Do you know where you are?

Searching for Spring series

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Regular visitors to my blog should recognize this as the golden willow tree next to Lotus Pond in Holden Arboretum. Yesterday, although not as warm as last week’s early Spring temperatures, was still a lovely day for a trail walk. As always when at Holden, I made sure to visit one of my favorite trees. And, as today is both colder and wetter than when I took this picture yesterday, I decided it is a good day to share a few more pictures in my Searching for Spring series.

The first, a snowdrop, is similar to one I posted last week.  Although it is not as perky as the one I posted on a sunny, warmer day last week, it is still lovely, and what camera-carrying photographer can walk past a snowdrop in February without snapping its picture?

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The second plant is a pastel perennial I was delighted (and lucky) to spot. The netted iris, native to Russia, the Caucasus, and northern Iran, is cultivated widely in temperate regions like northeast Ohio. Typically flowering in March and April, many little clumps of this plant were already in full bloom on February 28th, their delicate flowers waving in the breeze on top of slender stalks. I resolutely plopped myself on the wet ground, leaning in as close as I could to take a picture of this pretty plant. Thankfully nobody else was around with a camera because, for some photographers,  I would have made a comical photo opp, soaking up water through the seat of my pants and then clumsily clambering back to my feet, camera in hand. The things we do to get the pictures we want!

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Back on my feet, I brushed the wet dirt and debris from my sweat pants and continued my trail walk. I will share more pictures from Holden in a future blog post.

Thanks for joining me today.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

A few more orchids and unusual animals

Orchid Mania…Part 2

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In my post yesterday, I wrote that there were plenty of colorful sights to see at Orchid Mania. The wonderful display of orchids was probably the most colorful, but there were also some exotic animals. My favorite orchid was the one I posted yesterday and the deep purple one at the top of this page was a close second. Here are several others:

And the colorful, exotic animals? Butterflies for one, but I wasn’t able to get any butterfly pictures. The butterflies were released at 2 pm, but they dispersed so quickly throughout the garden that I never had a chance for a photo opp. A few animals were willing to pose however. How’s this one for exotic? Check out the tail, the tongue (I think it is) and the little hands gripping the stem of the plant.

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A woman with a spray bottle was squirting water onto the leaves of the plant, and the thirsty critter was licking it up.

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The lizard was stretched out behind a glass window in his own little habitat.

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Finally,  there were several large tortoises. Unfortunately they weren’t so good about posing either, but were still interesting to watch. I caught this one when it was taking a nap, but because he was pretty big, I could only get a picture of his face and front legs.

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If you would like to experience Orchid Mania, there is still time. It’s well worth a visit, and it doesn’t close until Sunday, March 5th. Don’t forget to take your camera for some challenging, colorful, and unique photo opps.

That’s all for today. Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Faux-Spring 🌤

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Anyone who has lived here, on the south shore of Lake Erie, is aware that the sunny warm weather I have written about in my last two posts is far from the norm, and is, in fact, a false spring. Nevertheless, that knowledge shouldn’t keep us from enjoying the warm weather. Instead, we should see this for what it is, an inbreaking of spring during one of the coldest and bleakest months of our year. A gift, one we should enjoy. For that reason, I intend to squeeze  as many trailwalking opportunities as I can into however many hours this “false spring” will provide for us.

And I am not alone in my intentions. On Saturday, when the temperature reached 72 degrees, the Arboretum was crowded with families who had shed their warm winter garb and headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. I had just started my walk on this sunny Saturday when I ran into one of those families. Two young boys were climbing into the tree house, and were setting out to enjoy what the older boy termed “investigations.” From my observations, the older family members were enjoying it as much as the kids. And what could be more fun than climbing into a real tree house?

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After the stop at the tree house, I took the trail around Lotus Pond. In this picture, you can see the pond with the golden willow tree and, on the opposite side of the pond, the tree house.

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There is a bench under the willow, a favorite stopping off point for people as they walk the grounds of the Arboretum. I have captured many pictures of people relaxing under the willow, and today was no exception.

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Look closely and you will see a little ice on the surface of Lotus Pond, but it won’t be there for long, not with the temperature at 72 degrees! Continuing my walk, I took a short detour to see what might be happening on Corning Lake.  If you’re not tuckered out yet, let’s keep moving.

On our way to check out the situation at Corning Lake, I walked past Margaretta and her person Kevin, enjoying the beautiful day. For her part, Margaretta, who had been for a swim, was most interested in the other dogs that were passing by. She didn’t really want to pose for a photo opp, but with Kevin’s permission, I snapped a couple of quick shots before continuing on to Corning Lake.

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Margaretta sees something more interesting than my camera.
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Isn’t she a beauty?

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As you can see, there wasn’t much action on or around the Lake. A little flock of Canada geese was enjoying a swim, and two of them were nice enough to float in reach of my lens. Another (human) family group had the same idea I did apparently,  and they were walking beside the lake, and then there was this woman who had found a perfect place to relax in the sun.

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Looking at the distant side of the lake, you can see there isn’t even a hint of green on the trees. Because at this point we are only a few miles south of Lake Erie, the arrival of spring is delayed until much later than I would like; however, when it does arrive, it is just that much sweeter!

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If you’re still with me, we’ll end our Saturday afternoon walk by heading back around around Lotus Pond. That’s it on the right side of the trail, and as we follow the trail, you can see the parking lot in the distance. Right in front of you is another of my favorite trees, the gingko. It’s not an attention-getter right now, but just wait until next November when its delightful little fan-shaped leaves turn a vibrant yellow, clearly announcing the end of autumn. Then it is absolutely gorgeous, but I’m in no hurry to see that. Right now I am eagerly anticipating spring, and apparently our faux-Spring hasn’t ended yet, so there will be more pictures coming soon. Watch for them!

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Thanks for coming along on my “faux-Spring” trail walk.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! ~Trail Walker

 

Spring arrived in Northeast Ohio today!

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Not that we expect it to stay. Real spring doesn’t arrive here along the north coast (the south shore of Lake Erie)until around the end of April, but we were loving it today. Hopefully it will linger for a few days at least. Today’s high temperature reached 72 degrees. That’s practically unheard of, but you can be certain we’re not complaining. I think all of Northeast Ohio turned out to celebrate the event, and some of them were even wearing shorts! In February! Here’s one more picture from today’s visit to Holden Arboretum. I’ll be back tomorrow to share more.

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Thanks for joining me today!
Trail Walker

That’s determination for you!

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I think this is the first time I have seen a mourning dove in Chagrin River Park. They are homebodies, usually content to hang around the Backyard Buffet, eating the food I put out for them. A mourning dove in the park was an unusual sight, but then this was an unusual day. After a full month with very little snow, we were slammed with some cold snowy weather. I have no idea why this dove was in the park, but she had found the “hidden” bark butter bits, and she was determined to get her share.

She worked hard at it, and she was successful! Her beak doesn’t seem to be long enough for prying tidbits out of the fence post, but she refused to give up. You have to give her credit for persistence.

There were lots of kids having a great time on the sledding hill. Their loud shrieks were evidence that they were enjoying this second day off school. But the weather was dire for the birds.It wasn’t the cold that was the challenge; it was the wind and the sleety snow continually blowing in their eyes (and mine too). The dove had to work hard for her meal today. When the cold and snow finally got to me, I gave up and headed home for lunch, but the mourning dove was still there. She was one determined bird!

That’s the story from the trail today.
Thanks for sticking with me, despite the weather.
Trail Walker

You can set the table, but…

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…you don’t always get the guests you expected!

After breakfast, I cleaned the kitchen and went outside to prepare the backyard buffet with  a delicious feast for the birds. Apparently the feast was appealing enough to attract the attention of a little herd of deer that wandered up from nearby Chagrin River Park.

After the deer were finished feasting, very little remained for the birds’ breakfast! As the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote…

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Maybe I could adapt that line to read, “The best laid plans of mice, men, and backyard bird feeders often go awry.” Although that isn’t nearly as poetic as the original, it is definitely true.

That’s all for today’s backyard birding adventure!
Thanks for visiting! It is always good to entertain company.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Bright spots on a wintry day

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Overnight the temperature dropped to single digits and several inches of snow fell. The Backyard Buffet looks much more appealing when the ground is covered with a blanket of white, and because that same blanket had covered over much of their natural food, the birds were looking for food at ALL the feeders. That includes the hawk that visited yesterday, so all the little birds must be alert to the danger. We saw him on the ground at the edge of our backyard this morning, but he flew away too quickly for a photo opp. He is a beautiful bird, but I wish he would go scrounging for his meals among the snakes and rodents (If some of them aren’t hibernating) in the nearby park instead of in the Backyard Buffet. 😒

Enjoy these bright spots
That’s all for today.
Look for more Backyard Buffet adventures tomorrow.
See you then! -Trail Walker (aka Carolyn or Skip)

Eastern screech owl redux

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What should a photographer, who loves trail walks, do on a cold, rainy January morning? She could of course put on rain gear, thumb her nose at the wet weather, and head down the trail. However, this trail walker (me) found a more appealing (and much dryer) activity this morning. Sitting in front of my computer, I opened the WordPress website, clicked on the link to the “Reader,” and began to wander through the blogs of other WordPress contributors. What followed was not my usual walk down the trails in Chagrin River Park or Holden Arboretum, but was, nonetheless, a fascinating (and dry) trail walk that linked me to trails in distant states and far away countries.

One of the first links I clicked on was this one, posted this morning by Belinda Grover, an outstanding photographer I follow regularly. Belinda’s post today, an Eastern screech owl, reminds me of the screech owl that lives in a nesting box in Chagrin River Park.  With that reminder,  I dug into my photo archives until I found the little owl posted at the top of this page.  My sleepy-eyed owl is cute, but Belinda’s is much sharper, and she even caught it with one eye wide open, so I implore you to take a minute to click on the link and enjoy Belinda’s photography. I hope you return here, however, and read the rest of this post, because my intention today, in addition to introducing you to Belinda’s work, is to share several tips that have helped me become a better photographer and blogger.

  • First, I want to encourage you to take a little time every day (0r as often as you can) to click on the WordPress Reader. It has links to a wealth of interesting blogs, fascinating bloggers, and exciting opportunities to visit new places and see beautiful scenery.
  • Second, I want to suggest that examining the work of other photographers, via the Reader, can help you become a better photographer. Not only have I met new people and visited places I will probably never visit in person (think Switzerland, Denmark, or New Zealand), I have also learned from photographers who are more experienced than I. What a wonderful way to get an education.
  • Third: Remember to mine your own archives every once in a while. You may find photos you have forgotten (like my sleepy owl) that could become the focus of future posts. How exciting is that? They’re yours; you won’t be breaking any copyright laws; and they are already on your computer, making them easy to access.
  • Finally, related to mining your archives, is a fourth tip. Please make a habit of giving a few keywords to all your images. When you want to find that picture you took in Kuala Lumpur or Hawaii (Don’t I wish!), it will be much easier to bring it up, if you have given it a few relevant tags (keywords).

However, this business of leaving the familiar trail and wandering through the Reader and/or through your archives, comes with a warning. It will be interesting, educational, and unbelievably fun. It can even be eye-opening, introducing you to new blog friends and far-away places. However, above all it can be addictive. So you might want to set a timer to remind you when it is time to come back to earth, i.e. to your own blog. You’ll want to leave enough time to finish your post for the day.

Thanks for stopping by.
Some bedraggled (think dripping wet) bluebirds visited the
Backyard Buffet, while I worked on this post! So…
Come back tomorrow to see them!
(Preview below)
Trail Walker

 

 

 

 

A little bit of water…

…is a very good thing to put out for the birds. Unfortunately we don’t have an electric outlet in our back yard buffet, so we can’t keep a fountain running throughout the winter. The best I can do is put out a fresh bowl of water in the morning and refill it when it begins to freeze over. With temperatures sinking well below 32 degrees (F) this week, that can be a challenge, but when I see even one little bird take a sip, the extra effort becomes worthwhile.

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Sip…
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Swallow!
That’s it today from the Back Yard Bird Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker

Working your subject: a photographic essay

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Part two of a three part series from Holden Arboretum

When I bought my first digital camera and starting shooting pictures, I didn’t have the faintest idea what I was doing. As I look back in my files at pictures I took in those early years, it is painfully obvious I had a lot to learn.  Because I really wanted to improve, I began reading books about photography and spending a lot of time on the websites of photographers I admire. And I learned…a lot!

One valuable piece of advice I heard early on is “work your subject.” Don’t just take the shot that catches your eye and then walk away, thinking you have captured all there is to see and learn about the subject.  Don’t immediately lift your camera to your eye and shoot off a burst of shots.  Unless the subject, whatever it is, will jump up and dash away, slow yourself down. Take time to walk around and view it from different angles. Try to find the best angles and then shoot from several. If possible, revisit the same place on a different day at a different time. If your first photoshoot was in the morning, come back in the evening. And if you are shooting outdoor subjects like landscapes, trees, and wildlife, try returning to the same location at different seasons throughout the year. You’ll be amazed at the results. Today’s blog post is a gallery of pictures I have captured at one location throughout the past year. Taken together, they illustrate the advantage of slowing down and getting to know your subject.

If you follow my blog, you know that Holden Arboretum is one of my favorite places to shoot. On my frequent visits to Holden, I almost always stop to say “hello” to the golden willow tree at Lotus Pond. The size and shape of the tree and its location make it a focal point of the Pond, and it draws people (and geese) to its neighborhood.

You’ve probably heard that one picture is worth a thousand words, so I will stop “talking” so you can scroll through the gallery to see if you think “work your subject” is good advice for a photographer (Click the first picture to begin your stroll around the golden willow tree).

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1913

So there you have it. One tree, rooted in one spot, will have many different moods. Perhaps Joyce Kilmer got it right when he wrote his poem “Trees.” What do you think?

And what do you think about the advice to “work your subject?”
Is it something you already do or will try to do in the future.
Do you have any advice you could give to an aspiring photographer?

Thanks for visiting the golden willow tree with me today.
See you soon.

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