Shouldn’t You Guys Be Doing Something Else?

It shouldn’t have been a big surprise, after all yours truly was out there in a kayak in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to get a better picture of a Red-throated Loon. In my defense, while the water was cold enough to cause condensation on the inside of the boat, the air temperature was 50 F and there wasn’t much wind.

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December 16th on Griggs Reservoir in our Folbot Kodiak, (photo by Willkie)

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But still, in central Ohio on December 16th, I’ve never seen turtles sunning themselves on a log or anywhere else for that matter. By now, it’s usually been cold enough, long enough, that ice has threatened open water and turtles have long since made what I’ve always thought to be the irrevocable decision to head for the muddy bottom. That is, at least until the consistently warmer and longer days of spring again beckon them to the surface.

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December turtles.

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El Nino, global warming, just a fluke of warm weather? For now I’ll just enjoy the novelty of the experience.

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A Special Bird a Special Day

Today, the anniversary of my birth, we headed to Griggs Reservoir near our home in the hopes of seeing the Red-throated Loon that had been reported at the reservoir’s south end. It’s a bird that’s not normally seen in central Ohio so it would be a especially nice way to mark the passing of another year. After all, what else do you get someone who has pretty much everything they need or want. Also, if seen, it would be a life bird for me as well as my wife and that is always exciting.

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Long story short, we did see the loon, and I received my very special birthday present. However, even more amazing was that just as we arrived and were exiting the car, equipment still in slight disarray, +30 Sandhill Cranes and then a Bald Eagle flew right over our heads. We were so excited about the cranes that when the eagle flew over we were completely taken aback and just watched it fly away cameras in hand, so no flying eagle pictures.

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Probably about half the total number of cranes in the group.

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A slightly closer look.

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Before spotting  the loon, we walked south, first along the reservoir and then the river. A Cooper’s Hawk flew overhead with what appeared to be a starling in it’s talons, accompanied by a group of the unfortunate victims closest friends. Then, heading across the reservoir, still with it’s prey, it was briefly harassed by a gull before safely reaching the other shore.
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Further south along the river we did manage to see some of our other friends.
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A male Kingfisher watches from across the river.

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A female was much closer on our side of the river. This picture, probably of the same bird, was taken a few days ago, (Donna).

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One of two male Wood Ducks seen.

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Finally, heading back to the car along the reservoir’s east shore, there it was   .   .   .
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At first it seemed that we were only going to see a loon sleeping.

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But then it woke up .  .  .

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and treated us to a better view.

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For comparison purposes, below are a couple of shots my wife took with her FZ200 superzoom.

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Red-throated Loon, (Donna).

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Take 2, (Donna).

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A hard to beat birthday present.
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A Pileated Woodpecker Graces the Subtle Beauty of a December Woods

Being outdoors in central Ohio in December doesn’t exactly snap your head around.  This is usually not a big problem as most of us are busy with the holidays. However, for those who insist on spending time in the woods, this time of year can be a challenge. Recently, a cloudy/foggy, warmer than average, morning greeted us as we started our favorite five mile loop around Highbanks Metro Park. With the exception of the, more than we could count, Gray and Fox Squirrels, the woods were quiet. The few birds that flitted around in nearby trees never stayed in one spot long enough for a picture.

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Still, as we walked, the woods shared a subtle beauty. Perhaps it was what was missing that allowed us to appreciate it. Then again maybe we were just caught up in a little wishful thinking or December optimism, “Perhaps things really are better than they seem on the surface”.

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One of a number of creeks flowing through High Banks Metro Park

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Part of the reason for the hike was that we were hoping to see at least one owl, and there was always the resident pair of bald eagles, surely we would see them. Well, we didn’t see any owls, and apparently just missed the eagles. Perhaps sensing our disappointment, a Pileated Woodpecker was nice enough to make an appearance and tried it’s best to cheer us up.

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Pileated Woodpecker

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The Pileated Woodpecker’s handiwork, 6″H x 3″W x 6″D, by no means the largest seen but impressive nonetheless.

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It worked!

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However, given the landscape, the woodpecker almost seemed out of place. It’s bigger than it should be size, and striking body shape, color and markings, were a real counter point to the early winter woods that it calls home. While seemingly more suited to someplace tropical, not central Ohio in December, we were still thankful for it’s presence, and there’s always next time for the owls and eagles.

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December Landscape, High Banks Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Bluebird of Happiness

They may be in the park all year long, probably are, but we always seem to see them more in late fall and winter. Maybe we’re just more appreciative.

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, SX40

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In recent days a fair amount of time has been spent along Griggs Reservoir and the river below the dam trying to verify  if a pair of eagles are building a nest. An occasional eagle has been spotted overhead but no additional work seems to have been done on what appeared to be the start of a nest.

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When the eagles refuse to cooperate the camera gets pointed at other things. In some of the shots below, curiosity about the performance limits of my old Canon SX40 got the best of me so I had fun playing around with it. In an effort to improve picture quality I was trying to keep the ISO as low as possible at full zoom by supporting the camera using a tree, my knee, or a hiking stick. Other shots were taken with Panasonic FZ200’s.

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Male Kingfisher along the Scioto, SX40

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Female Kingfisher along the Scioto River in low light, SX40.

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Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River in low light.

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Some subjects fascinate when everything else has turned gray/brown, like the still red leaves of what I believe to be Service Berry.

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December color.

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take 2.

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Take 3.

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A few of the Blue Bird’s closest friends also made an appearance, some in low light, again taxing the capabilities of the SX40.

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Brown Creeper, SX40

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Downy Woodpecker, (Donna)

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Chickadee, SX40

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Carolina Wren, (Donna)

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Junco in low light., SX40.

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Crow, (Donna)

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Gull reflection, SX40.

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Happy ducks, (Donna).

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Finally, a few modest shots that hopefully speak for themselves.

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Poetry in motion, SX40.

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Reflections.

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