Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, birds, nature

A surprise visitor at the back yard buffet

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In the past week the pileated woodpecker has made several visits to our back yard buffet. I heard her announce her arrival early this evening when I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I took my camera and sat on the patio after supper. It wasn’t long before she flew in. First she swung by the new suet feeder, but didn’t hang around long enough to take a taste of the bark butter suet. However, she soon returned and this time grabbed on to the large suet holder Bob hung from a post way back under the trees, and, finally, as I sat on the patio bench, she returned to the new feeder, the one that was closest to me. I snapped away as she feasted on the bark butter. She was happy, and so was I. Here’s hoping she likes it enough to return often. I think there may be a male in the neighborhood too because last week two pileateds arrived together. At the time, I didn’t have my camera, so I missed the photo opp. Today I didn’t make that mistake! Here are a few more pictures of today’s visitor:

Interesting facts about this big bird:

  • Male and female pileated look very much alike, but the male has a red mustache.
  • They nest in cavities in trees that they excavate. The noise they make while digging these holes can be heard for quite a distance.
  • They will make up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes in case a predator enters the tree, and they peck the bark around the entrance holes to make the sap run. That keeps some predators, such as snakes, from entering their nest.
  • Their favorite food is carpenter ants, and the young are fed regurgitated insects.
  • A group of pileated woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.
  • Sometimes people call them “Woody Woodpecker” after the cartoon, which definitely resembles a pileated woodpecker.

That’s enough for this post. I hope you enjoyed seeing the big bird.

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

 

Posted in birds, My photowalks, nature, photowalking

Here she is: The red-eyed vireo

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In yesterday’s blog post about Friday Faces I mentioned that I saw my very first red-eyed vireo while walking on the trail through the bog. Another blogger commented that s/he had never seen a vireo, so, at that blogger’s request, here it is: momma vireo sitting on her nest. It’s not a great picture (not even a very good one), because she was hidden away among lots of leafy green branches. Sunlight filtering through the leaves gave it a green cast, but given the difficulties, I am happy to have a picture of this pretty little bird.

For the past four weeks I have been busy with Blogging 101, an online course for bloggers who want to improve their blog. With a new blogging assignment every day, there hasn’t been much time to go on my usual photowalks, so I have actually taken only a few pictures during these weeks. Hopefully normal photowalking will resume next week…if it stops raining and we aren’t flooded out.

UPDATE ON THE VIREO

Before the rain finally stopped yesterday (Sunday), I went back to the vireo’s nest to see if I could capture a few more/better pictures. I’m going to include them in my weekly photo update (my new blog feature starting today), but I thought this sweet little bird deserved a spotlight all her own. Here are a few new pictures of her at the nest: (Click on the first picture to scroll through the gallery).

I was excited to get a second chance to show you her red eye.
Pretty neat, isn’t it?

See you soon if the rain stays away!

Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in birds, comic relief, nature, photography

Recycling a robin

This morning the big blue recycling truck lumbered down our street, stopping at each house to collect the items placed at the curb for recycling. As a result, my post today involves recycling, but not that kind of recycling. Recently I read a suggestion that struck my fancy. The writer was encouraging photographers to search out and recycle old photos, just to see how creative they could be with some of the old stuff we all have accumulated, but maybe never used…sort of like digging through that junk drawer in your kitchen and discovering treasures you had forgotten.  “Good idea,” I thought.

“With 51,000 photos sitting on my hard drive, that should be easy …and fun.”

So this evening I searched through the backlog of photos on my hard drive, looking specifically for pictures of animals that put a smile on my face. And here you have the first one, a chubby, self-satisfied American robin enjoying her day at the spa. And here is a song you may remember, although probably not, unless you are old enough to remember when Harry Truman was president of the United States (and yes, I am that old).

I hope you like the song because if you are anything like me, it could be rolling around in your head for hours. Did it bring a few good memories to mind? Or maybe it will send you searching through your photographic junk drawer to see what you can come up with. If my “poor little robin, walking to Missouri” sends you searching, I hope you have fun. I did, and I’m planning to recycle another “funny animal”…maybe tomorrow.

See you soon!
Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in birds, Chagrin River Park, My photowalks, nature, Northeast Ohio

Another day and a few more warblers

Although I didn’t encounter as many warblers as yesterday, nor anything that made me as excited as the indigo bunting, this was still a delightful day in the park with Gulliver as my photo assistant. Being a “senior dog,” he isn’t impatient and will wait for me when I spot something I want to “shoot.” I just drop his leash on the ground, step on it, and shoot away. Here are six photos (but only two different species) from today:

That’s it for this post. Gulliver and I hope you enjoyed our birds.

Skip aka Carolyn

Posted in birds, Chagrin River Park, My photowalks, nature, Northeast Ohio, photowalking

Long day and a productive photowalk

Note: If you want to scroll through a gallery or see the large version of a photo, just click the pic.

It has been one of those days that started early and just kept on going. By the time I got out for a photowalk, the afternoon light was waning, but the birds were still active. I headed for the bluebird nesting boxes first; both mom and pop bluebirds were there, and perched nearby was a tree swallow, so I added his picture to my collection for the day.

Walking on, I headed past the bog, where I spotted flashes of bright yellow. Click, click, click! I captured several colorful birds, but at first I wasn’t quite sure what they were.

…until this handsome dude showed up on the scene…

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…and I exclaimed, “Oh! Orioles! Both the male and female.”

Then they discovered each other, and I quickly captured the surprising interaction with my camera!

Gotta love witnessing that interaction, but the walk wasn’t over yet. On the way back to my car, I saw a downy woodpecker…

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…a singing cardinal,2015_05_07_Chagrin River Park_183
…and a very shy mystery warbler who was hiding in the underbrush.
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And that was the end of the evening and the very productive walk in the park. If you liked it as much as I did, feel free to comment. I would love to know if you had a favorite picture.

Thanks for stopping by today!
Skip aka Carolyn

Posted in birds, Chagrin River Park, Lake Metroparks, My photowalks, nature, Northeast Ohio

There’s never enough time!

It’s already well past my bedtime, and here I sit, trying to get caught up with processing, selecting, and posting my pictures. there’s just never enough time to do all the things I like and/or need to do in a day. I don’t suppose I am alone in facing this conundrum, so I am open to hearing your solutions if you have figured it out. Just don’t tell me I’ll have more time after I retire. I already retired (after 33 years of teaching middle school), and I still don’t have enough time. Solutions anyone?

Meanwhile, here are the birds that posed during my photowalk today (Click a pic to enlarge them):

That’s the crop for today.Thanks for taking a look.
If you have a solution for my conundrum, please weigh in.
All suggestions gratefully considered!
Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in birds, Chagrin River Park, nature, Northeast Ohio

Rainy day blues

Have you ever thought about how inaccurate that phrase is? The rainy day grays would be a better description in my opinion. Sitting at my computer this afternoon, I glance out the window above me, and what I see is gray, not blue. Gray is the color of rainy days, and a very accurate description for today. Two days ago, we celebrated a perfect, sunny-blue-sky day with the temperature topping out at 80 degrees Fahrenheit…our highest so far this spring. It seemed almost like summer, and a marvelous antidote to our long, snowy, and record-breaking frigid winter. A mere 48 hours later, we have plunged back into mid-March. That is to say: wet, chilly, overcast, and basically gray.

However, and this is my point here, despite the grayness of the weather and sky, I’m feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful. Although that may seem contradictory, my mood isn’t determined by the weather. Four things happened today that have me feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful:

  1. A good friend needed a ride to a doctor appointment. Taking her there got me out of the house, and we thankfully escaped the worst of the wet weather…driving between the cloudbursts. While I waited for her to finish her appointment, I encountered another patient who was waiting for a ride home. My conversation with this amazing 94-year-young stranger warmed my heart. That’s a story for another day, but I just hope our conversation blessed her as much as it did me.
  2. Out of the blue (a much better description for today), another good friend called with the news that she had made a big pot of chicken rice soup and wanted to give me some…my second mood brightener of the day, and a very tasty lunch when I arrived back home.
  3. The third source of my joy was the birds that visited my back yard “bird buffet,” 10 different species in all, and I got decent pictures of eight of them. They seemed positively energized and delighted by the falling rain and new bird seed waiting for them at the buffet.
  4. And to top it all, a hummingbird stopped by to sip fresh sugar water. It’s our first hummer of the summer (forgive me for being a little silly, but hummingbirds have that effect on me). Here he is. Doesn’t he look happy? These are far from the sharpest hummingbird photos I’ve ever taken, but capturing tiny, quick-moving birds is one thing cloudy gray skies don’t do well.

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So that’s my day.  For the record:
  • Exercise: No walk today. Too much rain and too little time!
  • Weather: In a word, wet. Another word: cool.
  • It has been a day full of blessings for which I am thankful.
  • If you want to see the other bird buffet visitors, click here. They are posted on my nature blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Skip aka Carolyn

Evening walk

It was a great time for a walk in the park.

The air was cool, but the late evening light was warm.

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Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed sharing my evening walk with you.

Skip aka Carolyn

On its own, a blog is a monologue.
If you leave a comment, it becomes a conversation.
I would love to hear from you.
Posted in My photowalks, nature, spring migration, warblers

It’s spring migration time!

Living only a mile south of Lake Erie has both advantages and disadvantages. Today I experienced both. The lake was almost 100% covered by ice this winter. We experienced the coldest February on record when the temperature hovered in the single digits for many days. As a result, spring has been very slow in arriving. We had a taste of it last week and hoped it was here to stay, but it waved goodbye this week with high winds and temperatures falling to near freezing at night and only reaching into the mid-forties during the day. The advantage of living here is that we are located on the flyway taken by many birds on their spring and fall migration. Many Canada-bound birds that don’t live here year round pause in our parks and neighborhoods to rest and refuel before flying across Lake Erie.

Early May is the  peak of the warbler migration through our area. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, west of Cleveland on Lake Erie, is dubbed the warbler capital of the world! I drove out there one year with my daughter on “International Migratory Bird Day” and was amazed by the number of birds and birders. It was fun and exciting, but also very crowded.  It was a challenge to walk 20 steps without colliding into someone with their eyes to the sky or the tree tops.

Due to the cool weather, the migration is not yet in full swing, but on my walk in the park today I was lucky enough to come across a ruby-crowned kinglet and to actually get several photos of him, including one that shows the ruby spot that gives him his name. He is the second smallest bird in Ohio, a lovely little bird. Take a look (Click a bird to see the larger version).

That’s all for today. Despite the chill in the air, I was glad I took a walk in the park.

See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip