Not much to see…

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Red-bellied woodpecker, one of my favorites

As I walked the trails in Chagrin River Park this week, I didn’t see too many signs of spring; however, I am remaining true to the intentions I wrote about several weeks ago in this blog post.

The most interesting thing I spotted today was this bird …

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…an Eastern towhee

The towhee is not a rare bird, but I think it is a beauty, probably because I am partial to the combination of black and rusty orange. They are described as “sometimes secretive, but often common,” and they like to scratch in the dirt and leaf litter for insects, seeds and berries. I read that in the nesting season the males become bolder, often singing from high perches. I guess it isn’t nesting season yet, because so far this spring I’ve only seen them scratching on the ground.

Here are a few more bird pictures I’ve captured this week:

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American goldfinch
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Mallard duck
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Windblown grackle (I think)
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Song sparrow
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I’m not sure…If you can help, please let me know in the comments.

And finally, here’s an update on my intentions to increase my time spent on the trail. I have been pushing myself to get out on the trail whenever the weather is reasonable, i.e. not pouring rain or snow. Today the temperature was only 43 degrees, but I’ve walked 3.2 miles so far (7,914 steps). I realize that isn’t the recommended 10,000 steps, but I’m patting myself on the back anyway. My current goal is 5000 steps for each day on the trail, and I am exceeding that on most days.

That’s it for today, trailwalking friends.
See you soon for another update…
and more pictures from the trail.
Trail Walker

Photowalking

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Before I headed to the park for a trail walk today, I glanced out my kitchen window and was pleased to see bluebirds in the back yard. The little fellow pictured above, looks somewhat unhappy. I wonder if he is upset because the starlings and grackles have been overly aggressive, and taken over the backyard feeders. So I quickly grabbed a few bluebird pictures before the starlings and grackles chased them off.

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Surveying the area
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Mrs. Bluebird checked out the nesting box.
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Both male and female bluebirds made an appearance.

As always, my heart lifted when I saw the bluebirds. I only wish they would move in to the nesting box and stay all summer. I would love to see them raise their little ones where I can watch the process.

After breakfast, I took my camera and headed to Chagrin River Park, hoping to see something unusual, and I did! Although not rare, this tiny songbird, a golden crowned kinglet, is always on the move. It has a twitchy foraging behavior, making capturing a picture a real challenge. Pose for the camera? No way! It zips and zaps from tree to tree and sometimes the male even conceals the identifying yellow spot that gives them their name. Thankfully a friend, who knows a lot more birds than I do, responded to my email asking for an ID.
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That was the highlight of my photowalk. I continued down the trail and captured a few more pictures. A song sparrow, singing its heart out, was perched by the river. I also captured two photos of a white-throated sparrow. For some reason, they always make me smile. And then finally I got a clear shot of a male northern cardinal. The female wasn’t available for a photo opp today.

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Song sparrow
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Singing from the treetop
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White-throated sparrow, looking for a peanut.
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A soggy white-throated sparrow
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And a very colorful northern cardinal.

I’ll end today’s blog post with a view of the Chagrin River, taken from the top of the sledding hill.
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That’s it for today.
Join me for my next photo walk.
Maybe we’ll see some migrating birds along the trail.

Trail Walker

Heads down, tails up!

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Walking in the park today, I saw a lot of mallard ducks, both male and female. The males, like the handsome fellow pictured above, were at times swimming sedately in the river and, at other times, diving down for a treat. Comically waving their orange-colored feet in the air, they scrambled around underwater, searching for  food .

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Heads down, tails up!

At the same time, their female counterparts, splashing around nearby, were having absolutely fabulous fun, as you can see from the smiles on their faces.
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Who knew that ducks could have that much fun?

That’s it for today’s photowalk, friends.
Come back soon for another trek down the trail,
and don’t forget to bring your camera because you never know what we will see!

~Trail Walker

Birding in Chagrin River Park

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A male northern cardinal

Packing my camera and a pocket full of peanuts, I  left for a trail walk on this sunny, but cold, morning. I had forgotten to bring my hat, but I decided to take a short walk anyway…just to stretch my legs and capture a few bird pictures. Setting the timer on my watch for 35 minutes I headed down the trail. When the timer went off, I was have too much fun to go home yet, so I tapped “repeat”  and continued down the trail. Here are a few of the birds I saw:

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Bluejay
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Female northern cardinal
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She willingly posed!
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A white-throated sparrow

As I wrote in recent blog posts, my intention is to resume my habit of daily photo walks, combining my two favorite hobbies: photography and trailwalking. I only walked for about a mile and a half today, but that’s a start.

Join me again soon for another trail walk.
Don’t forget your camera. You never know what we will see.
Trail Walker

Living up to my intentions

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In my last post, I wrote about my intention to create posts for my blog at least twice each week. I admitted that I have failed to post on a regular basis. For years, starting when I retired in 2000, I took trail walks, camera in hand, nearly every day. Whatever the season, I hit the trail with my camera to get a daily dose of healthy exercise and capture some seasonal images to fill my Nikon’s memory card. For years, photowalking (trailwalking with my camera) was an important part  of my daily routine. A healthy habit and a welcome one, even when the other chores didn’t get done!

Twenty-one months ago, my husband Bob had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery. Our lives changed and for many months daily trail walks were off my schedule. I simply didn’t have time for trailwalking or processing the pictures that would accumulate on my memory card. So I put down the camera and stopped taking regular trail walks. I missed it, but gradually other activities filled my days. We celebrated Bob’s successful recovery and moved on. However, I eventually  began to feel a large gap in my life and decided to pick up my camera and return to the trail. That is what I did today and intend to do at least twice each week.  Here are a few pictures I captured while walking at the arboretum on this early spring morning.

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Gardener at work
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Flowers in the buttercup family
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Snowdrops at the base of the sugar maple

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The orange of this early flowering plant, a stonecrop, caught my eye.
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Lotus Pond
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Golden willow tree framed by the trunk of another tree

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Just a little hint of spring
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I found this bright yellow winter aconite, which blooms even before crocuses.
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Bench and Canada geese by Lotus Pond
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Cluster of snowdrops

That’s what I collected on my Nikon’s memory card from today’s trail walk in Holden Arboretum. Is it any wonder the Arboretum is my favorite place for trail walking? These images and the memory of this early spring walk are the reasons I intend to continue walking with my camera. Trailwalking is wonderful in any season. In Spring, it’s especially good for my winter-weary soul.

See you soon for another trail walk. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Trail Walker (aka Skip)

New year’s resolution???

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My intention for 2019 is to create a blog post at least twice each week. As you can see from my record so far this year, I haven’t been very successful despite my good intentions. As I post this, on March 14th, we are much closer to April Fool’s Day than to New Year’s Eve. My (poor) record speaks for itself, and if I continue at this (slow) pace, I’m in danger of feeling a little foolish, or negligent at best.

However, to borrow another idiom that seems to fit my situation: Better late than never…because my intention is related to two specific goals: to get more exercise and the improve my photography. Both are still possible in 2019. After all, we’ve not yet a third of the way through the year.  So with my goals in mind, I took my camera and hit the trail in Chagrin River Park several times this week, which is where I spotted the deer at the top of this post and captured her picture, as well as those below.

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A walker left seeds for the birds on the park bench…
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This deer knows there must be some left for her.

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Hopefully, this towhee got his share.

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And the squirrels never miss a chance for a tasty treat.

That’s my bounty for this trail walk. I only walked about a mile, but that’s a start. Wish me luck, or, better yet, put on your walking shoes and join me.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

 

 

A glance out the kitchen window

Cleaning up the kitchen after lunch, my eye was arrested by the sight of a lonely bluebird huddled on top of the nesting box in falling snow.2019_03_05__Backyard birding_0025
The temperature was 18 degrees, and I could only imagine that, despite his fluffed out feathers,  the little fellow was feeling a bit cold. Grabbing my camera, I snapped his picture, then soon discovered he wasn’t the only wind-blown bird in the backyard. At least one other bluebird, a downy woodpecker, and a robin were nearby. (Click to enlarge pictures.)

 

I’m looking forward to spring when sunshine and warm breezes will waft away the cold and snow. I have a feeling my feathered friends are just as eager for a change in the weather. How about you?

Thanks for visiting today. See you soon.
Trail Walker

 

Monday musings

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My calendar insists that today is March 4th. In sixteen short days, we will observe the spring equinox, the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere; in other words, the first official day of spring! Here in Ohio, we will “spring forward” next weekend, turning our clocks an hour ahead for the beginning of DST or daylight saving time. Not that it really saves any time, and sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t prefer leaving my clock on standard time all year round. Nevertheless, I will conform and save myself from the confusion of never arriving anywhere at the “right time.”

So there you have it; spring is almost upon us, but, oh, how I wish it felt (and looked) more like spring! That won’t happen here on the south shore of Lake Erie until sometime in April, if we’re lucky. But here’s some good news. The birds have begun their spring migration. And I saw undeniable proof this week: a redwinged blackbird appeared in my backyard. No, I didn’t capture his (or her) picture, but I saw it. Truly I did, and that made me smile. Maybe if I carve out time this week for a trail walk in the arboretum, I will discover some tiny snowdrops, another sure harbinger of spring. Meanwhile, a bevy of birds were active in my backyard today, and they were willing to pose for some photo opps. Here are a few that I captured through my kitchen window: First, the blue jays:

Here’s another junco, like the one at the top of the post. They don’t linger once spring arrives, so they will soon be on their way to their summer home. For that reason, they are sometimes called snowbirds.
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A cardinal and an American robin also made a visit. All of these birds, even the robin, live year round in our neighborhood. I’m not sure how  robins got the reputation for being one of the first signs of spring because they don’t deserve it. We see them all year round, although it is true that we see more in warmer weather. (Although I’ve never actually counted, so that could be inaccurate.)

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My favorite little birds have been hanging around recently. Despite their reputation as summer birds, they also appear in the winter. I was shocked the first time I saw a bluebird in the middle of winter. But here they are. (Click to enlarge).

The two on the right are males. I’m not positive about the one on the left with the more subdued color, but I think it is a male too. I do know they enjoy perching on top of the “rabbit” that watches over the garden.
And, as always, the “not-a-birds” have been busy scampering around the yard and up and down the trees, “stealing” food from the feeders. They can’t fly, but their agility is amazing as they climb the pole to get to the hopper feeder.

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That’s it for today’s bird count. You can be sure I will keep my eye out for that redwinged blackbird. Maybe I will hear him before I see him. That’s often the way it is with the redwings. Every spring, their loud, distinctive call announces their arrival. Come back soon to see what I find in the backyard or along the trail.

Thanks for stopping by today. I always enjoy your visits!
Trail Walker

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