Then One Morning They Were There

Just a few days ago, during a spring migration walk along Griggs Reservoir, it was quiet. Sure there were a noticeable number of Yellow-rumps, one or two Yellow-throated were heard so high in the Sycamores that they threatened to go into earth orbit, and even some Palms were flitting about with tails bobbing, but most of the kinglets had moved on with nothing else within easy binocular reach taking their place. An unwelcome reminder that spring migration can be that way, one day the land of plenty the next not so much.

Yellow-throated Warbler (trust me) high in a Sycamore.

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Over the past few years we’ve enjoyed monitoring a few locations close to home. While we do go further afield we’ve noticed that for us by concentrating on a few locations, the place, as will as the creatures that call it home, seemed to be valued more. We acknowledge that by not hopping in the car in response to an E-bird post there are birds that will not see. With that in mind, the next day we found ourselves back at Griggs Reservoir Park to see if things had changed. Amazingly, as if by magic, brightly colored orange birds that were no where to be seen the day before were now streaking through the air to perches high in trees or low in bushes, they seemed to be everywhere. The park was transformed. Did they arrive quietly during the night on the “red eye”? Your guess is as good as ours. Many were undoubtedly just passing through while others, based on observations from years past, will make the park and it’s environs home for the summer decorating the trees with their hanging nests. As you have probably already guessed these brightly colored birds were Baltimore Orioles.

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Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2, (Donna).

3, (Donna).

4, (Donna).

5, (Donna).

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A female sneaks in.

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Even with the arrival of the orioles, other birds including some that are migrants continued to compete for our attention.

A White-breasted Nuthatch strikes a classic nuthatch pose.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen snacking on ants

.   .   .  while another is engaged in a little home construction.

A very vocal Catbird announces his arrival from points south

.   .   .   while another looks on, (Donna).

Cliff Swallows, a species that in this case builds their communal grouping of nests under a bridge crossing the reservoir, were in the process of gathering nest building material (mud) resulting in a frenzy of activity around a small puddle not far from their nest site, (Donna).

A House Wren pauses momentarily .   .   .

then continues it’s song, (Donna).

The Cardinal is a beautiful but very common bird in Ohio. We have to remind ourselves not to take it for granted.

A male Bluebird bathed in a sea of green waits for lunch to fly by.

Right now Palm Warblers may be even more common than Yellow-rumps, (Donna).

A Cape May Warbler gets close enough for a photo with my Panasonic FZ200.

Based on the fact that that is where we often saw them, Red-eyed Vireos seemed to really enjoy the Sycamore trees, (Donna).

An almost always vocal Tufted Titmouse entertains us, (Donna).

If you hear a melodic and louder than it should be song, it could be a Tufted Titmouse.

The Spotted Sandpipers are also back in the neighborhood.

From a distance, without the aid of binoculars, we first mistake the movement of a Swainson’s Thrush for that of a robin. Many have been seen in the last few days and most are probably just passing through.

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Donna captures an amazing well camouflaged Brown Creeper

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With the leaves just emerging the orioles were easy to spot but that’s changing fast. In a few days, as green continues to embrace trees and bushes, they will be heard but even with their brilliant color they will be much harder to see. Many will move on with other species taking their place as the march of spring migration continues through central Ohio. We will wait expectantly for our next “new for the year” sighting and there undoubtedly will even be another post to celebrate it. Will it be an American Redstart, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or something else?

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Until then thanks for stopping by.

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Redbuds in bloom.

 

Wishing for Green But . . .

Recently we visited one of our local metro parks for what turned out to be a more difficult than expected hike. The idea was to look for spring wildflowers and migrating warblers. A few days later, after recovering from the hike, we found ourselves paddling the shoreline of a local reservoir again looking for signs of spring.

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Most trees have yet to leaf out which, as the days slowly go by, leaves us wishing things would hurry up. It’s hard not to embrace the idea that nothing says spring like green translucent leaves “stain glassed” by the shadows of branches and light from a low morning sun. However, if one is a wildflower enthusiast you want those ground dwelling plants to have their time in the sun, so no leaves for awhile please. Besides, the bare branches also make migrating birds easier to spot.

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Bare branches mean that plenty of sunlight is reaching the ground. While it looks only to be covered by last year’s fallen leaves there were small green and flowering things to be seen. Clear Creek Metro Park

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We have started hearing, and sometimes seeing, warblers along with a few of the other small migrants.

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park, (Donna).

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Donna finally got her kinglet! Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

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There were also other suspects:

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Carolina Wren, Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Tree Swallow, Kiwanis River way Park

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Creeper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Larger birds were also in attendance.

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Red tail Hawk seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir while paddling.

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Double Crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons occupied the trees on a small island, while paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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One heron appeared to be eating something.

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Female Mallard with ducklings, , Kiwanis River way Park

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Warmer midday temperatures mean more butterflies. They are also seen earlier in the day, defying what seem like way too cool temperatures. Below are three of the many species seen in recent days.

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American Lady, Griggs Park, (Donna)

 

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Dusky wings and fly an scat, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Morning Cloak, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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While the canopy is still bare there are things to be seen on the forest floor.

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Moss, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Reindeer Lichen, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Bloodroot can still be found in shaded locations, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Trout Lily, Griggs Park

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Trout Lily couple, Griggs Park.

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A dandelion goes to seed, Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Trillium, Griggs Park west, (Donna).

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Unknown flower, perhaps an escapee, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Wintergreen, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Club moss, Clear Creek Metro Park.

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Today, a hike in Clifton Gorge treated us to more beautiful wildflowers, but they will have to wait for another post.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

 

Looking For Spring

Some out of town travel has resulted in fewer posts in the last couple of weeks but now we’re back searching for plants, animals, and birds that will encourage us that spring, which so far has been too slow to green, leaf, and flower, is not that far away. Based on things seen while walking along the river recently, which included Turkey Buzzards, Double Crested Cormorants, and Tree Swallows, we are encouraged.

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Below are some things seen along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River in the last week:

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Along the Scioto River some area Bluebell plants are just emerging, (Donna)

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A few days later we see progress, (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort is getting ready to bloom, (Donna)

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Virginia Waterleaf doesn’t need to bloom to be beautiful, (Donna)

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A very close look at Harbinger of Spring reveals it’s beauty, (Donna)

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A solitary Trout Lilly bloom leads the way, (Donna)

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Spring Beauty does it’s best to add some color, (Donna)

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The Toad Shade Trillium are very close to blooming, (Donna)

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An island of unidentified green, (Donna)

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A Brown Creeper doing what it does best.

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Along the Scioto an Eastern Phoebe eludes a good picture. The first one seen this year..

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Eastern Phoebe along the Scioto.

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A White breasted Nuthatch finding lunch among the still bare branches

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White breasted Nuthatch

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Bloodroot, beautiful and one of the earliest wild flowers.

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

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Coltsfoot almost seeming to smile.

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Another view, (Donna).

 

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Buds getting ready to leaf out, (Donna)

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Common Chickweed is a welcome sight as it gets ready to bloom.

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We found still green Dutchmen’s Breaches along the river, (Donna)

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The fact is, if spring progressed any faster we would surely miss a lot. That’s something that undoubtedly happens anyway but at what seems like spring’s usual snails pace it feels like we at least have a chance to see it’s wonder.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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

300 (3)

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.

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.

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Jelly Ear fungi, (Donna)

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Lichen with fruiting bodies, (Donna)

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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.

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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.

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.

Home in December

A sunny day provided a great opportunity to see what birds were calling Greenlawn Cemetery home in the days before Christmas. Reports of White-winged Crossbills were what got us down there, but in a place as big as Greenlawn, they might be easy to miss.

For the first hour or so not many birds were spotted. However, the many mature Oaks and Evergreens were at least beautiful to look at even if they weren’t appealing to the birds.

Continuing to appreciate the trees, we spotted an interesting Oak in the distance that was worth investigating. Approaching it we found that it was full of White and Red-breasted Nuthatches! The Red-breasted Nuthatches, like the White-winged Crossbills, are winter visitors in this area.

A little while later we finally found the Crossbills in some Sweet Gum trees but not before we had nice views of Downy Woodpeckers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Chickadees, Brown Creepers, and a Carolina Wren.

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White Winged Crossbill

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All in all a good day. Thanks for stopping by.

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