With A Little Help From . . .

We are blessed to enjoy nature and this usually results in not being around a lot of people. A perfect combination for these times. Spring is the season of new life whether it be the young leaves and flowers of a buckeye tree, or the sometimes almost frantic activity of nesting and migrating birds. One day last week, along a wooded park road at waters edge, there seemed to be colorful “missiles” flying everywhere. In that moment, with the smell of spring flowers and a backdrop of surrounding tree green luminescence, it was hard not to feel the warm embrace and the affirmation of being part of something that is much more.

.

So with a little help from our friends, be they butterflies, birds, wildflowers or trees, we are invited into a world that to our peril is too often ignored. But to work it’s magic, it demands that we be in the moment, pay attention with intention, and extend our curiosity beyond it’s usual realm. At first, we may find our curiosity stunted because, equipped with little knowledge, our imagination of what lies beyond the next “mountain” is limited. Finding the answer to that first small question may start a journey that informs and empowers in ways never imagined and that far outreach the original field of inquiry.

.

In the spring birds are endlessly foraging for food in trees and in low lying brush. What in the world are they all eating? Observing bird behavior, particularly Baltimore orioles as they work over buckeye flowers, coupled with additional research reveals the answer. In the spring birds, including warblers, obtain nutrition from tree buds and the edible parts of flowers including their nectar in addition to insects. Could this be one of the reasons that the orioles like the park near our home with it’s numerous buckeye trees? Within limits, don’t look for a common yellow-throat in the top of a tall tree, most migrating birds find suitable food in a variety locations.

.

So below are some birds that have brought a dimension to life in our humble city park that will not be there in a few weeks. In doing so they have expanded our awareness of life that goes far beyond our current cares.

.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park (GRP)

Take 2, GRP.

.

Male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Duranceau Park (DP)

Male courting display, DP.

The female looks curious, DP.

.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, GRP.

Another view, GRP.

.

Male Indigo Bunting, GRP. Could we be so fortunate that it would nest in the park?

Take 2, GRP.

.

Male Baltimore Oriole, GRP. Baltimore Orioles build many nests in the park.

Another angle, GRP.

Immature male, GRP.

.

Palm Warbler, GRP.

Singing, GRP.

.

Pine Warbler, DP.

.

Male American Redstart, GRP.

Another view, GRP, (Donna).

.

 

Tree Swallows are hear for the season, GRP.

Male and female, GRP.

.

Barn Swallow, GRP, (Donna).

.

Northern Parula Warbler, GRP.

Another look, GRP.

.

Blue-headed Vireo, GRP, (Donna).

.

Warbling Vireo, GRP.

.

White-eyed Vireo, GRP, (Donna).

.

Yellow Warbler, GRP, (Donna).

.

Blue-winged Warbler, DP, (Donna).

.

Black and White Warbler, GRP, (Donna).

.

Yellow-throated Warbler, GRP.

Take 2, GRP, (Donna).

.

White-crowned Sparrow, GRP.

.

White-throated Sparrow, GRP, (Donna).

.

Magnolia Warbler, GRP.

.

Prothonotary Warbler, GRP, (Donna).

.

Scarlet Tanager, DP.

Take 2, DP.

.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, GRP.

.

The Great-crested Flycatcher nest in the park, GRP.

Northern- Flickers also nest in the park, GRP.

.

Tufted Titmouse are a year round resident, GRP, (Donna).

,

As are Downy Woodpeckers, GRP, (Donna)

.

House Wren, GRP, (Donna).

.

Catbirds are also a summer long resident, GRP.

.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, DP, (Donna).

Female, GRP, (Donna).

.

Mallard family, GRP, (Donna).

.

We hope that this post finds you in good health and that in this season of new life and rebirth, you find your celebration.

Chipmunk

.

Thanks for stopping by.

What Are They Eating?

We love watching the behavior of the birds at our front yard feeders. Each species seems to have a slightly different style for relieving a feeder of it’s contents. Chickadees fly off to a nearby branch with just one seed, then, while holding it between feet and branch, devour it before returning for another. It would seem that this method expends more energy than is consumed but apparently not. House sparrows are at the other extreme. They make expectant squirrels on the ground below happy as they gorge themselves, scattering seeds everywhere, and bickering with each other the whole time. However, even though we enjoy the feeders, we have found the foraging behavior of birds in their natural habitats to be the most fascinating.

Observers of golden-crowned kinglets know they are constantly in motion. They flutter from branch to branch, sometimes landing sometimes not, grabbing food items that are often too small to see. So on a winter day with temperatures well below freezing what are they finding on the many small nondescript branches, some less than a quarter inch in diameter? If they were probing crevasses in gnarly tree bark it might be easier to guess. Cornell Lab, All About Birds says; In winter the kinglets also eat small amounts of seeds and may forage in brush piles and under-story trees. .   .   .   Golden-crowned Kinglets forage in similar parts of a tree as Ruby-crowned Kinglets and chickadees.” Since, even when studied with the binoculars, the branches appeared to contain no seeds or dormant insects, the menu items were only obvious to them. A mystery not completely solved.

***

***

***

.

Later the same day, we watch a downy woodpecker work over a small branch. In this case it was a little easier to see what was going on but in some ways no less mysterious. An obvious hole had been made in the branch but certainly no insects would be living below it’s very thin bark. Was the bird after tree sap? Again referring to All About Birds; Downy Woodpeckers eat mainly insects, including beetle larvae that live inside wood or tree bark as well as ants and caterpillars. They eat pest insects including corn earworm, tent caterpillars, bark beetles, and apple borers. About a quarter of their diet consists of plant material, particularly berries, acorns, and grains.”  Since tree sap wasn’t mentioned we’ll have to consider it an unsubstantiated best guess.

***

***

.

A few days later, it was dull and drab but warmer. Perhaps warm enough to wake dormant insects. Along the rain swollen river bluebirds were perched on the low branches of a sycamore looking for any movement on the ground or in the air. They occasionally swooped to the ground and grabbed something (an insect or a seed?) and then returned to their perch. In the mystery, what ever they found was good enough because tomorrow we will see them again.

***

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Celebrating The Season

When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, I wished for a white Christmas and hoped the snow, with periodic additions of fresh whiteness, would stick around until spring. While my wish was never completely realized, being 150 miles north of where I live now, winter was a more satisfying if not tiring experience.

(Images may be clicked on for a better view)

The low December light pierces the open canopy revealing patterns in leaves and the geometry of trees and river.

.

A few days ago, we woke up to a light covering of white. We rushed down to our local city park before too many foot steps marred it’s beauty. Now, despite colder temperatures, the snow is mostly gone, the victim of wind and sublimation. Winters are like that in central Ohio. Cold temperatures, when they come, often leave the dry, naked, and shivering landscape wishing for a warm white blanket. But while not a paradise for lovers of snow, for those willing to venture out and look carefully, this time of year provides an opportunity to enjoy a subtle beauty and be entertained by creatures making this place their winter home.

With snow, the forms of water and trees becomes sublime.

.

It was very faint but unmistakable. You know how woodpeckers can be. Looking up into branches in the adjacent woods, it seemed hopeless. How about just looking for dead branches  .   .   .

Working on a warm winter home?

A female Downy works away.

. . . as the male goofs off on a nearby branch.

***

Quiet early winter morning along the Scioto.

.

One advantage to living in an area subject to cold temperatures, but with little snow, is that ice is free to express itself.

Small icicles and patterns in ice.

Interesting shapes form as river levels recede, (Donna).

Near the river, a small frozen pool, and solstice ice.

.

In the summer we don’t notice as many Eastern Bluebirds, a gift of the colder months?

Male Eastern Bluebird, (Donna).

Taking flight.

.

Not far from their downriver nest, Bald Eagles are seen more often along the reservoir this time of year.

Perched across the reservoir and too far away for a really good shot..

Doing it’s best to avoid a photograph.

***

At river’s edge, the roots of a sycamore struggle to maintain their hold.

.

With the reservoir frozen, a pair of Hooded Mergansers were spotted in the open water of the river just below the dam. Eventually, if the reservoir stays ice covered, they will be joined by Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, and other waterfowl not commonly seen in the area.

Hooded Mergansers on the Scioto River.

***

.

These images were taken before realizing that the White-breasted Nuthatch it was eating lichen. An unexpected revelation.

***

***

***

.

A quick look through the binoculars revealed it to be a Mockingbird which was a real treat as we couldn’t remember the last time one was seen in the park   .   .   .  then, one very average photo, and it was gone.

***

.

There are a countless number of American Robins in the park this time of year. They are everywhere, and with their antics provide endless entertainment.

***, (Donna).

.

Brown Creepers are not easy to spot. Sometimes their faint call is heard before they are seen. Their erratic movement make them a difficult subject to photograph.

***

.

While working on a dead branch, this male red-bellied woodpecker really showed off it’s red head.

***

 

Other local residents, as will as migrants from the north, have also entertained us in the last few days.

Tufted-titmouse, (Donna).

Carolina Chickadee, (Donna).

White-throated Sparrows can be found in Ohio in the winter but call the forests across Canada, the northeastern U.S., and the northern Midwest their summer home.

.

A fox squirrel ran up the tree and hid just as I walked up causing my wife to miss a “good” picture. She had to make due with the image below.

***, (Donna).

***

Winter along the Scioto River.

***

This morning while standing in front of our church greeting incoming worshipers, a ruby-crowned kinglet flew into a nearby evergreen, paused for a moment as if to look my way, then flew off. Enchanted by what was an unusual occurrence, I had an extra big smile for the next group of parishioners. In nature the usual can also become enchanting, and in that enchantment, we may lose ourselves and in doing so find that we have become part of something much greater.  We wish everyone the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year!

.

Thanks for stopping by.

.

 

 

 

 

A Rare Bird

From time to time during our walks close to home we see a rare bird. Two days ago we were excited to see an American Kestrel in an undeveloped area south of Duranceaux Park which is located on the west side of Griggs Reservoir. A particular treat as this small falcon has been in decline in recent years. As with many birds this is most likely due to the destruction of suitable habit. In years past, when more time was spent bicycling Ohio’s quiet rural roads, this small robin size bird was seen on a regular basis, sometimes in the middle of a “lunch” consisting of a field mouse, but always taking flight from the roadside power lines before one could get very close. If not perched, they were often seen hovering over an adjacent field waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. 

***

***, (Donna).

***

.

Much more common than the American Kestrel, a number of Red-tailed Hawks have been seen recently. 

***

***

.

Some of the more usual suspects have also graced us with their presence, providing an affirmation that much is well with the world. We’re endlessly fascinated by their behavior as they go about the day making a living in the trees and low lying brush of Griggs Reservoir Park. 

Female Northern Cardinal

Male Eastern Bluebird, (Donna).

Red-bellied Woodpecker, (Donna).

Song Sparrow

Cedar Waxwing, (Donna).

Downy Woodpecker

.

During this stark, seemingly lifeless, time of year it’s not always easy to be optimistic about what will be seen when heading into the woods. But even in December’s landscape we seldom return home with empty hearts.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

***

 

 

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. 

.

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

***

.

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?

***

.

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

***

.

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).

.

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

***

.

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

***

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

***

***(Donna)

***

.

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

Oak leaf

.

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.

.

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

Scioto River landscape.

.

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.

***

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

***(Donna)

***

.

Transforming place, an ephemeral first snow blankets the ground.

***

.

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.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

***

A Big Buck

It promised to be a pleasant mid-October day with little wind. Cool 45F morning air was the price of admission as we started our paddle on a local reservoir. Seeking the sun’s warmth we headed for the western shore as the canoe moved through the still water with a graceful confidence. The outing was prompted by a favorable forecast and the realization that, given the time of year, one never knows how many nice day’s are left. Leaves still adorned trees with subtle hints of central Ohio’s fall color. In a month, should we be blessed with a equally warm day, branches would be bare the landscape brown and gray.

Exploring the shoreline of Griggs Reservoir.

.

The west side of the long narrow reservoir is populated by numerous large homes set back (for the most part) a reasonable distance from the shore. A few small interspersed wooded areas provide a nice habitat for deer, beaver, mink and various species of birds. As we headed north, warblers, blue jays, and robins flitted about at waters edge in trees warmed by the morning sun, none cooperating for a photograph.

.

However, we hadn’t gone far when a young male Wood Duck was spotted. It wasn’t sure which way to go as we approached and it’s ever changing direction caused it’s blue wing feathers to light up.

Immature male Wood Duck, (Donna).

.

Other things were also seen during our paddle and as we briefly explored the north end of the reservoir on foot.

North end pull out, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

We watched this Downy Woodpecker spent quite a bit of time working on one particular tree, (Donna).

A warm October afternoon and a smiling Map Turtle, (Donna).

This Great Blue Heron had something to say, (Donna).

North end landscape, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Fiery Skipper, one of the few butterflies seen, (Donna).

Field Sparrow, (Donna).

A beautiful White-crowned Sparrow, our first sighting of the season, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

A pile of turtles enjoy the autumn sun, (Donna).

Previous frosty nights had done little to curb this Monkey Flower’s enthusiasm, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

One of the numerous Great Blue Herons that took flight during our paddle, (Donna).

A north end “paddlescape”

.

We have seen our share of Whitetail Dear along the reservoir. In fact they are so common we hardly take notice. But at one point during our paddle what we saw stopped us in our tracks. At first, with only the tip of one antler visible, it wasn’t clear what it was, but as I slowed the canoe, and my wife got ready to shoot, it looked up.

The big buck, at least 14 points, White-tailed Deer, (Donna).

.

We had never seen such a large buck and it made our day!

.

Nineteen mile an hour winds will keep us off the reservoir today so perhaps I’ll actually get some things done around the house. Thanks for stopping by.

.

***

 

Neighborhood Migrants

Warm days, now noticeably shorter, are giving way to colder nights with the landscape increasingly graced with the colors of autumn in Ohio.

Autumn reflection in central Ohio.

.

During the past couple of weeks we’ve made a concerted effort to look for birds passing through Griggs Reservoir Park on their southern migration. We’ve avoiding the temptation to travel further afield thinking it would be fun just to see what is or isn’t passing through our “neighborhood”. There have been reports of birds that have eluded us, such as the Blackpoll and Yellow-throated Warbler, but all in all the effort has been rewarding.

.

The Black-throated Green Warblers were very cooperative:

***, (Donna)

***

***. (Donna)

***

.

Only one Cape May Warbler was seen:

Female Cape May Warbler

.

A fair number of Northern Parula Warblers were spotted:

***

***

.

This Yellow-throated Vireo is not sure he wants to eat a stink bug:

***

***

.

We had only one sighting of a Black-throated Blue Warbler:

Good enough to ID the bird but that’s it.

.

The fairly common Yellow-rumped Warblers are often seen eating poising ivy berries:

***, (Donna)

 

***

.

A Nashville Warbler was also part of the mix:

***

.

One Ruby-crowned Kinglet tries it’s best to hide while another jumps right out and poses. To date more kinglets have been heard than seen.

***

***

<<<>>>

Contrasting with last year, this has not been a good year for seeing Black-crowned Herons on the reservoir. However, on a resent paddle we were rewarded:

Juvenile, (Donna).

Adult, (Donna).

<<<>>>

While looking for warblers a group of very active Blue Birds was hard to ignore:

***

***

***

<<<>>>

A young male Wood Duck has been hanging around the park for the last couple of weeks. By it’s association with a group of mallards it appears to think it’s one:

***

***

***

<<<>>>

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge some of the other birds that have fascinated us while we looked for fall migrants.

An immature Red-tailed Hawk seemed curious about what we were up to.

Something has this Juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker’s attention, (Donna).

A Mallard Duck, bathed in autumn light, swims across the reservoir.

A pair of Northern Flickers, (Donna).

A Tufted Titmouse acts cute like titmouse do, (Donna).

A White-breasted Nuthatch goes about it’s day.

One of the many Cedar Waxwings seen in the park in recent weeks.

A female Downy Woodpecker poses for a picture.

A Great Blue Heron strikes a graceful pose along the Scioto River, (Donna).

This Blue Jay has quite a mouthful, (Donna).

.

It’s a dark gray rainy morning as I finish writing this so it’s hard to imagine what nature will offer in the coming days and this is the time of year when things tend to wind down. However, if past experience is any indication, it will only take another walk in the woods to again experience the magic. Thanks for stopping by.

.

***

 

Nature Views

Learning to embrace nature and appreciate the beauty around us every day

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.

piecemealadventurer

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

Photos by Donna

Nature & Wildlife's Beauty and Behavior Through My Lens

Londonsenior

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

gordoneaglesham

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

talainsphotographyblog

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.