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 bird photography, Color me Spring!, Monday Meander, My trail walks

A Monday Meander

Hello friends.
Join me for a morning meander along the trail.
We’ll visit a few of our bird friends to see what they are up to.
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The blue jay is hoping for some peanuts.
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The house wren is feathering her new nesting hole…
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And checking it out to see if the fit is good.
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The red-bellied woodpecker is also visiting his new nest.
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Checking both inside and out to see if it is ready for a family.
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The Great Horned Owl is not on her nest, but one of the owlets is testing his wings. He must be getting ready to fledge.

That’s all the news from the trail on this Monday morning. I didn’t see the belted kingfisher or the towhee, and I’m still waiting for my first glimpse of a Baltimore oriole. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

 

Posted in Color me Spring!, My trail walks, nature photography, Searching for Spring, woodpeckers

I never would have seen…

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Peek-a-boo! I see you, but you don’t see me!

I really wouldn’t have noticed the little red-bellied woodpecker peering out from its nesting hole, but another, sharper-eyed photographer had located the nesting hole high up in a tree in the middle of the bog. He pointed it out as we walked past the tree a few days ago. So I have Randy to thank for this set of pictures, and I am delighted to give him credit for his generosity in pointing it out so I could take these shots.

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Peering back into the nesting hole
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I zoomed in closer for a better look.
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I’m not sure this is the same bird. Could it be a female?

I’m not absolutely certain if there is one bird or two, so today I returned for another look, but nobody was home. I guess I will just have to keep checking out the nest on future trail walks.

To be updated if there is more to share.
See you soon with more tales from the trail! ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

Three owls

Look closely! Can you see all three great horned owls?

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There’s Momma Owl on the left, and next to her are her two owlets taking their naps. I’m not sure how old the babies are, but rumor has it that they were first spotted by a sharp-eyed birder a week or more ago. But that is just rumor, so I will have to confirm it. I only heard of them two days ago. This nest is about a mile from our house, on one of the trails I frequently walk. With these owls, the recent “big bird” sightings in our neighborhood has increased by three: the eagle and pileated woodpecker I posted last week and now a great horned owl and her owlets. It’s been a banner week for big birds. I wonder what will be next?

See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Back to my search for spring

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Marsh marigold

Lisa and I were trailwalking in the Arboretum, in search of more early signs of spring. Treading through a marshy area on our way to Blueberry Pond, we spotted some marsh marigolds. The vibrant yellow of this early bloomer is pretty hard to miss. Then, when we reached our destination at the top of a grassy hillside, we paused to appreciate the beauty in front of us.

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Blueberry Pond

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As you can see, few of the trees display any greenery. That easily visible evidence of spring is another 7-10 days in the future, depending on the temperatures in the week ahead. Our location, so close to Lake Erie, delays the in-breaking of spring, which is probably why the search for spring looms large in my mind from February onward, until true spring finally arrives.

On today’s trail walk, we saw some early wildflowers. Although she is a pediatric dentist, Lisa also has a background in horticulture and was able to identify the beautiful Lenten rose, and in the same area we spotted the ferns, just beginning to unfurl.

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Continuing along the trail, we came to the clump of white birch trees, where I took a picture of Lisa sitting on the lowest limb. It looks to me as if that limb was created for that very purpose, and this isn’t the first time I’ve paused to take a picture of it. Finally reaching Lotus Pond, we each posed beside a pink magnolia hybrid with the pond in the background.

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Lisa and the white birch tree

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Because the person carrying the camera rarely gets her picture taken, here is one Lisa snapped of me.
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As we circled Lotus Pond, we watched the birds skimming over the surface of the water, apparently hoping to catch some insects (another sign of spring)! Although I didn’t see any insects, apparently the birds were on to something…or it is an annual spring rite of the swifts, purple martins, or whatever they were. They were flying way too fast for me to identify them with any certainty.

Although I have a few more pictures from today’s trail walk, I am going to stop here because this post is already a little long. I will post the others in a day or two. Meanwhile, even if the weather isn’t sunny and warm, and even if it isn’t spring where you live, I hope  you all enjoy a beautiful weekend.

Thanks for joining us on this walk in the Arboretum.
See you soon!  ~Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, Color me Spring!, nature, spring

A sure sign of spring!

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Spring has been wearing its fickle face recently, bringing lots of rain, wind, and even a few rumbles of thunder. Thankfully we haven’t had any severe storms, although at times the rain was heavy enough to create a large pond in our neighbor’s backyard. This happens every spring, of course, and, without fail, when the spring rain comes, this mallard couple comes with it.

A year or two ago, they were joined by several other male mallards, but that didn’t go so well. There was an outbreak of territorial jealousy accompanied by noisy quacking and threatening posturing. With multiple male mallards and only one female, peaceful coexistence was not a possibility. Watching their antics, I harbored a suspicion that the lady mallard was enjoying the ruckus…and maybe even egging the guys on! This afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Mallard returned for their annual visit, and happily it was just the two of them!

Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

Continuing my search for spring

Rain and thunder  through the night and into the morning hours convinced me that this would not be a good day for another trail walk. Instead I will continue with part 2 of yesterday’s post: Searching for Spring in the Arboretum.  I ended that post when we reached the entrance to the Rhododendron Garden, so I will pick up there and return via the Blueberry Pond trail to the Corning Visitor Center, where we parked the car.

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We won’t take time to visit the Rhododendron Garden on this walk because its most important features, the Canopy Walk, Emergent Tower, and the rhododendrons themselves, aren’t on display this early in spring. The Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower open for the season on April 1, and it will be June before the rhododendrons and azaleas burst into glorious full bloom. We will need to be patient and return on future trail walks to see them.

But there is still more to see from yesterday’s walk, so we will follow the sign post and wend our way back to our starting point at the Corning Visitors Center.

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The view from a bench along the trail

Imagine you are sitting beside me on a bench where I paused to soak up a little solitude (and take a welcome rest). Gaze into the distance, and you might notice, on either side of the trail, small green leaves just beginning to unfurl on the trees. That’s a welcome sign of spring that wasn’t visible a couple of weeks ago. Another early sign of spring here in northeast Ohio is the sound of the spring peepers.

Because we’ve had a lot of rain recently, the vernal pools along the trail are filled with these tiny frogs in full voice. Even in full daylight I have been treated to their song as I walk along the trail.

As we reach the end of the woodland trail, we can see the entrance to the wildflower garden (another future blog post). Up the hill to our right is Lotus Pond, but right now we will take the trail to the left, skirt the edge of Blueberry Pond, pass the white birch trees on the left side of the trail, and stop for a good look at the pond.

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White birch trees along the Blueberry Pond trail
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Blue skies over Blueberry Pond
A feature I find fascinating near Blueberry Pond is these bald cypress trees perched right at the edge of the water.

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From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) website…

The Baldcypress is “native to wet areas of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley drainage basin, the south Atlantic and Gulf Coastal states, and especially Florida of the south coastal states,” but it has been planted extensively in other areas, including Ohio.

“As a deciduous conifer, the leaves of Baldcypress drop off in autumn, and its cones are round balls that release their seeds in autumn and winter. Trees in Ohio may reach 80 feet tall by 30 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Baldcypress Family, it is also related to Dawn Redwood and Giant Redwood.

Not far from the Baldcypress trees, stands this tall, majestic Dawn Redwood, another deciduous conifer mentioned on the ODNR site,

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Dawn Redwood tree, Holden Arboretum, August 2014

Whoops! Sorry! I’m a little bit off the trail here…actually more than three years off. Because I didn’t stop to take a photo of the Dawn Redwood on this visit to the Arboretum, I decided to dig into my archives and find one to include in this post…a detour relevant to the topic of today’s walk, although definitely off the trail.

Back to the trail…

From Blueberry Pond,  it’s only a short walk down the hill to reach this footbridge that will lead us to the stairs and back up to the parking lot. The sign points back toward Woodland Trail, which is the trail we followed until we reached the Blueberry Pond trail. Now we are going to leave the Blueberry Pond trail, cross the little footbridge, and climb the stairs leading to the parking lot.

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It’s time to go home! I hope you have enjoyed this trail walk.
Thanks for coming along! ~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, Northeast Ohio

Dreary…AGAIN!

Part one of a two part post in which we continue our 
Search for Spring in the Arboretum.

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Thunder, buckets of rain, and puddles deep enough for ducks to take a swim! That’s today, drowning in dreariness,  but yesterday was beautiful…a great day for a trail walk at Holden Arboretum. That’s where we will continue the search for more signs of our elusive spring.

Let’s start  at Lotus Pond where daffodils bloom in the foreground and no ice remains on the surface of the pond, ice that was still visible on our last visit a week ago. That’s definitely promising.

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Lotus Pond without ice

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Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a few tiny clumps of netted iris. These irises are early bloomers, so they have passed their prime by now, but they are still lovely with their delicate shades of soft blue and yellow. I hope you agree!

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Netted Iris…past its prime

We will end today’s walk, on the trail that leads into the rhododendron garden.

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Entering the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron garden
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The Overlook, a recent feature in the rhododendron garden
That’s it for part one of this walk in Holden Arboretum.
Come back tomorrow to continue our search for spring!
~Trail Walker
Posted in Color me Spring!, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks

And then the sun came out!

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As I wrote in my last post, Tuesday morning was chilly and completely overcast, but my friend Lisa and I had agreed to meet at Holden Arboretum for a “walk and talk,” so off I went.  As I drove down Sperry Road to the Arboretum entrance, the clouds parted, the morning haze vanished, and then, suddenly, the sun came out. Truly an unexpected event.

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Lotus Pond, still partially covered by a thin layer of ice.

Lotus Pond was beautiful in the early afternoon light, so we wandered over for a closer look and a few photos of the pond and the golden willow tree.

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Lisa at Lotus Pond
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Leaning against the Golden Willow tree
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Distant view of the willow
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The willow framed by the trunk of a river birch tree.

Leaving Lotus Pond, we headed toward the rhododendron garden, and on the way we met Hank, a beautiful corgi walking with his human.

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Hank posed for a profile shot…
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…and smiled for the camera, convincing Lisa there should be a corgi in her future!

In the rhododendron garden, Lisa spotted a carpet of purple blossoms, and agreed to pose for one more photo.

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On the trail back to the parking lot, we walked along the edge of Corning Lake where one lone duck was enjoying an afternoon swim.

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Before we reached our cars, Lisa pulled out her cell phone and took one shot of the photographer at work:

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We had reached the end of our “walk and talk” at the Arboretum. It wasn’t our first “meeting” there and probably won’t be the last because Lisa and I both love walking in Holden Arboretum.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. See you soon!
Trail Walker