Bald Eagles and a Kinglet Celebration

During the last few days while travelling the highways and byways of central Ohio we managed to see three mature Bald Eagles in flight. Perhaps I’m easily amused but, given a childhood growing up in Michigan where I never once saw a Bald Eagle, and the fact that Ohio isn’t usually considered a hotbed for eagle activity, I found this pretty exciting.  Since this was holiday related travel we didn’t have suitable photographic equipment with us. But even if we had, it all happened very quickly so I doubt we would have gotten much of a photograph. One sighting was near Dayton and the other two were just southwest of Wooster.  In neither case were there sizable bodies of water nearby so it’s not clear what the birds were doing.

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Recently while hiking along the Scioto just below Griggs Dam we were greeted by Golden Crowned Kinglets (a winter visitor from points north). The two or three that we saw came very close and seemed oblivious to us as they went about their business. We were enchanted. Due to the rapidity and total unpredictability of their movement, I opted to just enjoy the view. However, my wife, always up for a challenge, decided to try and get a few shots with her Panasonic FZ150 on burst mode. Below are the results.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 1, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 2, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 3, (Donna)

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During the excitement a Great Blue Heron was watching from a safe distance along the river’s edge.

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Great Blue Heron, Scioto River

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Later, after spending some time along the river, we investigated the reservoir and found isolated groups of Ruddy Ducks and what appeared to be a lone Green-winged Teal (not a Blue as originally thought, thanks Lou!) and not a particularly common bird on the reservoir.

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Male Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir (A little far away for a decent shot)

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Female Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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Green-winged Teal, (it was much smaller than the Mallards nearby), Griggs Reservoir

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All the birds were great to see but the kinglets definitely carried the day.

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Tip: work off that big turkey dinner by taking a walk in nature and don’t forget your binoculars. You’ll be amazed by what you see.

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Thanks for looking in

 

An Unlikely Bird for Thanksgiving

Yesterday the wind blew at 40 – 50 miles per hour for most of the day so we occupied ourselves with indoor activities. Today the wind moderated but clouds moved in. A recent warm spell had taken care of the cover of snow from a few days earlier. All of which resulted in a rather dreary landscape. But realizing that this is the type of day interesting birds are often seen, we headed down to Griggs Park to see what we might see.

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For the first part of our walk nothing out of the ordinary presented itself so to reassure ourselves that we were seeing birds we compiled a list:

Mallard Ducks

Canada Geese

Robins

Gold Finch

Carolina Wren

Kingfisher

Dark Eyed Juncos

Song Sparrow

Cardinals

Great Blue Herons

Chickadees

Blue Birds

Pied Billed Grebe

Cedar Waxwings

.    .    .    and I may have missed a few.

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You are probably wondering why the list. That would be because, due to the amount of light available, there were few pictures.

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Before yesterday’s big wind striped the few remaining leaves off the trees, things were a little more cheerful and I was able to get a few front yard feeder shots.

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A Cardinal looks for seeds under the feeder.

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A Nuthatch enjoys the peanut butter log.

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. . . and so does a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

 

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However, during today’s walk my wife did capture a Kingfisher while attempting to photograph something else. Not a national Geographic shot by any stretch of the imagination but rather amazing considering the day.

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Kingfisher along the Scioto, (Donna)

 

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Almost back to the car we spotted a Killdeer. What was a Killdeer doing along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, especially this time of the year? While certainly not uncommon, it nevertheless was an exciting find as we couldn’t recall ever seeing one along the reservoir before.

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Killdeer (It never let us get real close), Griggs Park

 

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Sometimes it’s an ordinary bird in unordinary circumstances that fascinates. We hope you make time to enjoy nature in your neighborhood. You never know what you might find.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

First Snow Welcomes a New Bird

This time of year I usually wake up before daylight. It’s a great time for reading and sometimes a little writing in the company of a candle’s warm glow and a cup of coffee. Yesterday morning, glancing out the window while the coffee pot was making it’s usual gurgle, hiss, and spurt noises, I noticed snow falling. If they hadn’t checked the forecast most would wake up to a surprise as, with no wind, it was happening very quietly.

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A light snow quietly falls in the morning darkness.

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Later, at first light, my wife got up and said, “What a great day for an adventure. We should walk down to the reservoir and see what’s happening and maybe, if nothing else, we’ll get some good snowy landscape pictures”. While she spoke snow continued to gently accumulate on tree branches outside our window.

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So after a hardy breakfast, we bundled up, and with cameras and binoculars in hand, set off on what turned out to be seven miles of exploration. I doubt we would have went that far, as slippery conditions meant it wasn’t easy going, except one interesting discovery was followed by another.

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The neighborhood the trees were putting on a good show.

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Neighborhood tree on a windless snowy morning.

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Things were just as snow covered when we reached the reservoir.

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Looking across Griggs reservoir

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A scene that would probably go unnoticed without the fresh snow.

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Small Creek, Griggs Park

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Thinking that we might find some birds along the river below the dam we headed south and were greeted by a landscape totally transformed.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Path along the river below Griggs Dam.

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Tree roots under snow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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.    .    .    and it was just as lovely further south.

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Pool, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Quiet beauty, Scioto River

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There were a few Mallards along the opposite side of the river but little else so we headed back north to take a closer look at what might be out on the reservoir. Our curiosity was rewarded. In defense of the following shots, sometimes it’s more about celebrating the discovery of a bird not seen before than the quality of the photogragh.

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Bonaparte’s Gull, a rare visitor to Griggs Reservoir. A bird we hadn’t seen before.

Horned Grebe with Bonapartes Gull

We saw a number of Horned Grebes but the gull seemed to enjoy keeping this grebe company. Perhaps it was hoping to steal breakfast.

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A few other interesting birds completed the day.

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One of a number of Pied-billed Grebes seen, Griggs Reservoir

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One of a number of sleepy Ruddy Ducks seen, Griggs Reservoir.

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Wishing you all the opportunity to enjoy nature in your neighborhood.

Jeepers Brown Creepers

Less than a week ago, after returning from a trip south to visit relatives in the sunny and warm state of Georgia, it was still in the sixties here in central Ohio and we were on our tandem bicycle enjoying a ride. Two days later it was windy with temps in the thirties dropping into the twenties at night. As a result autumn colors that entranced are now gone, replaced by a more subtle beauty.

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With the departure of most of the warblers to points further south we started looking more intently for other birds that seem to be more noticeable in the winter when on our walks along the Scioto River. These include Brown Creepers and Golden Crowned Kinglets some of which may travel from areas further north. Noteworthy is the Dark Eyed Junco which arrives from further north and seems to do well in in our area most winters.

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Thin layers of ice have greeted us during recent morning walks.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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A couple of days ago we were about to embark on one of our urban hikes and noticed something in our neighbor’s shrub. I ran back into the house a grabbed a camera.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 1

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Kinglet, study 2

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Where there are Golden-crowned Kinglets there are often Chickadees.

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Chickadee

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Chickadee, study 2

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Chickadee, study 3

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There was a little more color along the river just a week ago.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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But depending on which way you pointed the camera the light could be pretty harsh.

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Looking south below Griggs Dam.

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A low sun illuminates the landscape, Scioto River.

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It’s probably been two or three weeks since we saw our first Junco.

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Dark Eyed Junco, study 1

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Junco, study 2, (Donna)

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More recently, study 3

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A Kingfisher waits patently along the river. While too far away for a good picture of the bird I thought the play of light on the branches and the hints of color in the background made for a pleasing composition.

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Kingfisher along the Sciotoj

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The ever present Great Blue Herons along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River

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Sensing my presence.

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As we looked for kinglets and creepers we were being watched from across the river.

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Red Tailed Hawks along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Trying to get a little closer I was spotted

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Our first Black Duck sighting of the season.

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A little too far away but they are Black Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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While I was busy with the ducks my wife got a nice shot of a colorful House Finch that was nearby.

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A male House Finch close to the ground in vegetation that’s still green, (Donna)

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But jeepers better not forget the creepers.

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Brown Creeper along the Scioto, study 1

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Creeper, study 2

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Creeper, study 3

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Creeper, study 4

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Until next time we hope you have an opportunity to notice and enjoy nature in your neighborhood.

Autumn Dance

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Autumn Dance

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                                             Returning today

                                             we looked up

                                             and were rewarded

                                             only with bare branches

                                             against a cold darkening gray.

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Late autumn.

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                                             But yesterday

                                             in the morning sun

                                             under a too blue autumn sky

                                             before the windy night

                                             we moved across the dance floor

                                             as young children

                                             to one partner then the next

                                             pausing in wonder

                                             while they, with arms outspread

                                             in red, yellow, orange, and gold

                                             demanded our admiring upward gaze

                                             then held us close

                                             in warm embrace.

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                                                                                                                                                RSP

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Autumn color, study 1

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Autumn color, study 2

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Autumn color, study 3

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Autumn color, study 4

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