Beauty In Transitions

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

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

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

*** (Donna)

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

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***(Donna)

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

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

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

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

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

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker, (Donna)

Red-belied Woodpecker, (Donna).

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

***

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

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

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***(Donna)

***

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

Oak leaf

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

House Finch

American Cardinal

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

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

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

Scioto River landscape.

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

An American Robin takes a bath.

Cedar Waxwings stop for a drink.

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

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

***(Donna)

***

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Transforming place, an ephemeral first snow blankets the ground.

***

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

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Thanks for stopping by.

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A Thankful Reflection

The last day of 2017, what better time to stop for a moment and reflect back to the wonders of nature seen in central Ohio in the past year.

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Griggs Reservoir.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden Crown Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along the Scioto River

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

November reflection, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Covered Bridge, Mohican State Park.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Buckeye, (Donna).

Monarch, (Donna).

Griggs Reservoir

Solitary leaf

Chicory

Design, (Donna).

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Autumn color.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Giant Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.

Mink, Au Sable River MI, (Donna).

Au Sable River Smallmouth, MI, (Donna).

Devoe Lake, MI.

Cardinal Flowers, Rifle River Rec, Area, MI.

Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec. Area. MI.

Common Loons, Devoe Lake, MI, (Donna).

Meal time, Devoe lake, MI

Caspian Tern, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, MI.

Catbirds, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Griggs Reservoir waterfall.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Cliff Swallows, (Donna).

Gray Squirrel.

Baltimore Oriole.

Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

Prothonotary Warbler

Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir

Yellow-collared Scape Moth, (Donna).

Northern Water Snake.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Blue Heron, Scioto River, (Donna).

Hayden Run Falls

Mating Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park.

White-crowned Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Palm Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Turkey, Blendon Woods Metro Park, (Donna).

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Looking at the landscape as we walked along the Scioto River yesterday it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. Very cold weather has made the river below the dam one of the few stretches of open water that waterfowl can now call home.

Hooded Mergansers.

More robins than we could count took turns getting a cool drink at waters edge.

Ring-necked Ducks.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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As always, thanks for stopping by and have a Happy New Year!

 

Reluctant Treasures

We enjoy being outdoors no matter what the time of year. However, when it comes to providing a sense of wonder, unlike spring, summer and early autumn, late autumn and early winter give up their subtle treasures reluctantly. One must move slowly and look closely or much will be missed.

With the leaves now gone the convoluted bark of the Osage Orange is hard not to notice, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Better in B&W?

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A cloudy cold early November morning gives way to the fleeting sun of an unexpectedly warm afternoon and as if by magic things appear not seen a few hours earlier.

A warm early November afternoon and the first sighting of a Variegated Fritillary for the year, (Donna).

A pond quiet in the cold morning air comes to life in the warm afternoon sun, Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

An Autumn Meadowhawk enjoys the afternoon sun, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Striped Wolf Spider sunning itself along the trail just avoids being stepped on, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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A sheltered place, warmed by the sun, gives refuge to flowers that should be gone for the year. Fungi fruit in response to more generous rain defying the below freezing nights.

In the low late autumn sun Nodding Bur-Marigold defies the season, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss and lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Unexpectedly colorful Changing Pholiota, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tinged with green an unidentified shelf fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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More isolated now, some color still remains.

Road through Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sweatgum leaves, (Donna).

Poison Ivy, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The road along the reservoir evites us to walk further, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Fewer leaves, and a forest canopy of bare branches, allow one to better see the birds that haven’t made their way south.

Against a deep blue November sky a sentinel stands along the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Better in B&W?

Song Sparrow, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna).

American Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Downy Woodpecker (M), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

We continue to see Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam.

Backing off a bit we noticed a Coopers Hawk watching from the distance.

A dark morph American Robin from further north? Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thankfully, with the migrating warblers pretty much gone, the Carolina Wrens continue to entertain along the Scioto River.

Immature Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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For the last few weeks almost every squirrel has had a nut in its mouth.

Gray Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s the time of year when short cloudy days, a landscapes of muted colors, and breezes often too cool to be comfortable tell us that things are going to be quieter for a while.

A shoreline reflection reveals November’s bare branches, Prairie Oaks Metro 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.

 

Walking Not Running

When younger one of my greatest joys was running trails in the various area parks and experiencing the exhilaration as my body rose to the challenge of each new hill or greater distance. Blame it on the aches and pains of age, overuse, or maybe just wanting something more out of the experience, but at some point trail running wasn’t as enjoyable so I started to walk when in the woods. Sometimes I walked fast, but often a little slower not worrying as much about getting a “workout”. It wasn’t long before I started seeing things I hadn’t noticed before and often found myself stopping for a better look. At first, armed with only a little curiosity, I did so impatiently, wanting to keep moving. But gradually, the more I looked the more was noticed; relationships and interconnections, certain butterflies liked certain plants, some birds were usually found in the treetops, others on the ground, and some somewhere in between. Some birds passed through very briefly in spring and fall while others appeared to hang around all year.  There were unique spring, summer, and fall wildflowers. Nothing was forever, flowers faded, plants died, hawks ate squirrels, storms downed once admired stately trees, but through it all there was always new life.

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Aware of their interconnectedness, the plants, animals, and insects seen became more interesting, and then they, as well as the experience of being in nature, became almost magical. There was apparently a lot more going on than I ever realized when running. Slowly, rather than being “inner-directed” and worrying about “breathing and pulse rate”, I became “outer-directed”. A feeling of being part of something much bigger than myself, or even humankind, started to develop. Before long a feeling of oneness with “that bigger something” would embrace me while walking through the woods or paddling a lake or river. But also a heightened awareness arose that, like the “stately tree”, I was not here forever. I had been given a gift that allowed me, for a very brief moment of seemingly insignificant time, to look, listen, smell, and touch the wonder of it all.

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So on that note, the following pictures of things seen in nature over the last few days are offered as a merger celebration of this brief moment in time.

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The Baltimore Orioles have arrived to nest along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir.

Baltimore Oriole over the Scioto River, (Donna).

Male Baltimore Orioles along Griggs Reservoir.

 

Another lone male along the Scioto. The males are often seen chasing each other this time of year.

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Paddling on Griggs Reservoir it’s hard not to notice that the Wild Columbine is in bloom along the low but rocky cliffs of reservoir’s east shore.

Wild Columbine.

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Walking park paths other late spring wildflowers have also been seen.

Appendage Waterleaf, (Donna).

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Very common Yellow-rumped Warblers pass through Griggs Park heading north to Michigan or Canada to nest.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Another view.

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High in a Sycamore the first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year is seen. It will probably nest along Griggs Reservoir.

Great Crested Flycatcher. Note distinctive yellow underside.

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A whimsical year round resident, this Carolina Wren shows off it’s prize.

Carolina Wren

 

Another view.

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Numerous Palm Warblers are seen passing through Griggs Park as they also head further north.

Palm warblers are common in the spring and fall along Griggs Reservoir.

Another view.

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Also on it’s way further north a Nashville Warbler forages at the edge of the Scioto River. Not a bird we often see.

Nashville Warbler.

Another view, (Donna).

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As it searches for higher ground a Northern Water Snake is seen along the rain swollen Scioto River.

Northern Water Snake

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A “turtle family” doesn’t seem to mind the high water.

Red-eared Sliders along the Scioto, (Donna).

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Trying to locate a warbler we sometimes have a sense we’re being watched.

Peeking out.

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Sure enough!

Gray Squirrel

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We hope that in the past few days your adventures in nature have been as rewarding as ours. 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.

 

High Banks Spring Walk; Concretions Seen, Warblers Heard

It was a beautiful day for a hike at Highbanks Metro Park with friends. Warblers were our main objective but no doubt there would be other things to fascinate if the warblers decided not to cooperate.

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One of those things turned out to be concretions. We’ve hiked and explored High Banks for years but one thing we’ve never noticed are the concretions that exist along creek bottoms in the park. This partly due to the fact that they are not visible from the main trail and generally we avoid going off trail so as to not damage the landscape which, as is the case with most metro parks, is easily overrun. In this particular case we wondered why there was a worn path leading off the main trail so we decided to follow it for awhile.

According Wikipedia, “A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the host stratum.”

Typical of the area in High Banks Metro Park where concretions might be found.

Sometimes one might see the rock formations as just random.

But other times things seem just a little different.

The origin of some shapes are difficult to figure out.

Others not so much.

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After the fascination of the concretions we decided to wander down the trail and see what warblers we might find.

Early morning sun filters through the trees at High Banks.

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While not warblers, we hadn’t gone far when several Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared in low lying bushes and weren’t shy about displaying their ruby crowns. They weren’t as good about sitting still of a picture. Along the Olentangy River Yellow-throated Warblers could be heard but not seen high in the Sycamores.

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 Other birds were more cooperative.

Tufted Titmouse

White-throated Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Pheobe

Okay, I know I’m not a bird but would you take my picture?

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As is often the case in the spring if one thing eludes there are always other things to enjoy. On this particular day it was trilliums many of which had turned pink as well as the many other wildflowers.

Large-flowered Trillium

 

There were a number of beautiful specimens.

There were also nice groupings  .   .   .

Standing at attention, almost.

and phlox trillium bouquets.

Phlox and Large-flowered Trillium.

Other types of trilliums were also seen.

Red Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

Nodding Trillium, (Donna)

Another view of a Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

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May Apples were starting to bloom.

May Apples

Hiding under the leaves the flower is not always easy to see, (Donna).

A closer look.

View along the trail, High Banks Metro Park.

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Other flowers, some not real common on central Ohio, were also seen.

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Soloman’s Seal, (Donna).

Philadelphia Fleabane, (Donna).

 

Dame’s Rocket, (Donna).

Corn Salad, not real common, (Donna).

Purple Cress, (Donna).

Goldenseal, also not a common flower. In herbal medicine, goldenseal is used as a multi-purpose remedy.

Dogwood

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To one that is so inclined, time spent in nature feeds the soul. In spring the uninterrupted songs of the various birds as they go about their day is sublime even when they remain unseen. The air seems especially fragrant and pure. The still deep blue sky frames the translucent green of the immerging overhead leaves. Flowers grace the forest floor with their varied and unique loveliness.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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

A Winter Meditation

A typical winter day in central Ohio is cloudy gray and often punctuated by light rain or snow. However, due to temperatures that regularly get above freezing, there’s usually no snow cover. All this contributes to a somber landscape.

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Today a Chickadee, a female Cardinal, and a Nuthatch at our feeder said why don’t you come out and join us it’s really not so bad out here. So we did.

(click on image for a better view)

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Chickadee

IMG_4743

Female Cardinal

White-Breasted Nuthatch 2 012215 Front yard cp1

Nuthatch, (Donna)

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Given that it wasn’t a very seductive day we stayed closed to home and went for a walk along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. We saw no Bald Eagles, or Goldeneyes or other “exotics” today. Even if we had, the low ambient light made photographing anything that was moving a chancy proposition.

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So mostly we walked, stopped periodically to look, and listened. Mallards were quieter today but still occasionally announced their presence, and a Kingfisher could be heard somewhere in the distance while a Great Blue Heron watched from the other bank. The quiet provided the perfect setting to reflect on all the wonderful experiences we’ve had exploring nature in this very small inconspicuous piece of real estate located in the middle of the city. It was a time to be with nature and give thanks.

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Below are a few images from the last few days:

Hooded Mergansers flying 011915 Griggs south cp1

Hooded Mergansers, (Donna)

Black Jelly Roll fungi close-up better 1 012215 Griggs south cp1

Black Jelly Roll Fungi, (Donna)

winter abstract

Winter Abstract

Paper Fungi close-up 012215 Griggs south cp1783

Paper Fungi, (Donna)

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Gray Squirrel along the river.

P1000337

Brown Creeper, moving a little too fast for the camera.

P1000314

Great Blue Heron across the river.

P1000290corp

Hooded Mergansers

Moss, lichen and fungi abstract 012215 Griggs south cp196

Moss, fungi and lichen, (Donna)

P1000276crop

A Coot makes it’s getaway.

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Thanks for looking in.

Bluebirds of Happiness

Recently we explored one of our local haunts, Griggs Park and the river below the dam, hoping to see migrating warblers. Just the day before an immature Bald Eagle had been perched over my head as I fished in the river. Maybe it would be there again today. If the birds didn’t cooperate we would be rewarded with some fall colors which, while past their peek, were still nice.

Remember: for a better view click on the image.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam as autumn progresses.

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Walking south we did see warblers but they were in the tree tops making a “serious” photo impossible. There were the usual woodpeckers flying about and we were rewarded with a good sighting of a Golden-crown Kinglet that refused to sit still for a picture. The eagle had apparently moved on so after checking out the usual “good spots” we decided to head back to the car. It was warming up so perhaps we’d see more birds as we worked our way back.

In the fall Bluebirds from further north find Griggs Park to be a good location for insects and other edibles. We don’t see them in the winter so they apparently move further south as the cold eliminates their food source. On this particular day we got lucky and sighted a number of birds right along the shore of the reservoir as we walked north.

Blue Birds b IMG_7011 - Copy

Female Bluebird, Griggs Park

Blue Birds b IMG_7033

Male Bluebird

Blue Birds b IMG_7037

Off to look for his mate.

Blue Birds P1130481donna

Happy at last, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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During the Bluebird excitement I glanced over my shoulder and saw a Nuthatch, almost close enough to touch, seriously investigating something in a tree. I swung the camera around and just started shooting hoping for the best.

Nuthatch  IMG_7042

Nuthatch, study 1, (Griggs Park)

Nuthatch  IMG_7043

Nuthatch, study 2

Nuthatch  IMG_7045

Nuthatch, study 3

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Usually I don’t get too excited about photographing House Finches but this male was striking and seemed to enjoy having it’s picture taken.

House F 3 IMG_7069

Male House Finch, study 1, Griggs Park

House F 1 IMG_7070

Male House Finch, study 2

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While shooting the House Finch a Song Sparrow stopped by.

Song Spar IMG_7061

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park

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A little further along a White-crowned Sparrow posed.

White Crown Sparrow IMG_7073

White-crowned Sparrow below Griggs Dam.

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Not all our friends were feathered.

Gray Squirrel with walnut shell 1 102714 Griggs south cp1

Gray Squirrel with a mouthful, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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I’m in love with this scene so, as autumn has progressed, I’ve taken the liberty to post several shots.

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Tree roots along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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