Monday musings

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My calendar insists that today is March 4th. In sixteen short days, we will observe the spring equinox, the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere; in other words, the first official day of spring! Here in Ohio, we will “spring forward” next weekend, turning our clocks an hour ahead for the beginning of DST or daylight saving time. Not that it really saves any time, and sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t prefer leaving my clock on standard time all year round. Nevertheless, I will conform and save myself from the confusion of never arriving anywhere at the “right time.”

So there you have it; spring is almost upon us, but, oh, how I wish it felt (and looked) more like spring! That won’t happen here on the south shore of Lake Erie until sometime in April, if we’re lucky. But here’s some good news. The birds have begun their spring migration. And I saw undeniable proof this week: a redwinged blackbird appeared in my backyard. No, I didn’t capture his (or her) picture, but I saw it. Truly I did, and that made me smile. Maybe if I carve out time this week for a trail walk in the arboretum, I will discover some tiny snowdrops, another sure harbinger of spring. Meanwhile, a bevy of birds were active in my backyard today, and they were willing to pose for some photo opps. Here are a few that I captured through my kitchen window: First, the blue jays:

Here’s another junco, like the one at the top of the post. They don’t linger once spring arrives, so they will soon be on their way to their summer home. For that reason, they are sometimes called snowbirds.
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A cardinal and an American robin also made a visit. All of these birds, even the robin, live year round in our neighborhood. I’m not sure how  robins got the reputation for being one of the first signs of spring because they don’t deserve it. We see them all year round, although it is true that we see more in warmer weather. (Although I’ve never actually counted, so that could be inaccurate.)

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My favorite little birds have been hanging around recently. Despite their reputation as summer birds, they also appear in the winter. I was shocked the first time I saw a bluebird in the middle of winter. But here they are. (Click to enlarge).

The two on the right are males. I’m not positive about the one on the left with the more subdued color, but I think it is a male too. I do know they enjoy perching on top of the “rabbit” that watches over the garden.
And, as always, the “not-a-birds” have been busy scampering around the yard and up and down the trees, “stealing” food from the feeders. They can’t fly, but their agility is amazing as they climb the pole to get to the hopper feeder.

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That’s it for today’s bird count. You can be sure I will keep my eye out for that redwinged blackbird. Maybe I will hear him before I see him. That’s often the way it is with the redwings. Every spring, their loud, distinctive call announces their arrival. Come back soon to see what I find in the backyard or along the trail.

Thanks for stopping by today. I always enjoy your visits!
Trail Walker

Birding on New Year’s Day

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Not a bird!

I spotted this pretty doe standing in the meadow on the other side of the split-rail fence. When she walked in my direction, I decided she should be the featured image for my New Year’s Day post, even if she isn’t a bird. So here she is!

Now on to a few birds. Because the morning was cold and overcast without even a glimmer of sunshine, some of my images came out blurry (Reminder to me to pay closer attention to my camera settings); however, a large and varied flock of little birds were flitting around near some fallen trees, probably because someone (not this someone, but possibly another photographer better prepared than I) had sprinkled a few bird seeds on the ground to celebrate the holiday!

After a while, my frozen fingers and toes (and my growling tummy) signaled that it was time for lunch, so I reconnoitered with my walking buddies, and we trekked along the trail back to the parking lot and headed home.

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Bob and Mabel

Today’s walk reminded me again that any day is a good day for a trail walk, even when the sun doesn’t shine. Thanks for walking along with us today. See you soon.

Sunshine or clouds, I’ll see you along the trail.
Trail Walker

 

Weather report

Although the calendar indicates that we should be enjoying Spring, Mother Nature has refused to cooperate. In the weeks since the reportedly “gentler season” officially began on March 21, we have experienced mostly cold and/or very damp weather…the kind of weather that does not draw me out for trail walking with my camera. As a result, even though the birds have been out and about, this trail walker hasn’t been!  Consequently, three weeks into the month, I have a very meagre collection of April images to share; however, here are a few birds that agreed to pose in the middle of their daily activities:

After momma great horned owl, pictured above, another regular to show up was my favorite, the red-bellied woodpecker:

 

 

Following Mr. Redbelly, is another woodpecker, the little downy, but he didn’t pose for long, and, as light was leaking out of the afternoon sky,  I only captured one image of him.

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Other regulars willing to pose, despite the cold, were the perennial popular cardinals and blue jays:

 

 

Last, but of course, not least, even though they are the smallest, is the black-capped chickadee.

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Believe it or not, he had just walked through that arch on the fence post.
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And came out with a large piece of peanut.

Daylight was vanishing, so I decided to close up my camera and head home for supper. On this chilly April afternoon, I was glad to be leaving the park with a few pictures captured on my memory card. Hopefully, the weather will improve soon, and I will have more pictures to share.

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.

Here’s hoping our weather (and other things) soon improve!
Feel free to leave comments. I love to chat with you.
Trail Walker

A Monday Meander

Hello friends.
Join me for a morning meander along the trail.
We’ll visit a few of our bird friends to see what they are up to.
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The blue jay is hoping for some peanuts.
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The house wren is feathering her new nesting hole…
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And checking it out to see if the fit is good.
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The red-bellied woodpecker is also visiting his new nest.
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Checking both inside and out to see if it is ready for a family.
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The Great Horned Owl is not on her nest, but one of the owlets is testing his wings. He must be getting ready to fledge.

That’s all the news from the trail on this Monday morning. I didn’t see the belted kingfisher or the towhee, and I’m still waiting for my first glimpse of a Baltimore oriole. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon. ~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

Adversaries!

I watched in amazement as a drama unfolded in the bog this afternoon. I was too far away to capture good quality pictures, but decided to share the action anyway.

Sitting peaceably on a branch high in a tree, the red-tailed hawk wondered what hit him…

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…and then hit him again.

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And a few more times for good measure!

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As I stood there, eyes glued to the action happening above me, that little blue jay dive-bombed the large hawk, again and again, making his escape before the hawk knew what had hit him.

Each time the blue jay slammed into him, the stalwart hawk just held his ground, or rather his position on the branch, and made no effort to retaliate. After five or six (or maybe more) direct hits and glancing blows, the red-tail changed his position so he could keep a better eye out for his adversary.

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Eventually he apparently tired of the drama, or maybe it was the physical assault on his feathers, spread his wings and swooped away to the other side of the bog. The excitement was over for the afternoon, but it was an unexpected and fascinating drama while it lasted.

That’s it for today’s tale from the trail.
See you soon.
Trail Walker

Cloudy, cool, and delightful!

It’s been a great day for birding, considering the weather and the fact that I didn’t take my camera out of the house. Ten different species of birds visited my bird buffet today, and I got reasonably good pictures of eight of them…standing inside my kitchen window and aiming my lens at the birds as they flitted from feeder to feeder. That many different species would have been enough, but what made me happiest was glancing out the window and seeing the first hummingbird of the season, sipping sugar water from the feeder I had just filled. (Click a bird to scroll through the larger pictures).

That’s the lot for today. Unfortunately, the downy woodpecker and Baltimore oriole got away without waiting for a photo opp. Maybe they will visit another day, but I’m not complaining. It was a successful day of birding, and I did it all from inside my kitchen window! Thanks for stopping by. If you have time, leave a comment so we can have a conversation, or stop by my other blog and leave a comment there.

Cheers! Carolyn aka Skip

Not everything was peaceful along the trail today.

This wasn’t a sunny morning, more on the cloudy side, but it wasn’t especially cold either. All-in-all, a good morning for a photo walk! The first bird to pose for my camera was the RBW (red-bellied woodpecker). She had discovered a few seeds on the top of the fence post and was enjoying a peaceful morning snack.

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It didn’t last long, however.

Her peace was soon shattered with the arrival of a northern cardinal…

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and life along the trail suddenly got a little dicey!

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The RBW didn’t want to give up her position on the post, but the situation quickly worsened with the arrival of yet another cardinal… a male, and obviously a more aggressive type. Wings flapping, he landed on the post, right in the face of the RBW and directly on top of the coveted cache of bird seed.

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But then, to the surprise of the combatants,

a little white-throated sparrow landed nearby,

distracting the cardinal.2015_01_16_Chagrin River Park_034

Without wasting a moment,

the RBW returned to her cache of seeds

as the cardinal temporarily hovered overhead, and finally flew away

(to return at a later time no doubt, because a cardinal will never give up).

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You might think the action settled down at that point, with the little sparrow in possession of the fence rail (although not the top of the post with its cache of seeds)…

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but you would be wrong because suddenly a blue jay,

with his eye on the top of the post and that cache of seeds,

appeared on the scene.

Blue jays don’t miss much!

They always seem to know from moment to moment

exactly what’s going on in their territory, and, when an opportunity knocks…

they’re on it!

So the RBW, despite valiantly defending her post…

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was summarily deposed!

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The cardinal returned briefly to reassess the situation.

(Didn’t I warn you he would),

but as my time in the park was over, I had to head for home

where laundry and other chores were waiting.

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That’s what I saw along the trail today.

I hope you enjoyed your vicarious visit to Chagrin River Park.

See you again soon.

The End of the Trail

Beyond the fence pictured below is a large meadow, a habitat for a variety of fascinating birds; however, walkers are not permitted in that area, so, officially, the fence marks the end of the trail. 

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Overhanging one end of the fence rail is a tree, a gathering place for cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, and many other birds that fly into the tree and, from the tree, down to the fence post where they compete to see who gets to perch on the post, making this a wonderful spot to observe the antics of the birds and a great place to hang out with my camera, looking for photo ops.

HERE ARE A FEW PHOTOS I CAPTURED TODAY.

A red-bellied woodpecker

flew down from the tree to see if there were any seeds

stuck in the crevices of the fence post.

Sunflower seeds, peanut chips, safflower seeds, she wouldn’t be picky.

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INCOMING!

 It looks like there are no tasty tidbits, but, nevertheless, Mrs. Cardinal decides to challenge the red-bellied woodpecker for the top spot on the fence post. She (the RBW) doesn’t seem to be aware that company is coming.

UH-OH!

Suddenly she realizes she has competition for the top spot,

and, from the look on her face, she isn’t too pleased to have company.

An uninvited intruder

TIME TO VAMOOSE!

The cardinal gets the message and decides

that It’s time to make a quick getaway.

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But before long she returns, this time bringing company.

So now, the woodpecker has two challengers for the top spot:

Mr. and Mrs. Northern Cardinal.

The RBW doesn’t give up easily and neither do the cardinals, but …

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…in short order a new bird,

 the bossy blue jay, enters the picture,

and he means business.

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NOBODY MESSES WITH THE BLUE JAY!

The jay is the undisputed boss of the birds,

 unless, of course, a hawk or some other large bird of prey swoops in

and takes up his post in a tall tree.

If that should happen,

the blue jay will sound a raucous alarm,

and the small birds will go suddenly silent and disappear from sight

(Thankfully that didn’t happen today!)

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So that’s what I saw along the trail in Chagrin River Park today.

Thanks for joining me on my photo walk.

Skip aka Carolyn

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