It was time for breakfast, and I was ready for my toast and cocoa, but one glance out the kitchen window told me we had a surprise guest. No need to set an extra place at the table though because this guest was huge, way too large to take a chair at the table…and he was actually standing in the middle of our backyard, staring at me! So instead of inviting him to join us inside, I picked up my camera and quietly opened the door, hoping to capture a few action shots of our unexpected visitor. To my delight, he didn’t dash away as I fully expected he would, so I eased the door closed behind me and stood outside, snapping pictures in the chilly, early morning air.
The big buck wandered from our yard to several other neighbors’ yards, eventually getting out of the reach of my camera lens. By that time, chilled to the bone, I had captured many shots, and was ready to head inside, thinking a mug of hot cocoa would be the perfect way to top off this early morning photo shoot.
I hope you enjoyed meeting the buck who came for breakfast! See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Two or three weeks ago, I posted a blog about a visit from our granddog Wally who had come for a visit with our grandson Bryan. Wally and Bryan live in Washington DC, and that was his first visit to northeast Ohio. It was fun getting to know him, and I recently posted a blog about his visit. Today’s post is about Mabel, another granddog. Mabel is an English Sheepdog…a very large and energetic sheepdog, as you can see from the pictures.
On the day I took these pictures, she and her family had stopped by for a short visit. Last year when they were moving into their new house, about 45 minutes south of us, Mabel lived with Bob and me for a few months. Being dog lovers, we enjoyed having her around. However, they eventually settled into their new home, and Mabel moved back with them and their other dog Cooper. These days she only comes for a occasional visit, and on one of those visits I took these pictures. A dog, especially one as large and as lively as Mabel, can definitely add more than a little zest to the household.
That’s it for Mabel’s visit. Maybe in a future post I will introduce Cooper or one of our other granddogs. We don’t have a resident dog these days, but they are always welcome for a visit. Dogs really do add joy to a home. We have a picture on our wall with the caption, “There’s something about the outside of a dog that is good for the inside of a person!” I believe that is true.
Another overcast day, but even so, a walk in the woods is a good way to while away an hour or two, and a much better use of my time than lounging in an easy chair reading yesterday’s news in the Plain Dealer (or today’s news for that matter). Even though the dampness may turn to drizzle at any moment, I find trailwalking preferable to the alternative.
So down the trail I trod, avoiding the puddles and slippery mud, curious to see what I will find along the trail today. I hadn’t gone far before I heard some mysterious munching, and, following the sound, I spied this little long-tailed critter enjoying a feast.
In my opinion, a chipmunk is a cute critter, although some people won’t agree. They are small but destructive, and, if one finds a secret entrance into your house, its ability to create havoc far outweighs its size. Many years ago, at the beginning of summer, one chewed on the wires and totally destroyed the AC in our daughter and son-in-law’s home. That was a hot (and very expensive) experience, so chipmunks are not welcome anywhere in their neighborhood. However, I will categorize them as cute, IF they stay outside and I only see them along the trail in the park.
Some movement off the trail to my right led to the discovery of a much larger and very familiar critter that was also enjoying her breakfast.
Whitetail deer are native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia. I didn’t realize how extensive their range is until I looked it up. I just knew they are common critters in northeast Ohio, so common that it is not surprising to look out the kitchen window and find one standing on the other side of the window staring in at me. (And, incidentally, nibbling on the expensive seed cylinders we hang out for the birds). The whitetails are another animal I prefer to see in the park, but they have no trouble crossing the road and wandering through our neighborhood. In this recent blog post I wrote about a fawn I spotted in our backyard, apparently left there temporarily by a doe that went off exploring for a few hours.
The tiniest critter I photographed along the trail today was spotted by Bob, who, along with Mabel, was leading our walk today. (You can read more about Mabel on this blog post. This critter, a daddy-longlegs, is so common I would have walked right past it, but Bob thought it deserved a mention in today’s blog, so here it is.
In my brief (online) research to clarify the name of this critter, I learned that they are not poisonous and apparently do not bite humans. I also learned that there are several variations of these long legged critters and that one common name for them is “harvestmen” and another is “cellar spiders” because they can be found in cellars. If you are curious and want to know more, you can start your research here. You might even decide to become an arachnologist (a scientist who studies spiders and other arachnids), but personally, my skin is already crawling, and I’m ready to move on to another common variety of woodland critter: birds.
The birds in Chagrin River Park are regularly featured on my blog, and today I saw a cardinal, a catbird…
…and a wood thrush, which was so cooperative I was able to capture several pictures of it. The wood thrush, which is the official bird of the District of Columbia, is closely related to the American robin, and obviously eats worms. Click on one of the pictures below to take a look at a larger version to see if you agree that it is a beauty.
That’s all the news and pictures from the trail for today.
The temperature was hovering around zero with freezing rain tapping on the window pane, so backyard birding seemed like a better idea than trudging down the trail in the park. Call me a wimp, if you want, but I’m happiest indoors in weather like this.
The bluejays don’t seem to mind much as long as the rain isn’t pelting down, but Ido mind, so I decided to do a little backyard birding from inside my kitchen window today.
In most tree-shaded backyards, birding usually includes squirrels, and my yard is no different. This squirrel is sheltering under the bird feeder, and he looks pretty happy about having the food all to himself.
Most days I prefer birding along the trail in the park, but today I am thankful to capture my birds through the window. I hope you enjoyed the view.
Thanks for joining me. Let’s hope for sunny weather soon. I’m not a trailwalker today!
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.
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:
Love the hair style!
A song sparrow also joined in the fun.
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:
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
A little bag of peanuts in my pocket attracted the attention of this hungry doe. It might be that she has a super-sniffer, or maybe she saw me drop a handful of peanuts into the top of the fence post. Either way, she knew there were tasty treats to be had, and she was determined to have her share.
As soon as I walked away from the fence, she wandered over and sidled up to the post. She quickly discovered she wasn’t tall enough to insert her pink tongue into the post far enough to reach the peanuts. But she tried…
…and she kept on trying.
She was one determined doe, but unfortunately she was vertically challenged. No matter how hard she tried, the tasty treat was out of her reach.
She didn’t get the peanuts this time, but one thing I know for sure, she’ll be back. Peanuts are apparently a highly valued snack food, and when she sees me the next time, she’ll remember. Maybe that time the peanut cache will be “topped off;” she will be able to reach it, and her determination will have a happier outcome. I’m betting on the doe.
The hungry birds that braved the downpour to visit the Backyard Buffet on this miserably wet day did not have the same advantage of a built-in umbrella. This was not a good weather day for the bedraggled birds.
Wet wings don’t fly well!
The titmouse’s tuft is flattened!
…but he still got a tasty seed.
Let’s hope, for the sake of the saturated squirrels and weather-beaten birds, that the sun soon makes an appearance.
Thanks for braving the weather in the Backyard Buffet today!
Fingers crossed for better weather tomorrow.
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.
…and he was definitely interested in food.
As I watched through the window, camera in hand, he came closer and closer…
…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.
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.
Since we turned our clocks back to standard time, I have to watch myself or dark will descend before I am ready for it. Some days I have barely started my trail walk when some photo opps present themselves, and I don’t have enough light to get a good shot. Here is one example:
Two things went wrong with that shot. First off, I was not prepared. I was focused on a cardinal on the fence post right in front of me when this big buck dashed into the scene. I quickly changed my mind and snapped off several shots of the buck. However, while I was prepared to capture a stationary bird, I wasn’t expecting a fast moving buck, so this shot didn’t work because the light was low and my settings were all wrong. The most I can say is that I captured the moment, so I’m keeping the picture. You win some and lose some. The best thing to do is to learn from the “losers” so the next shot will be better.
The big buck pictured at the top of this post was also taken in late afternoon, but that time I was ready. I had watched him follow some does across the trail in front of me, so when he came back across the trail after giving up the chase, I watched and waited and captured this brief stare-down. Success! (Note: I wasn’t close enough to be in danger. The buck was calm, totally disinterested in me, and I was using my long lens and standing a good distance away).
Here are a few more late afternoon photos from the past week in Chagrin River Park.
Walking the river trail
Maple trees line the entrance to the park.
Another view of the maples.
Evening on the river
That’s all for this post. Sadly, we have nearly reached the end of my “Color Me Autumn” series of posts. I still have a backlog of photos that I haven’t posted yet, but I don’t think there will be many (maybe not any) new beautiful autumn photos.A cold wind has blown in and several inches of snow fell in the area tonight, although thankfully not in our neighborhood.
Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon.
Rain was threatening, and I was feeling lazy, so I hung around the house for some back yard birding instead of heading to the park for a trail walk. As it turned out, lazy wasn’t a bad choice, and I ended up having loads of fun just sitting on the bench in my back yard. A lady hummer came for a visit, and she was joined by a downy woodpecker, a finch (I think), and a little bird with a punk hairdo.
I don’t know if you can tell from these pictures, but we have a new feeder for the hummingbirds. Today the hummer was taking turns sipping from them.First one, then the other! The new feeder is different. It’s shallow with a ring around it for her is rest on while she drinks, and, best of all, it is much easier to clean and refill. That’s especially important when it is hot like it has been recently because the wasps and ants are also attracted to the sugar water feeder, which must be emptied and refilled every two or three days.
As an extra treat, the birds and I were joined at the back yard buffet by Samantha Squirrel. Sammy and her extended family love the bark butter suet cakes as much as the birds do, and I love to watch their antics as they climb the poles, hang onto the feeders, and help themselves to the bark butter. Fortunately the birds are willing to share!
That’s it from the back yard buffet today. Nothing earthshaking. Nothing political. No name-calling, no violence. Just food, fun, and congeniality. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Thanks for joining me today. See you soon. Trail Walker