The Birds of Winter

The fall color is gone here in central Ohio. The tree branches stand naked against the gray late November sky. Any wildflowers that remain, after several very cold nights, I’m convinced are really fossils from a bygone era. Looking out on Griggs Reservoir or the ponds at Prairie Oaks reveals little more than a few gulls and the always reliable Mallard Ducks.

Whats a nature lover to do? Well it turns out if you look carefully these very bare branches that seem so devoid of life allow us to see some things that are much harder to see or that we overlook in the summer.









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How Many Different Birds?

A couple of days ago we thought it would be fun to spend a couple of hours walking along the east side of Griggs Reservoir just to see what birds we could find. Most surprising were the Cedar Waxwings but the Brown Creepers were also a real treat. We also enjoyed seeing several Blue Birds  which we’ve seen there before. Other birds seen were Red-bellied, female Hairy, and male Downy Woodpeckers, and a Red-tailed Hawk.


Downy Woodpecker


Male Downy Woodpecker.


Red-bellied Woodpecker




Red-bellied Woodpecker


White-breasted Nuthatch


Brown Creepers


Red-tailed Hawk


Cedar Waxwings.


Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

Views From Central Ohio

Early November, dark by 7:00 PM, a clear night, no wind, and temperatures slowly going down into the low thirties made me think I should dust off the telescope and head out to the AEP Recreation Lands for some observing. Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year for astronomy because the early darkness means you can get a lot of observing in without necessarily staying up all night. Plus, there are no bugs!

I know this Blog is supposed to be about Central Ohio Nature so I will defend myself by saying that my feet were firmly planted in Central Ohio at all times even though I was looking at objects that certainly weren’t anywhere near Ohio or planet earth for that matter. As a further defense it should be noted that a few Ohio Owls and more than a few Ohio Coyotes were heard during my time observing.

The night sky in Columbus suffers from so much light pollution that only the brightest objects are visible. However, the AEP Recreation Lands, just SE of Zanesville, offer really dark skies allowing views of fainter galaxies and nebula.

As the skies darkened I spent some time looking at the Andromeda Galaxy, the brightest and also the closest galaxy (2.5 million light years) to our own Milky Way. From there I moved on to a variety of nebula and galaxies finishing with NGC 7331 which is about 50 million light years away.

From the web some typical images of objects viewed:

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Treasures and Trash

Often we decide to do an urban hike which takes us along the eastern shoreline of  Griggs. The urban hike, about a six-mile loop in our case, reflects our desire to get some exercise without getting in the car.  Being close to Griggs provides a chance to observe wildlife as well as the various plants growing along the reservoir. A small pair of binoculars as well as a superzoom camera are usually part of our equipment.

The first of November is not the time of year one expects to see a lot, but we hoped for some interesting waterfowl and maybe of few woodpeckers. Given the recent cold weather, we were surprised to still see Sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans, and Chicory. All of which looked a little tired but we marveled at their resiliency.  Along the reservoir, taking closer looks at flowers invariably results in seeing discarded bottles and cans. A decent amount of time is spent picking up these items, but we seem to always be rewarded with a new flower or bird during our efforts. Some times it’s as though the birds know what we’re doing and come around as an act of appreciation.

We observed how plants, such as Common Mullien, look very different in autumn without their flowering stalks but very much standing out against the fallen leaves. Along with more wildflowers than expected, we did see a few birds; Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Cedar Wax Wings, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Downy and Red Belly Woodpeckers, Tufted Tittmouse and Chickadees.

It was a good walk!

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