Blog posts

It’s time to celebrate!

When I set out for my trail walk this afternoon,  everything and everybody along the trail was celebrating!” Sullen April had finally, if reluctantly, stepped aside and made room for  spring. The sun was shining, flowers bursting into bloom, and bird song filling the air.

Take a look at a few of the celebrants!

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Mallard ducks on their nest (The male looks like he’s ready for a swim in the bog).
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A redwing blackbird scanning the neighborhood from the tallest tree in the bog
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The green heron lurking in the reeds, searching for a tasty tidbit
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A chipmunk enjoying his first taste of the spring air
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A happy redbellied woodpecker clinging to the fence post
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…and another sitting on the railing
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Robin redbreast perched on a budding tree limb
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A northern cardinal, who thinks he is king, scanning the neighborhood

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~Wayne Dyer

Here on the south shore of Lake Erie the last month has been a very long one! We’re ready to celebrate SPRING! Thanks for stopping by and joining me for the celebration.

Come back soon!
Trail Walker

Wildlife

I caught sight of the green heron at the top of today’s post hidden among the reeds in the bog, and one glimpse was enough to stop me in my tracks. A green heron is not a rare sighting in this area, but it’s rare enough that the sight made my heart beat a little faster.  To be sure I would get a few sharp images, I took a deep breath and shot off multiple frames before continuing  down the trail toward the owl nest. I was hoping the owlets would be visible today.

Momma Owl wasn’t in sight, but her two rapidly growing owlets were perched in plain sight in their treetop nest. Although I only have a 70-300mm lens, not nearly long enough for a clear shot at that distance, I was pretty happy with the picture I captured. I would love to own a 600mm lens, but I know realistically I wouldn’t be able to lug a heavy camera and huge lens (plus a tripod) down the trail. Some photographers do it, but I’m not that strong, so I have to be  satisfied with the equipment I own. I only captured one good shot of the owlets today…

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…but here are two more shots of the herons and a few more photo opps I captured on the walk back to my car.

That’s it for today, Trail Walkers, but the sun is shining, and it’s time to get my camera and walking shoes to see if I can capture a few more images before the sun goes down.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit today. See you soon!
Leave a comment if you have anything to share. I love to chat!

Trail Walker

 

Morning Surprises!

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You can see from the pictures above that “someone” flipped open the hopper feeder, helped him or herself to all the birdseed inside, and left behind a puzzled and confused squirrel. The first time this happened, I was surprised, but now it happens almost daily. I’m actually surprised when it doesn’t happen. If I looked out the kitchen window in the morning to see birds feasting on the seed I had poured into the feeder yesterday afternoon, that would be the surprise.  At first, I blamed the deer herd that makes nightly excursions up the hill from Chagrin River Park. I assumed they were the four legged marauders that had raided the Back Yard Buffet, but I’ve changed my mind about the likely culprits. It must be raccoons! Our thief can even twist open the plastic twist-ties that I use to secure the latch of the suet feeder. What other animal has the dexterity to lift the awkward, heavy lid of the hopper feeder and untwist the plastic ties and carry off the suet? What really surprised me this morning was seeing the squirrel standing inside the feeder. I know he’s not the thief because he and other members of his clan feast at the buffet all day long. They aren’t out and about after dark, and this morning he seemed to be perplexed that all the food was gone. He’s not happy and neither am I. I’m fighting a losing battle. The birds (and squirrels) are the real losers…and my bird-feeding budget of course!

The second surprise that appeared in the back yard buffet this morning was a welcome one. Flickers are rare visitors. I see them in the park occasionally but never right outside the kitchen window. This one found his (or her) breakfast on the ground underneath the hopper feeder, and was a very happy bird.  I was happy too because I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected photoshoot! (Click on any picture to enlarge them.)

Thanks for stopping by the back yard buffet this morning.
See you soon!

~Trail Walker

Weather report

Although the calendar indicates that we should be enjoying Spring, Mother Nature has refused to cooperate. In the weeks since the reportedly “gentler season” officially began on March 21, we have experienced mostly cold and/or very damp weather…the kind of weather that does not draw me out for trail walking with my camera. As a result, even though the birds have been out and about, this trail walker hasn’t been!  Consequently, three weeks into the month, I have a very meagre collection of April images to share; however, here are a few birds that agreed to pose in the middle of their daily activities:

After momma great horned owl, pictured above, another regular to show up was my favorite, the red-bellied woodpecker:

 

 

Following Mr. Redbelly, is another woodpecker, the little downy, but he didn’t pose for long, and, as light was leaking out of the afternoon sky,  I only captured one image of him.

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Other regulars willing to pose, despite the cold, were the perennial popular cardinals and blue jays:

 

 

Last, but of course, not least, even though they are the smallest, is the black-capped chickadee.

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Believe it or not, he had just walked through that arch on the fence post.
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And came out with a large piece of peanut.

Daylight was vanishing, so I decided to close up my camera and head home for supper. On this chilly April afternoon, I was glad to be leaving the park with a few pictures captured on my memory card. Hopefully, the weather will improve soon, and I will have more pictures to share.

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.

Here’s hoping our weather (and other things) soon improve!
Feel free to leave comments. I love to chat with you.
Trail Walker

Regular birds, but irregular weather

Walking down the trail a few days ago, I saw and heard a bird I didn’t recognize. Sitting by itself on the branch of a tree, it was singing a happy song. I’m sure it was just as delighted with the warm weather and sunshine as I was. Here are a couple of pictures of the happy bird. It sounded like a phoebe, but I’m not sure that’s the right ID. If you  know, please let me know in the comment section below.

Correction: Eliza Waters took the time to identify this happy songster as an Eastern Towhee.  That qualifies it as one of our regular birds. ~Thanks, Eliza.

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Unfortunately for both the happy songbird and me, the weather changed drastically last night, and the temperature has dropped some 30 degrees as clouds and, now rain, moved in! Sigh! 😖  However, despite the changeable weather patterns (that I blame on our location on the south shore of Lake Erie), spring is bound to come sooner or later. We’ll just have to wait a little longer.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To complete today’s post, below are a few more “regular birds” I enjoyed along the trail this week.

 

 

Thanks for visiting, friends.
Wishing you sunny days and blue skies!
Trail Walker

Iridescent feathers, wattles, and a snood

Read on to find out what those words have to do with this trail walk.

Yesterday, our temperature, which has been stuck (seemingly forever) near the freezing mark, soared to 75 degrees. I could scarcely believe it! Today is almost the same…a good day for a walk in the park. But before I turn to spring, here are a few more pictures from my last trail walk. Has spring finally sprung?

I headed down the trail to check out the owls’ nest and got a surprise. Meandering around beneath the owl tree was a rafter of wild turkeys. Take a look at the pattern and colors of their feathers, especially their heads. They are strange-looking birds:
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Although I was totally unaware of this important fact, and probably the turkeys are also, wild turkey hunting in the northeast zone of Ohio opens to hunters on Monday, April 30. These colorful birds with their iridescent feathers and pink and blue wattles, would be advised to stay in the park where hunting is prohibited until the season ends.

Who knew? Did you?
  • The long, red, fleshy area that grows from the forehead over the bill is a “snood” while the fleshy growth under the turkey’s throat is called a wattle.
  • A group of turkeys is called a “rafter.”
  • Male turkeys are called toms. Females are called hens.
  • Only tom turkeys gobble. Hens make a clucking sound.
  • Baby turkeys are called poults.
  • Male turkeys have pink and red faces, and when aroused, red, white and blue heads.

That’s it for today, and it may be more than you really wanted to know about turkeys, but they are interesting critters and words fascinate me. I’m off to the park now.  it’s time to enjoy some rare spring weather.

See you soon, Trail Walkers!

Sunday Stroll

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Despite being unseasonably cold, as you can see from the hats, gloves, and winter jackets on these walkers, Sunday afternoon was a good time for a trail walk. After visiting the owl and owlet you can see in my recent post, I strolled on down the trail to see what else was happening on this chilly afternoon.

My first stop was the rail fence where a redwinged blackbird was announcing his presence.  Watching the blackbird, I also glimpsed a song sparrow hiding in a nearby thicket. Capturing a good picture of her was challenging, but the focus is pretty good despite all the brambles obstructing the view (Remember you can click on a picture to enlarge it).

Farther down the trail, approaching the bog, I was hoping to spot the bluebird I saw when I walked this trail last week. Unfortunately, no bluebirds showed up today, but several other birds were winging from treetop to treetop, high over the bog.

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downy (or hairy) woodpecker
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red-bellied woodpecker (male)

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Finally, while passing the bog, I stopped to watch some mallards playing in the water. Just watching them chilled my bones despite my heavy jacket, but I shot off a couple of frames for my son-in-law Mike who likes to see the mallards. Some of the ducks were splashing around in the water, creating waves and sending huge droplets into the air, but these two were just parked on a log, almost as if they were posing for a portrait, so I was happy to oblige.

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Male mallard #1
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Male mallard #2

 

The end of the trail was nearly in sight, my toes were “froze,” and I was ready to head for home. Thanks for coming along on my Sunday stroll.

See you soon.
Hopefully the weather will be warmer!
Trail Walker

I was surprised…

On my Sunday afternoon walk in the park, Momma Owl and one fluffy owlet were sitting up in plain sight in their nest. I was told there is a second owlet, but apparently it was in hiding. The curly haired little owlet can easily be seen in two of the pictures, but then Momma, likely restless from sitting so long in her tree top cavity, decided to change her position. The third picture gives a good idea of how big she is.  (Click on any picture for a larger version).

 

Although the website I checked said a mature Great Horned Owl is similar to a crow or goose and slightly larger than a red-tailed hawk, she looks really chubby, even bigger than I expected. The nest must be at least 20 feet above ground, although I am no judge of heights, so that could be wrong. Momma cannot move her eyes from side to side, but all Great Horned Owls can swivel their heads more than 180 degrees so they can look in any direction. This little family is exciting to see and  for weeks has attracted lots of attention from all the bird watchers and photo fanatics in the park. They must wonder at the crowds gathered at the base of their tree, aiming cameras at them from sunup to sundown.

Our weather was cold yesterday and again today (in the 30s), but we are expecting a warm up later in the week. With the warmer temperatures, rain and overcast skies are predicted, but I hope to get a few more portraits of the owl family this week. Cross your fingers for more sunshine please!

Thanks for stopping for a visit today.
Trail Walker

 

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