Beauty In Transitions

It’s hard to think of the period between autumn color and the arrival of colder temperatures and a land covered in snow, as anything other than a time of transition. Ohio’s late November sepia-tone landscape makes one wish for somewhere else, past or future. If we find ourselves walking along a wooded trail or stream our curiosity is challenged in ways not encountered as spring unfolds into the warmth of an endless summer day. Better to be home in a favorite easy chair with the warm glow of a fireplace, a cat curled up on your lap, and a good book as the season’s birds occasionally visit the feeder just outside a nearby window. But the magic of late November is that, surrounded by muted color, the endlessly varied dance of birds not present or as easily noticed during other seasons, is hard to ignore. 

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A window into the future, wintry bare branches reflect on the surface of a small pool.

***

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A year round resident, the cheerful Carolina Wren comes into it’s own as the landscape darkens in late November.

*** (Donna)

Tufted Titmice seem more common this time of year. Some migrants from the north?

***

***(Donna)

A Red-winged Blackbird confuses us by it’s presence. Shouldn’t you be further south?

***

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In perhaps it’s last “voice”, a oak leaf graces the surface of a small stream.

***

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Few leaves obscure our view as we watch the comical journey of a White-breasted Nuthatch as it forages for food.

***

A tidbit (perhaps a spider’s egg sack) is found, (Donna)

Woodpeckers are noticed at almost every turn, some of which are undoubtedly also northern migrants.

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker, (Donna)

Red-belied Woodpecker, (Donna).

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Before being caught by the wind and carried away, a lone Sycamore leaf catches the morning sun.

***

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Gray Squirrels are common and always easy to spot but they’re not always so busy eating.

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Almost invisible when trees are fully adorned with leaves the nervous movement of Golden Crowned Kinglets catches our eye.

***

***(Donna)

***

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On  mudflats left behind as a nearby reservoir is lowered for the season, a solitary oak leaf comes to rest.

Oak leaf

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With feeders out, other birds brighten the day with their presence.

House Finch

American Cardinal

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

But not far away, a Cooper’s Hawk waits.

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Autumn’s fading color comes to rest among stream-side rocks.

Scioto River landscape.

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In the chill of the morning, birds enjoy the river without complaint.

An American Robin takes a bath.

Cedar Waxwings stop for a drink.

Blending into the bark, unless your eye catches it’s movement, the Brown Creeper is almost impossible to spot.

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“Snowbirds”, the presence of Dark-eyed Juncos alert us of what is to come.

***(Donna)

***

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Transforming place, an ephemeral first snow blankets the ground.

***

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As a metaphor for life, the passing seasons, particularly early spring and late autumn, may have something to teach us when in the midst of life transitions we wish for somewhere else. Perhaps the key is to look closer, be open to the beauty of the present time and place, and then in that moment allow ones self to be caught in it’s embrace.

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Thanks for stopping by.

***

Hiking The North Carolina Mountains

Every couple of years we rendezvous with friends near Asheville, NC for a few days of hiking. Much of what is seen is different than that found in in central Ohio and that’s part of the area’s appeal. However, unlike central Ohio with it relatively flat terrain, the rugged ups and downs make the trails no walk in the woods. Because of this, as well as the length of some of the hikes, the serious cameras were left at home. Even so my wife got some excellent results with her Panasonic FZ200 while I explored the performance limits of the ZS50.

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Our base of operation is the Sourwood Inn which is convenient to Ashville and highly recommended should you find yourself in the area for a hiking vacation or just a quiet getaway. On our recent trip we hiked portions of the  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), The Snowball Mountain Trail, Craggy Gardens Trail, and the Craggy Pinnacle Trail which are part of the Craggy Gardens Trails group.

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In past years we’ve seen plenty of fungi, moss, and lichen, and this year was no exception. Usually numerous butterflies are seen while hiking but this year we saw more along the Blue Ridge Parkway as we drove to the various trailheads which was not convenient for pictures. 

Along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

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Usually located not far off the trail, fungi, lichen, and moss captured our attention. Except for the low light  seeing and photographing it is relatively straight forward. However, once in possession of a photograph trying to identify it can be a humbling experience. Over the years we’ve seen some often enough that identification is straight forward. For most this is not the case so many of the ID’s should be taken as our best guess.

In the family of the boletes,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Probably in the bolete family,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.,

Honey Mushroom, ,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

A family of mushrooms, unidentified, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Powder-cap Amanita, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

This mushroom appears to be past it’s prime (note mold) making identification difficult.

 

Tinder Polypore, Snowball Mountain Trail

Mushrooms and Lung Lichen keep each other company, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Old Man’s Beard lichen and leaves with a hint of autumn, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Turkey Tail, Snowball Mountain Trail.,

 

This group appear to be some type of chanterelle,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Another mushroom group along a trail near the inn.

A member of the bolete family, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

Rooted Polypore, along a trail near the inn.

Velvet Foot, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

White Coral, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Crown-tipped Coral along a trail near the inn.

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One of several overlooks on the Snowball Mountain Trail.

A short but steep descent to Hawkbill Rock with it’s beautiful vista, Snowball Mountain Trail.

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When we weren’t trying to figure out the fungi there were wildflowers to enjoy.

Pinesap,  Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge.

To late for Foam Flower so this one remains unidentified, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Beech-drops, a parasitic plant which grows and subsists on the roots of American beech, line portions of the Snowball Mountain Trail.

Indian Cucumber Root, Snowball Mountain Trail.

Downey Rattlesnake Plantain, Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Snakeroot often bordered the trail, Craggy Gardens Trail.

Asters, Craggy Gardens Trail.

This is one of those cases where I was so fascinated with the structure of the flower that I forgot to photograph the leaves making identification almost impossible, Craggy Gardens Trail.

A cool morning made this lethargic bee easy to photograph on some trailside Goldenrod, Craggy Gardens Trail.

Turtlehead, Mountains-to-Sea Trail, (Donna).

Mountain Laurel, Snowball mountain Trail, (Donna).

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Overlook at Craggy Pinnacle.

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And butterflies:

Appalachian Brown, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) near Rattle Snake Lodge, (Donna).

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Even a turtle:

Box Turtle, Mountain to Sea Trail near Rattlesnake Lodge, (Donna).

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But not as many birds as we would have liked:

Dark-eyed Junco, Craggy Pinnacle, (Donna). Seen in central Ohio only in late fall through early spring. However, due to the elevation which creates a climate similar to that occurring much further north, these birds are year round residents.

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A view along Craggy Gardens Trail.

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With it’s high elevation and harsh weather trees have to be tough to survive along the Pinnacle Trail.

Located along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail one wonders how many times this tree has been photographed.

Another view.

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For those in the eastern part of the country looking for a some beautiful mountain hiking, the area near Asheville, NC is highly recommended. The plus is that with a vibrant downtown, good restaurants, fascinating shops, and excellent galleries, Asheville is a great place to explore should you decide your legs need a rest day.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.

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Griggs Reservoir

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Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.

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. . .

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. . .

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. . . (Donna).

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Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.

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Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.

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Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.

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Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.

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Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.

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Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.

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In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.

 

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

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Study 2, (Donna).

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In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.

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A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).

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Other things have also brought color to the landscape.

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Leaves on ice, (Donna)

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Sycamore branches against a blue sky.

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Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)

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We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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Molly Cat

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

The Bird That Thinks It’s a Mouse

At least that impression one gets watching a Winter Wren  foraging for food. These very small dark colored birds with a very pronounced turned up tail are hard to see much less photograph as they make their way around dense underbrush usually near water. In fact I don’t think we’ve ever seen one very far from water although that could be due to the fact that we spent a large amount of our time looking for birds near water along the Scioto River in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Winter Wren along the Scioto River, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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Study 3.

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Study 4.

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Winter Wren habitat along the Scioto River.

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From the very small to very large, a Sycamore along the Scioto River. What could it tell us of this place if it could talk?

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Sycamore along the Scioto, (Donna).

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This time of year it’s always a joy when common birds entertain us. Not so easy to capture in their natural habitat away from feeders.

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Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park.

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Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Tufted Titmouse, Griggs Park.

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Study 2.

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While closer to the ground there is still a presence of green, in many areas overhead it’s a different story.

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November branches.

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Other birds continue to make their presence known.

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A female Downy lets the chips fly, Griggs Park.

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A White-throated Sparrow plays hide and seek, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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White-throated Sparrow, study 2, Griggs Park.

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Apparently one of this Red-bellied Woodpeckers favorite trees, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A Red-tailed Hawk waits patently for it’s next meal, Griggs Park.

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Almost always heard before they’re seen this Carolina Wren was determined to get noticed, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

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We were looking for the Winter Wren but some previously hard to fine Golden-crowned Kinglets kept getting in the way, along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Take 2.

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A noisy Northern Flicker also demanded to be noticed, Griggs Park.

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This Dark-eyed Junco was acting like it might have hurt feelings if I didn’t take it’s picture, Griggs Park.

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Goldfinch, winter plumage, Griggs Park.

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Wait, you’re not a bird!, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A fascinating and unexpected find during a recent walk along the Scioto River was this very nice example of a Horn Coral fossil. The fossil was about 4 inches long!

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Rugose corals, often called “horn corals”, because their form may resemble the horn of a cow or goat. This coral became extinct at or near the end of the Permian period, about 240 million years ago. It first appeared in the early Ordovician period and peaked during the Devonian. photo by Donna. Ref: http://fallsoftheohio.org/DevonianCorals.html

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Up until just four days ago warm weather was allowing some of our insect friends to hang around but with this mornings temperature around 20F we don’t expect to see them again any time soon.

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So long until next spring! (Donna).

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Likewise! (Donna)

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Given that it’s Thanksgiving week here in central Ohio the next bird we will be investigating will probably be a turkey. On that note we wish everyone a happy holiday. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Milkweed seeds take flight, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Searching For Kinglets

For those of you that follow this blog you know that we spend a lot of time walking in one park near our home. Part of the fascination has been to see what we can discover in this one specific location throughout the year. As the seasons change, it’s often about what we don’t see as much as what we do. From our house the park is also the perfect distance for a long walk which adds to the overall satisfaction of the experience. Finally, without making too much work out of it, we also try to help keep the park free of cans, bottles and other litter which provides a sense of ownership and makes the place just that much more special.

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The leaves are mostly on the ground now in Griggs Park.

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Having provided a rather circuitous introduction you’re probably wondering where this is going. Well it’s about the Kinglets! Several weeks ago we saw quite a few Golden and Ruby Crown Kinglets along the Scioto River below the Griggs Dam but since then nothing. Were had they gone? Had our timing since then just been bad? We were starting to wonder. Would we again see these little birds that do so much to brighten up late fall and winter in central Ohio?

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In then a few days ago, in the company of Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers, there they were.

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Golden Crown Kinglet along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Take 2.

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Take 3, (Donna)

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Take 4, (Donna).

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.   .   .  and not far away.

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Downy Woodpecker (F), a common resident this time of year.

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker contrasts nicely with the fall color.

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A male Cardinal in the afternoon sun puts a smile on our face.

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Male Bluebird Griggs Park. They are easy to spot this time of year.

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Dark Eyed Junco, a winter visitor from the north, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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A Song Sparrow with attitude, (Donna).

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Red-tailed Hawks are hard to miss this time of year.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

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My wife was trying to figure out what this crow was doing.

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Crow playing with Northern Catalpa seed pod, (Donna)

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Take 2.

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And as always there have been other things to notice.

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A Fox Squirrel checks us out, Griggs Park.

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Stink Horn mushroom, Griggs Park, only this one example was found.

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Amazingly, after a number of below freezing nights, we continue to see butterflies, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Not in the best shape but pretty amazing considering the time of year.

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Donna tried her hand at capturing the often ignored shapes and designs of late fall.

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Take 1.

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

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Take 4.

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Take 5.

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On future walks we hope the kinglets, along with their friends, will continue to charm and fascinate making this time of year just a little brighter. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Sunset, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

 

Griggs Park Celebrates Autumn’s Color

It’s the first part of November and the autumn colors have hung around a lot longer than usual. We thought about taking a drive down to the Hocking Hills in SE Ohio, a hilly part of the state that’s especially beautiful this time of year, but opted for a few long walks in Griggs Park instead. Can’t say that I feel like we missed anything by not taking the drive.

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Landscape photography in Griggs Park can be a challenge due to the amount of extraneous subjects that can distract so taking time to study vantage points and light is essential to capturing what one wants.

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I’ve been fascinated by the park’s picnic tables for a number of years particular when they are in an isolated setting. Now mostly deserted it’s as if they are still waiting patiently without a complaint for someone to sit down. Fall color adds to the visual interest. Perhaps B&W would also say what I wanted.

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Griggs Park picnic table.

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Black and White

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Picnic Table 2.

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Picnic Table 3.

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The paths and roads in the park can be delightful and almost magical this time of year. Capturing that feeling is always rewarding.

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Along Griggs Reservoir.

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Path at waters edge, Griggs Park.

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Park path, Griggs Park.

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Park road, Griggs Park.

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Sometimes it’s just a tree that enchants.

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Afternoon sun, Griggs Park.

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Sycamore, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Tree trunks, Griggs Park.

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At first one notices the big things but before long smaller things, leaves and flowers start to tell their story.

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Maple leaves, Griggs Park.

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Leaves along the Scioto.

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Reflections, Griggs Reservoir.

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Teasel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Reservoir.

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Fleabane, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Milkweed, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chicory, Griggs Park.

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Don’t tell the insects it’s the first of November. However, for the squirrels and chipmunks that are getting ready for winter, it’s just that busy time of year.

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A bumblebee makes due with a flower past it’s prime, (Donna).

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Gray Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Sharp-stigma Looper, (Donna).

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Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipmunk, Griggs Park.

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Common Checkered Skipper spending time with a Clouded Sulphur, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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The birds, local residents as well as migrants from the north,  also seemed to be celebrating the color of the season.

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We were surprised to see this immature male Red Winged Blackbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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As if the leaves weren’t pretty enough, a Goldfinch completes the picture, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Along the Scioto River autumn color creates a beautiful backdrop for this female Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Dark-eyed Junco, a migrant from the north, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A Great Blue Heron looking for lunch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Male Mallard Duck, Griggs Reservoir.

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White-throated Sparrow, another migrant from the north, Griggs Park.

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Tufted Titmouse, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Take 2, (Donna).

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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A male Cardinal seems to blend right in, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh, I almost forgot, for those that are on the edge of their seat wondering how my autumn Smallmouth Bass quest is coming , here’s an update:

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Channel cats have been more cooperative. They are fun to catch but not what I’m looking for, Griggs Reservoir.

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. . . and then a few days later a measure of success! Since I’m a firm believer that the work begins when you put the fish on the stringer they are all released. The fish seem to be happy about that decision.

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When writing this blog at often occurs to me that it’s largely for internal consumption, a way of marking time, documenting life, and making it sacred. On that note we hope readers have found natural areas close to home that enchant and have enjoyed autumn in those special places as much as we have in ours. Thanks for stopped by.

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xxx

Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Waterfowl and Ice

A recent walk was filled with anticipation. Cold weather had resulted in a fresh covering of ice on Griggs Reservoir. When this occurs, the Scioto River, free flowing below the dam, concentrates any waterfowl that might be in the area.

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On the reservoir there were signs of animal activity.

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A light layer of snow reveals the movement of animals crossing the reservoir.

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Tracks, might be a Robin.

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A Canada Goose apparently changed it’s mind, (Donna).

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A frozen fish, and the promise of an easy meal, tempts a small animal. It didn’t make much progress so apparently the “frozen” part was not to it’s liking.

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Design, (Donna)

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What we hadn’t anticipated were the fascinating ice formations along the river. As mentioned in previous posts they are caused by freezing temperatures and receding water levels.

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The Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.

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Admiring one of the many “Ice Chandeliers”.

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Ice chandeliers, (Donna)

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Chandelier variations, (Donna).

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Along the river, (Donna)

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Reflections.

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A closer look.

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The bigger picture, (Donna).

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A small formation, (Donna).

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After some time enjoying and trying the capture the beauty of the ice we continued our search for the anticipated waterfowl.

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Ring-necked ducks posing for the camera, (Donna).

 

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Another view through shoreline branches..

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While not as plentiful, across the river Hooded Mergansers also made an appearance.

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There were also a few Goldeneyes.

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.   .   .   and Buffleheads.

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A few other birds refused to be left out:

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A female house sparrow enjoys the late afternoon sun.

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Female Downy.

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A Goldfinch “photo bombs” the Junco’s portrait.

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Based on weather forecasts, the ice on the reservoir should be around for awhile. That considered, who knows what birds will be seen in the days to come. In their number there might even be a Bald Eagle.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

XXX

 

 

 

 

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