Lazy (and wet) Sunday afternoon

The temperature was hovering around zero with freezing rain tapping on the window pane, so backyard birding seemed like a better idea than trudging down the trail in the park. Call me a wimp, if you want,  but I’m happiest indoors in weather like this.

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Trio of bluejays

The bluejays don’t seem to mind much as long as the rain isn’t pelting down, but I do mind, so I decided to do a little backyard birding from inside my kitchen window today.

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In most tree-shaded backyards, birding usually includes squirrels, and my yard is no different.  This squirrel is sheltering under the bird feeder, and he looks pretty happy about having the food all to himself.

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Most days I prefer birding along the trail in the park, but today I am thankful to capture my birds through the window. I hope you enjoyed the view.

Thanks for joining me. Let’s hope for sunny weather soon.
I’m not a trailwalker today!

 

Back to birding in the back yard

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It wasn’t a fabulous day for photography, so I decided to take some shots through the kitchen window.  This stump and several others are what remains of a large oak tree we had to cut down last year.  I decided to take advantage of them to create tables, just for the wildlife. The little birds (and the squirrels and chipmunks) loved the idea, and this is the result.  They are also popular with the deer that roam around our neighborhood at night, but for some reason, today it was just birds. To my surprise, there wasn’t a hoof print in sight. Near this stump is another on which I place a water bowl and handfuls of black oil sunflower seeds. Occasionally, as you can see here, there is some quarreling between the visitors. It looks to me like the sparrow is complaining because the house finch is just a little greedy. Look at that mouth full of seed! Definitely more than her share, according to the sparrow.

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The breakfast and lunch hours are the most popular times for visitors. Sometimes I can almost liken them to the regulars at the neighborhood deli…except for the greed factor that is. Here are a few more visitors that showed up yesterday when I was watching out the window:

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Junco, or snowbird as they are commonly called

 

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Another junco with a full beak!
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An especially greedy house finch
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And a bossy blue jay

That’s it for today. I did spot a red-bellied woodpecker, but couldn’t capture her picture. Maybe next time!  Did you notice what a monotone day this was? I’m thankful for visits from the blue jays and the little house finches with their rosy breasts. Otherwise winter weather can be a little dull.

Hope to see you again at the back yard buffet!
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

A rare event

Many years ago, when Bob and I relocated from central Pennsylvania to the south shore of Lake Erie, I was a stay-at-home-mom with three little girls. We moved into our new home in January, and we hadn’t been living here for long when I realized that something was missing, something I was accustomed to in my former home, something I had taken for granted: sunshine!  That’s when I first realized that living on the south shore of Lake Erie is a mixed blessing…great in the summer, but not so great in the winter, unless you really like grey days!

That long ago experience is significant today because this morning the sun was shining, and I was finally able to get a few good pictures of the little juncos, or snow birds, that are winter residents of the back yard bird buffet. They are adorable little birds and fun to watch, but getting a sharp picture of the little snow birds is a challenge because they blend right in with their surroundings. The sunshine made a big difference this morning, and here are the pictures I captured. It was definitely a rare event.

 That’s it for today.
Thanks for visiting the Back Yard Birds.
Trail Walker

Winter walks in Holden Arboretum

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My project for this week is assembling a portfolio of my winter trail walks . Although I take regular walks in Chagrin River Park which is only five minutes from my home, another of my favorite places to walk is Holden Arboretum. If you follow my blog regularly, you have seen many pictures from my walks along the Arboretum’s trails. Today’s post is a compilation of my personal favorites from the last three months of trail walks in the Arboretum. It is a special place, and we are blessed to have it so close to home…not quite as close as Chagrin River Park, but only about 20 minutes from home to the entrance. So put on your boots and let’s head down the trail for a snowy walk!

As we continue to ease eagerly into spring, I hope you enjoyed today’s wintery trail walk.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker

An uninvited dinner guest

I have been playing around with creating diptychs and other collages, so today, after I “developed” my pictures in Lightroom, I chose three related images that I think tell a story. Can you follow the storyline? Hint: Start in the upper left corner.

Here’s the sequence:

      Sparrow was ready to tuck into his favorite meal: black oil sunflower seeds.
      The uninvited guest, a tufted titmouse, flew in, thinking the sparrow should share, but the sparrow told him to clear out pronto!
    The titmouse knew when he wasn’t welcome, so he flew away.

I just came across this app for creating collages recently, and it has been a lot of fun. Hope you enjoyed “reading” the story as much as I enjoyed “creating” it.

That’s it for today!
Carolyn aka Skip

Bonanza!

On my photowalk this afternoon, the first “almost sunny” afternoon we have had in a long time, I headed down the trail with some sunflower seeds in my pocket. Passing a bench, I sprinkled a handful of seeds, hoping to attract a few birds for a photo opp. Some chickadees and titmice flew in, grabbed seeds, and flew away, so I sat on the end of the bench and waited for more birds to arrive. Instead of the flutter of wings, I heard footsteps. Looking up, this is what I witnessed over the next few minutes…

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Earlier today I read some tips on this photography website explaining how to create a diptych that will tell a story. Since I had recently purchased an app called My Frames, that helps me create diptychs and collages, I thought I would give it a try. I’m fairly satisfied with the results, but I’m wondering what you think. Can you “read” the story these pictures are meant to tell? I could almost “hear” the doe thinking, “Oh, wow, sunflower seeds. I want some NOW,” as she headed for the bench and reached out with her long tongue. What do you see? Hear?

It was a fun experiment. I think I will have to upload the diptych and enter the challenge. I have never done anything like that before, but there’s always a first time. Becoming a better photographer certainly requires experimenting with new techniques, learning how to tell stories through pictures, and challenging yourself. It also makes my photowalks a lot more fun!

See you soon!
Carolyn aka Skip

Something different

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A late afternoon walk in the park garnered nothing more than the usual suspects: the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and other little birds. Then as the sun sank lower, it cast a soft glow on the scene, and I decided to go for a landscape shot of the power towers. Not my usual style, but I like it. I hope you do too. These wires lead to a power plant on the shores of Lake Erie, just a mile or less from where I was standing.

Carolyn aka Skip

A photo portfolio

A pileated woodpecker has been here.
A pileated woodpecker has been here.
There is a pileated woodpecker nesting somewhere in our park, and I have been searching for him for weeks. Occasional sightings have not rewarded me with a good picture to post, so I will just have to keep trying. It is a very elusive quarry and perhaps, just perhaps, there is a pair. One day recently I was listening to him drill a hole when another park walker came down the trail and announced that he had just seen him on a different trail. So maybe there actually is a pair. I’ll let you know if (or when) I get any confirmation. Meanwhile, here are three more recent pictures that show how snowy and wintry it has been in our neighborhood…
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Last, but definitely not least, a picture of my hubby and our buddy Gulliver, taken on yesterday’s walk in the park.
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On an entirely different subject…

I need some feedback. I have recently updated and upgraded my photo portfolio at SmugMug.com because I needed a place online to post my photo galleries. Take a look if you have time and let me know what you think about the presentation, navigation, etc.

Thanks!
Carolyn aka Skip

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