A Chickadee In The Woods

A beautiful sunrise can offer inspiration as well as motivation to get outside and see what’s going on. This is especially true when it may mean rain later in the day.

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Sunrise from our front window.

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So after a quick breakfast, off we went. By way of explanation for the following few shots let me first say that we love Chickadees, whether they’re at our feeder or in the woods they never fail to put a smile on our face. Encountering one after several miles of hiking is extra special if for no other reason than that you’ve worked hard to get to the meeting place. “Free-range” Chickadees just can’t be beat. A further preface to the pics is that they were taken with a very pocketable Panasonic ZS50 a camera purchased with a hike of the Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula in mind. While no replacement for the capability of a DSLR when it comes to creative effects, low light capability, and fast and precise focus, I’ll let you be the judge is to just how well it does. Clicking on the image will give a slightly better idea of the resolution. All images are significant crops and were taken at 30x zoom.

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Chickadee, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Trying to hide.

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Going about it’s business.

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The ZS50 was also pointed at a much more sedentary Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker in the neighborhood.

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Whatever it was on the menu it was apparently to it’s liking.

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Finally, it’s capabilities were directed towards gulls far out on the reservoir.

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Gulls on ice, Griggs Reservoir.

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A day later at the same location but now with the “bird camera” I was hoping to document interesting waterfowl and perhaps see the Mute or Trumpeter Swans that were observed flying over head the day before.

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On this particular day the landscape did not cry out to be photographed, Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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While the day was rather drab the waterfowl were cooperative even if it was at a distance.

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Hooded Merganser, (F)

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Despite using trees for cover and moving very slowly, I’m spotted, and the Goldeneyes take flight.

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The Red-necked Ducks aren’t quite as cautious.

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On the other side of the river a male Kingfisher poses.

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A lone Greater Scaup is also seen.

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No stranger to these parts, a Great Blue Heron waits for the river’s flow to deliver lunch.

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All in all, the last two days were good. The Panasonic ZS50 appears quite capable of doing what’s needed in Ireland and having the “bird camera” out again reminded me why it is also in the stable. Thanks for stopping by.

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Blue sky, morning sun, and a Cardinal.

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XXX

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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Thanks for stopping by

Between The Spring Rains

The last few days have brought a lot of, sometimes very hard, rain. We wondered what condition the spring wildflowers would be in as we ventured into the woods along Griggs reservoir and the Scioto river during the few dry spells.

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Below is some of what we found:

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Virginia Waterleaf was just about everywhere.

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The Bluebells are coming along.

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Encouraged by all the rain an Oyster mushroom makes an appearance, (Donna)

 

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An Eastern Coma getting ready for take off, (Donna)

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The Dutchman’s Breeches have really come into their own, (Donna)

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Cutleaf Toothwort, (Donna)

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Bloodroot was found in large groups on the west side of the reservoir.

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Bloodroot

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Twinleaf group with buds, (Donna)

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Twinleaf, (Donna)

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Twinleaf group

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While looking for wildflowers we were fortunate to see Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a White Crowned sparrow but none was willing to pose for a picture.

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A Tufted Titmouse watches from above, (Donna)

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“Red leaf flower”, (Donna)

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Meanwhile in our back yard a Chickadee continues to work on it’s nest.

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Taking a break.

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Donna photographing Mayapples

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Mayapples

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A Coot doesn’t seem quite sure what to do with the muddy water of the reservoir.

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Coot

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With an improving weather forecast for the next few days we are looking forward to venturing further afield in our search for spring warblers and wildflowers.

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But before we leave I thought I’d include a cute pic of a Grackle enjoying a bath.

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Not content with just the rain, a Grackle enjoys taking a little bath, (Donna)

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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.

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Early spring rain.

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. . . but a closer look.

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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.

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Waiting for green along Griggs Reservoir.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Donna captures a beautiful Downy Woodpecker.

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The same downy from a different angle.

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

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

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

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Not far away a Song Sparrow announces spring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Adding color to otherwise drab branches.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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.

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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.

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

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

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Common Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A haven for waterfowl, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Hooded Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Red Breasted Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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

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Male Canvasback, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Two Canvasbacks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Redhead, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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

 

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Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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

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Cardinal against a blue sky.

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Front yard Chickadee

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Song Sparrow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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

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Ice, Big Darby Creek

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Patterns, Big Darby Creek.

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A late winter scene along Big Darby Creek

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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:

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Hooded Mergansers, (Donna)

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Black Jelly Roll Fungi, (Donna)

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Winter Abstract

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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

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Moss, fungi and lichen, (Donna)

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A Coot makes it’s getaway.

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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.

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