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

 

When the snow finally fell…

 I saw a walker hurrying toward me…

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Then I noticed why she was in such a hurry.

A big buck  behind her was closing in!

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And right behind him were two more bucks, headed her way.

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Look closely! There are three bucks in this picture.

With a healthy sense of self preservation, I clicked off a few pictures, swung around, and left them all behind. Following the trail that  led to the sledding hill, I paused to capture a few pictures of the sledders. Nobody was warming up by the fire pit because they were all on the hillside having fun.

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Also along the trail today, flitting among the trees and just possibly hoping for some peanuts or other tasty treats, I saw birds who don’t seem to mind the cold weather…

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Mrs. Cardinal, her feathers ruffled by the wind!
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Mr. Cardinal
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Mrs. C. with a peanut
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And a pair of chubby titmice, their feathers fluffed up against the cold.

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Heading towards me, I saw a happy little dog, bundled up in her winter coat…

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…bouncing down the trail, and Atka, a big dog with an Eskimo name, according to the person with him.

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Winter sunsets happen quickly in this latitude, and the afternoon was rapidly waning. It was time to follow the trail back to the parking lot and head for home. I hope you enjoyed today’s trail walk. Cold weather is coming our way…really cold weather with temperatures hovering near (or below) 0 degrees F. Don’t look for me on the trail for a few days…not until the temperature moderates to something around 23 degrees or higher. I’m fine with winter and snow, and all that, but there is a limit to my tolerance for frigid temps. Here is one more shot from the trail; then maybe for a few days I’ll snap some backyard birds at the feeders…from inside my kitchen window… until the weather warms up again!

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Thanks for treading the trail with me today.
Trail Walker

It was a cold evening in the park…

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As I trekked down the trail, I was joined by some birds and a few other woodland critters. As usual there were some curious deer, watching from among the trees. Only one ventured close enough for me to take a clear picture. She opened her mouth, as if to ask if I had a treat to share with her.

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When I wandered down the path to the split rail fence, hoping to see the elusive red-bellied woodpecker this evening, the first critter to catch my eye was this squirrel, who paused  on top of the fence post long enough for me to capture his picture:
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Farther up the trail, I walked out onto the pedestrian bridge and saw a human critter, a fisherman, standing in the middle of the river, casting his fishing line into the darkening water. I didn’t hang around to watch because I was beginning to feel chilled by the wind whipping up the river and seeping through  my protective layers. To my eye, fly fishing is like  poetry in motion, so I snapped a few pictures before moving on. Despite the cold, the fisherman seemed to be enjoying his lonely occupation.
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Back at the fence corner, I watched as a greedy house sparrow landed on the fence post and snitched a couple of peanuts.

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Still, I waited, hoping to see the red-bellied woodpecker, and finally, my patience was rewarded when he flew in and landed on the post. With a sigh of delight, I clicked off a few pictures.

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The evening wasn’t quite over yet. As I stood there, camera ready in my frozen fingers,  I witnessed a confrontation between two sparrows and a black-capped chickadee over who was going to grab the next peanut.

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When one of the sparrows picked up the peanut, I grabbed my last photo and headed home. Cold but happy, I had enjoyed my trek along the trail this evening.

Thanks for trekking with me!
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Evening in the park

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This little herd of deer was standing near the split rail fence, one of my favorite bird watching locations, when I went to the park with my camera on Sunday evening. They were more interested in browsing than curious about what I was doing, so I decided to take their picture before I headed out for a little bird photography.

The light was getting low, but the birds were still active, and this time I had remembered to bring a handful of peanuts to reward them. There were cardinals, both male and female, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, and more. Here is the woodpecker gallery:


The male cardinals were wearing brilliant  red coats this evening. Maybe the light had something to do with making them look especially beautiful. The female cardinal, sitting by herself in the branches of a nearby tree, chose not to pose with the redcoats

Then there were two downy woodpeckers:
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And a greedy nuthatch…
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And finally one of my favorites, the red-bellied woodpecker, put in an appearance. She was being somewhat elusive this evening. She swooped past, but didn’t stay for long, and I missed my chance to get her picture. This happened several times. Every time she came close, I was too late with the camera. To say the least, I wasn’t on the top of my game, but finally I was ready, and here is the result:

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It’s a good thing too because the sun was getting low and I was getting cold. I was happy to call it a night. Thanks for coming out on this chilly evening.

I’ll see you soon.
~Trail Walker

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