Hats, gloves, and scarves!

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Young deer by the picnic shelter

 

Hello trail walkers! In my last post, I told you that the time has come to open the closet and sort out my hats, gloves, and hand warmers if I intend to continue trail walking, now that early Autumn has morphed into chilly winter weather.  Last week we experienced our first snowfall, a real one that required boots, and stayed on the ground for three days. Most of the trees have lost their leaves, and even the wildlife is feeling the pinch of winter. Although our park rangers frown on walkers doling out treats, a man I passed on the trail today told me the chickadees and titmice were following him down the trail, complaining loudly because he hadn’t brought enough seeds to share, and his pockets were empty.

A few of the pictures in this post are from Chagrin River Park, although most of them were taken in our yard.

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I photographed these leaves again this week because I can’t resist the color.
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It was easy to spot this cardinal when it landed in a tree next to the trail.

The birds in our neighborhood were happy that I had replenished the food supply in their back yard buffet. (Click on any picture below  to see a larger version)

It was chilly on the trail today;
It’s time to order some handwarmers!

Skip aka Trailwalker

November sneaked up on me!

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In my neck of the wood, that is on the south shore of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio, October is the best month to walk the trails with my camera. This October was truly fantastic, and I was having a marvelous time, but then Halloween arrived, and October came to an abrupt end! With a flip of the page on my calendar, November sneaked in. A couple of chilly days with the wind whipping through the trees, and I was sure that my fall photo walks were over for the year. So on November 4th, with some trepidation, I headed to the Arboretum to see what I would find.

Starting down the trail near the sugar maple tree, I was anxious to see what damage the change in weather had done to the tree that just a few days ago had been ablaze with richly colored orange leaves. It was a glorious sight to see! Today the maple was leafless, totally nude, as you can see at the top of this post. That was pretty discouraging! However, I decided I would walk the trail that circles Corning Lake, and I soon discovered that although October had come to an end, there was still plenty of color and beautiful pictures to capture. Nature always has wonderful sights to share. I should have had more faith!

Here are just a few to get the new month started. I will post more next week. (Click on any picture to enlarge the photos).

 

See you next week!
~Trail Walker

Celebrating Autumn: an overview

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Pond in the Rhododendron Garden

The Holden Arboretum is hands-down my favorite location for celebrating the arrival of Autumn in northeast Ohio.  Every year, when the page of my calendar flips over to October, I schedule my photowalks in the Arboretum to trek the trails, camera in hand, hoping to capture some special images that announce AUTUMN IS HERE!  For this overview, I have limited myself to five stops along the trail, illustrated by my five favorite images (and only a few words). The pictures will tell the story.

Stop one: The Rhododendron Garden

The Rhododendron Garden, pictured above, is a very special section of the Arboretum, especially in June, when the azaleas and rhododendrons burst into bloom…a not-to-be-missed experience! However, Autumn, pictured above, is hands-down my favorite time for treading these trails, and I always make at least one stop in the Rhododendron Garden to capture a little of its magic.

Stop 2: Corning Lake Trail

On this particular October morning, the sun was shining in a deep blue sky as I followed the trail that circles Corning Lake. Along the way, I found a few unexpected treasures to capture with my camera, and the picture below shows one of them. There was no way I could have planned the flight of geese over the lake as I walk past the photographer’s blind. Pure and simple, it was a gift, and I stood in awe, gazing skyward. Fortunately, I remembered to point my camera in the right direction to freeze the moment in time, so I could share it with you.
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Stop 3: Along the trail

Just a few feet farther along the trail, I took my next shot of the sky. No geese this time, just multi-colored autumn leaves. Their color and grace caught my eye:

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Stop 4: Lotus Pond

Nearing the end of my morning walk, I approached Lotus Pond. Anyone who has joined me for a photo walk in the Arboretum knows that one of my favorite photo subjects is the golden willow tree on the edge of Lotus Pond. I could probably illustrate an entire blog post with pictures of this graceful willow taken from different angles, but today I paused on the far side of the pond, where I could photograph the distant willow framed by the overhanging limb of a nearby tree.

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Stop 5: The sugar maple tree

Almost back to the parking lot, we passed under the branches of a tall sugar maple tree.  The bench under this tree is a wonderful place to rest at any time; however, for a few days each October, it becomes a special place, a magical place, thanks to the full Autumn glory of this tree. If you have never visited the Arboretum in October, I invite you to come next year. Be sure to time your arrival when the vibrant colors are at their peak. You may find yourself returning year after year, just to experience the magic again.

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That has been my experience; maybe it will be the same for you.
Thanks for joining me today!
~Trail Walker

 

PS: If you are interested in more Autumn Arboretum pictures, click here.

 

I couldn’t believe my eyes

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The sun was shining in a brilliant blue sky…October at its finest! I couldn’t believe my eyes! If you know me at all, you will know that I quickly packed up my camera and headed to the Arboretum for a photoshoot.  A morning like this is an unexpected gift…not to be spent indoors. I started down the trail as usual to see if there were any leaves remaining on the sugar maple tree, which had already reached its prime when I was here two days ago. On that rainy Saturday morning under grey skies, the maple looked like this…

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Unfortunately, since my Saturday morning visit, rainy, windy weather had rolled in and spent the weekend. And as you can see in the picture at the top of this post, the gorgeous maple had passed its prime in those few days. This morning only a few lonely leaves were left, clinging to the branches.

Nevertheless, this was a glorious morning, so after taking the picture above, I set off down the trail, anticipating more Autumn color to come around the next curve in the trail. Just to whet  your appetite for an Autumn trail walk, here is a mosaic of a few more pictures I took this morning. I promise you there will be more spectacular sights like these trees, but it’s too late to post them tonight.

But I’ll be back in a day or two to share more Autumn joy!

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Fall field trip

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As it does every year, last week the calendar heralded the time for our “friends fall field trip”. Some years we drive around the countryside in Ashtabula County, visiting covered bridges or we be-bop around other scenic locations in Lake and Geauga Counties. This year rain was threatening, and we got a later start, but we headed out anyway and had a great time. I just didn’t take as many pictures. Actually only a few, and three of them were these mini-jack-o-lanterns I spotted at the farmer’s market where we made one of our stops. I couldn’t resist the bright colors and funny expressions on these creations.

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Despite the fact that it was October, we haven’t had much in the way of crisp, cool weather, and except for the little pumpkins, we didn’t see any significant fall color. However, that didn’t keep us from enjoying the scenery and tasting the food at a popular neighborhood restaurant and a couple of farmer’s markets. At one market, this bee-control device caught my eye. It was obviously effective, and inexpensive as well, because there were plenty of cucumbers for sale.

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Along the way, I also spotted a mural that included the many covered bridges for which Ashtabula County is known.

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At another stop, although still stuffed from the lunch, I purchased a chocolate muffin and cup of coffee and parked myself in a rocker on their covered patio to enjoy the view. (I can never resist a chocolate muffin and this was a particularly good one.) The view from my rocker included a pond surrounded by (mostly green) trees,  and one lovely orange one. Walking back to the car, I snapped a picture of the pond and one Halloween-themed tree.
2019_10_02__Almost Autumn_00072019_10_02__Almost Autumn_0001 I wish I had taken more pictures, but that’s it for our 2019 friend’s fall field trip.

Thanks for coming along today.
Trail Walker

Almost Autumn

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Today’s temperature hovered around 90 degrees as I headed out for a trail walk in Holden Arboretum. Although most of the trees along the trail are still green, a few, like the beauty above, are definitely announcing the arrival of Autumn. Am I looking forward to cooler temperatures? You bet I am! Hands down, Autumn is my favorite season, and I’m anticipating some colorful trail walks during October…and into November.

Here are the first pictures for my Autumn album:

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And finally, one of my favorite trees: the sugar maple. Every year, I photograph the transition of this magnificent tree from summer into autumn and eventually winter. Here’s the first picture, still dressed in green garb, but preparing for the dramatic change coming in the months ahead.

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That’s it for week one of this year’s Autumn Album. If you are a trail walker who loves Autumn, come back next week when I will share more Autumn images.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

An abundance of pileated woodpeckers

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For the past month, these Woody Woodpecker look-alikes have been regularly visiting the trees in our backyard. They’re not nesting here, but every day, morning, noon, and night, they fly in, help themselves to the woodpecker blocks and suet cakes, and provide us with entertainment. Just look at this pair. I’m no woodpecker expert, but I am guessing, from their behavior, that they are juvenile woodpeckers.

I’m not sure if they are playing, attacking each other, or maybe engaging in some kind of romantic ritual. Hopefully someone can explain it so we will all know.

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When I watch them cavort from tree to tree, I’m reminded of my days as a middle-school teacher. There’s never a dull moment!

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Enjoy their antics as you watch this slide show. Some of their expressions are hilarious…

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That’s it for today’s backyard birding post. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Backyard birds online again

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Since early June I’ve been off the trail more than on it! Two months have passed in what  has been a very busy summer, and I have chronicled very little of it. Shame on me! So to get started again, I am posting a few pictures from my backyard birding collection, starting with a few hummers who stopped by the feeders yesterday:

Like the hummingbirds, the pileated woodpeckers, both male and female, have visited every day for weeks, early morning, again at lunchtime, and finally in the evening. Take a look:

And yesterday the bird featured at the top of this post and also below made an appearance. The bluejay I recognize, by sight and sound, but the other bird is not a regular at my backyard feeders, so I’m not sure what it is. Can someone please tell me?

That’s all for today, Trail Walkers.
See you soon!

Nothing better than a walk in the woods!

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Another overcast day, but even so, a walk in the woods is a good way to while away an hour or two, and a much better use of my time than lounging in an easy chair reading yesterday’s news in the Plain Dealer (or today’s news for that matter). Even though the dampness may turn to drizzle at any moment, I find trailwalking preferable to the alternative.

So down the trail I trod, avoiding the puddles and slippery mud, curious to see what I will find along the trail today. I hadn’t gone far before I heard some mysterious munching, and, following the sound, I spied this little long-tailed critter enjoying a feast.

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A chipmunk enjoying her breakfast.

In my opinion, a chipmunk is a cute critter, although some people won’t agree. They are  small but destructive, and, if one finds a secret entrance into your house, its ability to create havoc far outweighs its size. Many years ago, at the beginning of summer, one chewed on the wires and totally destroyed the AC in our daughter and son-in-law’s home. That was a hot (and very expensive) experience, so chipmunks are not welcome anywhere in their neighborhood. However, I will categorize them as cute, IF they stay outside and I only see them along the trail in the park.

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Farther down the trail, I spotted this chipper.

Some movement off the trail to my right led to the discovery of a much larger and very familiar critter that was also enjoying her breakfast.

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Whitetail deer are native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia. I didn’t realize how extensive their range is until I looked it up. I just knew they are common critters in northeast Ohio, so common that it is not surprising to look out the kitchen window and find one standing on the other side of the window staring in at me. (And, incidentally, nibbling on the expensive seed cylinders we hang out for the birds). The whitetails are another animal I prefer to see in the park, but they have no trouble crossing the road and wandering through our neighborhood. In this recent blog post I wrote about a fawn I spotted in our backyard, apparently left there temporarily by a doe that went off exploring for a few hours.

The tiniest critter I photographed along the trail today was spotted by Bob, who, along with Mabel, was leading our walk today. (You can read more about Mabel on this blog post. This critter, a daddy-longlegs, is so common I would have walked right past it, but Bob thought it deserved a mention in today’s blog, so here it is.

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In my brief (online) research to clarify the name of this critter, I learned that they are not poisonous and apparently do not bite humans. I also learned that there are several variations of these long legged critters and that one common name for them is “harvestmen” and another is “cellar spiders” because they can be found in cellars. If you are curious and want to know more, you can start your research here. You might even decide to become an arachnologist (a scientist who studies spiders and other arachnids), but personally, my skin is already crawling, and I’m ready to move on to another common variety of woodland critter: birds.

The birds in Chagrin River Park are regularly featured on my blog, and today I saw a cardinal, a catbird…

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Northern cardinal
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Catbird

…and a wood thrush, which was so cooperative I was able to capture several pictures of it. The wood thrush, which is the official bird of the District of Columbia, is closely related to the American robin, and obviously eats worms. Click on one of the pictures below to take a look at a larger version to see if you agree that it is a beauty.

 

 

That’s all the news and pictures from the trail for today.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

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