Posted in backyard birding, nature

To share or not to share?

That is the question!

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As you can see from the picture above, the downy woodpecker and black-capped chickadee don’t have a problem sharing the bark butter at the suet feeder. They are peaceably pecking away, each on her own side of the feeder.

However, these two goldfinches aren’t getting along so well on their perch.

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And the hummingbird and bee? How do they feel about sharing?

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I’m not so sure about the bee, but the expression on the face of the hummingbird makes his feelings very clear. If he could talk, he would be screaming,”Scram! Scat! Skedaddle! I was here first!!!”

…And I wouldn’t blame him one bit!

Would you want to share your beverage with a bee?

 See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in animal photography, backyard birding, nature

A little rain and a lotta lazy!

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Rain was threatening, and I was feeling lazy, so I hung around the house for some back yard birding instead of heading to the park for a trail walk. As it turned out, lazy wasn’t a bad choice, and I ended up having loads of fun just sitting on the bench in my back yard. A lady hummer came for a visit, and she was joined by a downy woodpecker, a finch (I think), and a little bird with a punk hairdo.

I don’t know if you can tell from these pictures, but we have a new feeder for the hummingbirds. Today the hummer was taking turns sipping from them.First one, then the other! The new feeder is different. It’s shallow with a ring around it for her is rest on while she drinks, and, best of all, it is much easier to clean and refill. That’s especially important when it is hot like it has been recently because the wasps and ants are also attracted to the sugar water feeder, which must be emptied and refilled every two or three days.

As an extra treat, the birds and I were joined at the back yard buffet by Samantha Squirrel. Sammy and her extended family love the bark butter suet cakes as much as the birds do, and I love to watch their antics as they climb the poles, hang onto the feeders, and help themselves to the bark butter. Fortunately the birds are willing to share!

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That’s it from the back yard buffet today. Nothing earthshaking. Nothing political. No name-calling, no violence. Just food, fun, and congeniality. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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

Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, Memorable Moments, nature

A pileated surprise!

We had just finished Sunday evening supper when our daughter glanced out the dining room window and exclaimed, “What the heck is that?”  When I turned to look out the window, this is what I saw…

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He had flown down from the tree top without announcing his arrival, as he usually does, and there he sat on top of the bird feeder no more than four feet from our window. Obviously he had found a comfortable place to feast on the bark butter suet, and he was really pleased.

Jumping up from the table, I moved over to the kitchen window where I picked up my camera. Earlier I had cranked the window open about an inch, so I was able to wind it fully open without alarming our “guest.” He was completely engrossed in the suet cake and unaware of my presence, so I was able to capture many pictures. These are the best…

I’m betting he’ll be back, just as long as I keep the suet feeder filled with cakes of bark butter suet. He had his Sunday evening treat, and I had some real good closeups to share on my blog. It was a memorable moment!

See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower, Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, My trailwalks, nature

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
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, My trailwalks, nature, nature photography, Northeast Ohio, trailwalking

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

Posted in family, flowers, nature, summer

Regrettably, I’m not a gardener, …

…but thankfully my son-in-law is, and…
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…fortunately there’s no law that says I can’t enjoy his flowers. That is what I was doing today while Bob helped Alison adjust the new gate she designed and constructed to keep the Mabel and Cooper from dashing down the driveway, barking at people that walk past the house.

When I was a girl, my mother would try to encourage me to take an interest in the flowers she loved. As winter waned and warmer temperatures hinted at the coming of spring,  she would pour over the seed catalogs that  came in the mail.  When spring finally arrived and the ground was warm enough for planting, she spent hours digging in the dirt, planting, transplanting, and weeding, and we always had vases of cut flowers in the house.  Mother loved her flower gardens. Unfortunately the proverbial green thumb passed me by, but thank goodness I can occasionally sneak into Mike’s amazing garden and take a few pictures. Although I may not enjoy the process of growing flowers, I do enjoy the process of taking pictures of them to hang on my walls and post on my blog. When fall gives way to winter and the flowers of summer slowly fade and die, I miss the color. Gray is the predominant color of winter, and it just doesn’t bring me much joy.

While I wandered around Mike’s garden with my camera, the work on the gate continued with the help of Mabel and Cooper…

 

Before long, the job was finished, and we headed home where I was greeted by a surprise; a colorful butterfly had discovered our new swamp milkweed plants. That’s color that doesn’t require digging , planting, and weeding…my kind of color!

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That’s it for Saturday. Thanks for stopping by!

See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, nature

Back yard birding

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Oh no, I messed up! I promised myself that I would post at least three times each week, but there has been so much happening recently that I couldn’t keep up. Mea culpa! It probably doesn’t bother anyone except me, but it really bothers me. So tonight I am posting some pictures I took today, and tomorrow I will get back on my Tuesday, Thursday, and weekend schedule.  

We purchased a swamp milkweed plant on Saturday, hoping to attract more butterflies, but today the only butterfly that landed in our back yard was this little one. Except for a very few, I can’t identify butterflies. Hopefully I will learn. I’ve been told that this is possibly a Peck’s skipper butterfly, so I will go with that. Here are a few images I captured this morning when it was sunny.  (The skipper and the pink flower were taken with my 50mm lens -more about that in a future post).

 

After supper, I returned to my bench in the back yard, hoping to see a hummer or two and possibly a monarch butterfly. Got the hummingbird. They were very happy to pose, especially this little female, but the butterflies were nowhere in sight tonight. That milkweed plant wasn’t earning its keep, but here is the lady  hummer. She perched in my neighbor’s tree and surveyed the situation and then made repeated visits to the feeder. The male came too, but he didn’t hold still for his photo opp.

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So that was today in the back yard. I’m glad you came by for a visit.

See you tomorrow!
Trail Walker
Posted in My trail walks, nature

Better luck next time…I hope!

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I tried, with moderate success, to get sharp pictures of some dragonflies on my recent visit to Penitentiary Glen Reservation. There were dragons galore, constantly on the move, swooping over the pond, and flitting from place to place, always lighting some place new, only to lift off when I turned my lens toward them. They seemed to be very restless. Maybe it was the 90 degree heat, the bright sun, and high humidity, or the persistent breeze. Whatever it was,  I was not happy with the outcome of my hour at the pond. Here are a few of the picture I captured on my memory card:

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hummingbird moth
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dragonfly
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dragonfly

I think my best plan is to return to the pond another day soon, a day that isn’t nearly as hot and humid, for another dragonfly photoshoot. Hopefully I’ve learned something from this experience, and I’ll have “better luck next time.”

I’m running a day behind with my posts this week. My next post should be on Thursday or Friday. I hope you will join me then to see what we can find along the trail. There’s always something new.

Thanks for being here.
Trail Walker

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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

‘Tis the season