Spring Snow

It’s been a back and forth spring. Nothing new there except sometimes it can be a bit confusing. Yesterday morning we woke to a fresh cover of snow. Just enough to color the landscape white for a time. By noon it was gone.


Just pull the car out of the garage for some quick maintenance, perhaps it will take an hour, the weather had a different idea.


There have been signs of spring:


Skunk Cabbage


A closer look.

Squirrel with acorn 032415 Highbanks cp1

Squirrel with acorn, (Donna)


Winter Aconite

Tufted Titmouse LR beak open 032415 Highbanks cp1

Titmouse, (Donna)


Last years leaves cast shadows.

Bluebird back LR better one 032415 Highbanks cp1

A too blue Bluebird, (Donna)

Lichen on red log 032415 Highbanks csb1

Lichen and fallen log, (Donna).

Lichen on red log 032415 Highbanks closer 1

Looking closer



Downy Woodpecker


Fox Squirrel




.    .    .    and then, in parting, perhaps until next year:


The snow reveals things not usually noticed


. . . creating patterns and design.


Thanks for stopping by.

Early Spring Raindrops and Kinglets

The other day I was chatting with a friend and looking out the window at an early spring, gray brown, day. A quiet rain was falling. Water hung on still bare branches focusing the light. The water drop points of light reminded me that we need to cherish each day. Some days are just easier than others.

a IMG_5322fix

Early spring rain.

b IMG_1082cfix

. . . but a closer look.


Early spring days do try men’s souls. Certainly not an original thought. We can’t help but feel like we’re waiting for something.

f P1010704 (2)

Waiting for green along Griggs Reservoir.


To better manage such discontent, maybe the trick is to always be curious. The other day a Red Winged Blackbird stopped by are front yard feeder. Not something we’ve seen before as it’s a bird associated with more rural settings and we live right in the middle of the city.

g P1010713 (2)

An uncooperative Red Winged Black Bird at the top of a tree in our front yard.


Recently, on a day blessed with more sunshine, we went looking for Snow Trilliums. There is one spot along the reservoir not far from our house that so far has not been overrun by development or more common plants. No trilliums were seen. We’ll try again in a few days.


But patience and attention pay off because we did see a few birds, most notably Golden Crowned Kinglets. A bird that will soon be heading north.


Along Griggs Reservoir, on one of the few remaining areas covered with ice, a Hering Gull dwarfs a Ring-billed.

e P1010686 (2)

A White-breasted Nuthatch peeks from behind a tree as we look for trilliums.

Downy Woodpecker 031415 Griggs North cp1

Donna captures a beautiful Downy Woodpecker.

d P1010669 (2)

The same downy from a different angle.

Robin on rock head on 031215 Griggs west cp1

Donna decided to take this photo but we’re not sure the Robin was happy about it.

Mockingbird 031415 Griggs North cp1

Probably the earliest we’ve ever seen a Mocking Bird, (Donna)

Chickadee on branch looking left 031215 Griggs west     cp1

Where there are Nuthatches and Downy’s you usually see Chickadees, (Donna).


Not far away a Song Sparrow announces spring.


We can always count on a Red-bellied Woodpecker to make an appearance.

h Golden-crowned Kinglet 031215 Griggs west cp1

The real treat of the day were the Golden-crowned Kinglets, (Donna)


But when you’re looking at the ground for trilliums you do see other things.

Snowdrops 031415 Griggs North cp1

Snowdrops are one of the earliest spring flowers to poke their head above the ground, Griggs Park, (Donna)

Orange tree flowers 031415 Griggs North cp1

Vernal witch hazel contrasting beautifully with the gray brown surroundings, (Donna)

Lichen Close-up 2 031415 Griggs Noth cp1

This time of year the lichen really stands out, (Donna)


Adding color to otherwise drab branches.


Thanks for stopping by.

An Early Spring Plant With Attitude

We’ve been working our way around the Scioto River Watershed in Columbus looking for migrating waterfowl and signs of spring. The spring part has been tough as snow continues to cover most of the ground. But today we discovered the first unambiguous sign that spring can’t be far away.


On the road to discovery we noticed some things that weren’t that encouraging.


Hayden Run Falls along Griggs Reservoir



With winter dragging on, the birds seemed confused, some were swimming north others south, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Still, while looking for birds we took an opportunity to direct our gaze towards the ground hoping to see Skunk Cabbage a plant that generates it’s own internal heat to get the jump on lesser plants.


Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Skunk Cabbage front view 030815 Kiwanis Riverview Park   cp1

A closer look, (Donna)


After seeing the Skunk Cabbage it was hard not to notice and imagine the birds in the area celebrating our discovery.


A Nuthatch with what appears to be the remains of an insect, Kiwanis Riverway Park.



We never get tired of Cardinals, Kiwanis Riverway Park.


Thank’s for looking in.


A Little Southwest of Columbus, part 3 of 3.

The first stop on our recent trip to the American southwest was Tucson. The weather, when compared to Columbus Ohio in February, was perfect, 40’s during the night and mid 70’s during the day. Great for hiking and exploring nature.  Our friends David and Joyce were gracious enough to let us stay with them while there, so no camping.


It take two and a half days of deliberate driving to get to Tucson from Columbus. Much of it is not that exciting so we tried books on tape but our selections weren’t any better than some of the scenery so we resorted to taking an informal survey of the birds of prey perched along the highway.  One day we counted over 60, mostly Red tails.


Below is a photo collage of some of the things seen while we were in Tucson. Highlights were visits to Saguaro National Park, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Sabino Canyon, and Madera Canyon. If you enjoy the desert and biodiversity this is a great area with a greater variety of cactus than just about anywhere in the US.


trail P1000652

Catalina State Park Landscape


For us the birds always seem to be the most exciting part of the adventure.

birds IMG_5004-2

Verdin, Sabino Canyon. Now if I could just arrange for the light to be on the right side of the bird!

birds IMG_4979-2

Curved Billed Thrasher, Saguaro Natl Park

birds IMG_4881

Ladder Backed Woodpecker, Sabino Canyon

birds Gila Woodpecker 020514 Desert Museum cp1

Gila Woodpecker, Desert Museum, (Donna)

birds Cassin's Vireo 2 020715

Cassin’s Vireo, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

birds Cassin's P1000901

Cassin’s Vireo with bug, Madera Canyon

birds Cassin's P1000677

Cassin’s Vireo, Sabino Canyon

birds Black P1010672

Black-throated Sparrow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

birds Black-Throated Sparrow with bug at Sabino Canyon

Black-throated Sparrow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

birds P1010814

Painted Redstart, Madara Canyon, (Donna)

birds P1000876

Mexican Jay, Sabino Canyon

birds P1000760

Phainopepla, Sabino Canyon


Black-chinned Hummingbird, Tucson

birds P1000587

Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum

birds P1000568

Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum

birds P1000559b

Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum, (Donna)

birds P1000483

Cactus Wren, Sabino Canyon

birds P1000484

Cactus Wren and nest, Sabino Canyon

trail P1000867

Bob and Donna, Madera Canyon


But we were pleasantly surprised by the flowers. A recent rain may have been responsible.

flower P1010346

Unknown wildflower, Sabino Canyon

flower P1010248

Unknown wildflower, Sabino Canyon

New Mexico Groundsel,  Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

New Mexico Groundsel, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

Desert Globe Mallow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

Desert Globe Mallow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

trail IMG_5003

Donna along the trail, Sabino Canyon


Of the plants, the cactus was by far the most interesting. Walking through the natural areas around Tucson was like walking through an arboretum.

cactus P1000794

Saguaro Cactus, Catalina State Park

cactus P1000702

Saguaro Cactus mutation, Sabino Canyon

cactus P1000536

Eagle claws Cactus, Desert Museum

cactus P1000514

Organ Pipe Cactus, Desert Museum

cactus IMG_4987

Santa Cruz beehive cactus, Saguaro National Park

cactus IMG_4977

Saguaro skeleton, Saguaro National Park

cactus IMG_4964cfix

Arizona Barrel Cactus, Saguaro National Park

cactus IMG_4959crop

Silver cholla, Saguaro National Park

cactus IMG_4953

Young Saguaro under the shelter of a tree, Saguaro National Park.

cactus IMG_4945

Christmas Cactus, Saguaro National Park

cactus IMG_4916

Teddy bear cholla, Saguaro National Park.

trail P1010235

Bob and David, Sabino Canyon.


When we don’t see a bird we might just see a butterfly.

But American Snout and Fairy Duster at Sabino Canyon

American Snout and Fairy Duster, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

But Grey Hairstreak and Fairy Duster 2 at Sabino Canyon

Grey Hairstreak and Fairy Duster, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

But P1010865

Painted Lady, Sabino Canyon

But P1010849

Black Swallowtail, Sabino Canyon

But P1010690

Texan Crescent, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

But P1010567

Gulf Fritillary, Sabino Canyon

But P1000548

Queen, Sabino Canyon

trail P1000703

Sabino Canyon trail.


Then there were a few other living things/critters that grabbed our attention.

misc P1010440

Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Desert Museum

trail P1000530

Century Plant, young and old, Desert Museum

trail P1000618

Desert Landscape, Saguaro National Park

misc P1010341

Common Side-blotched Lizard, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

misc IMG_4992

Rock Squirrel, Saguaro National Park

misc IMG_4971fix

Jack Rabbit, Saguaro National Park

Bob and Cacti landscape at Sabino Canyon

Along the trail, Saguaro National Park, (Donna)

trail P1000650cfix

Sabino Canyon Landscape


Thanks for looking in.

Watching all the Ducks Float By

One of our favorite places to look for waterfowl this time of the year is along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. It’s an area that’s accessible only on foot so using a car as a blind to get closer to the birds is not an option. When one ties to sneak up on waterfowl for a decent photo one quickly realizing why duck hunters use blinds. Truth is, after years of being shot at, the only the wary birds a left. The dumb ones have been selected out.


So recently I tired a new technique. Rather than stalking the birds, moving quietly from cover to cover. I decided to find a good spot and quietly lean against a tree and wait for the birds to float by. It was a sunny 20 degrees with no wind which made the process not uncomfortable. In the past the other technique I’ve used is to walk down river and then slowly work my way back upstream. It turns out that the birds are less interested in swimming upstream to get away from a low level treat. However, when the treat is sufficient they will fly.


So below are some of the results using the above techniques:


Common Mergansers and a Ring-necked Duck, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Common Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


A haven for waterfowl, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Hooded Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Red Breasted Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Herring (not Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid) Gull , Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Male Canvasback, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.



Two Canvasbacks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Redhead, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Greater (not Lesser) Scaups, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.



Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.



There were also a few other birds that made me smile:


Cardinal against a blue sky.


Front yard Chickadee


Song Sparrow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.



It’s hard not to notice other forms of beauty when out looking for birds:


Ice, Big Darby Creek


Patterns, Big Darby Creek.


A late winter scene along Big Darby Creek


Thanks for looking in.

A Little Southwest of Ohio, part 2 of 3

On our recent trip to the American southwest we decided to stop in Big Bend National Park for three days. Not nearly enough time but we did manage to get in a few nice hikes despite some challenging wind, rain and cold on one of the days.


Big Bend is not on the way to anywhere else so you really have to want to go there. While there are sexier places to visit in the west, Big Bend has a beauty uniquely it’s own. The focal point of the park is an island of mountains rising out of the surrounding desert. We stayed at the Chisos Basin campground located in a depression right in the middle of the mountains. It’s a magical place.


Below is a photograph collage of a few of the things seen:


Rock and living things, Grapevine Hills Trail to the balanced rock, Big Bend.


Black-foot Daisy, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend


Branches, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.


Mystery wildflower, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.


Christmas Cholla, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.


Chisos Basin, Big Bend.


Lichen, Big Bend, (Donna)


Acorn Woodpecker, Big Bend, (Donna)


Eastern Coma, Big Bend, (Donna)


Chisos Basin, Big Bend, (Donna)



Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)


Tree Cholla along the Chisos Basin Loop, Big Bend


Colorful caterpillar, Big Bend


Canyon Wren, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)


Yellow Sunny Bell, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend


Desert Marigold, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna).


Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)


Pointed Phlox, Window Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)


Roadrunner near our campsite, Chisos Basin Campground, Big Bend, (Donna)


Roadrunner, another look.


A view of Casa Grande along the Chisos Basin Loop, Big Bend.


Prickly Pear Cactus, Chisos Basin Trail, Big Bend.


Casa Grande, Big Bend


Along the Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.


Abstract, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend


Dona photographing a Mexican Jay, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.


Mexican Jay, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.


Mexican Jay, (Donna)


Along the Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend


“The Window” from Chisos Basin, The Window Trail, Big Bend


Along the Window Trail, Big Bend


Window Trail, Big Bend


Prickly Pear along the Window Trail, Big Bend.


Cactus Wren, Big Bend


Cactus Wren nest, Big Bend


White Winged Dove, Big Bend


Green Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend


Balanced Rock, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.


Thanks for looking in.

Ohio History & Travel

You can find a rich experience close to home.

Into the Light Adventures

By Sandra Js Photography - Make the rest of your life the best of your life.


Tales of the journeys of a piecemeal adventurer as a discontinuous narrative

Photos by Donna

Sharing My Passion of Birds and Wildlife


The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer


The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright


Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog

Kerry Mark Leibowitz's musings on the wonderful world of nature photography

Montana Outdoors

A weblog dedicated to the world outside the cities.

Cat Tales

Mike and Lori adrift