Believe it or not…

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…we’ve been blessed with several sunny days this week, and I still have photos to share from my recent trail walk. The image at the top of this page is a view of the river with snow-covered rocks in the foreground. It’s a view I never tire of. Here are a few more views of the river trail and the pedestrian bridge:

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Even as I post this, three days later, we are still seeing sunny blue skies. Although they turned a little overcast as the hours went by today, it is still beautiful. Here is a picture I took this afternoon in the bog, so you can see its wintery beauty. I have to admit that I am looking forward to spring trail walks, but meanwhile, I will enjoy the bleak beauty of winter…especially on sunny days like this one.

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That’s it for today. Thanks for walking with me!
See you soon!
Trail Walker

Almost the end of summer

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Last week, when our oldest daughter and son-in-law flew in from Phoenix for a short visit, climbing the Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum was included on the list of “things to do and places to visit.” Monday was a beautiful day, so off we went to Holden and had a great time. After we all experienced the Canopy Walk, Gretchen and I climbed the Tower, while Bob and Rod kept Gulliver company at ground level. For very good reasons, dogs are not allowed on the Walk or the Tower.

We were the last climbers to leave the Tower and the afternoon was waning, so we paused for a photo opp by the gate into the Rhododendron Garden…2016_08_29_Trailwalks_Holden Arboretum_0013

…and then walked back down the trail. In the little time we had left, we wanted to wander a while in the Butterfly garden before we headed home.

It wasn’t a long visit, but, in my opinion, every visit to Holden Arboretum is special, and this afternoon was no exception.Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the climb. Maybe the wander through the butterfly garden was more your speed, but whatever your preference, it’s all good! There is something at the Arboretum for everyone.

Note:  The past week has been all about family time, so I have a lot of catching up to do,  pictures to process, and posts to write up, but eventually I will get caught up.  And I’ll be back soon with another post from last week.

Thanks for coming along on this walk.
Trail Walker

The Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower

The third, and last, post of my trail walk at the Arboretum with Michael.

Today’s trail walk starts in the rhododendron garden at the entrance to the Canopy Walk. Both the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower were first opened to the public about a year ago, around the beginning of September, giving thousands of visitors the amazing opportunity to view the seasonal transformation from the top of the Tower. You can see one of my autumnal Tower visits here. As I did in that post, I am going to let the pictures do most of the talking today.

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The Canopy Walk begins (and ends) here in the Rhododendron Garden
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The incline is gradual.
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When filled with visitors, the walk sways, making it a challenge to take clear pictures.
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You can feel the sway, but it is solidly constructed.

The Canopy Walk is actually a loop.  When you start out, it is at ground level, but gradually climbs until you realize you are walking through the tree tops, looking down on Pierson (spelling?) Creek. When the Walk reaches its greatest distance from the entrance, it loops around to begin the return trip, but first, you must stop and look up because here you have a fantastic view of the Emergent Tower. It’s a great place for a photo opp.

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At this point on the Walk, you can see the nearby Emergent Tower.

Follow the Walk as it loops around, and soon you will find yourself back where you started in the Rhododendron Garden, facing a sign pointing down the trail to the Emergent Tower.

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From here it is only a short walk to the Emergent Tower. If you feel the need to rest before you make the 120 foot climb to the top of the Tower, you can stop at a bench along the trail to catch your breath. And I hope you brought some water. From personal experience, I will encourage you not to make the climb on an empty stomach and always be hydrated. I can tell the difference if I carry water or at least drink plenty before the climb. Maybe that’s just me, but the Tower is 12 stories or 120 feet tall, and that’s straight up! Fortunately there are places at each level to stop, take pictures, catch your breath, and even sit and rest for a few minutes.

Okay, here goes. More pictures:

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Entrance to Emergent Tower, taken in October 2015
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Entrance to the Tower, July 2016
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Looking up as you climb
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Looking down as you climb
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Almost to the top
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Michael near the top
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Taking pictures from the top of the Tower
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Lake Erie and miles of Lake County spread out below you
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Sky, Lake, and landscape

That’s it, Trail Walkers. You’ve reached the top of the Tower. You can take your time up here. Enjoy the view. Take as many pictures as you want. You can even take a “selfie” with Lake Erie in the background. But eventually you have to descend to make room for more people to enjoy the view.

When you reach the ground, you can follow the trail back to the visitor’s center or parking lot, but if you have time, there’s still plenty to see at the Arboretum. It’s a great place for trail walking, with or without a camera, but I guarantee you that you won’t forget your experience at the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower. You’ll want to return…again and again. At least that was my experience…and Michael’s too. Here’s what he said to wrap up the experience…

“I really enjoyed the Canopy Walk and even wish that it was longer. The Tower was amazing. Despite the somewhat daunting walk up, the view was still worth it. I don’t think I could imagine a better day in the Arboretum.”

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Turtle on a log in the bog

That’s it for this trail walk. Thanks for coming along.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Walking the trails in Holden Arboretum

The second of three posts about last month’s trail walk with Michael

 

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Our grandson Michael, a student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has spent the summer working on campus. Because Muncie is about five hours from home, we haven’t seen much of him this summer, so when he came home for a week in July, he and I grabbed our cameras and took a long anticipated trail walk in the Arboretum.

First we took the trail past the wildflower garden, circling Lotus Pond where we paused to take a few pictures of my favorite tree. Then we headed out to the Rhododendron Garden.

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Trail into the wildflower garden

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The golden willow on Lotus Pond

Entering the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden
The rhododendron garden is an amazing place, especially in June when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom, but whatever the season, it is a great place to wander with plenty of opportunities for photos. The entrance to the Canopy Walk is in this area, but I am saving that for the next post, so on this July morning we wandered in the garden for a while, where I captured these pictures.

Finally we headed back toward the visitors’ center for a visit to the butterfly garden. Apparently it was still too early in the summer for butterflies, but we saw other critters and some water lilies:

As I already said, I am saving the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower for my third and last post from this trail walk, so there’s still more to come from the Arboretum, but for now I’m going to stop. If you would like, you can hang out here in the butterfly garden for a little while longer. There’s always something interesting to see, and maybe some more butterflies will appear. However, we will see you tomorrow for a visit to the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower, so be sure to come back then.

Thanks for joining us today.
Trail Walker

‘Tis the season

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In my photographer’s mind, summer is the season for photographing dragonflies as they skim through the air over ponds and rivers, but this is what I read when I looked up dragonfly in the dictionary in preparation for writing this post:

drag·on·fly
ˈdraɡənˌflī/
noun
plural noun: dragonflies
a fast-flying long-bodied predatory insect with two pairs of large transparent wings that are spread out sideways at rest. The voracious aquatic larvae take up to five years to reach adulthood.

Predatory? Voracious? Not the words I would have chosen. I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Today’s trail walk was at Penitentiary Glen Reservation, where I saw far more dragons and damsels than people. I think you would have enjoyed it too.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Adversaries!

I watched in amazement as a drama unfolded in the bog this afternoon. I was too far away to capture good quality pictures, but decided to share the action anyway.

Sitting peaceably on a branch high in a tree, the red-tailed hawk wondered what hit him…

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…and then hit him again.

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And a few more times for good measure!

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As I stood there, eyes glued to the action happening above me, that little blue jay dive-bombed the large hawk, again and again, making his escape before the hawk knew what had hit him.

Each time the blue jay slammed into him, the stalwart hawk just held his ground, or rather his position on the branch, and made no effort to retaliate. After five or six (or maybe more) direct hits and glancing blows, the red-tail changed his position so he could keep a better eye out for his adversary.

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Eventually he apparently tired of the drama, or maybe it was the physical assault on his feathers, spread his wings and swooped away to the other side of the bog. The excitement was over for the afternoon, but it was an unexpected and fascinating drama while it lasted.

That’s it for today’s tale from the trail.
See you soon.
Trail Walker

Trumpeter swan: a first for me

 

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The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl species native to North America, was at one time considered an endangered species. They had been hunted to near extinction for their feathers, skin, meat, and eggs, and by 1900 the species had greatly declined in numbers, until, by 1970 fewer than 70 were known to exist in the wild. Then a small population was discovered in remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, and in the early 1950s, a larger population was found in Alaska. By 2010 the North American population had increased to over 46,000 birds. Now it is  no longer a rare bird, but this is the first I had seen one, so I was delighted with the opportunity to take some photos of this beautiful bird that can have a wingspan that exceeds 10 feet.

Except for a black bill, legs, and feet, the trumpeter swan is completely white, although, like the one we saw, their head and neck may be stained a rusty brown because of the ferrous minerals in the wetland soils where they make their habitat. They feed on aquatic plants, and I was fascinated to watch this solitary bird floating gracefully in the marsh, repeatedly dipping its head under the water to search out tasty plants. Click on one of the pictures below to scroll through the gallery, and you will see that he has been doing exactly that. At one point, I saw him trying to pull up a heavy clump of wet plants.

 

NOTE: Sometimes these birds are confused with the mute swan, which is an  unpopular invasive species, but the two are not the same.  A group of swans can be called by many nouns, including a ballet, bevy, drift, regatta, and a school!

Trail walking can be educational as well as good exercise and lots of fun.Thank you for joining me on the trail today.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Tufted titmouse

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There’s no doubt about the identity of this grey and white beauty. It’s a tufted titmouse. Wearing a dark grey cap with a crest and sporting a white eye ring, he is pretty easy to identify.The “tuft” or crest on top of his head also helps to identify this little bird. Although he is not a very large bird, he is the largest titmouse. Others are the juniper titmouse and the oak titmouse. Who knew? I certainly didn’t! This titmouse has a large range, but most individuals live their entire life within a few kilometers of their birthplace. They are ubiquitous in northeast Ohio. They are quick movers and not always easy to photograph, but they love the tasty bark butter bits, which distracted this fellow long enough for me to snap his picture.

Another interesting fact I found on my bird app is the name for a group of titmice. They are collectively called a banditry and a dissimulation of titmice, and they only occur in areas where rainfall is greater than 24 inches per year, and are even more common where rainfall exceeds 32 inches per year. According to Cherokee legend, they have been regarded as messengers.

This is day #3 of my plan to post just one photo each day on my blog. If you read my post from two days ago, you will remember that I started this plan to post only one photo each day because I have been struggling to keep up with my goal of posting at least four times each week. If you have any thoughts about how my plan is going, I would love to hear from you.

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

Hard to miss!

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The red-winged blackbird, a native of North America, is hard to miss. One of the very early sign of spring in northeast Ohio, they are likely to be heard long before they are seen when their spring migration brings them back to our park. Once they arrive, they make their presence known with raucous calls, just as this fellow was doing when I took his picture. During migration, the Red-winged blackbird is capable of cruising over 30 mph, and when they reach their nesting area, the pair will raise 2-3 broods in a season. For each brood they build a new nest because the old nest might be infested with parasites that could kill their babies.

Red-winged blackbirds like to nest in wetlands, marshes, and around rivers, which makes the Chagrin River Park, with its river, bog, and marshy areas, a prime habitat for Redwings. It also provides the seeds and invertebrates that make up the staples of their diet. Bird watchers need to be aware, however, that Mrs. Redwing doesn’t look anything like her mate. Her feathers are heavily streaked in dark and pale brown tones. She looks more like a large sparrow and can be difficult for the beginning birder to identify.

I only had time for  a short walk today, so I was delighted to find this fellow perched on a skinny tree not far from the river. I had taken the river trail because it runs past a pair of bluebird nests, and I was hoping to see the bluebirds. No luck in that hope however, but Mr. Redwinged blackbird makes a good substitute. I’ll just have to keep looking for the bluebirds.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker

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