He’s still here, and guess what…

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…He’s not alone! He brought a friend.

Yesterday morning I heard the distinctive call the pileated woodpecker makes when he swoops in for a landing at the backyard buffet. So of course I picked up my camera and headed for my post at the kitchen window (It actually makes a good bird shooting blind, although I do my shooting with a Nikon D7100 instead of a gun). Sure enough there he was at his favorite suet feeder, and for the next 10 minutes, I tracked him from feeder to feeder and even over to our neighbor’s apple tree. I shot lots of pictures! Here’s a sampling:

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Next to the oriole feeder
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On our neighbor’s apple tree
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Scanning the neighborhood from the top of the hopper feeder
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Still scanning
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Leaning over to grab a bite of suet
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Hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree
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Swinging from the feeder on the old swing set

Now how observant are you? Can you tell which bird is our usual P.W. and which one is the “friend?” Here’s a hint: the friend is a female. Take another look at the pictures. Three are of the female friend. Can you pick them out?

Here’s another hint: the male has a red mustache and a full head of red hair.

Are you an expert on pileated woodpeckers or were you as surprised as I was to discover that our guest is actually two different birds? (The female is sitting next to the oriole feeder, hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree, and swinging from the feeder on the old swing set.) S/he had me fooled! What a surprise.

Hope you enjoyed this visit to our backyard bird buffet.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Three owls-awake today!

Yesterday I posted a picture of the Great Horned Owl and her two owlets. Typical of babies, the little owls napped right through their photo opp, but when I returned to check on them this afternoon, they were awake.

Their nest is at the top of a broken off tree, and it doesn’t look very cozy to me, but it is perfectly camouflaged for the little family. As you can see, the babies are growing rapidly, and it’s a tight squeeze for Momma and the two owlets to sit side-by-side.

Here’s a closeup of the larger owlet. He really takes up more than his share of the space in the nest. Maybe Momma will be relieved when they have fledged. What do you think?

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I thought the owlets would be cute, and I was surprised at their features. They look almost human, in a weird sort of way, but I wouldn’t call them cute. What do you think?

Thanks for taking a walk down the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Twice surprised!

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In the afternoon, the sky cleared a little, and I took advantage of the break in the clouds to do a little birding before sunset. I knew there would probably be a variety of birds along the trail near the fence post, so that’s where I headed.

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To my surprise, a bluejay joined the others in their game of “grab and go.” It was fun to get his picture because the jays usually keep their distance. Instead of joining the other birds in the fun, they linger in the branches of nearby trees, occasionally squawking and swooping from branch to branch; however, one of them was curious tonight, and I was able to get several good shots of him in action:

A song sparrow also joined in the fun.
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Then, as I was squinting through the lens, waiting to see who would appear next, I got a surprise. Instead of a bird, here is what I saw on the top of the post:
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Dusk was falling, and it was a few seconds before I realized the  chipmunk had scurried up the fence post to get his share of the peanuts, but when I did, I got a good chuckle at how quick and clever he was. Light was fading by that time, so I decided it was time to head for home. And that was the end of this trail walk, but it was fun while it lasted!

Thanks for joining me on the trail.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Dreary…again!

Hoping to see a little sunshine this morning, after a cloudy weekend, I was disappointed to wake up to overcast skies. Had it been a sunny day, I would have grabbed my camera (and jacket) and headed to the Arboretum. However, completely unmotivated by the dull weather, I decided instead to park myself in front of my computer to practice some new processing techniques. Choosing three birds I photographed earlier this month in Chagrin River Park, I specifically focused on white balance, cropping, and using the graduated filter. Here are the results:

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Tufted titmouse

 

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White-breasted nuthatch
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Red-bellied woodpecker

If the sun decides to peek out later on, I may go for a trail walk, but meanwhile, I’m staying inside! No trail walking this morning, but if you stopped by to say hello, I’m delighted you’re here.

Thanks for visiting! Have a good Monday. 😀
~Trail Walker

Cardinals, woodpeckers, and food fights!

The second of two posts on my freezing cold trail walk.
Read part one here.

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Cold, snowy weather brought out the birds, and like this cheerful red cardinal, they were all hungry to the point of squabbling over the food! The female cardinals in yesterday’s post were the worst. They flew at the fence post as if to see who could be first to land and grab all the food. If they arrived at the same time, there was loud squawking, with a quick change of direction to avoid a collision.

When the red-bellied woodpecker flew into the scene, she got first choice. As my kids would say when they were little, “She got dibs on the bark butter bits!” She was queen of the fence post, and she knew it.

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As I mentioned yesterday, it was cold and starting to spit snow again. My hands were painfully cold from holding the camera, so I decided to head for home. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a pileated woodpecker pounding on a tree. It didn’t take long to find him, high up in a dead tree in the nearby bog. So high up, in fact that he was almost out of reach of my lens. I got a picture, but not a very good one;  however, unless I wanted to wade in the half frozen water that surrounded his tree, it was the best I was going to get.2017_02_09_places-chagrin-river-park_winter-trail-walk_0106

By that time I was having visions of a mug full of hot cocoa. Pulling my gloves out of my jacket pockets, I pulled them on over stiff fingers and walked down the trail to my car.

That’s it for today!
Thanks for walking the trail with me.
Trail Walker

It’s freezing on the trail today!

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Around noon, I saw a glimmer of light in my window and a little blue sky. Thinking that meant good weather for a trail walk, I grabbed the camera and put on my boots, heavy coat, and warm hat. It had snowed overnight, only about three inches, but enough that I was glad for the cleats on my boots. When I got to the park, I realized that I had been mistaken about the weather, which really wasn’t good for holding a camera and shooting photos of birds. I didn’t give up however, not right away, not until I had captured some pictures. No way was I going to trudge down that frigid trail and come home with nothing to show for it. The birds flocked around me as soon as I arrived at the fence rail where they gathered in the tree and along the rail, hoping for a handout. Yes, they got what they were looking for…bark butter bits! And they were very happy. Take a look:

The birds got their treat and I came home with frozen fingers! I checked the temperature once I was back at my computer. It was only 22 degrees with a wind chill factor of 17. AND before I got back to the car it was spitting snow again. Brrr!

That’s all for today.
To be continued tomorrow…
See you soon!

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

Bright-eyed birds

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A tilt of the head and a flash of sunlight can create a glimmer of brightness in these dark-eyed little birds. Photographers call it a catchlight! Look for it in the chickadee above and in these little titmice that took time out for a photo opp in front of my camera.

It’s the magic that can turn a dull picture into something special! I captured these birds on my trail walk last Friday. (On a cloudy day, a little bit of fill-flash can create the same effect.)

Thanks for popping in for a visit today.
It’s always good to see friends along the trail.
Trail Walker

Especially for bird lovers…

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Even bluebirds can have bad hair days (especially when it is raining).

My “Pics” for the Week…January 1-7, 2017

All the “Pics” for this week are birds (except for two squirrels that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking) 😃.  All pics were taken in my “Backyard Bird Buffet.” The first week in January has been very cold (currently 12 degrees) and more cloudy and wet than sunny, which explains why all the pics were shot through my kitchen window.  Some birds were chosen because they are favorites of mine; others because they are new or infrequent visitors; and still others, just because they make me smile, and smiling is always good. So here are my “pics” for the week, the pictures I especially like. I hope you like them too.

New or infrequent visitors

The red-bellied woodpeckers haven’t been around much so far this winter, but I have high hopes they will appear more often. The same can be said for the Eastern bluebirds, which first appeared near the end of December, but haven’t visited in the last few days. I’m missing them!

These are among my favorite visitors.

Here are the birds that made me smile this week

Some birds make me smile by the way they pose or by the expression on their faces (beaks), and others by the way they interact with other birds or utilize an ornament in the buffet.

Finally…

I can’t forget the squirrels. They are a permanent part of the Backyard Buffet, and they eat more than their share of the birdseed. Some people love squirrels, others not so much, but I have fun watching their antics as they race around the yard. I wish I had that much energy!

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There you have it…my “pics” for the first week of January. If you have a favorite, I would love to know what it is.

Thanks for visiting today. See you tomorrow on Cellpic Sunday.
Trail Walker

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