Cold Weather Brings Nature Our Way

Every two or three years a period of unusually cold winter weather results in the land and water north as well as in central Ohio being covered with snow and ice for a prolonged period of time.  When this happens waterfowl and other birds that may not be able to make a living further north are forced to seek suitable habitats in our area. The result is the opportunity to see birds in locations where it would be extremely unlikely other times of the year. A gift to nature lovers courtesy of cold arctic weather.

Ice creeps out into the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

The negative to all of this is that windy 0 F to 15 F temperatures preclude the use of serious photographic equipment on long hikes. Briefly popping out of the car, if you are able to get close enough to your subject, is the only option. If one is set on doing a long hike, stuffing a smaller superzoom under your coat does work but fingers freeze almost immediately when you try to manipulate the camera.

Landscape transformed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

A habitat that attracts birds almost at our doorstep is the open flowing water of  the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. In the past couple of weeks we’ve been fortunate to observe a variety of waterfowl at that location. Others birds, such as Trumpeter Swans, have been reported but we’ve yet to see them. Timing is everything as the birds move up and down the river corridor. More often than not there is a least one Bald eagle present as the number of ducks and geese make for easy pickings.

Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

A closer look.

 

Crowded conditions, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A Red-headed Duck tries to ignore a rambunctious Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Hooded Merganser on patrol, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This one found a crayfish. Did you know that 21 species of crayfish call Ohio home.

There were no shortage of Common Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Common Merganser

A nice group of male Common Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A little closer.

Three Goldeneyes pose, (Donna).

Canvasback a little too far away for a decent pic, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Mute Swan, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Cackling Geese, shot is courtesy of our follow birding friend Ed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This buck seemed confused about the best place to relax. We thought it might be sick or injured but the next time we checked it was gone, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Red-headed Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

Amazingly, Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the Scioto.

There is often at least one Bald Eagle observing the activity along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

It’s also been a good year for Snowy Owls in Ohio with numerous birds being reported. The mechanism for that invasion, while perhaps partly due to the weather, also is the result of the past breeding season being a good one resulting in young owls looking for new hunting grounds further south as the increased population puts pressure on resources further north. Other birds such as Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs, to a greater or lesser degree, find their way into Ohio from further north during most winters.

Along farm fields not far from our home a roadside spill of corn attracted Horned Larks, a real treat to see. “The barer the ground, the more Horned Larks like it. Look for them in open country with very short or no vegetation, including bare agricultural fields. They breed in short grassland, short-stature sage shrubland, desert, and even alpine and arctic tundra.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Take 2.

At the same location, at first looking like some type of sparrow, was a Lapland Longspur, another first for us! They are a common songbird of the Arctic tundra, and winter in open fields across much of the US and southern Canada.

Take 2, (Donna).

.

Other creatures have also been braving the cold.

Not far from the concentration of waterfowl on Scioto River this Fox Squirrel was trying to warm up in the 10F sunshine, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Nearby an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was also spotted, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Our friend Ed told us about two Eastern screech owls located not far from Griggs Reservoir Park and was kind enough to send some pics our way.

. . . and a red morph, Ed.

Ed and Bob, photo courtesy of Sheila.

.

Returning home after a recent outing we were treated to some interesting bird activity right in our front yard.

Dark-eyed Junco. “Dark-eyed Juncos breed in forests across much of North America and at elevations ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet. They are often found in coniferous forests including pine, Douglas-fir, spruce, and fir, but also in deciduous forests such as aspen, cottonwood, oak, maple, and hickory. During winter and on migration they use a wider variety of habitats including open woodlands, fields, roadsides, parks, and gardens.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Competing with a Gray squirrel for goodies.

The chickadees love the sweetgum tree.

And so do the goldfinches.

A female Downy Woodpecker also takes advantage of the front yard feeders.

.

We feel very blessed to have so many fascinating creatures paying us a visit this winter. A very warm coat, that didn’t get worn once last winter, has come in very handy the last few days as we’ve been out and about. Today, as I finish writing this, the temperature is a balmy 35F. Time to get out and see what else we can find!

.

Finally, one of the joys of being a lover of nature is meeting kindred spirits like Ed and Sheila when out in the field. Ed, thanks again for supplying the pics!

.

Flowing water and extremely cold temperatures create ice pancakes along the Scioto.

Turkeys, Trout Lilies and Other Spring Things

This post is a bit of a ramble covering our adventures in central Ohio nature over the past week. A search for wildflowers and warblers in area metro parks, a visit to a local city park to see if any warblers were passing through and finally the first long kayak paddle of the year. So I hope you enjoy the ride.

.

In the spring wildflowers and migrating warblers are usually what comes to mind not turkeys. For me turkeys have always been a fall bird usually associated with a big meal that includes stuffing, gravy, and all the fixins. So a few days ago at Blendon Woods Metro Park it was a bit of a surprise to see a male turkey doing it’s best to convince a female that they should get together.

Turkey (M), Blendon Woods.

A closer look. In breeding plumage the feathers are truly spectacular, (Donna).

.

The purpose of the trip to Blendon was to look for warblers. We were successful in spotting a few including a Black-throated Green which without to much effort eluded the camera’s lens. While we did see a few, we soon found ourselves seduced by the many wildflowers that were in bloom.

It won’t be long till the leaves fill in, Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Standing out due to their relative scarceness leaves evoke the feeling of flowers.

Yellow Trout Lilies were doing their best at Blendon Woods.

Another view as sunlight filters through from behind.

 

Wild Geranium, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Black haw viburnum, Blendon Woods.

There were some exceptional large examples of Toadshade Trillium at Blendon Woods.

Flowers aren’t the only thing worth taking a close look at.

Jacobs Ladder, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Buttercup, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

.

When not looking at wildflowers or for warblers there were other things  .   .   .

Birds are apparently not the only spring nest builders, Fox Squirrel, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

One of a least two mature albino squirrels seen. How they evade the hawks long enough to reach adulthood is a mystery to me.

Home to small darters, in the spring the small creeks in Blendon Woods flow freely.

.

<<>>

The day following our trip to Blendon Woods we headed to Clear Creek Metro Park for what turned out to be a rather long hike. Spring is especially fascinating at Clear Creek with a number of plants not found elsewhere in Ohio. The number of butterflies seen (Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Commas, Morning Cloaks, etc.) but not photographed, was truly amazing.

Blue Phlox, Clear creek Metro Park.

Foamflower, Clear creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Pussytoes (F), Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Fiddleheads, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Soloman’s Seal, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Duskywing, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

Violet Wood Sorrel, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Coltsfoot, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Dogwood, Clear Creek Metro Park

Wild Geranium, Clear Creek Metro Park. (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Violets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Squaw Root, a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America, when blooming resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Wikipedia), Clear Creek Metro Park.

Fire Pink, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

.

<<>>

Closer to home within the city limits of Columbus along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir spring was also in full swing.

Redbuds, Griggs Park.

“Lovebirds”, male and female American Goldfinch, Griggs Park.

Blackberry, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Redwing Blackbird (M), Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

Shooting Star, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Buckeye, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

White-throated Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Honeysuckle, (Native?), Kiwanis Riverway Park

Yellow-throated Warbler singing high in a Sycamore tree, Griggs Park.

Wild Ginger, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In week or so ago I spotted this pair of Blue jays starting work on a nest. They must have given up on that location as no nest was found on this particular day, Griggs park.,

.

<<>>

Out on the reservoir there was also lot’s of activity, much of which eluded the camera’s lens, but some subjects cooperated just long enough. Spotted Sandpipers, turtles, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere. As I have undoubtedly mentioned in the past, shooting from a canoe or kayak has it’s own set of challenges, camera shake and the fact that everything is moving just to name a few, so when one gets a relatively good picture it’s truly cause for celebration. When paddling the kayak certain limitations are excepted so a relatively small light superzoom is usually what is taken. It’s easy to tuck out of the way and if it happens go swimming it’s not the end of the world.

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir.

Very small Red-eared Slider getting ready to attempt a double-backflip with a twist , Griggs Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Griggs Reservoir.

Great Egret in breeding plumage with a couple of close friends, Griggs Reservoir.

Note color around eyes.

.

In the last week not far from our home it seemed that no matter which way we turned there was something wonderful to see. We hope that’s been your experience also. Thanks for stopping by.

.

XXX

.

Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

 

 

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.

img_2003use2

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

.

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?

.

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

img_6552use

Golden Crown Kinglet along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

img_6584use

Take 2.

p1410845fix

Take 3, (Donna)

p1410876

Take 4, (Donna).

.

.   .   .  and not far away.

img_6560use

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

p1140383

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

img_6526use

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

img_6593use

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

img_6600use

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

p1140372use

Take 2.

p1410988

A Song Sparrow with attitude, (Donna).

.

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

img_6628use

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park.

img_6613use

Take 2.

p1140354use

Take 3.

.

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

p1410920

Crow playing with Northern Catalpa seed pod, (Donna)

p1410923

Take 2.

.

And as always there have been other things to notice.

img_6540use

A Fox Squirrel checks us out, Griggs Park.

p1140366

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

p1410892

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

p1140368

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

.

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

p1410778use-copy

Take 1.

p1410807use-copy

Take 2.

p1410907use-copy

Take 3.

p1410948use

Take 4.

p1410950use

Take 5.

.

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.

 

p1420010

Sunset, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

.

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.

 

An Unexpected Duck

A few days ago we found ourselves paddling the Twin Lakes area of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking for warblers. It was a good outing with Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers seen along with Tree and Bank Swallows, Great-crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, a Bald Eagle, etc.

.

However, the Northern Shoveler pictured below was a bit of a surprise. Shouldn’t it be a little further north by now? Later, after we were off the water, additional investigation revealed the Northern Shoveler migration can cover a larger time period when compared to other waterfowl. So, maybe the sighting shouldn’t be a big surprise.

P1030043use (2)

Male Northern Shoveler, Twin Lakes

Northern Shoveler 2 LR on log good 1 052115 Twin Lakes   cp1

Take 2, Twin Lakes

 .

Adding to the excitement, Bank and Tree Swallows were nice enough to pose for their portrait.

Barn Swallow juvenile 2 good 2 052115 Twin Lakes cp1

Barn Swallow, Twin Lakes

 

P1030017use

Tree Swallow, Twin Lakes

 .

Of course no late spring outing is complete, be it the Twin Lakes Area, Griggs Reservoir, or the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, without acknowledging some of the other participants.

Great Blue Heron with fish 4 closer 1 052315 Alum Creek   cp1

Great Blue Heron with lunch, Alum Creek Reservoir

Fox Squirrel relaxing 1 052315 Alum Creek paddle cp1

Fox Squirrel relaxing on a branch overhanging the water, Alum Creek Reservoir

Canada Geese babies best 051915 Griggs south cp1

Canada Geese babies. Griggs Reservoir

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow Throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir

IMG_5588

Northern Water snake, Alum Creek Reservoir

IMG_5585

Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir

 .

Let’s not forget some of the flowers seen.

Dames Rocket P1020890 (2)

Dames Rocket, Griggs Reservoir

Honey Locust 2 052325 Alum Creek cp1

Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow Flag Iris, Griggs Reservoir

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild Chives, Griggs Reservoir

 .

Haven’t had a mystery photo for quite a while so any idea what the object in the below photograph is?

Wool Sower wasp gall 052315 Alum Creek cp1

What is it?, Alum Creek Reservoir

 .

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Spring Snow

It’s been a back and forth spring. Nothing new there except sometimes it can be a bit confusing. Yesterday morning we woke to a fresh cover of snow. Just enough to color the landscape white for a time. By noon it was gone.

IMG_1107fix

Just pull the car out of the garage for some quick maintenance, perhaps it will take an hour, the weather had a different idea.

 .

There have been signs of spring:

P1010771a

Skunk Cabbage

P1010774c

A closer look.

Squirrel with acorn 032415 Highbanks cp1

Squirrel with acorn, (Donna)

IMG_1092c

Winter Aconite

Tufted Titmouse LR beak open 032415 Highbanks cp1

Titmouse, (Donna)

IMG_5350cfixuse

Last years leaves cast shadows.

Bluebird back LR better one 032415 Highbanks cp1

A too blue Bluebird, (Donna)

Lichen on red log 032415 Highbanks csb1

Lichen and fallen log, (Donna).

Lichen on red log 032415 Highbanks closer 1

Looking closer

 

IMG_5364

Downy Woodpecker

IMG_5360use

Fox Squirrel

IMG_1088

Crocus

 .

.    .    .    and then, in parting, perhaps until next year:

IMG_5353fix

The snow reveals things not usually noticed

IMG_5357fixuse

. . . creating patterns and design.

 .

Thanks for stopping by.

Diary of an Aesthete

A Journey Of Heart And Mind

quercuscommunity

Life after the Care Farm

Out For 30

Exploring the world, 30 days at a time.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Photos by Donna

It's all about the jouney.....not the destination!

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Nareszcie urlop

English & Polish TravelBlog / Poland, Europe, the World

Eloquent Nature 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

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

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

Views From A Small Island

A photographic record of the everyday and the not so everyday life around the UK.

Mike Powell

My journey through photography