There’s nothing quite like it!

 

Nothing quite like what, you ask? Well, to be honest, you may or may not agree with me, but I maintain that there’s nothing quite like a trail walk in the first real snow of the season. It isn’t even winter yet, just the downhill end of Autumn, but on this December morning we woke up to snow-covered trails, slippery slopes, and frigid fingers. And oh, how glorious to walk down the trail through a pristine white world…such a contrast to our earlier Autumn walks.

I’m reluctant to admit it, but Autumn with its blue skies, crisp air, and vibrant palette has truly come to an end, and we are faced with Winter: the season of boots with cleats to prevent slipping and sliding, gloves that challenge me as I try to press the shutter button, and lenses (the camera and mine) that constantly fog over as I exhale in the frosty air. Winter brings with it a myriad of new challenges for the trail walking photographer, but new joys come with the challenges. Here are just a few that I spotted along the trail this snowy morning:

Whitetailed deer
The does are more curious than fearful.
A female northern cardinal
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White-breasted nuthatch
Another cardinal. The red male cardinals were hiding today!
A stare down with two does!
I’m not sure of the identity of this bird, but it posed perfectly!

That’s it for today, trailwalkers. I hope you liked this preview of sights we’ll see on future  wintry walks. Be sure to wear lots of layers and get some cleats to put on your boots for our next winter walk.

Thanks for trudging down the trail with me!
Sharing the trail makes each walk extra special.
~Trail Walker

Wildlife

I caught sight of the green heron at the top of today’s post hidden among the reeds in the bog, and one glimpse was enough to stop me in my tracks. A green heron is not a rare sighting in this area, but it’s rare enough that the sight made my heart beat a little faster.  To be sure I would get a few sharp images, I took a deep breath and shot off multiple frames before continuing  down the trail toward the owl nest. I was hoping the owlets would be visible today.

Momma Owl wasn’t in sight, but her two rapidly growing owlets were perched in plain sight in their treetop nest. Although I only have a 70-300mm lens, not nearly long enough for a clear shot at that distance, I was pretty happy with the picture I captured. I would love to own a 600mm lens, but I know realistically I wouldn’t be able to lug a heavy camera and huge lens (plus a tripod) down the trail. Some photographers do it, but I’m not that strong, so I have to be  satisfied with the equipment I own. I only captured one good shot of the owlets today…

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…but here are two more shots of the herons and a few more photo opps I captured on the walk back to my car.

That’s it for today, Trail Walkers, but the sun is shining, and it’s time to get my camera and walking shoes to see if I can capture a few more images before the sun goes down.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit today. See you soon!
Leave a comment if you have anything to share. I love to chat!

Trail Walker

 

Rapscallions!

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Walking into my kitchen, I glanced out the window and there, staring straight at me, were two deer…in broad daylight…the penalty we pay for living next door to  Chagrin River Park. Why, you might ask, would I call these beautiful animals rapscallions (an old-fashioned word for rascal; rogue; or scamp)?  It’s because they consider my Back Yard Bird Buffet their personal dining room, and anything I put out for the birds is free range for these much larger mammals.

When they saw me through the window, they ran away, but I knew they would be back because they knew where the good food was…free for their taking. Unfortunately, they are destructive. They push at the suet and other feeders with their heads to shake the food loose and when they’ve eaten their fill, they  leave broken pieces on the ground…Not broken pieces of food, but broken pieces of the feeders. I’ve ended up with more than one broken bird feeder as a result of their night time visits, which is why I call them rapscallions. However, they are beautiful animals, and it’s quite amazing to see them outside my window. I guess we will just have to be more diligent about bringing our bird feeders inside before it gets dark. (But if you have a better solution, I would love to hear it).

Rant over! My feeders are inside and it’s time for me to go to bed.
See you tomorrow!
Trail Walker

 

 

A late afternoon surprise

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One of the big bucks in Chagrin River Park

Since we turned our clocks back to standard time, I have to watch myself or dark will descend before I am ready for it. Some days I have barely started my trail walk when some photo opps present themselves, and I don’t have enough light to get a good shot. Here is one example:

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Two things went wrong with that shot. First off, I was not prepared. I was focused on a cardinal on the fence post right in front of me when this big buck dashed into the scene. I quickly changed my mind and snapped off several shots of the buck. However, while I was prepared to capture a stationary bird, I wasn’t expecting a fast moving buck, so this shot didn’t work because the light was low and my settings were all wrong. The most I can say is that I captured the moment, so I’m keeping the picture. You win some and lose some. The best thing to do is to learn from the “losers” so the next shot will be better.

The big buck pictured at the top of this post was also taken in late afternoon, but that time I was ready. I had watched him follow some does across the trail in front of me, so when he came back across the trail after giving up the chase, I watched and waited and captured this brief stare-down. Success! (Note: I wasn’t close enough to be in danger. The buck was calm,  totally disinterested in me, and I was using my long lens and standing a good distance away).

Here are a few more late afternoon photos from the past week in Chagrin River Park.

That’s all for this post. Sadly, we have nearly reached the end of my “Color Me Autumn” series of posts. I still have a backlog of photos that I haven’t posted yet, but I don’t think there will be many (maybe not any) new beautiful autumn photos.A cold wind has blown in and several inches of snow fell in the area tonight, although thankfully not in our neighborhood.

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

Brrr! I’m not ready for winter!

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Walking the trails in Chagrin River Park

Unwelcome changes are coming…and I’m not referring to politics. There are big changes coming in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and even in the White House, but I don’t plan to delve into that subject here on my blog. This space is primarily devoted to my trail walks and the amazing beauty of God’s creation, and on this morning’s trail walk, despite temps that had dropped into the 40s overnight under overcast skies, I found plenty of beauty to enjoy. That’s what I’m sharing today, and I hope it will bring you joy…today and always.

As the picture at the top of this post indicates, I was walking the trails in Chagrin River Park this morning. Wearing a winter coat and hat and definitely feeling the chill, I still enjoyed an hour on the trail. I saw a large buck stalking a couple of does. They were ignoring him, but sadly one doe had a badly injured leg. It looked broken, and that is something I always hate to see. Nevertheless, it was browsing for breakfast, and the buck left it alone. They were in deep brush, so I couldn’t get pictures, but I watched them for awhile.

The little birds were active…and hungry. These birds, the chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, and sparrows live here all year round, but during good weather they are more heard than seen. As leaves fall and the branches become bare, they become more visible. I haven’t been taking bird pictures for much of the summer, but the time has come. The downy woodpecker and blue jay escaped without posing today, but here are a few that did pose:

My walk wouldn’t be complete if I couldn’t find a few landscapes to photograph. Although the colors were considerably less vibrant today, they were still beautiful, as you can see in these pictures I snapped.

And finally, here are a couple of deer I did capture with my camera.

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I walked the trail twice before I decided I was ready to go home and make a mug of cocoa. As I said at the top of this post, I’m not ready for winter, but when there’s a chill in the air, I’m always ready for a rich, chocolatey beverage. I make my mother’s recipe for cocoa, using regular Hershey’s cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. It warms me in more ways than one.

Thanks for joining me today.
I hope you enjoyed our trail walk…the first chilly one of the season.
Trail Walker

 

Oh Deer!

So many deer were walking the trails in Chagrin River Park today, it reminded me of a school playground at recess time…recess for a large class of does, bucks, and fawns, although the fawns are getting pretty big by now, and the only buck in the class is a young fella just growing his antlers. Take a look at them. I don’t have captions on the pictures tonight, so I will have to do that tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy the class picture:

And finally: Here’s a persistent deer that was walking in my direction and didn’t know when to stop. She definitely invaded my space, but she wasn’t aggressive. Definitely assertive, but not aggressive. I am sure she thought I had food for her, but I didn’t. She was disappointed when I waved her off and walked away.

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I wonder if she is part of the herd that comes out of the park at night to visit my back yard bird feeders? Now that there is snow on the ground, they come every night and polish off whatever food the birds didn’t eat during the day.

It’s really neat to live practically next door to this beautiful park, but I do wish the deer would respect the park boundaries. However, I’m not going to hold my breath while I wait for that to happen.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

Helplessness is…

…Seeing an injured doe struggling to walk across the meadow…

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…and knowing there’s nothing I can do to help her.

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For the record
  • Weather: The air was cool, but the evening light was soft and lovely.
  • Exercise: I walked 1.7 miles, but forgot to record my steps. Whoops!

Thanks for stopping by. 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

Personal challenge, part I

Several months ago I set some personal challenges for myself in the coming year. Because I felt that my photography was getting very stale, one of my challenges was to sharpen the saw…the photographic saw, that is. I didn’t need to spend more time on my photography. I was already taking a daily photowalk and posting a blip each day at Blipfoto.com, in addition to intermittently maintaining two photography blogs. So increasing the time I spent on taking and processing pictures was more likely to blunt the teeth of the saw rather than sharpen them.

In retrospect, I decided that the problem was that I was taking too many pictures. The dullness and staleness of my vast collection of digital photographs became apparent as I scrolled through the thousands of pictures I had accumulated over the past few years. Not only was I taking a lot of pictures every day, I was hanging on to most of them, and I wasn’t very discriminating about quality. I needed to clean out my collection, keep only what mattered (after first deciding what that was), and set higher standards going forward. This has turned out to be an even bigger challenge than I anticipated. It has involved purchasing new hardware and new software, trying new techniques, and learning a new work flow. In short, a major challenge and the start of an interesting journey!

Tomorrow I will fill in some of the details of the early part of this journey, so tune in, if you are interested. Right now, I will just tell you two things that weren’t included on this journey: a new camera and/or lenses and vacation trips to exotic places where I could (without a doubt) take fabulous photographs. Neither of those was in the budget.

I will see you tomorrow, Blogmates. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from my morning photo adventure, on which I heard a snorting sound in the shrubbery and watched as a doe dashed out, closely followed by…Well, look at the pictures, and you will see what the snorting was all about.

Ater the commotion in the underbrush, this doe dashed onto the trail in front of me. She was frantic in her haste to get away from something, but from what? As I continued to watch, this is what emerged…

As the doe fled across the trail and into the brush on the other side, the buck’s sense of urgency evaporated, and I watched for several minutes as he grazed by the side of the trail.

Apparently his mind as on food instead of females!

At that point, I was feeling a little nervous by his nearness, so I very quietly edged past and on down the trail, while he proudly claimed that patch as his!

A few feet further along, I spotted the doe hiding in the scrubby growth. “I don’t blame you for running,” I told her. “Just lay low and keep quiet!”

That was the end of my adventure for today, but I captured one more photo to top off the morning. This handsome cardinal was very pleased to pose for the camera, and isn’t he a beauty?

Apparently, adventures can be had, at least on some level, even without taking expensive trips to exotic locations.

~Carolyn aka Skip

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