Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, Memorable Moments, nature

A pileated surprise!

We had just finished Sunday evening supper when our daughter glanced out the dining room window and exclaimed, “What the heck is that?”  When I turned to look out the window, this is what I saw…

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He had flown down from the tree top without announcing his arrival, as he usually does, and there he sat on top of the bird feeder no more than four feet from our window. Obviously he had found a comfortable place to feast on the bark butter suet, and he was really pleased.

Jumping up from the table, I moved over to the kitchen window where I picked up my camera. Earlier I had cranked the window open about an inch, so I was able to wind it fully open without alarming our “guest.” He was completely engrossed in the suet cake and unaware of my presence, so I was able to capture many pictures. These are the best…

I’m betting he’ll be back, just as long as I keep the suet feeder filled with cakes of bark butter suet. He had his Sunday evening treat, and I had some real good closeups to share on my blog. It was a memorable moment!

See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, blogging, My trail walks, nature

One more week to go

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For the past three weeks I’ve been on a self-imposed break from my regular trail walks so I can take an online course in photoshop for photographers. As a result, I haven’t had much news to report from along the trail. Photoshop doesn’t come easily to me, but it is a lot of fun, and hopefully will lead to improvements in my blog posts. Only one more week to go in the course, then I plan to resume posting  Along the Trail three times each week on Tuesday Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday. Although sticking to a regular schedule for posting, doesn’t come easily to me either 😋, I believe it is the best approach to take, and I hope you will return to see my posts on those days.

As you have probably noticed, I am always interested in the behavior of birds. Today I want to share something I observed yesterday when one of the red-bellied woodpeckers (RBW) visited our yard. Between our property and the neighbors behind us are 12 very tall trees where the birds love to nest, rest, hide, and perch. The picture at the top of this post shows an RBW investigating a hole high up on the trunk of one of the trees. She was very curious about the hole, maybe checking out its potential for a future nest. I’m not sure what she expected to see, but she gave it a good look. Click on the gallery below to see her in action:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they nested in our tree, and we could watch their little family?

That’s it for today. Starting next week, I will resume regular posts and visits to your blogs. To those who have continued to visit and leave comments during my break: thank you for your patience.

See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, birds, nature

A surprise visitor at the back yard buffet

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In the past week the pileated woodpecker has made several visits to our back yard buffet. I heard her announce her arrival early this evening when I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I took my camera and sat on the patio after supper. It wasn’t long before she flew in. First she swung by the new suet feeder, but didn’t hang around long enough to take a taste of the bark butter suet. However, she soon returned and this time grabbed on to the large suet holder Bob hung from a post way back under the trees, and, finally, as I sat on the patio bench, she returned to the new feeder, the one that was closest to me. I snapped away as she feasted on the bark butter. She was happy, and so was I. Here’s hoping she likes it enough to return often. I think there may be a male in the neighborhood too because last week two pileateds arrived together. At the time, I didn’t have my camera, so I missed the photo opp. Today I didn’t make that mistake! Here are a few more pictures of today’s visitor:

Interesting facts about this big bird:

  • Male and female pileated look very much alike, but the male has a red mustache.
  • They nest in cavities in trees that they excavate. The noise they make while digging these holes can be heard for quite a distance.
  • They will make up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes in case a predator enters the tree, and they peck the bark around the entrance holes to make the sap run. That keeps some predators, such as snakes, from entering their nest.
  • Their favorite food is carpenter ants, and the young are fed regurgitated insects.
  • A group of pileated woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.
  • Sometimes people call them “Woody Woodpecker” after the cartoon, which definitely resembles a pileated woodpecker.

That’s enough for this post. I hope you enjoyed seeing the big bird.

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

 

Posted in birds, My photowalks

Red-bellied surprise!

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Red-bellied woodpecker times two!

The red-bellied woodpecker is one of my favorite birds, which makes this photo doubly pleasing to me. Seeing a RBW is not uncommon in our neighborhood park where there are lots of old trees and a bog nearby; however, until today I had never seen two of them sitting on the same tree stump. I am guessing that the one in the foreground is a female because it has a grey cap, but I am not certain. At any rate, this was a red-bellied day! Here are a few other birds from today’s walk. Click on any picture to see it in large.

Posted in birds, My photowalks, nature, Ohio, wildlife

No doubt about it…

Spring has arrived! I wouldn’t be silly enough to believe we won’t have any more cold, wet weather, but I’ve seen the signs, and I am announcing the arrival of spring! Today, on my walk in the park, I spotted a golden-crowned kinglet and a yellow-bellied sapsucker for the first time, and there were lots of people enjoying some sunshine and warmer temperatures. Yay for spring! We’ve waited a long time for it to arrive. Here are my favorite pictures from today:

Hope you enjoyed them!
Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in My photowalks, nature, Ohio, spring, wildlife

Is it spring yet?

That’s the question everyone is asking these days. Even today, although it seemed a little milder and I didn’t wear my winter jacket for our trip to the Cleveland Aquarium, the temperature barely inched above 40 degrees. In the afternoon I took a photowalk in the park. For that I wore my winter jacket and hat, and I wasn’t any too warm. Here are my favorite photos from the walk. I hope you like them.

Carolyn aka Skip

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Posted in birds, My photowalks, nature, Ohio, photography, wildlife, winter

Birding with a camera

Most birdwatchers, or twitchers, as they are called in Britain, carry binoculars. I carry my camera. You can probably guess that I am not a serious birder with a long life-list and a longer list of exotic locations I’ve visited in the pursuit of elusive species. I have high regard (envy?) for the experts who can identify a bird by all its varied calls and songs or a glimpse of it on the wing. I appreciate the helpful ones who will say to me, “There’s a ______, in that tree, the one at two-o’clock in the direction you are facing.” I am not that kind of birder. I don’t have the eye or the knowledge, but I admire people who do. What a wonderful hobby it is! Solitary and, at the same time, social, because the birders I’ve met are always willing to share their discoveries with the rest of us.

I do my birding with a camera. I love to capture pictures of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, or whatever else presents itself, and I am rewarded by observing their behaviors, both social and antisocial. An hour or two with my camera in the park, wandering along the trails, usually alone, but sometimes in the company of others, feeds my soul. It is time that restores and energizes me. I believe that the Creator intends for us to get out and enjoy His (Her) creation, and for that I am ever thankful. Here are a few of my recent “captures.” I hope you enjoy them.

PS I wrote a “story” about my (failed) attempt to photograph an elusive pileated woodpecker today. You can read about it in my Blipfoto journal.

Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in birds, My photowalks, nature, Ohio, photography, wildlife, winter

Bird watching

My photo walk this morning turned out to be a bird walk. All the photo opps that presented themselves were birds, and they were real “posers”, as in posing for the camera. It was a great morning for a walk: some filtered sunshine, no wind, and relatively mild temperatures for February….somewhere approaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a good thing I took my walk early, however, because, by mid-afternoon when I went grocery shopping, the wind had picked up and the sun was AWOL. So let’s take a little bird walk, shall we? You won’t even need your coat or binoculars. Just enjoy the beauty of our feathered friends.

The blue jay, usually camera shy, posed long enough for me to capture two good pictures:

Blue jay
Blue jay


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The black-capped chickadee is never camera shy. Put down a few peanuts, and he zips right into camera range.

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Can you believe those spindly legs can hold him up?

Black capped chickadee
Black capped chickadee

And my favorite for the day: the downy woodpecker. His antics are comical to watch as he lands on the bench and waddles (Truly, he waddles) down the back of the bench until he reaches the peanuts. Here he paused in mid-waddle long enough for me to snap off a few shots. This one was the best of the bunch.
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Woodpeckers are much more adept at flying and drilling holes in trees than they are at walking, but they get where they want to go, and this little fellow got his peanuts.

That’s the end of the bird walk for today. I saw more, but these were the pick of the lot. I hope you enjoyed them. If you’re wondering where the deer are today, I was wondering too. Yesterday they were all over the place. Today I didn’t see a single deer. You just never know what you might encounter on a walk in the woods.

Thanks for visiting the south shore of Lake Erie today. See you soon.
~Carolyn aka Skip

Posted in birds, My photowalks, nature, Ohio, photography, wildlife

The challenge begins

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My first photo opportunity for today came when I arrived at the park and walked over to the pedestrian bridge to see if there was any action on the river. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the fisherman standing right beneath the bridge was wearing a bright red hat. How did he know I needed a little color on this very dull day? Serendipity! I’ll share a few more photos at the end of this post, but first I want to pick up the threads of the story I began yesterday…so this will be photographic challenge, part II. If you are not interested in reading about how I am getting control of my photo collection, just skip down to the pictures at the end of the post. Go ahead; I won’t mind if you do. I’m really only writing about it because it’s part of the process for me and maybe one or two readers out there might find it helpful. If that’s not you, and you could care less, just stop reading now and move on to the pictures. I won’t be offended…honest!

To recap, my challenge involves…

1.Purging my vast collecting so that what’s left on my computer is the stuff that really matters to me and/or the stuff that I consider portfolio quality.
2.Getting a grip on organization, i.e. collections and keywords
3.Setting a higher standard going forward

A simple list, but a massive task. Purging my thousands of worthless photo files had to be tackled, and it became (almost) a pleasure when my husband bought me a new iMac for Christmas and my daughter Becky, her husband, and our two oldest grandchildren gifted me with Lightroom 3. Downloading LR was easy; learning how to use it was fairly challenging, but definitely a lot of fun. I could not have made a dent in the purging process without these two gifts because my computer, nine years old with an outdated operating (windows XP) was incredibly slow and overflowing with picture files with little semblance of organization. To use an old expression, it was running as slow as molasses in January. I should have tackled the task before I lost control…at least a year or so ago. Procrastination doesn’t paint a pretty picture!

So far, I have culled my files from 2010 and 2011, deleting pictures I should never have kept in the first place (and, in many instances, should never have taken). That was step one in the right direction. I have also organized them in what Lightroom calls “collections” (Other programs might call them albums or galleries)…and that’s step two. The next thing to tackle, step three, is keywords, something I didn’t appreciate until I began this process, but I’m loving them now. Keeping track of my pictures has been transformed from impossible to possible, all because of collections and keywords.

That’s it for tonight. I am beginning to ramble, so it’s time to say goodnight from my corner of Ohio. In a future post, I will share some thoughts on how I plan to set higher standards going forward, including switching the image quality setting on my camera from jpeg to raw. In the meantime, here are a few more pictures taken on today’s photowalk.

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Posted in autumn, birds, My photowalks, nature, photography

Sunday scenery

The sights I saw in our neighborhood park on a Sunday afternoon…

Sunshine and a brief glimpse of blue skies greeted me this morning, but they didn’t last long. By the time I made it to the park, the sun was completely hidden by grey, cloudy skies. The wind blew, the leaves danced and whirled through the air, but it didn’t rain and it wasn’t cold. In fact, the current temperature at 12:30am is 64 degrees Fahrenheit. This has been a very unusual November so far, but I’m not complaining! Thanks for visiting my corner of Ohio today. Come back soon!