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.

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.

Autumn’s Little Bit of This and That

At first I just thought it was a butterfly, catching a brightly colored object out of the corner of my eye as we finished a hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Almost instantly my wife cried out, “look at that huge spider!” and as I spun around for a better look, the breezy day caused a large female Marbled Orbweaver to swing over my head in a return arc. It would put The Flying Wallendas to shame as it gracefully went about it’s work suspended by “high wires” that were at times invisible. By the end of a walk not many birds had been seen, certainly nothing to get real excited abound, so the spider was a special treat and served as another example in nature of what for us has become a season of a little bit of this and that.

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A Marbled Orbweaver gathers it’s web for reuse, about an inch an a half across, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Another look, the two black dots are it’s eyes, (Donna).

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While our visit to Battelle Darby had been all about the spider a few days later and closer to home a bird we don’t see that often made an appearance.

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White-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park.

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Another look.

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Take three.

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My what white eyes you have, (Donna).

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Just as we finished enjoying the White-eyed Vireo a Bald Eagle was seen circling high over head. Not an every day occurrence within the city limits of Columbus and having seen the eagle we were a lot more excited than the below picture can possibly express.

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Way too high for a good pic, Griggs Park.

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and there were other birds:

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Male Downy, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Male Eastern Bluebird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna)

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Insects and other things:

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Bumblebee on Jerusalem Artichoke, one of the last wildflowers of fall, Griggs Park.

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There continue to be sightings of Eastern Commas, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Very small emergent fungi, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Unidentified tree fungi or who nailed those shells to that tree? Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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The Ohio autumn landscape near our home continued to charm:

 

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Tree roots along the Scioto, Griggs Park.

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Moss and leaves, Griggs Park.

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Autumn along the Scioto, Griggs Park.

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Fallen leaves along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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So letting go of expectations in recent days nature really has been a wonderful little bit of this and that. Thanks for stopping by. 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.

Summer Wildflowers, Butterflies, and a Few Birds

We’ve been busy documenting nature’s summer in central Ohio. If you are fascinated by insects this is your time of year but be prepared to look closely. The summer heat has done little to discourage the wildflowers which in a shout of color announce their presence. The below shots were taken along Griggs Reservoir and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. I hope they put you in a summer kind of mood.

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Milk Weed Beetle, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Lettuce, Griggs Park, Donna

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Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Potato Vine, Griggs Park, Donna

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Barely seen, dragonflies hover over a reflection, Griggs Reservoir

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Fallen branch and wildflowers, Griggs Park

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Gray Headed Cone Flowers, Griggs Park

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Cup Plant, Griggs Park

 

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Wild Chicory, Griggs Park

 

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Path to the water, Griggs Park

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Thistle, Griggs Park

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park

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Wasp, Griggs Park, Donna

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Eastern Pondhawk,(F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Wing Stem, Griggs Park, Donna

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fireworks in green, Griggs park, Donna

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Biennial Gaura, Griggs Park, Donna

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Widow Skimmer (F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Least Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna

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Rose Pink, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Donna

 

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Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Greek Metro Park, Donna

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Hummingbird Moth, Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park, Donna

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Phlox, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Catbird, Griggs Park, Donna

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Ducklings, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fishing, Griggs Reservoir, Donna

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Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hairy Wood Mint, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Coneflowers, Griggs Park

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Peck’s Skipper, Griggs Park

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Eastern Wood Pewee, Griggs Park

 

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Royal Catchfly, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Royal Catchfly, a closer look.

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Looking for Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bluebird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Kingbird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Barn Swallow, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Luna Moth on our house.

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Quiet morning, Griggs Reservoir

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Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Black Crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Hope you enjoyed this summer celebration of nature in central Ohio. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Eagles and Ice

Yesterday we decided to check out the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam for ice formations. It was very cold and the reservoir had frozen over. It all seemed a little unreal because just a few days before very heavy rain had  accompanied 50F temperatures. Rain means the river level rises in proportion to the amount. Usually within a day or so the level drops leaving beautiful ice formations if it’s cold enough. The ice the only evidence of where the water had once been.

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Many waterfowl had taken up residence in the river’s open water . Amongst the Canada Geese and Mallards we did see Golden Eyes, Hooded Mergansers, Buffle Heads, Pie-billed Grebes. Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons were still making a living in the cold. However, one heron flying overhead appeared to have a least one of it’s feet encased in a small block of ice. Perhaps it stood in the wrong place to long.

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Just below the dam waterfowl escape the ice of the frozen reservoir.

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Waterfowl huddle just out of the river’s current.

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Fascinating ice shapes were everywhere.

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Scioto River looking north

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Ice cones.

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Different shapes.

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Icy landscape, Scioto River looking south.

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Very small Chandelier, (Donna)

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Shadows.

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Ice Ear Rings?, (Donna)

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Another chandelier, (Donna)

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There was evidence of birds walking in the fresh snow.

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Tracks

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Last year we noticed that when there are a lot of waterfowl concentrated in one spot it’s not uncommon to see Bald Eagles. Yesterday, with the concentration of waterfowl, we were rewarded with some great views of eagles perched near the top of tall trees along the river. In total we saw four, two appeared to be mature and two were immature. Pretty exciting for just two miles from our house!

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A Bald Eagle lands.

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Bald Eagles, study 2

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Bald Eagles, study 3, (Donna)

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Study 4, (Donna)

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Getting ready to take flight, study 5

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Immature Bald Eagle, (Donna)

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A Bluebird braving the cold. One of several that were seen.

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Bluebird, Hoover Park

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Thanks for looking in. We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy nature in our neighborhood in the coming week.

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