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. 

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

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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

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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.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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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.

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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.

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The Black-throated Green Warblers were very cooperative:

***, (Donna)

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Only one Cape May Warbler was seen:

Female Cape May Warbler

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A fair number of Northern Parula Warblers were spotted:

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

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

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

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

***, (Donna)

 

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A Nashville Warbler was also part of the mix:

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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.

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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).

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

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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:

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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).

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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.

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A Journey Through Spring

It feels like we’ve been dodging raindrops at lot lately. However, the wetter than average spring, perhaps the new normal, has been great for the area wildflowers. We’ve continued to explore Griggs Reservoir Park near our home but have also made several trips to Glen Echo Park, Kiwanis Riverway Park, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, and have traveled west to Cedar Bog as well as north to Magee Marsh, to name some of the other places explored. With a partial record in pictures of things seen, this is a celebration of all that this fleeting season has given us. Of particular note are the Yellow-billed Cuckoos that decided to make Griggs Reservoir Park their home for a few days recently. We also saw Scarlet Tanagers in the park after seeing few to none last year. What a treat!

(Should you desire, click on the image for a better view.)

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Birds:

Yellow-billed Cuckoos are one of the more entertaining birds to watch as they forage for food, Griggs Reservoir Park. They’re not a bird we see that often much less have an opportunity to photograph, (Donna).

A shot showing the distinctive markings of the underside of the tail.

This Tree Swallow was perched not far from it’s nesting cavity, Griggs Reservoir Park.

There are always a few Bluebirds to see at Griggs Reservoir Park undoubtedly due to numerous trees that provide nesting cavities.

Catching this female Wood Duck out of the very corner of my spectacled eye as it flew into a nearby tree I at first thought it was a Morning Dove.

On a sunny cool spring morning this male Mallard Duck just wanted to catch some rays.

Every year we look forward to the arrival of the Baltimore Orioles at Griggs Reservoir Park. This year was no exception.

They are another very entertaining bird to watch.

As if all the migrating warblers at Magee Marsh weren’t enough we see this guy, Great Horned Owl owlet.

A male Red-winged Blackbird in all it’s splendor. A common resident at Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cedar Waxwings in love, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Being an acrobat.

Great Crested Flycatchers are heard more often than seen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Kingbird ready to take flight, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An curious young male Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Just finishing up a snack of “warbler”, this Red-tailed Hawk stares us down, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An Eastern Wood-Pewee is caught in a cute pose at Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Oblivious to our presence, a Prothonotary warbler collects nesting material, Magee Marsh.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Scarlet Tanager at Magee Marsh.

A Warbling Vireo seems to stare us down, Magee Marsh.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magee Marsh.

Blackburnian Warbler, Glen Echo Park. This small park centered around a stream and ravine is a hotspot for observing spring migrants.

Wood Thrush. Glen Echo Park.

Red-eyed Vireo, Glen Echo Park.

A male American Redstart plays hide and seek, Glenn Echo Park.

Magnolia Warbler, Magee Marsh.

“I’m eating a bug, do you mind!” Carolina Wren, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Red-headed Woodpecker, the first ever sighting at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Nest building, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

Summer Tanager, Glen Echo Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Greenlawn Cemetery.

A busy Song Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

A Yellow-throated Warbler looks down from above, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-throated Vireo, Glen Echo Park, (Donna).

Couldn’t resist another view of this lovely bird.

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Other things:

How many turtles are on this log? Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Wildflowers:

Purple Rocket turns white with age, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Cabbage White on Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Reservoir Park.

These Toadshade Trilliums from a few weeks ago were some of the last seen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Pawpaw blossoms, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Hoverfly on Spring beauty from a few weeks back.

Solomon’s Seal, Glenn Echo Park.

May Apple blossom from a few weeks ago, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Jacobs Ladder, Amberleigh Park.

Fleabane, Cedar Bog.

We were surprised to see this Morrel mushroom emerging through the mowed grass at Griggs Reservoir Park.

Wild Rose, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Blue Flag Iris, Cedar Bog.

Wild Geranium, Glenn Echo Park.

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We hope you enjoyed this journey through spring into what now feels like early summer. We sadly leave the spring migrants behind for this year but experience tells us that there is always something new to see when exploring nature.

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Future seasons become easier to count and the present one more precious with the passing of time, but in that scarceness we become richer with the sense of their magic.  

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Thanks for stopping by.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, Cedar Bog.

 

A Sense of Expectation and Wonder

As undoubtedly mentioned before, one of the rewarding aspects of visiting a park on a regular basis is that one can observe nature’s subtle changes as well as the coming and going of various critters that visit the park throughout the year. Many these forays are part of longer urban hikes and are accompanied by fairly low expectations so our gear often consists of an easily packable super-zoom and a small pair of binoculars. With such equipment we are limited in the types of photographs we can obtain but we do have a camera with us.

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Recently we’ve been encouraged with the prospect of seeing the unexpected when Eastern Bluebirds made a Christmas day visit to our front yard suet feeder. We had never seen them in our yard before.

A male Eastern Bluebird gets a drink from a mostly frozen bird bath, (Donna).

One bird with a small piece of suet, “Hey guys go get your own!”, (Donna).

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Yesterday, there were no Bluebirds at the suet feeder so before our new years day tradition of pork, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut we decided to take a walk in Griggs Reservoir Park.  It was a cloudy gray-brown day and certainly not one that would beckon a landscape photographer so we walked with the hope of observing a bird or some other small manifestation of nature. I mostly occupied myself with the never-ending task of picking up trash. It’s an activity I always find strangely rewarding especially if the ‘birds’ aren’t cooperating.

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We were almost back to the car after our three-mile saunter when I noticed a small hawk preening itself at the top of a large Sycamore tree. A quick look through the binoculars did not provide an obvious identity so I pulled out my camera and started taking “data acquisition” shots.

Critical tail feather ID shot. The bird was to far away for a good photograph. All shots are heavily cropped, Panasonic FZ300.

Another look for markings.

. . . and on more.

It was a Merlin, and even though there had been reports of them at other central Ohio locations it was a bird we had never seen in the park before. How exciting! A dull gray day made magical. The sighting was all the more special because the last time we had seen one was some years ago while hiking the Centennial Ridges Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park. While looking through the binoculars at a dragonfly flying high over head a black streak went through the field of view and the dragonfly disappeared. Looking up a small bird was seen flying towards a tiny island in the center of the lake where it joined others on a perch high over the water.

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As a bit of a postscript, Bald Eagles nest about two miles from our house making it not highly unusual to see them along the reservoir, so as if the reinforce the magic of the place that’s exactly what happened a few days back while on an urban fitness walk.

Bald Eagle over Griggs Reservoir, again the bird was too far away for a good photograph. image heavily cropped, Panasonic FZ150.

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These recent holiday sightings have blessed us with a sense of expectation and wonder for the new year. Our wish is that you to will be blessed in the new year.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Once In A Lifetime

A number of years ago, on a very still August day, we paddled the liquid glass of Clark Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, the lake’s water is so clear that on a quiet day one has the sensation that the canoe is levitating. Far below, a fascinating variety of aquatic plants can be seen as fish swam lazily by. As we moved along the shore a Loon was spotted a little further offshore. It promptly dove and then winged it’s way right under the canoe. It’s beautiful markings and graceful motion so vividly seen it was as though it and we were suspended in air as it “flew” by. The experience was magical and I was left voicing the thought, “This will never happen to me again in my life!”

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Fast forward to a week ago. We had just gotten out of the car and were starting a walk along Griggs Reservoir when a commotion was noticed in the shoreline brush. What ever was causing the ruckus was small. A moment later one of the perpetrators stopped for a brief rest on a small branch not six feet away.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

The only thing I could think of to say was, “This will never happen to me again in my life!” However, unlike Clark Lake, it just might, as we spend a lot more time walking in the parks near our home than paddling crystal clear loon inhabited waters in northern Michigan. While Ruby-crowned Kinglets are not seen as often as their close cousins the Golden-crowned, they are still observed on occasion during migration. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny the feeling.

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On that same day, as if not to be upstaged, a few Golden-crowned Kinglets made an appearance.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing it’s crown, just.

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A few days later, and just a little further from home, we found ourselves in Highbanks Metro Park looking for birds or whatever else we could find.

Along a trail in Highbanks Metro Park.

Looking a little more like autumn, Highbanks Metro Park.

Leaves collect in a small creek, Highbanks Metro Park.

Sycamore reflections, Olentangy River, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Autumn color peers through the trees, Highbanks Metro Park.

The roots of an upended tree add design to fall color, Highbanks Metro Park.

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As I pursued that elusive “perfect” landscape, Donna, responding to sounds heard in the brush, came upon a very vocal but also cooperative, Tufted Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna)

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3, (Donna).

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While looking for birds and landscapes it was hard not to take a closer look and appreciate the appearance of  various plants as they reflected the season.

Fungi surrounded by leaves of red, green, and yellow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Goldenrod gone to seed, Highbanks Metro Park.

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Wandering through autumn we continue to be treated to other bird sightings including Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of the last warbler migrants to make it’s way through central Ohio.

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bluebird, Griggs Reservoir Park. This time of year they always seem more numerous.

Carolina Wren, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along with enjoying Poison Ivy berries, the  Yellow-rumped Warbler also hunts for insects in the crevasses of tree bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.

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Finally, stepping away from the birds and taking a slightly bigger view of things, below are a few landscapes taken along the Scioto River in recent days in what may be one of the last photographic celebrations of the season.

Path, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Fallen Sycamore along the Scioto.

Sycamore color along the Scioto.

Light rain highlights sycamore leaves against shoreline rocks, Scioto River.

Orange and green along the Scioto River.

Scioto River reflection.

Shoreline rocks along the Scioto River.

Autumn quiet along the Scioto River.

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It’s hard not to be a little contemplative this time of year. It’s undoubtedly brought on in part by shorter days, cooler weather, and the sense that another year is passing. With the sun rising later and the setting earlier there is more time to think. But perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s an awareness of the beauty in the cycle of which I am a part. Autumn, the exclamation point to all that comes before and which will return again in spring. The season that without the coming of winter, would teach us little.

Waiting till next year, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Bees and Blue Jays

It started with report of sightings at other nearby locations so we thought we’d check out Griggs Park to see if we could spot any Yellow-throated Warblers. Sure enough there they were high in the tops of various Sycamore trees too far away for a photograph but visible through our binoculars.

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We waited for a while hoping one would descend from the treetops but no luck so we decided to see what wildflowers were in bloom in the wooded area below the dam as well as other areas in the park.

Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park.

Sometimes they’re pink, (Donna)

Purple Cress, Griggs Park

Emerging Bloodroot, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In full bloom, (Donna).

 

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

 

Twinleaf, (Donna)

Emerging Butterweed, Griggs Park.

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While the Yellow-throated warblers eluded the camera’s lens other birds were more cooperative. Song sparrows, never far away, entertaining us with a spring rendition of their beautiful song. Chickadees in the middle of nesting activities expressed their disapproval when we got too close.  Nuthatches chased each other about. In small shoreline trees and bushes Golden-crowned Kinglets busily looked for insects among the small branches. Meanwhile a pair of blue jays were just starting work on their new nest. The bluebirds seemed content to watch the activity unfold while enjoying the warmth of the spring sun. Further down the trail a robin looked on with disinterest appearing as though lunch had gotten the better of him.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Chickadee, Griggs Park

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

Blue-jay with nesting material, Griggs Park.

Let see, is this how it goes?

That looks about right.

 

Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Enjoying the warm spring sun.

Robin, so many worms so little time, Griggs Park.

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When out in nature one thing a careful observer can almost always count on is seeing something new. That was certainly the case a few days ago when my wife observed a large number of bees engaged in some very curious behavior.

Across a fairly large area bees were flying about going in and out of many recently dug holes.

At one point we observed a ball of bees tumbling across the ground seemingly in the process of trying to kill something.

They continued to attack what ever it was. This when on for some time and we never got a good look at what the object was.

Despite what it looks like the bees may have been trying to protect not kill what ever it is they are crowding unto. In this case it may be the queen.

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Spring with all it’s activity is definitely a favorite time of the year. In the days to come the Yellow-throated warblers will undoubtedly be more cooperative as they are joined by other migrants from the south either taking up residence or just pausing for a while as they continue their journey north. 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.

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