Chilly morning in Chagrin River Park

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Spring is here! The red-winged blackbird has been announcing if for the last few weeks. Still, you couldn’t prove it by today’s temperature which hovered around 42 degrees when we set out for our morning walk. Nevertheless, cold or not, Mabel was ready for her walk, so there we were, Bob, Mabel, and I trotting down the trail. Mabel doesn’t saunter, she trots, so she sets us a lively pace until we have gone at least a mile. Then she may slow down to a reasonable speed.

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Mabel pulling Bob up the steps to the top of the sledding hill
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Catching their breath at the top of the hill

Despite the morning chill in the air, one red-bellied woodpecker persistently posed, flying from tree-to-tree, and stopping just long enough for me to capture these pictures. (Click on a picture to see the larger versions).


He looks like a young woodpecker to me. Although I’m not a woodpecker expert, I could tell he was having fun.

In addition to the woodpecker, a tiny titmouse posed too…
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…as did Mr. and Mrs. Northern Cardinal. The male showing off his flashy red coat and Lady Cardinal posing in her rich golden hues.
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My last bird portrait today was a bluejay…
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Before heading home, I paused at the top of the sledding hill and took a couple of landscape shots. Our proximity to Lake Erie dictates that spring will usually be late arriving in Northeast Ohio, and this spring has been true to form. When spring does finally arrive, I can’t resist capturing some pictures of the fresh, vibrant green of new grass and budding trees.
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And when the steelhead trout begin their run on the Chagrin River, I always try to capture a shot or two of the fishermen in action.

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Watching them makes me wonder why on earth anyone would stand in the river holding a fishing rod for hours on end in such cold weather. Then I remember that I have been shivering as I wandered along the trails, camera in hand. My conclusion: We’re all a little crazy when it comes to our hobbies.

Thanks for visiting today’s blog post.
I hope you stop by often.
Trail Walker

Color Me Autumn!

Earlier this week, I lifted my eyes from the keyboard and glanced out the window next to my computer. It was already late afternoon on what had started out as a gloomy overcast day. To my delight, outside my window the sun was shining! I immediately went into action. Leaping out of my chair and grabbing my camera, I invited Bob to leave his desk and head to Holden Arboretum with me for an impromptu trail walk.

Two weeks earlier, I had visited the Arboretum, hoping to find the sugar maple tree crowned in glorious autumn color…not an unreasonable expectation in the middle of October. Normally we would have nearly reached peak color here on the south shore of Lake Erie by that time, but that afternoon, to my disappointment, the tree still looked much like it had in mid-summer: beautiful, but almost entirely green.

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Sugar maple on October 16, 2018

Today, with the late afternoon sun shining and puffy white clouds in a beautiful blue sky, I almost held my breath as I hurried down the trail to where I could catch sight of the tree. My expectations weren’t high because the end of October is well past the time for peak color in northeast Ohio, and in a normal year, the maple would have lost most of its color and many of its leaves by the first of November (the day I am writing this post).

Then I rounded the curve in the trail and saw the maple.
My heart burst with joy.
I hadn’t missed its peak color after all!

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Sugar maple on October 29, 2018
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October 29-Another view of the sugar maple

Three more for today from my Color Me Autumn trail walks (Click to enlarge pictures)

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
I’ll be back soon to share more Autumn joy.

Trail Walker

Happy Anniversary to US!

Last month Bob and I celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary. You might say that’s a milestone occasion, worthy of a major celebration, and I would agree. However, neither of us was in the mood that afternoon to get dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner like we did last year. Instead, as the chilly day drew to a close, we put on our jackets and headed to nearby Chagrin River Park for a  walk along the trails.

One of the advantages of being married to your best friend for 58 years is that a quiet trail walk together is equally as celebratory as throwing a big party, with the bonus that it is peaceful, free, and five minutes from home!

August in the Butterfly Garden

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After time spent walking the trails at Holden with my friend Lisa, I captured some pictures in the Butterfly Garden before heading home. Strangely enough I didn’t see many butterflies. I was hoping some monarchs would pose for my camera, but didn’t see a single one. However, it was a beautiful day, and I captured some pictures that made me happy.

So, the butterflies were scarce. but the frogs were pleased to pose, and it was an altogether peaceful and pleasant half hour.

Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Return of the bluebirds

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Way back in mid-winter, a little flock of Eastern Bluebirds vacationed for a week in our backyard buffet. I was totally surprised because, although bluebirds do winter over in northeast Ohio, none had ever done so in our neighborhood. Sadly, after delighting us for a week, they were suddenly gone, and we haven’t seen them for months.

However, last week the lovely lady bluebird pictured at the top of this post put in another appearance. So, for the last five days, I have sprinkled their favorite treat (mealworms) on the tree stump, hoping she was the forerunner of another bluebird blitz, one that would be permanent this time. To my delight, they returned again yesterday. This time I captured a few pictures, and they were showing a little interest in the lovely new bluebird nesting box we recently added to the backyard.

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Sitting on the woodpile
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Closer to the new bluebird house
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Feathers ruffled by the wind

Will they move into the nesting box and become permanent residents? Although I’m trying not to count on it too much, I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and I’ll let you know what happens. Meanwhile, if you have any advice about how to encourage them to stay, all suggestions will be welcome.

See you soon for another spring migration saga.
~Trail Walker

The right place at the right time!

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After visiting the Horned Owl family the other day, I headed for the pedestrian bridge to cross the Chagrin River. I had heard of some good migratory bird sightings on the other side and wanted to check them out for myself. Just starting to cross the bridge, I glanced to the right (downriver) and spotted this little belted kingfisher. It has been years since I last saw one, although I know they’ve been around. Was I excited? You bet! And this fellow posed there long enough for me to get several shots. Here are a few:

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His perch, on that branch overlooking the river, was no accident. He was fishing for dinner, and his next meal would very likely swim downriver, right beneath his perfectly situated perch. And, as I watched, that is exactly what happened.

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Watching the river.
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He spotted something in the water…and dove off the branch.

These clever little “fisherbirds” are fast and accurate, so hopefully he came up with something tasty for supper. Unfortunately, his dive off the branch was so sudden, I didn’t catch the end of the drama. Still, it was exciting to watch, and I walked on down the trail thinking how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time to get these shots.

Thanks for walking with me today.
See you soon! ~Trail Walker

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

Back to my search for spring

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Marsh marigold

Lisa and I were trailwalking in the Arboretum, in search of more early signs of spring. Treading through a marshy area on our way to Blueberry Pond, we spotted some marsh marigolds. The vibrant yellow of this early bloomer is pretty hard to miss. Then, when we reached our destination at the top of a grassy hillside, we paused to appreciate the beauty in front of us.

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Blueberry Pond

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As you can see, few of the trees display any greenery. That easily visible evidence of spring is another 7-10 days in the future, depending on the temperatures in the week ahead. Our location, so close to Lake Erie, delays the in-breaking of spring, which is probably why the search for spring looms large in my mind from February onward, until true spring finally arrives.

On today’s trail walk, we saw some early wildflowers. Although she is a pediatric dentist, Lisa also has a background in horticulture and was able to identify the beautiful Lenten rose, and in the same area we spotted the ferns, just beginning to unfurl.

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Continuing along the trail, we came to the clump of white birch trees, where I took a picture of Lisa sitting on the lowest limb. It looks to me as if that limb was created for that very purpose, and this isn’t the first time I’ve paused to take a picture of it. Finally reaching Lotus Pond, we each posed beside a pink magnolia hybrid with the pond in the background.

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Lisa and the white birch tree

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Because the person carrying the camera rarely gets her picture taken, here is one Lisa snapped of me.
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As we circled Lotus Pond, we watched the birds skimming over the surface of the water, apparently hoping to catch some insects (another sign of spring)! Although I didn’t see any insects, apparently the birds were on to something…or it is an annual spring rite of the swifts, purple martins, or whatever they were. They were flying way too fast for me to identify them with any certainty.

Although I have a few more pictures from today’s trail walk, I am going to stop here because this post is already a little long. I will post the others in a day or two. Meanwhile, even if the weather isn’t sunny and warm, and even if it isn’t spring where you live, I hope  you all enjoy a beautiful weekend.

Thanks for joining us on this walk in the Arboretum.
See you soon!  ~Trail Walker

Dreary…AGAIN!

Part one of a two part post in which we continue our 
Search for Spring in the Arboretum.

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Thunder, buckets of rain, and puddles deep enough for ducks to take a swim! That’s today, drowning in dreariness,  but yesterday was beautiful…a great day for a trail walk at Holden Arboretum. That’s where we will continue the search for more signs of our elusive spring.

Let’s start  at Lotus Pond where daffodils bloom in the foreground and no ice remains on the surface of the pond, ice that was still visible on our last visit a week ago. That’s definitely promising.

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Lotus Pond without ice

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Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a few tiny clumps of netted iris. These irises are early bloomers, so they have passed their prime by now, but they are still lovely with their delicate shades of soft blue and yellow. I hope you agree!

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Netted Iris…past its prime

We will end today’s walk, on the trail that leads into the rhododendron garden.

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Entering the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron garden
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The Overlook, a recent feature in the rhododendron garden
That’s it for part one of this walk in Holden Arboretum.
Come back tomorrow to continue our search for spring!
~Trail Walker

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