Red-breasted nuthatch

Weatherwise, February is usually a dreary month along the south shore of Lake Erie, but this year Valentine’s week brought a few birds to the backyard buffet that I hadn’t seen in a long while, most notably the beautiful male bluebird and the red-breasted nuthatch pictured above. To be honest, the birds I have been seeing most often when I look out my kitchen window are the ever-present pesky starlings. Starlings in small numbers are interesting birds with pretty feathers, but starlings never appear in small numbers. They invade! For that reason, I don’t usually take their picture more than once in a while when the backyard bird pickings are slim.

But this has been a good week, one that culminated on Friday with the appearance of a female bluebird and another appearance of a red-breasted nuthatch. The white-breasted nuthatch is a regular visitor, but the red-breasted variety is truly a rarity in our neighborhood. I’ve read that an irruption, or invasion, of red-breasted nuthatches is possibly due to a lack of spruce seeds farther north in the bird’s typical winter range. I’ve only seen a few so far this year, not nearly enough to count as an irruption, but when they appear in my backyard, I consider it to be an exciting event. Here are several that I have seen this week:

And here is another picture of the male bluebird as well as his mate, who showed up today. Contrary to what many people believe, some bluebirds do winter in Northeast Ohio, but that is unusual enough to create some excitement.

Here is a little gallery of the backyard birds I have seen this week. Click to enlarge…

And finally, my husband’s favorite, the smallest woodpecker, a downy.
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That’s the backyard bird gallery for this week. As the old-fashioned expression goes, I’m pleased as punch to be able to include a couple of reasonably rare birds among the current collection.

Thanks for visiting the backyard buffet with me.
See you soon to find out what next week will bring my way!
Trail Walker

Confused by the weather

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Since the beginning of the year, our weather has been unsettled, or maybe I should say unsettling. We’ve had snow, extreme cold, and now rain. Glancing out the kitchen window this morning, I noticed an empty hopper feeder. Slipping on my jacket and boots, I sloshed out and refilled the feeder. A short while later, I spotted this little critter on the tree stump enjoying a feast.

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As you can see, the squirrel is not on the hopper feeder, but on a nearby tree stump. It makes no difference to him, just as long as someone treks out to refill the food supply, and I imagine he is pleased to find his snack on the stump, instead of in the puddles that surround it.

Two weeks ago, the stump was covered with snow and the backyard looked like this.

Snowy Sunday

When Bob carried out the bucket of birdseed to refill the feeders, he had to sweep off the top of the stump before scattering the birdseed and pouring seed in the feeders. That was on January 27th.
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For a few days, a joyful crowd of sledders, had a grand time on the hill in Chagrin River Park (See my recent post “When the Snow Finally Fell”). Unfortunately, a few days later, during the first week of February, our temperatures topped out in the sixties, with 63 degrees on February 4th, and 61 degrees on February 7th. The snow melted, and the sledders vacated the now-barren sledding hill in the Park. Then, on February 9th, when the high temperature once again plummeted to 21 degrees, our brief taste of spring ended; the rains came; and the river almost reached flood stage, prompting warning calls from the authorities who keep a watch on such things.

Currently we are in a holding pattern. I can hear cars splashing through the puddles as they drive past our house, and I have no incentive whatsoever to take my camera to the park or the Arboretum for a trail walk. Who knows when spring will actually put in a real appearance. After all, it is still February. In Cleveland, we don’t hold out much hope for sunshine and flowers until at least April…or maybe sometime in May???

Cross your fingers fellow trail walkers.
And don’t put away your boots yet!
~Trail Walker

Would you believe?

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A happy red-bellied woodpecker

Barely a week ago, we were shivering inside our house, wrapped in blankets to keep warm, as the temperature plummeted to zero degrees and below. Then the weather prognosticators, that is, the experts that should know, predicted a warming trend. We found it hard to believe, but, sure enough, yesterday and today we experienced a taste of spring! So instead of birding from my kitchen window, I headed to the park for a trail walk. Here are a few pictures I took in Chagrin River Park this afternoon when the temperature peaked in the high sixties.

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Male northern cardinal
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… Found a peanut.
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And so did Mrs. Cardinal.
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They were overjoyed to see walkers back on the trail.
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The chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches came out to join the fun…
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…but the cardinal refused to share his peanuts with the sparrows!

Despite the fact that I left my extra layers at home, including my hat and gloves, I wasn’t feeling cold as I walked past a couple of young deer along the trail, so I paused to snap pictures of one of them before I headed down the river trail to see if there was any truth to the warning that the river was nearing flood stage.

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Today the river is looking pretty quiet, although there is still a coating of ice on the water. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so who knows what to expect. Hopefully, it won’t be a return to sub-zero temps. I’ve had enough of the arctic climate. Cross your fingers!

See you soon for an update.
Trail Walker

 

Too cold for trailwalking

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As I warned in my last post, right after spotting the red-bellied woodpecker above, our temperatures plummeted and for the past several days have hovered around zero (F). Yesterday the high temp here along the south shore of Lake Erie peaked at zero degrees Fahrenheit and went down from there. The “feels like” temp, given the wind chill, was many degrees lower. It was, as I had expected, painfully below my acceptable trail walking minimum of 23 degrees, so I resorted to backyard birding…through my kitchen window. Here are a few of the birds I saw this morning after we trudged out to refresh the feeders.

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Starlings arrive in large groups
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They are pesky, but, taken individually, can be cute.
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Sometimes they search under the feeders.
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A solitary tufted titmouse

That’s all the backyard birding I have time for right now. Maybe I can capture a few more later, but I wouldn’t blame them if they all found a warm spot to huddle together out of the wind.

Thanks for visiting. Hopefully I will soon be back on the trail. Our temperature is supposed to moderate in a day or two. I’m thankful for that prediction because I have had enough of this worrisome sub-zero stuff. I’m fully aware that, while I am warm and cozy, as I watch the birds through my kitchen window, many others aren’t so fortunate. Some have to search out shelters for protection. They need our prayers when the weather conditions become treacherous, something that seems to happen with increasing frequency in recent months, or maybe I should say years.

Stay safe, fellow bloggers, and give thanks for your safety.
Trail Walker

When the snow finally fell…

 I saw a walker hurrying toward me…

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Then I noticed why she was in such a hurry.

A big buck  behind her was closing in!

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And right behind him were two more bucks, headed her way.

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Look closely! There are three bucks in this picture.

With a healthy sense of self preservation, I clicked off a few pictures, swung around, and left them all behind. Following the trail that  led to the sledding hill, I paused to capture a few pictures of the sledders. Nobody was warming up by the fire pit because they were all on the hillside having fun.

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Also along the trail today, flitting among the trees and just possibly hoping for some peanuts or other tasty treats, I saw birds who don’t seem to mind the cold weather…

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Mrs. Cardinal, her feathers ruffled by the wind!
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Mr. Cardinal
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Mrs. C. with a peanut
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And a pair of chubby titmice, their feathers fluffed up against the cold.

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Heading towards me, I saw a happy little dog, bundled up in her winter coat…

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…bouncing down the trail, and Atka, a big dog with an Eskimo name, according to the person with him.

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Winter sunsets happen quickly in this latitude, and the afternoon was rapidly waning. It was time to follow the trail back to the parking lot and head for home. I hope you enjoyed today’s trail walk. Cold weather is coming our way…really cold weather with temperatures hovering near (or below) 0 degrees F. Don’t look for me on the trail for a few days…not until the temperature moderates to something around 23 degrees or higher. I’m fine with winter and snow, and all that, but there is a limit to my tolerance for frigid temps. Here is one more shot from the trail; then maybe for a few days I’ll snap some backyard birds at the feeders…from inside my kitchen window… until the weather warms up again!

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Thanks for treading the trail with me today.
Trail Walker

Christmas 2018…Just a little late!

2018_12_25__dorsey's new home_0027Christmas wasn’t our typical family gathering this year. We weren’t exchanging presents because we’re all saving up for a special family vacation in July, which will be our gift to each other. On Christmas Eve, we got together for a delicious dinner at Becky and Marty’s house before Bob and I went to the 11 pm service. Alison had announced she would host us on Christmas Day, but there would be conditions!

1) The dress would be casual and comfortable (even pjs if that was our idea of comfortable. 2)Fondue, with both cheese and chocolate for dipping, would be the main course; 3) We could sit around and nibble for hours, on into the evening; and 4) No photography allowed! We enthusiastically agreed! Who wouldn’t agree to chocolate fondue and hours of relaxed nibbling? So on Christmas afternoon we drove out to Alison and Mike’s new home in the country for the first time. It turned out to be both fun and relaxing…and delicious too.

As you would expect, I sneaked a few pictures that I forgot to download to my computer when I got home. Today, however, Gretchen who lives in Arizona and wasn’t here to celebrate with us, asked what happened to the pictures. That was when I realized they were still sitting in my camera on the memory card. I have to admit that is carrying casual a little too far. Sorry Gretchen and other far-away family members!

And, yes, Alison’s “conditions” made for a perfect day! It was definitely comfortable and relaxing, and maybe even the start of a new family tradition.

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!
~Trail Walker

It was a cold evening in the park…

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As I trekked down the trail, I was joined by some birds and a few other woodland critters. As usual there were some curious deer, watching from among the trees. Only one ventured close enough for me to take a clear picture. She opened her mouth, as if to ask if I had a treat to share with her.

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When I wandered down the path to the split rail fence, hoping to see the elusive red-bellied woodpecker this evening, the first critter to catch my eye was this squirrel, who paused  on top of the fence post long enough for me to capture his picture:
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Farther up the trail, I walked out onto the pedestrian bridge and saw a human critter, a fisherman, standing in the middle of the river, casting his fishing line into the darkening water. I didn’t hang around to watch because I was beginning to feel chilled by the wind whipping up the river and seeping through  my protective layers. To my eye, fly fishing is like  poetry in motion, so I snapped a few pictures before moving on. Despite the cold, the fisherman seemed to be enjoying his lonely occupation.
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Back at the fence corner, I watched as a greedy house sparrow landed on the fence post and snitched a couple of peanuts.

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Still, I waited, hoping to see the red-bellied woodpecker, and finally, my patience was rewarded when he flew in and landed on the post. With a sigh of delight, I clicked off a few pictures.

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The evening wasn’t quite over yet. As I stood there, camera ready in my frozen fingers,  I witnessed a confrontation between two sparrows and a black-capped chickadee over who was going to grab the next peanut.

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When one of the sparrows picked up the peanut, I grabbed my last photo and headed home. Cold but happy, I had enjoyed my trek along the trail this evening.

Thanks for trekking with me!
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Evening in the park

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This little herd of deer was standing near the split rail fence, one of my favorite bird watching locations, when I went to the park with my camera on Sunday evening. They were more interested in browsing than curious about what I was doing, so I decided to take their picture before I headed out for a little bird photography.

The light was getting low, but the birds were still active, and this time I had remembered to bring a handful of peanuts to reward them. There were cardinals, both male and female, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, and more. Here is the woodpecker gallery:


The male cardinals were wearing brilliant  red coats this evening. Maybe the light had something to do with making them look especially beautiful. The female cardinal, sitting by herself in the branches of a nearby tree, chose not to pose with the redcoats

Then there were two downy woodpeckers:
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And a greedy nuthatch…
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And finally one of my favorites, the red-bellied woodpecker, put in an appearance. She was being somewhat elusive this evening. She swooped past, but didn’t stay for long, and I missed my chance to get her picture. This happened several times. Every time she came close, I was too late with the camera. To say the least, I wasn’t on the top of my game, but finally I was ready, and here is the result:

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It’s a good thing too because the sun was getting low and I was getting cold. I was happy to call it a night. Thanks for coming out on this chilly evening.

I’ll see you soon.
~Trail Walker

Birding on New Year’s Day

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Not a bird!

I spotted this pretty doe standing in the meadow on the other side of the split-rail fence. When she walked in my direction, I decided she should be the featured image for my New Year’s Day post, even if she isn’t a bird. So here she is!

Now on to a few birds. Because the morning was cold and overcast without even a glimmer of sunshine, some of my images came out blurry (Reminder to me to pay closer attention to my camera settings); however, a large and varied flock of little birds were flitting around near some fallen trees, probably because someone (not this someone, but possibly another photographer better prepared than I) had sprinkled a few bird seeds on the ground to celebrate the holiday!

After a while, my frozen fingers and toes (and my growling tummy) signaled that it was time for lunch, so I reconnoitered with my walking buddies, and we trekked along the trail back to the parking lot and headed home.

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Bob and Mabel

Today’s walk reminded me again that any day is a good day for a trail walk, even when the sun doesn’t shine. Thanks for walking along with us today. See you soon.

Sunshine or clouds, I’ll see you along the trail.
Trail Walker

 

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