Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

The wrens have returned!

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When we’re talking birds, migration is a fascinating topic, especially in the spring when the woods are awake with the sight and song of the warblers and other birds that haven’t been around during the cold winter months.

The bird pictured above, a house wren, is small and looks sweet, but according to my i-bird app, they are fiercely territorial and have been known to destroy the eggs of bluebirds and other small birds. So…definitely not sweet! However it is fun to watch them “feather their nesting holes” and settle in for the summer. One afternoon this week I hung around for a half-hour or so and watched for this little one to return to the nesting hole. When she did, I snapped a sequence of pictures as she came to her “front door” and peered outside.

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Look closely and, in a few of the pictures, you can see the “sawdust” on her beak, a result of her efforts to excavate the nest. That’s something human mothers don’t have to do to provide a home for their newborn babies.

This same skinny tree has been used before, perhaps by the same wren. Reportedly they can live up to seven years in the wild, so this could be the same little bird I’ve seen in past years. However, this year the entrance to the nest is on the side of the tree facing the trail. In previous years, it was on the other side; the bird would fly up to the (very skinny) tree, land on the side facing the bog, and disappear inside. She is just one of numerous wrens that have returned to the bog in recent days. I don’t know how many there are, but, according to Wikipedia, the house wren is the most widely distributed bird in the Americas, and as I walk along the trail, I can hear their melodic song from high and low on both sides of the trail.

One final fact for this post is that a group of wrens can be referred to by several different names: a chime, flight, flock, or even a herd of wrens. A herd of wrens? That takes me back to my teen years when I would go with my father to inspect the herds of dairy cows that produced milk the farmers were shipping to market in Philadelphia. That was another time, another place, and a very different animal from this herd of wrens that has moved into Chagrin River Park for the summer. I wonder who would possibly have come up with the term “herd of wrens?” As a term for a group of wrens, it certainly doesn’t work for me; nevertheless, the park is filled with their song, and I enjoy seeing and hearing this “herd” of migratory birds.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks, northern flicker

Love those birds!

I was standing next to the trail, watching a house wren “feathering her nest,” when I spotted two birds on a branch high over my head. I couldn’t see them clearly with my naked eye, so you can imagine my surprise when I downloaded them to my computer after I got home.

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Female flicker
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Male and female
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Lovebirds!

Talk about serendipity! I couldn’t believe my luck in capturing these two beautiful birds…together! The house wren pictures came out pretty good also, but I will post them another day. Today belongs to the flickers. Hope you like them. For you bird lovers, a group of flickers are collectively known as a “guttering”, “menorah”, and “Peterson” of flickers. Who knew? I definitely didn’t, but now you do!

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in animal photography, Chagrin River Park, My trail walks, nature

Twice surprised!

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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.

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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:

A song sparrow also joined in the fun.
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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:
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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
Posted in Chagrin River Park, Lake Metroparks, My trail walks

A didgeridoo: An unusual sight to see (and hear) along the trail in Chagrin River Park

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Anyone familiar with my blog is aware that most of my posts originate from my experiences along the trail in local parks. Today’s post is not an exception, but it is somewhat unusual and definitely different from the usual sights I typically see along the trail.

That’s not the didgeridoo pictured at the top of the page,  but except for that little tufted titmouse, a common sight along the trail, I took all of today’s photos around the fire pit at the bottom of the sledding hill in Chagrin River Park. Someone had built a little fire in the fire pit, but there were no frozen sled riders warming up around the flames. Yesterday’s high temperature topped out  somewhere around 73 degrees, truly an anomaly for March in northeast Ohio. However, the usual group of regulars had gathered around the fire, and were being entertained by Ryan and his didgeridoo.
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For the uninitiated, the didgeridoo is a wind instrument. Said to be the oldest wind instrument in the world, it originated with the Aborigines in Australia, many, many years ago. People who play it well, need to have excellent breath control and be willing to practice…a lot! Ryan, who brought his didgeridoo to Chagrin River Park, told me the instrument has been used to help people who have sleep apnea and by people who practice meditation. Ryan teaches yoga and has also used the instrument with his yoga classes. One more interesting fact about this unusual instrument: It is traditionally made from eucalyptus trees that have been hollowed out by termites.

I was curious and wanted to know more about the didgeridoo, so I googled it and found plenty of information online. A large number of recorded TED Talks included expert performances.  If you’re curious and want to hear this instrument played, here are a couple of links to help you get started…

… and below are a few more pictures of Ryan and his didgeridoo.

You never know what you might see along the trail in Chagrin River Park, and I’m glad I ran into Ryan at the fire pit today. It was an unexpected treat to hear his didgeridoo.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, My trail walks

Winter just won’t let go!

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Low temps, high winds, and snow: That was our weather forecast for Sunday through Wednesday. Thankfully the nasty weather loosened its grip by Tuesday afternoon, and the temperature rose to about 28 degrees, comfortable enough for me to take a short trail walk in Chagrin River Park. The river looked cold…

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…and so did the bog!

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The cardinals, however, didn’t seem to mind the weather. After taking a little walk along the river, I decided to visit the rail fence to see if any birds were hanging around. They were there, but unfortunately I had forgotten to put some peanuts in my pocket, and I had nothing to offer them. It was sad to see them fly in from every direction and check the fence post, only to find it empty. I even heard some unhappy chirps. It sounded as if they were scolding me for being so forgetful. I won’t forget next time, but this was an impromptu visit, and I forgot to put the peanut bag in my pocket! I still managed to get some pictures, and I was pleased with how they turned out. (I love my new lens!)

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As you can see, the sun was shining. That was totally unexpected, and it made for a short, and delightful (but still cold), trail walk.

Thanks for walking with me today.
See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in Chagrin River Park, Dogs and their people, My trail walks

Two dog day ☀️

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On this surprisingly sunny afternoon, when rain had been predicted, I joined the crowd in Chagrin River Park intent on trying out the new lens Bob gave me for my birthday. It was a beautiful day for a trail walk, and I learned some things about my lens. One of its best features is capturing impromptu portraits of people and dogs, something I truly enjoy doing. I first ran into Gabby, an adorable golden doodle, when I was watching the ducks on the bog. Gabby, short for Gabriella I believe, was walking with her person. She waited patiently while Jack and I had a long conversation about the weather, the ducks, and Gabby of course. I learned that as long as I scratched her head, she would stand patiently, leaning against my leg.  As I said, she is adorable!

In a very short time, I met up with Scampy and his person, Ellen.

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Ellen adopted Scampy, a havanese, from an Amish farm in Ohio. She told me that when she went to meet her new companion, a little girl ran out of the house followed by this sweet, nearly three-year-old, puppy. The little girl had named him Scampy. Ellen liked the name, so Scampy he is. It suits him very well, and I am sure the little girl was delighted. I googled “havanese” because I wasn’t sure how to spell it, and read that they are companionable, intelligent, and affectionate. It’s hard to believe that Ellen could have found a better friend. She lives alone, and her day is complete when Scampy meets her at the door. I couldn’t decide which picture of the pair I preferred, so here they are again.

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I captured other pictures on today’s trail walk, but I will share them in a future blog post. Today belongs to Gabby, Scampy, and their human companions.

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

 

Posted in Chagrin River Park, deer, Lake Metroparks, My trail walks

Before the warm up

2017_02_16_places-chagrin-river-park_winter-trail-walk_0029I won’t say this has been a mild winter, but I’m not going to complain about the harsh, frigid weather we’ve experienced this year. Have we have some really cold days? Oh yes, we have! And even more overcast, just-plain-dismal-days! However, we are way down in total inches of snow this winter, and there have been too many days when the dreariness made me decide to stay indoors and work on other photo-related projects instead of heading outside for a trail walk. As it turned out, yesterday was a good day for trailwalking. It was cold, but not bone-chilling. And it was dry…a real plus.

Gulliver, pictured above with Bob and one of the many deer that call the park home, was scheduled for a quick visit to the vet to have staples removed from his recent (very successful) surgery.We decided to take him for a short walk in the park before his appointment. Side note: Gully gets over-excited at the vet’s office and isn’t always his usual well-behaved self. We consider it a good visit if he doesn’t leave an unwelcome gift on the vet’s floor…all due to his nervousness. Thanks to our walk in the park, this was a good visit, although our walk was short to allow us to get to the appointment on time,

The meteorological  experts are predicting a February warmup over the next five days, meaning no new snow on the ground and probably mud in its place. We shall see! At any rate, here are just a few more pictures from the park to show what it looked like before the (predicted) February thaw.

Thanks for coming along on this short trail walk!
Trail Walker
Posted in Chagrin River Park, My trail walks

Cardinals, woodpeckers, and food fights!

The second of two posts on my freezing cold trail walk.
Read part one here.

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Cold, snowy weather brought out the birds, and like this cheerful red cardinal, they were all hungry to the point of squabbling over the food! The female cardinals in yesterday’s post were the worst. They flew at the fence post as if to see who could be first to land and grab all the food. If they arrived at the same time, there was loud squawking, with a quick change of direction to avoid a collision.

When the red-bellied woodpecker flew into the scene, she got first choice. As my kids would say when they were little, “She got dibs on the bark butter bits!” She was queen of the fence post, and she knew it.

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As I mentioned yesterday, it was cold and starting to spit snow again. My hands were painfully cold from holding the camera, so I decided to head for home. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a pileated woodpecker pounding on a tree. It didn’t take long to find him, high up in a dead tree in the nearby bog. So high up, in fact that he was almost out of reach of my lens. I got a picture, but not a very good one;  however, unless I wanted to wade in the half frozen water that surrounded his tree, it was the best I was going to get.2017_02_09_places-chagrin-river-park_winter-trail-walk_0106

By that time I was having visions of a mug full of hot cocoa. Pulling my gloves out of my jacket pockets, I pulled them on over stiff fingers and walked down the trail to my car.

That’s it for today!
Thanks for walking the trail with me.
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, My trail walks

It’s freezing on the trail today!

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Around noon, I saw a glimmer of light in my window and a little blue sky. Thinking that meant good weather for a trail walk, I grabbed the camera and put on my boots, heavy coat, and warm hat. It had snowed overnight, only about three inches, but enough that I was glad for the cleats on my boots. When I got to the park, I realized that I had been mistaken about the weather, which really wasn’t good for holding a camera and shooting photos of birds. I didn’t give up however, not right away, not until I had captured some pictures. No way was I going to trudge down that frigid trail and come home with nothing to show for it. The birds flocked around me as soon as I arrived at the fence rail where they gathered in the tree and along the rail, hoping for a handout. Yes, they got what they were looking for…bark butter bits! And they were very happy. Take a look:

The birds got their treat and I came home with frozen fingers! I checked the temperature once I was back at my computer. It was only 22 degrees with a wind chill factor of 17. AND before I got back to the car it was spitting snow again. Brrr!

That’s all for today.
To be continued tomorrow…
See you soon!