A Winter Walk

Winter Walk

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The wonder of freshly fallen snow

proof that somewhere within

there is still lives a child

after snow had fallen during the night

we walk

the landscape quietly transforming

gracing the ordinary with magic

as birds go about their business

moving branch to branch

sending small cascades of white floating down

into the quiet

                                                                              rsp

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The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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White-breasted Nuthatch, just below Griggs Dam

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Trail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Creek, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Looking for a bird, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Water and snow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Gull just below Griggs Dam

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Snow on branches, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Looking north, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Brown Creeper below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Creek and trees, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Downy Woodpecker below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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River scene, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Thanks for looking in.

A Pileated Woodpecker Teaches Persistence

It was early afternoon and clouds were finally allowing some flirtation by the sun so we decided to do a hike at Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park. It wasn’t long after we started what was to be a six mile hike that the clouds again closed in and grew heavier through the remainder of the day. Not the most inspiring weather and certainly not the best for many types of photography.

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Big Darby Creek

 

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But we were hopeful because on quiet cloudy days one often see’s wildlife that normally would be in hiding. Today wasn’t going to be such a day as other than at the feeders near the start of our walk, and a few intrepid sparrows along the way, scanning the trees and brush for birds didn’t turn up much.

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House Finch, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Tufted Titmouse

 

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Despite the lack of feathered friends we were treated to some interesting fungi made easier to spot by the scarcity of leaves this time of the year.

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Parchment Fungi, (Donna)

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Evening Primrose, (Donna)

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Some type of parchment Fungi

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Common Split Gill

Leafy Lichen 012515 Battelle Darby cp1

Pale Shield (Foliose) Lichen, (Donna)

Jelly Ear Fungus 2 012515 Battelle Darby cp1

Jelly Ear Fungus, (Donna)

Fluffy Mushroom wavy one 012515 Battelle Darby cp1

Mushroom, (Donna)

 

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.   .   .   but yes I forgot, there were a few Canada Geese along the Dig Darby.

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Canada Geese along the Big Darby

 

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Now finally to the point of this post. Near the end of our walk the wind had picked up, it wasn’t getting any warmer, and I had packed my camera away when my wife, with parking lot and car in view, announced “Pileated Woodpecker!!”. With visions of a comfortable car seat and warmth I left her as she headed off into the woods in an effort to get a shot of the bird in the fading light. A few minutes later she retuned with arms raised in victory.

Pileated Woodpecker 1 closer 1 012515 Battelle Darby hike cp1

Pileated Woodpecker, (Donna)

I don’t suppose there’s any need to discuss the moral of this story.

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PS: Recently I got an interesting shot of a Hooded Merganser with a fish. Not something I’d actually seen before.

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A male and female Hooded Merganser were spotted in Griggs Reservoir.

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. . . but close behind came this guy with a fish in his mouth. “Hey you guys, wait for me!”

 

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Thanks for looking in.

 

A Winter Meditation

A typical winter day in central Ohio is cloudy gray and often punctuated by light rain or snow. However, due to temperatures that regularly get above freezing, there’s usually no snow cover. All this contributes to a somber landscape.

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Today a Chickadee, a female Cardinal, and a Nuthatch at our feeder said why don’t you come out and join us it’s really not so bad out here. So we did.

(click on image for a better view)

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Chickadee

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Female Cardinal

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Nuthatch, (Donna)

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Given that it wasn’t a very seductive day we stayed closed to home and went for a walk along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. We saw no Bald Eagles, or Goldeneyes or other “exotics” today. Even if we had, the low ambient light made photographing anything that was moving a chancy proposition.

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So mostly we walked, stopped periodically to look, and listened. Mallards were quieter today but still occasionally announced their presence, and a Kingfisher could be heard somewhere in the distance while a Great Blue Heron watched from the other bank. The quiet provided the perfect setting to reflect on all the wonderful experiences we’ve had exploring nature in this very small inconspicuous piece of real estate located in the middle of the city. It was a time to be with nature and give thanks.

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Below are a few images from the last few days:

Hooded Mergansers flying 011915 Griggs south cp1

Hooded Mergansers, (Donna)

Black Jelly Roll fungi close-up better 1 012215 Griggs south cp1

Black Jelly Roll Fungi, (Donna)

winter abstract

Winter Abstract

Paper Fungi close-up 012215 Griggs south cp1783

Paper Fungi, (Donna)

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Gray Squirrel along the river.

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Brown Creeper, moving a little too fast for the camera.

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Great Blue Heron across the river.

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Hooded Mergansers

Moss, lichen and fungi abstract 012215 Griggs south cp196

Moss, fungi and lichen, (Donna)

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A Coot makes it’s getaway.

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Thanks for looking in.

A Winter Waterfowl Invasion

 

One of the most exciting things in central Ohio nature happens in the winter when sufficiently cold weather freezes the reservoirs. As mentioned in previous posts, winter waterfowl from further north are normally dispersed on the large reservoirs around Columbus making observation difficult. But when they freeze the birds concentrate in the open water just downstream of the dam spillways.

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Today we visited the spillway just below the Hoover Reservoir Dam and had great views of Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, Northern Shovelers, Common Goldeneyes, Lesser Scaups, Redheads, American Wigeons, and Ringed-neck ducks. It was fun to see other people out with cameras and binoculars enjoying the birds. Not something we would have probably seen 15 or 20 years ago. Nowadays there is definitely a greater interest.

(click on images for a better view)

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Spillway below Hoover Reservoir Dam.

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Female and male Northern Shovelers

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Male Bufflehead

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Male Northern Shoveler

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Shovelers and Redheads

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Northern Shoveler and Lesser Scaup

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Immature male Northern Shoveler

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American Wigeons

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Male and female Northern Shovelers

 

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Redheads

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A couple of days before our trip to Hoover we visited one of our usual haunts, the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, and saw a immature Bald Engle, Common Goldeneyes and Hooded Mergansers. Being close to home this location has become our “go to area”  as we can almost always count on seeing something of interest.

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Immature Bald Eagle, study 1

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Immature Bald Eagle, study 2

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Hooded Mergansers

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Common Goldeneyes

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Thanks for looking in

Where are All Those Ducks Going?

With the weather warming up a bit the last few days we were encouraged to explore the area along the Scioto River near our house in hopes of seeing more Bald Eagles. We had to settle for one sighting today just below Griggs Dam. Since the reservoir remains frozen we were also excited by the anticipation of what waterfowl might be in the river. Also, one never knows what other birds or critters might be seen. Yesterday it was a Red Fox and today in addition to waterfowl a few of the other birds seen included Golden-crowned Kinglets, Bluebirds,  Cardinals, and Brown Creepers.

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If anyone can explain why the ducks in the picture below are doing what they’re doing I love to hear about it. It remains a bit of a mystery to me as they appeared to be swimming upstream to the base of the dam just for the fun of it. Perhaps they were trying to stay warm or there may have been some type of food in the water. We have observed ducks swimming against the current at other times and in other parts of the river which seems odd when they have the option of conserving energy by staying in the slack water near shore.

(click on the images for a better view)

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Mallards just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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Like a few days ago more Goldeneyes were seen.

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Male Common Goldeneyes, study 1

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Male and female Goldeneyes, study 2

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Goldeneyes, study 3

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.   .   .   and we also saw Hooded Mergansers.

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Female Hooded Mergansers, study 1

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Male and female Hooded Mergansers, study 2

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Hooded Mergansers, study 3

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There were also a few Black ducks.

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Black Ducks

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While I was looking for waterfowl my wife snuck off and got some nice lichen and fungi shots.

Fungi -jelly ear ruffles 011215 Griggs south cp1

Jelly Ear fungi, (Donna)

Lichen Close-up 011215 Griggs south cp1

Lichen with fruiting bodies, (Donna)

Lichen and fungi 0115 Griggs south cp1

Moss and lichen, (Donna)

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While no photos of Brown Creepers and Golden-crown Kinglets were forthcoming the Blue birds did cooperate.

Bluebird on branch 011215 Griggs south cp1 (2)

The unbelievable blue of a Bluebird, (Donna)

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Bluebird, study 2

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I had some fun getting the auto focus to thread through the branches to get this interesting picture of a Great Blue Heron.

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Great Blue Heron

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Thanks for looking in.

Eagles and Ice

Yesterday we decided to check out the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam for ice formations. It was very cold and the reservoir had frozen over. It all seemed a little unreal because just a few days before very heavy rain had  accompanied 50F temperatures. Rain means the river level rises in proportion to the amount. Usually within a day or so the level drops leaving beautiful ice formations if it’s cold enough. The ice the only evidence of where the water had once been.

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Many waterfowl had taken up residence in the river’s open water . Amongst the Canada Geese and Mallards we did see Golden Eyes, Hooded Mergansers, Buffle Heads, Pie-billed Grebes. Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons were still making a living in the cold. However, one heron flying overhead appeared to have a least one of it’s feet encased in a small block of ice. Perhaps it stood in the wrong place to long.

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Just below the dam waterfowl escape the ice of the frozen reservoir.

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Waterfowl huddle just out of the river’s current.

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Fascinating ice shapes were everywhere.

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Scioto River looking north

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Ice cones.

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Different shapes.

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Icy landscape, Scioto River looking south.

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Very small Chandelier, (Donna)

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Shadows.

Ice Ear Rings 2 010915 Griggs south csb1 - Copy

Ice Ear Rings?, (Donna)

Mini Ice Chandelier 010915 Griggs south cp1

Another chandelier, (Donna)

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There was evidence of birds walking in the fresh snow.

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Tracks

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Last year we noticed that when there are a lot of waterfowl concentrated in one spot it’s not uncommon to see Bald Eagles. Yesterday, with the concentration of waterfowl, we were rewarded with some great views of eagles perched near the top of tall trees along the river. In total we saw four, two appeared to be mature and two were immature. Pretty exciting for just two miles from our house!

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A Bald Eagle lands.

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Bald Eagles, study 2

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Bald Eagles, study 3, (Donna)

Bald Eagle Duet good 3 Griggs south cp1 (2) - Copy

Study 4, (Donna)

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Getting ready to take flight, study 5

Juvenile Bald Eagle better 1 010915 Griggs south cp1

Immature Bald Eagle, (Donna)

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A Bluebird braving the cold. One of several that were seen.

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Bluebird, Hoover Park

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Thanks for looking in. We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy nature in our neighborhood in the coming week.

Photography, a Celebration of Place

Yesterday it was a brisk 15 F but we decided to ignore the cold and do our six mile urban hike down to Griggs Reservoir. The goal was to see if any new birds had taken up residence. It had recently snowed so even if no birds were sighted we hoped to get a few nice landscape shots.

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I have observed that the greater my affection for a place the better any photographs taken are likely to be. A beautiful photo just for the sake of a beautiful photo doesn’t excite me nearly as much as trying to express love for a place that I have come to know intimately. So we are lucky, as I suspect many of you are, that we have such places nearby, some within walking distance, that we return to many times throughout the year, looking for any birds, wildlife, fungi, lichen, and wildflowers that may be present. The resultant pictures hopefully become a way to celebrate a place, the adventure, and what we see.

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Getting back to our walk. When we arrived at the park, we noticed a grouping of waterfowl out in the middle of the reservoir. They turned out to be Greater Scaup which are not as common as Lesser Scaup in central Ohio and the first we’ve seen this winter.

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Greater Scaups, Griggs Reservoir. Fortunately the bird on the far left looked up providing a positive ID.

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It was very cold so unless a bird looked as though it was going to be an easy shot we found ourselves concentrating on landscapes made possible by the fresh snow.

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Snow covered boats waiting for a warmer day, Griggs Reservoir

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High water along the Scioto River

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Shadows and light.

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Creek along the Scioto River.

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Exploring

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

 

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I couldn’t resist including the following picture which shows the position I assumed after we returned from our walk.

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On a cold winter day life is good when you have a cat on your lap and you’re watching a program about old British sports cars.

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Thanks for looking in and we hope you have an opportunity to celebrate nature in your neighborhood this week.

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