Confused by the weather

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Since the beginning of the year, our weather has been unsettled, or maybe I should say unsettling. We’ve had snow, extreme cold, and now rain. Glancing out the kitchen window this morning, I noticed an empty hopper feeder. Slipping on my jacket and boots, I sloshed out and refilled the feeder. A short while later, I spotted this little critter on the tree stump enjoying a feast.

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As you can see, the squirrel is not on the hopper feeder, but on a nearby tree stump. It makes no difference to him, just as long as someone treks out to refill the food supply, and I imagine he is pleased to find his snack on the stump, instead of in the puddles that surround it.

Two weeks ago, the stump was covered with snow and the backyard looked like this.

Snowy Sunday

When Bob carried out the bucket of birdseed to refill the feeders, he had to sweep off the top of the stump before scattering the birdseed and pouring seed in the feeders. That was on January 27th.
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For a few days, a joyful crowd of sledders, had a grand time on the hill in Chagrin River Park (See my recent post “When the Snow Finally Fell”). Unfortunately, a few days later, during the first week of February, our temperatures topped out in the sixties, with 63 degrees on February 4th, and 61 degrees on February 7th. The snow melted, and the sledders vacated the now-barren sledding hill in the Park. Then, on February 9th, when the high temperature once again plummeted to 21 degrees, our brief taste of spring ended; the rains came; and the river almost reached flood stage, prompting warning calls from the authorities who keep a watch on such things.

Currently we are in a holding pattern. I can hear cars splashing through the puddles as they drive past our house, and I have no incentive whatsoever to take my camera to the park or the Arboretum for a trail walk. Who knows when spring will actually put in a real appearance. After all, it is still February. In Cleveland, we don’t hold out much hope for sunshine and flowers until at least April…or maybe sometime in May???

Cross your fingers fellow trail walkers.
And don’t put away your boots yet!
~Trail Walker

A good day on the trails

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It was definitely a good day on the trail in Chagrin River Park, but a very tedious weekend at the computer cleaning up my 18 years of photo files. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that I am making progress. Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done, and I will be back at it tomorrow after church. Meanwhile, here are some birds who posed for me in the park this weekend.

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Northern cardinal-male

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Northern cardinal-female
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White-throated sparrow
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Lady cardinal with a mouthful of peanut chips
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Hungry blue jay

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Red-bellied woodpecker and a house sparrow

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Red-winged blackbird-a true sign of spring
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Happy red-bellied woodpecker

I was happy to be back on the trail with my camera in hand, and I hope you enjoy the pictures. Sorry to say, but I’m run out of energy, so it’s time to turn out the lights.

See you in a day, or two, or three at the most!
Trail Walker

 

Before the warm up

2017_02_16_places-chagrin-river-park_winter-trail-walk_0029I won’t say this has been a mild winter, but I’m not going to complain about the harsh, frigid weather we’ve experienced this year. Have we have some really cold days? Oh yes, we have! And even more overcast, just-plain-dismal-days! However, we are way down in total inches of snow this winter, and there have been too many days when the dreariness made me decide to stay indoors and work on other photo-related projects instead of heading outside for a trail walk. As it turned out, yesterday was a good day for trailwalking. It was cold, but not bone-chilling. And it was dry…a real plus.

Gulliver, pictured above with Bob and one of the many deer that call the park home, was scheduled for a quick visit to the vet to have staples removed from his recent (very successful) surgery.We decided to take him for a short walk in the park before his appointment. Side note: Gully gets over-excited at the vet’s office and isn’t always his usual well-behaved self. We consider it a good visit if he doesn’t leave an unwelcome gift on the vet’s floor…all due to his nervousness. Thanks to our walk in the park, this was a good visit, although our walk was short to allow us to get to the appointment on time,

The meteorological  experts are predicting a February warmup over the next five days, meaning no new snow on the ground and probably mud in its place. We shall see! At any rate, here are just a few more pictures from the park to show what it looked like before the (predicted) February thaw.

Thanks for coming along on this short trail walk!
Trail Walker

Bright spots on a wintry day

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Overnight the temperature dropped to single digits and several inches of snow fell. The Backyard Buffet looks much more appealing when the ground is covered with a blanket of white, and because that same blanket had covered over much of their natural food, the birds were looking for food at ALL the feeders. That includes the hawk that visited yesterday, so all the little birds must be alert to the danger. We saw him on the ground at the edge of our backyard this morning, but he flew away too quickly for a photo opp. He is a beautiful bird, but I wish he would go scrounging for his meals among the snakes and rodents (If some of them aren’t hibernating) in the nearby park instead of in the Backyard Buffet. 😒

Enjoy these bright spots
That’s all for today.
Look for more Backyard Buffet adventures tomorrow.
See you then! -Trail Walker (aka Carolyn or Skip)

If you can’t beat them…

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I’ve been trying, with a remarkable lack of success,  to discourage the starlings from taking over the Back Yard Buffet. So now I’m beginning to think about changing my attitude toward these pesky colorful birds. Until someone can come up with a good idea for encouraging these invaders to change their behavior and move on to a new habitat, I’m going to change my attitude, and  my new attitude toward the starling invasion is, “If you can’t beat ’em,  JOIN ‘EM.” After all, they do look pretty against the snow and they may even brighten up a drab winter background when the snow has melted and everything is sort of grey and brown. They are persistent critters too, and persistence can be a positive trait.  Right? Especially if you call it perseverance. It’s worth a try at least!

How am I doing friends? Am I convincing anyone that an invasion of starlings is actually something to enjoy? Not sure I am convincing myself, but at least I’m trying. 😏  I’m definitely not ready to celebrate starlings yet, but maybe if I persevere with my new attitude,  I’ll eventually reach that point.

Here are a few more starlings for you to enjoy:

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Starlings like suet.
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Apparently starlings favor chunky peanut butter.
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They love the new hopper feeder.
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Picking up peanuts is a breeze for the starlings.
That’s the news from the Back Yard Bird Buffet today.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker

Winter walks in Holden Arboretum

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My project for this week is assembling a portfolio of my winter trail walks . Although I take regular walks in Chagrin River Park which is only five minutes from my home, another of my favorite places to walk is Holden Arboretum. If you follow my blog regularly, you have seen many pictures from my walks along the Arboretum’s trails. Today’s post is a compilation of my personal favorites from the last three months of trail walks in the Arboretum. It is a special place, and we are blessed to have it so close to home…not quite as close as Chagrin River Park, but only about 20 minutes from home to the entrance. So put on your boots and let’s head down the trail for a snowy walk!

As we continue to ease eagerly into spring, I hope you enjoyed today’s wintery trail walk.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker

A little fast action

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Mr. Red-bellied Woodpecker discovered a cache of bark butter bits in the old tree stump and wasted no time flying in to get his share before they were all gone. I was standing nearby, hopefully out of sight, because I have been trying to learn the best settings on my camera to get action shots of the birds. It is a lesson that I am not learning fast enough for my liking. I have hundreds of near misses, but very few that I really like enough to share.

So there I stood, watching Mr. RBW feast on his treat when he suddenly took off, and this time I was ready. Zoom…and there he went. Obviously he has been taking classes in aerodynamics and knows just how to take off without losing the bark butter bit grasped in his beak. I wasn’t sure I got the picture until I opened it up on my computer. Learning is a slow process, and practice doesn’t always make for perfect results, but this time I am smiling at the outcome. His takeoff photo is even sharper than the shot of him hanging onto the post. I think I was a little shaky with the camera as I waited to see what he would do.

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

Trumpeter swan: a first for me

 

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The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl species native to North America, was at one time considered an endangered species. They had been hunted to near extinction for their feathers, skin, meat, and eggs, and by 1900 the species had greatly declined in numbers, until, by 1970 fewer than 70 were known to exist in the wild. Then a small population was discovered in remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, and in the early 1950s, a larger population was found in Alaska. By 2010 the North American population had increased to over 46,000 birds. Now it is  no longer a rare bird, but this is the first I had seen one, so I was delighted with the opportunity to take some photos of this beautiful bird that can have a wingspan that exceeds 10 feet.

Except for a black bill, legs, and feet, the trumpeter swan is completely white, although, like the one we saw, their head and neck may be stained a rusty brown because of the ferrous minerals in the wetland soils where they make their habitat. They feed on aquatic plants, and I was fascinated to watch this solitary bird floating gracefully in the marsh, repeatedly dipping its head under the water to search out tasty plants. Click on one of the pictures below to scroll through the gallery, and you will see that he has been doing exactly that. At one point, I saw him trying to pull up a heavy clump of wet plants.

 

NOTE: Sometimes these birds are confused with the mute swan, which is an  unpopular invasive species, but the two are not the same.  A group of swans can be called by many nouns, including a ballet, bevy, drift, regatta, and a school!

Trail walking can be educational as well as good exercise and lots of fun.Thank you for joining me on the trail today.

See you soon.
Trail Walker

I’m ready for spring, but…

When we woke up this morning, there were several inches of fresh snow on the ground. I know it won’t last, and I’m glad that it won’t, but this was just a little reminder that winter won’t let go yet. At least fresh snow is pretty, and this was the kind of snow that was clinging to trees and adding to the beauty of the trails in Chagrin River Park. “Time to capture some snowy pictures along the trail,” I thought to myself.

On the river trail, the snow-covered trees were a delight to see.

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There wasn’t a soul at the fire pit and nobody had built a fire. That’s strange, I thought to myself, someone builds a fire every morning, even when it isn’t cold. Fire or no fire, I took pictures anyway, and then, wondering where everyone was, I snapped one of the sledding hill.

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Approaching the fire pit
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The fire circle was cold (and so was I)

Farther down the trail, I spotted two Canada geese swimming in the bog. They didn’t seem to mind the cold.

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There weren’t many people walking in the park this morning, but I ran into a few, and took their pictures:

 

And of course I took some bird pictures. The red-bellied woodpecker was delighted to pose. It was probably the bark butter bits that caught his attention, and he, along with the white-throated sparrows, repeatedly flew in for  a taste.

The blue jay, as usual, was reticent. He prefers the tree tops to the bark butter bits. And that’s as it should be I guess, but I snapped his picture anyway.

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The meadow

After a while the cold began to seep through my boots, and I decided it was time to go home, so I will leave you with one more snowy park picture.

Thanks for joining me for a cold walk. See you soon!
Trail Walker

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