Another morning trail walk

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Today’s first discovery showed up before we reached the park when I spotted this bluebird in the backyard. He appears pretty regularly in the morning, right about breakfast time. Often I don’t see him again until the next morning, but it is still a treat to get a daily visit.

In the park, I was delighted to discover a beautiful brown thrasher scrabbling around in the leaf litter along the trail. He was hard to spot because he blended so well with the dead leaves, and he was even harder to photograph because he wasn’t interested in posing. He was way too busy searching for tasty tidbits for his breakfast. I’ve read that these brown thrashers are the only thrasher species east of Texas, and they are known to be exuberant singers with extensive repertoires. Click on one of the pictures for a closer look.(Sorry I can’t include the song, but this bird was too busy rummaging through the leaf litter to treat us to a concert this morning).

After watching the thrasher for a while, I paused near the fence rail where I photographed a white-throated sparrow and a male cardinal.

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White throated sparrow

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Northern cardinal

I would’ve liked to continue on down the trail, but my companions, Bob and Mabel the sheepdog, wanted to head home so they could share a piece of toast and get started on the morning’s agenda. (For Mabel, that would be a nap!) So that’s it for today trail walk.

See you soon, fellow walkers! Thanks for joining me today.
Trail Walker aka Skip

 

Wet and windy!

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The windy, wet, 38 degree day is definitely not what drew me outside for a trail walk in Chagrin River Park this morning. No Way! What got me out was what I have written about in previous blog posts: my intention to be more active and my determination to increase my stamina and energy. So after breakfast, when the rain had let up, Bob, Mabel (the sheepdog) and I took to the trail.

There wasn’t much to see, but I did capture pictures of a few little birds:

If the birds look a bit bedraggled, that’s exactly how I was feeling. Frozen fingers and wet feet aren’t appealing; however, I am determined to log more miles/steps every day, and Mabel can be pretty demanding if she doesn’t get her morning walk, so out we went. Windy, wet, and bedraggled, but proud of the progress I am making in keeping up with my intentions. (For more about those intentions, read this earlier blog post.)

See you soon, trail walkers.
Keep those fingers crossed for “springier” weather!
Trail Walker

An early Spring morning

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Join me for a little early morning birding on the first truly beautiful spring day. The morning dawned cool and hazy and got better as the day went on. By evening, under sunny skies, the park was filled with people…and birds… enjoying our first real taste of spring.

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red-bellied woodpecker
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white-throated sparrow
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northern cardinal
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reflections on the bog
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Bluejay
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Bluejay
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Red-bellied woodpecker with a peanut

I don’t have anything else to say. I just wanted to share the beauty of this morning walk.

See you soon for another stroll in the park.
Join me for a walk and be sure to bring your camera.
Trail Walker

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

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

 

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