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

A few more orchids and unusual animals

Orchid Mania…Part 2

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In my post yesterday, I wrote that there were plenty of colorful sights to see at Orchid Mania. The wonderful display of orchids was probably the most colorful, but there were also some exotic animals. My favorite orchid was the one I posted yesterday and the deep purple one at the top of this page was a close second. Here are several others:

And the colorful, exotic animals? Butterflies for one, but I wasn’t able to get any butterfly pictures. The butterflies were released at 2 pm, but they dispersed so quickly throughout the garden that I never had a chance for a photo opp. A few animals were willing to pose however. How’s this one for exotic? Check out the tail, the tongue (I think it is) and the little hands gripping the stem of the plant.

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A woman with a spray bottle was squirting water onto the leaves of the plant, and the thirsty critter was licking it up.

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The lizard was stretched out behind a glass window in his own little habitat.

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Finally,  there were several large tortoises. Unfortunately they weren’t so good about posing either, but were still interesting to watch. I caught this one when it was taking a nap, but because he was pretty big, I could only get a picture of his face and front legs.

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If you would like to experience Orchid Mania, there is still time. It’s well worth a visit, and it doesn’t close until Sunday, March 5th. Don’t forget to take your camera for some challenging, colorful, and unique photo opps.

That’s all for today. Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Orchid Mania

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First of two posts about Orchid Mania

Yesterday we took a little field trip to see the Orchid Mania exhibit at Cleveland Botanical Gardens. To sum it up briefly:

  • Marvelous experience
  • Plenty of color
  • A taste of spring both inside and out (High temperature of 78 degrees)
  • Good company
  • Orchids-orchids-orchids
  • And a few exotic animals too!
  • Plenty of challenging photo opps

I will share more pictures in my next blog post. I’ve run out of time!

Thanks for stopping by tonight.
See you soon. ~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

Eastern screech owl redux

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What should a photographer, who loves trail walks, do on a cold, rainy January morning? She could of course put on rain gear, thumb her nose at the wet weather, and head down the trail. However, this trail walker (me) found a more appealing (and much dryer) activity this morning. Sitting in front of my computer, I opened the WordPress website, clicked on the link to the “Reader,” and began to wander through the blogs of other WordPress contributors. What followed was not my usual walk down the trails in Chagrin River Park or Holden Arboretum, but was, nonetheless, a fascinating (and dry) trail walk that linked me to trails in distant states and far away countries.

One of the first links I clicked on was this one, posted this morning by Belinda Grover, an outstanding photographer I follow regularly. Belinda’s post today, an Eastern screech owl, reminds me of the screech owl that lives in a nesting box in Chagrin River Park.  With that reminder,  I dug into my photo archives until I found the little owl posted at the top of this page.  My sleepy-eyed owl is cute, but Belinda’s is much sharper, and she even caught it with one eye wide open, so I implore you to take a minute to click on the link and enjoy Belinda’s photography. I hope you return here, however, and read the rest of this post, because my intention today, in addition to introducing you to Belinda’s work, is to share several tips that have helped me become a better photographer and blogger.

  • First, I want to encourage you to take a little time every day (0r as often as you can) to click on the WordPress Reader. It has links to a wealth of interesting blogs, fascinating bloggers, and exciting opportunities to visit new places and see beautiful scenery.
  • Second, I want to suggest that examining the work of other photographers, via the Reader, can help you become a better photographer. Not only have I met new people and visited places I will probably never visit in person (think Switzerland, Denmark, or New Zealand), I have also learned from photographers who are more experienced than I. What a wonderful way to get an education.
  • Third: Remember to mine your own archives every once in a while. You may find photos you have forgotten (like my sleepy owl) that could become the focus of future posts. How exciting is that? They’re yours; you won’t be breaking any copyright laws; and they are already on your computer, making them easy to access.
  • Finally, related to mining your archives, is a fourth tip. Please make a habit of giving a few keywords to all your images. When you want to find that picture you took in Kuala Lumpur or Hawaii (Don’t I wish!), it will be much easier to bring it up, if you have given it a few relevant tags (keywords).

However, this business of leaving the familiar trail and wandering through the Reader and/or through your archives, comes with a warning. It will be interesting, educational, and unbelievably fun. It can even be eye-opening, introducing you to new blog friends and far-away places. However, above all it can be addictive. So you might want to set a timer to remind you when it is time to come back to earth, i.e. to your own blog. You’ll want to leave enough time to finish your post for the day.

Thanks for stopping by.
Some bedraggled (think dripping wet) bluebirds visited the
Backyard Buffet, while I worked on this post! So…
Come back tomorrow to see them!
(Preview below)
Trail Walker

 

 

 

 

It can be a challenge…

… to keep up with the visitors to my back yard buffet. Looking back through recent posts, I realized I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up with the ordinary little birds who visit the “buffet.” The fallen tree episode, starling invasion, Christmas cookie baking, and rapscallion deer visitors have dominated my posts for the past month, so I thought I would make up for it today and post a few beautiful birds that have been recent visitors to the back yard buffet. First the cardinals:

…and then the red-bellied woodpecker, providing a little competition for the starlings…

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And then the downy woodpecker, both male and female, have been frequent visitors at the suet feeders.2016_12_16_places_back-yard-birding_0124

And I can’t forget the house finches who are always hanging around.

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House finch checking out the area below the feeder
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I love the way this cardinal is waiting for the finches to give him some space. Very unusual!

So there you have it, a few of the little back yard birds that haven’t been getting their share of blog space recently. In the future, I will try to dedicate more space to them because they’re really too cute to ignore.

Thanks for visiting the back yard buffet today.
Trail Walker

Return of the Rapscallions!

The new bird feeder, destroyed by the rapscallions last week, has been replaced, thanks to a warranty from the manufacturer. Yesterday I hung it in the back yard buffet, in place of the feeder the deer had destroyed, wondering how long it would take for them to discover it. It was mid-afternoon, well before dark, but unfortunately I didn’t have to wait long before five or six of these ladies came wandering into the back yard buffet.

They cavorted around our back yard and next door in our neighbor’s, wandering around and browsing for food under the snow, while I kept a close eye out the window in case they got too near the new feeder. All was going well, and then this fellow came onto the scene.

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…and he was definitely interested in food.

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As I watched through the window, camera in hand, he came closer and closer…

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…until he finally reached the tree stump, just a few feet from the window from which I was watching and only a few feet from the newly replaced feeder. Thinking it was about time to chase them away, I moved. He looked up, spotted me standing inside the window, and apparently unsettled by how close I was, he turned his back and, stepping over the fallen tree trunk, left the back yard buffet.

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As soon as he was gone, I put on my jacket and hurried outside to bring in the new bird feeder…or is it a deer feeder? I’m really not sure.

Thanks for stopping by the Back Yard Buffet today.
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

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