Then One Morning They Were There

Just a few days ago, during a spring migration walk along Griggs Reservoir, it was quiet. Sure there were a noticeable number of Yellow-rumps, one or two Yellow-throated were heard so high in the Sycamores that they threatened to go into earth orbit, and even some Palms were flitting about with tails bobbing, but most of the kinglets had moved on with nothing else within easy binocular reach taking their place. An unwelcome reminder that spring migration can be that way, one day the land of plenty the next not so much.

Yellow-throated Warbler (trust me) high in a Sycamore.

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Over the past few years we’ve enjoyed monitoring a few locations close to home. While we do go further afield we’ve noticed that for us by concentrating on a few locations, the place, as will as the creatures that call it home, seemed to be valued more. We acknowledge that by not hopping in the car in response to an E-bird post there are birds that will not see. With that in mind, the next day we found ourselves back at Griggs Reservoir Park to see if things had changed. Amazingly, as if by magic, brightly colored orange birds that were no where to be seen the day before were now streaking through the air to perches high in trees or low in bushes, they seemed to be everywhere. The park was transformed. Did they arrive quietly during the night on the “red eye”? Your guess is as good as ours. Many were undoubtedly just passing through while others, based on observations from years past, will make the park and it’s environs home for the summer decorating the trees with their hanging nests. As you have probably already guessed these brightly colored birds were Baltimore Orioles.

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Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2, (Donna).

3, (Donna).

4, (Donna).

5, (Donna).

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A female sneaks in.

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Even with the arrival of the orioles, other birds including some that are migrants continued to compete for our attention.

A White-breasted Nuthatch strikes a classic nuthatch pose.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen snacking on ants

.   .   .  while another is engaged in a little home construction.

A very vocal Catbird announces his arrival from points south

.   .   .   while another looks on, (Donna).

Cliff Swallows, a species that in this case builds their communal grouping of nests under a bridge crossing the reservoir, were in the process of gathering nest building material (mud) resulting in a frenzy of activity around a small puddle not far from their nest site, (Donna).

A House Wren pauses momentarily .   .   .

then continues it’s song, (Donna).

The Cardinal is a beautiful but very common bird in Ohio. We have to remind ourselves not to take it for granted.

A male Bluebird bathed in a sea of green waits for lunch to fly by.

Right now Palm Warblers may be even more common than Yellow-rumps, (Donna).

A Cape May Warbler gets close enough for a photo with my Panasonic FZ200.

Based on the fact that that is where we often saw them, Red-eyed Vireos seemed to really enjoy the Sycamore trees, (Donna).

An almost always vocal Tufted Titmouse entertains us, (Donna).

If you hear a melodic and louder than it should be song, it could be a Tufted Titmouse.

The Spotted Sandpipers are also back in the neighborhood.

From a distance, without the aid of binoculars, we first mistake the movement of a Swainson’s Thrush for that of a robin. Many have been seen in the last few days and most are probably just passing through.

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Donna captures an amazing well camouflaged Brown Creeper

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With the leaves just emerging the orioles were easy to spot but that’s changing fast. In a few days, as green continues to embrace trees and bushes, they will be heard but even with their brilliant color they will be much harder to see. Many will move on with other species taking their place as the march of spring migration continues through central Ohio. We will wait expectantly for our next “new for the year” sighting and there undoubtedly will even be another post to celebrate it. Will it be an American Redstart, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or something else?

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Until then thanks for stopping by.

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Redbuds in bloom.

 

It’s Spring and Love Is In The Air

In recent days we’ve made a number of trips to areas along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River not far from our home. It’s spring migration and the challenge is to see how many migrating birds we can spot right in our “neighborhood”. At some point we may change our emphasis and increase the number of trips we take to more distant birding locations, but for now we’re having fun concentrating on places close to home.

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To date the most numerous warblers seen are the Palm and Yellow-rumped. While the Yellow-rumped is very common, with more subtle markings than many of it’s peers, I never tire of finding new beauty when I look at one. At Griggs Park the Baltimore Oriole is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Connecting trees with bright sunlit streaks of orange the males seem to be everywhere.  Should an oriole or other bird not be close by, it’s easy to find other things to appreciate this time of year.

The boardwalk at Kiwanis Riverway Park. One of our favorite birding spots. The water level was very high when this shot was taken.

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When we arrive to photograph birds we sometimes find them “still getting ready”,

Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

“Okay, I’m ready!”

“There’s just this one pesky feather that won’t stay in place,” Palm Warbler, Griggs Park.

“Okay, how do I look?”

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some may be busy doing other things,

A female Baltimore Oriole appears to be trying to build a nest out of monofilament fishing line in Griggs Park. We try to pick up lost or discarded fishing line and tackle whenever we see it.

Robin on nest, Griggs Park.

Mother Mallard tries to keep track of her charges, Griggs Park.

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while most are usually ready when we get there,

American Robin, Griggs Park.

 

Severely back lit, an illusive Black and White Warbler taxes the capabilities of the camera.

Take 2.

The Yellow Warbler is cute from any angle, Griggs Park.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park.

A better look at the unique crest on the Yellow-rumps head.

Male Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Female Bluebird, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

House Wren, Griggs Park.

Tree Swallow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

A Red-eyed Vireo ducts behind a small tree, Griggs Park.

Yellow-throated Warblers are often heard. Finding them is more difficult. Griggs Park.

It appears that this Chickadee has been spending entirely too much time with it’s Tufted Titmouse friends, Griggs Park.

Seeing this White-crowned Sparrow was a real treat, Griggs Park. “White-crowned Sparrows typically breed in the far north in open or shrubby habitats, including tundra, high alpine meadows, and forest edges. Patches of bare ground and grasses are important characteristics. During winter and on migration these birds frequent thickets, .   .   . “, from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Black-throated blue Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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but a few are just trying to get away.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Other birds were engaged in finding a find a dry perch, made all the more challenging by recent heavy rains.

In the company of friends a Great Blue Heron looks on as the very high Scioto River races by.

In recent days Great Egrets seem to be everywhere along both the reservoir and river, Griggs Park.

Out on the reservoir a Great Blue Heron floats by on a tree branch.

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<<< >>>

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Many flowers have undoubtedly benefitting from the recent rain.

Stumped again, the flower of a small unidentified flowering tree or bush. Is it a garden escapee?

Fleabane, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

The flower of the Tulip Tree. Native to eastern North America from southern Ontario and Illinois eastward to Massachusetts and Rhode Island and south to central Florida and Louisiana, Tulip Trees can grow to more than 160 ft in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains. (Wikipedia)

Non-native Butterweed, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Large flowered Valerian, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Hobblebush, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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You never know what might be hiding next to a flower.

A large female Fishing Spider, Griggs Park.

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Heading back to the car at the end of one outing, my sharp eyed wife spotted three Northern Water Snakes celebrating the season. The males are quite a bit smaller than the female. These snakes are fairly common along the river and reservoir. However, unlike the various species of turtles which always seem to be around, they aren’t often seen so it was a real treat to see them!

Large female with two smaller male Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Park. They mate from April through June and do not lay eggs like many other snakes. Instead, the mother carries the eggs inside her body and gives birth to free living young and may have as many as thirty at a time, but the average is eight. They are born between August and October. Mothers do not care for their young; as soon as they are born, they are on their own. (Wikipedia)

The males were in competition for the female’s affection.

The larger male seems to have won, at least momentarily.

A tangle of tails.

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After missing shots of numerous fast moving warblers and the recent challenge when I tried to capture the Black and White, I’ve decided to upgrade my otherwise excellent Canon 60D camera body to a Canon 80D. For the time being the bird camera lens will continue be a Sigma 150-500mm. Future posts will reveal how well it all works out. Thanks for stopping by.

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PS: As is often the case, Molly Cat sat watching intently as I finished this blog. I’m glad I’m not a mouse!

Molly Cat

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.

 

 

“Magee Marsh” Comes To Central Ohio

At least that was our experience this year. After a somewhat disappointing one day trip to Magee Marsh at the beginning of  “The Big Week” we decided to concentrate our efforts locally. Specifically Griggs Park and Kiwanis Riverway Park, with one trip to the O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area. We kept seeing birds, repeats and new ones,  at Griggs and Kiwanis so we kept going back. What made it so unbelievable was that both places are just a few minutes from our house so it wasn’t much of a leap to go from thinking about it to being out there with binoculars and camera. How much easier can it get?

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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So below is a photographic record of most of the birds we saw along with views of other things beautiful or fascinating seen along the way.

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Prothonotary Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Gray’s Sage, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

IMG_5067 Eastern Phoebe

Female Redstart, Griggs Park.

P1000526

Eastern Phoebe , Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Valerian, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

IMG_4955

House Wren, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Wild Hyacinth, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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A closer look.

IMG_4962

Robin, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

P1000510

Where are your wings? Who let you guys in here anyway? Red-eared Sliders, Griggs Reservoir

 

IMG_5244 - Copy

Blackpoll Warbler, Griggs Park.

False Solomon's Seal 3 landscape 1 051716 Griggs cp1-3

False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park, (Donna).

P1100831

False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park

P1100660

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

P1100763

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

 

IMG_1298fix

Dryad’s Saddle, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

IMG_5074 Warbling Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo, Griggs Park.

IMG_5229

Giant Swallowtail, Griggs Park.

P1270672

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

IMG_1354fix

Goats Beard, Griggs Park.

IMG_5123 Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler, Griggs Park.

IMG_5093

Bluejay, Griggs Park

P1270733

Fungi, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

IMG_5191

Gray Cheeked Trush, Griggs Park.

P1100823

Swainson’s Thrush, Griggs Park.

P1270670

Phlox, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna)

IMG_5161

Blackburnian Warbler, Griggs Park.

IMG_5205

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

P1270701

Mushroom Colony, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

P1100889

American Redstart (M), Griggs Park.

P1100614

American Redstart (F), Griggs Park.

P1270724

Mushroom, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Northern Flicker 2 LR 1 closer better 1 051916 Griggs cp1

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

P1270687

Wood Ear, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

IMG_5233

Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park.

P1000533

Great-crested Flycatcher, Griggs Park.

P1100381

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Griggs Park.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo 7 LL 3 best 2 052016 Griggs paddle cp1 - Copy

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, east shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

P1000614

Kingbird, Griggs Park.

P1110034

Insect, Griggs Park.

P1100741

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

P1100924

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Park.

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Things seem to be tapering off a bit but one never knows for sure till several days have past. In any case, even if they were all to up and leave tonight, it’s been a great spring migration.

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Thanks for stopping by.

Super Zooms Visit Magee Marsh

Last Wednesday May 13th we found ourselves at Magee March celebrating spring migration with some of our closest feathered friends. This post is about birds seen that we were able to photograph with relatively inexpensive super zoom cameras. We thought it would be fun to leave the “bird cameras” at home and see how we would fair trying to get a few shots using the popular constant aperture super zoom from Panasonic. Since we can never anticipate what the bird is going to do, and to increase our chances of getting a usable image, we always shoot in burst mode. So we hope you enjoy our little adventure. Some shots are okay, some good, and some even better.

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All things being equal, for very erratic fast moving subjects, a small, light, maneuverable camera wins the day. All things are not equal. In lower light or difficult lighting conditions, a good DSLR will focus faster and more accurately. Also, due to it’s larger sensor will generally produce better images if paired with a good lens. However, to reiterate a statement we’ve all heard, the best camera is the one you have with you.

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One can write an epistle about camera equipment for birding but some questions the selection process should address are:

– What do I intend to use the resultant photos for? The tradeoffs involved in getting the highest quality image with the most creative control may not be worth it. Sometimes good is good enough.

– Am I a birder that would like to get a few “memory shots” and not too concerned about whether or not I get an image of every bird?

– Am I a photographer that loves the challenge of getting the best images of the most birds possible on any given day?

– How much equipment do I feel like carrying?

– How much do I feel comfortable spending?

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To give you an idea of how much cropping and post processing was done, “as shot” and “final” images have been included to highlight some of the more challenging situations. To keep it simple all images were shot as jpeg’s.

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To the pictures:

P1020642

Bay Breasted

P1020642 (2)c

Bay Breasted, (cropped)

P1020656c

Bay Breasted, (cropped)

Bay Breasted female original file c

Bay Breasted female, (cropped), (Donna)

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P1020603 (2)c

Cape May, (cropped)

P1020594

Cape May

P1020594c

Cape May (cropped)

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P1020533 (2)c

Northern Parula, (cropped)

P1020504c

Take two, (cropped), (Donna)

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P1020378

Blackburnian

P1020378ac

Blackburnian (cropped)

Blackburnian original file 1c

Blackburnian, (the best of the day just slightly cropped), (Donna)

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IMG_5457

Palm

IMG_5457-2c

Palm, (cropped)

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IMG_5437 (2)c

Yellow, (cropped)

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Blackpoll Warbler original file 1

Blackpoll, (Donna)

Blackpoll Warbler original file 1 (2)c

Blackpole, (cropped)

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P1020850

Kingbird

P1020850 (2)c

Kingbird, (cropped)

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P1020809c

House Wren, (cropped)

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Tennessee Warbler 2 LR best 2 051315 Magee Marsh cp1

Tennessee, (corrected per reader input), (cropped), (Donna)

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Tennessee, (corrected per reader input), (cropped)

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P1020800c

Great Egret, (cropped)

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P1020865c

Baltimore Oriole, (very low light, cropped)

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P1020330

Red Wing Blackbird

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Thanks for stopping by.

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