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

 

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

Playground games

You never know who is going to show up and claim to be top bird on the playground. These birds remind me of my grade school playground where “King of the Hill” was a popular recess activity.  Today’s competitors include King Cardinal and a hopeful challenger,  a much smaller but determined sparrow.

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But before the contest can be decided,  an even bossier bird enters the fray, sends the contestants flitting away, and claims the crown as King of the Post!

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The winner!

The bell rings.
Recess is over.
But tomorrow will be another day on the playground.

Sometimes it’s just fun to add a little imagination to the pictures!

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Short post: Cute birds, few words!

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No time for a trail walk today, and to tell the truth, trail walking when the wind is almost strong enough to blow me over (slightly exaggerated, but not much!) is not something I’m likely to do. Here’s hoping we will see some serious improvements in the current version of “spring” by this time next week!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you again as soon as the weather warms up
and the wind stops “blowing a hoolie!”
Trail Walker

Finally…a blue-sky morning

When I came downstairs for breakfast this morning, I was amazed to see a beautiful blue sky outside my window. Knowing that a blue sky in the morning can become a dull, overcast sky by noon, I hurried through breakfast and made it to the park with time to spare. First stop was the owl tree to see if Momma Owl was awake.

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The owl tree
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There’s Momma, napping in the top of the tree.

She was, as usual when I come to visit, sound asleep. Maybe she was up all night hunting for breakfast? That’s one theory, but I haven’t actually seen any owlets yet, although another photographer reported a sighting last week. I have a lot to do today, so I didn’t linger at the base of the tree to see if anything would happen. I shot off a few frames and headed back down the trail to see what else I could find.

Nothing much was happening at the split rail fence, so I walked a little farther down the trail toward the river, and bonanza! I encountered a bluebird, and she was happy to pose for the camera.

 

 

We have been hoping that a pair of bluebirds will move into one of our nesting boxes, but so far none of the blue beauties have shown more than a passing interest in either box. Although I am becoming a little discouraged, I haven’t given up hope yet. Spring isn’t even in full bloom. Maybe we need to hire a real estate agent to post ads about the wonderful homes that are available in the neighborhood. Do you think that would work? I wonder how classified ads would work in the birding community? Or would glossy, full page ones look better?

Here are several more pictures taken by the split-rail fence earlier in the week before the rain moved in.

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male cardinal
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redwinged blackbird
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tufted titmouse

 

And finally, before I close down for the afternoon, here’s a red-bellied woodpecker who showed up for this morning’s walk in Chagrin River Park.
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That’s all, folks. I’m running out of blogging time. Thanks for joining me for today’s trail walk. I really appreciate your company and your comments.

See you next week!
Trail Walker

New day—New trail walk

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Good morning, Trail Walkers. I hope you’re ready for another trek along the trails in Chagrin River Park. It never get monotonous for me when I’m out on the trail, but recently I’m seeing the same birds day after day. Here’s hoping that the coming of spring will soon bring some migratory birds back to the  trails.  My photos from yesterday are all birds, but I was drawn to the image at the top of today’s page because it shows more of the meadow. I hope you like it. Here are a few more regulars that posed for a photo  opp yesterday:

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Blue jay
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He’s happy to find a peanut!

There was plenty of titmouse action this morning. These little birds make me smile because they are perpetually perky, or at least they seem to be. They even sound perky.

The red-winged blackbird is one of the earliest signs of spring in Northeast Ohio. Long before other noticeable signs and sounds of spring appear along the trails, the harsh nasal voice of this bird tells a trail walker that spring is coming. It’s always a good sound to hear, even though experience reminds me that the trees won’t be budding and blooming any time soon… at least not here along the south shore of Lake Erie.

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Let’s end today’s trail walk with a perennial favorite. Everyone recognizes this bird. The state bird of Ohio and several other states, the cardinal lives here year-round, and looks especially beautiful when I spot it on a tree branch, surrounded by freshly fallen snow.

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I’m thankful there wasn’t any snow along the trail yesterday.  I’ve had enough for this year. True spring can’t arrive soon enough for me!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you in a few days.
~Trail Walker

Taking Mabel on the trail

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Bob was taking Mabel for a walk in the park, so, even though it was late afternoon, I tagged along. Mabel, our daughter and son-in-law’s dog, is temporarily our house guest. They sold their home and are planning to relocate as soon as they find the right house or property. Meanwhile, we are back to having a dog in the house, and a very large dog at that! She has adapted well to her temporary home, and we have adapted to having her around. Mabel’s a good girl, and we are enjoying her company. Bob is supposed to take daily walks, and having Mabel as a walking partner is a good incentive. Although the arrangement is only intended to last until they move into their new home, we have reminded Alison that our buddy Gulliver, who was once their puppy, came to stay with us temporarily many years ago and never left. He was our buddy for 15 years, until he died last September.

Today, while Bob and Mabel walked the stairs at the sledding hill, I took a short trail walk and photographed some birds. The red-bellied woodpeckers were plentiful:

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…and a titmouse  and cardinal also stopped by, hoping for a peanut.

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I couldn’t forget to visit the owl tree, and this time I caught Momma Owl with her eyes open, Today she was just as sedentary as the last two times I stopped for a photo opp. Being a momma owl, responsible for sitting on the nest  hour after hour, must be very tiresome.

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That’s it for today’s blog post. See you in a few days.

Thanks for taking a look!
Trail Walker

A late afternoon trail walk

On cold days, I’m not always excited about putting on all the winter paraphernalia yet another time, especially as the sun is slowly sinking behind the trees; however, today I pushed open the door of my comfort zone and headed out for a chilly hour along the trails in Chagrin River Park.

My first goal was another look at Momma Great Horned Owl, so I chose the trail that led to her dead tree. From my vantage point, a fair distance from the tree, I could see that she was enjoying an afternoon nap, carefully camouflaged in her cozy nest.
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Unfortunately the light was too low to capture a clear picture with my Nikon, so I shot a few photographs, turned away and went in search of other nearby birds. Flitting in the treetops along the trail was a black-capped chickadee that was kind enough to pause for a little portrait shoot.

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When I reached the fence post at the juncture of two trails, I was happy to find the lady cardinal was still willing to pose…

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…as were the blue jay and red-bellied woodpecker…

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From a tree that overhangs the split-rail fence, a white-throated sparrow flew down to grab some peanuts; a pre-dinner appetizer perhaps:

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By this time,  my hands were thoroughly chilled, so I decided it was quitting time. “Tomorrow will be another day,” I said to myself, and hopefully the sun will shine.  Walking back to my car, I took the trail that skirts the bog and paused to watch a few mallards that hadn’t gone in for the night.

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By now it was really time to leave the trail and go home to download my pictures and get supper on the table. I’ll come back in the morning. Hopefully the light will be better!

I’ll look forward to seeing you then!
Trail Walker

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