Not Exactly a Bald Eagle

Yesterday we visited Highbanks Metro Park in the hope of seeing the Bald Eagles that nest in a Sycamore tree along the Olentangy River. The landscape, without a cover of snow, has become a sepia tone, especially if the skies are gray. Fortunately due to recent rains fungi were making a good showing.  While we didn’t see the eagles, we were treated to sightings of numerous woodpeckers as well as nuthatches, juncos, titmouse, blue jays and chickadees.

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Pileated Woodpecker sightings made up for the absence of the eagles and this one, while not real close, did allow us to take it’s picture.

Pileated Woodpecker on log in action 120114 highbanks csb1

Female Pileated Woodpecker, study 1, Highbanks, (Donna)

Pileated Woodpecker on log best 1 120114 Highbanks Hike cp1

Female Pileated Woodpecker, study 2, Highbanks, (Donna)

Pileaded Woodpecker looking up 120114 highbanks cp2

Female Pileated Woodpecker, study 3, Highbanks, (Donna)

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.    .    .    and as mentioned above there were the fungi. Below are a few examples of the fungi seen.

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Turkey Tail Fungi on one of the many fallen trees, Highbanks

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Turkey Tail fungi, Highbanks

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“Fungi flower”, something we’ve never seen before, Highbanks, (Donna)

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Fungi, Highbanks

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Another view of Turkey Tail, Highbanks

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High Banks contains many mature trees creating an interesting picture when one falls.

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Fallen tree, Highbanks

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Finally, while walking in Griggs Park near our home, we continue to monitor the comings and goings of migratory waterfowl on the reservoir.

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Male and Female Rudy Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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A lone Horned Grebe, (we were amazed to hear this one calling), Griggs Reservoir

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My wife was able to get this interesting lichen fossil composition while I was enamored by the ducks.

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Lichen and Devonian period fossils, limestone rock, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Our wish is that you will have a moment in the next few days to enjoy nature in your neighborhood. Thanks for looking in.

Seeing a Very Unusual Bird and Remembering

Normally when on a walk to explore nature, it’s a flower or warbler that highlights the outing. Today a very large bird flew overhead. For a moment, without protest, it took us away from our enjoyment of the many Cedar Waxwings that were occupying the trees and bushes along the reservoir.

The bird’s call was unmistakable and for most men my age, when it came into view, identification was not difficult.

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Boeing B17 heavy bomber used for daylight missions over Germany during WWII

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Boeing B17 heavy bomber, visiting Columbus for tours and rides.

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After the sound the four Pratt and Whitney radial engines faded into the distance, we got back to enjoying the birds.

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Reservoir

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The very common Morning Dove was also present along the river. It’s beautiful call announces that spring is really here.

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Morning Dove along the Scioto River

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Now that it’s leafed out the Orioles are much harder to see but we did manage to get one record shot.

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Baltimore Oriole along the Scioto River

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My wife was busy taking inventory of the wildflowers that were in attendance.

g Yellow Flag Iris 052414 Griggs cp1

Yellow Flag Iris along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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Star of Bethlehem along the Scioto River, (Donna)

g Daisy Fleabane Griggs IMG_0739

Daisy Fleabane along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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and I was again trying to identify some of the lichen seen.

Flavoparmelia caperata IMG_3278

Flavoparmelia caperata

Candelaria concolor and Physconia lichen IMG_3276

Candelaria concolor (orange) and Physconia lichen

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So on this Memorial day weekend a deep feeling of gratitude goes out to the men and women who have served at sea, in the air, and on the ground to preserve our freedom and way of life.

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In Remembrance

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***

Hiking with Good Friends and Wildflowers

When friends suggested that we met for breakfast at one of their favorite breakfast cafes and then go for a hike in Alum Creek State Park, we jumped at the opportunity. Especially since later this year these same friends will be coconspirators on a hike of the West Highland Way in Scotland.

There’s always a little concern when joining friends for a hike due to a “condition” we’ve developed that causes us to stop and look at almost everything. This “condition” is undoubtedly the result of spending entirely too much time in the woods. The day may prove to be even more of a challenge given the likely presence of spring wildflowers. To make matters worse, we hadn’t considered the mosses and lichen that also turned out to be quite plentiful. Nonetheless, we were all on speaking terms at hikes end and our friends seemed to enjoy the things seen as much as us. Hopefully a reasonable balance between hiking and looking was achieved.

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click on the images for a better view

Below is just a sample of wildflowers seen:

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Rue Anemone, the only example seen and it represented itself rather well.

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Trout Lillies, named for the leaves that were thought to resemble a Brown trout, may take up to seven years to bloom, fortunately it’s common.

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Spring Beauties, the leaf litter often hides the leaves.

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Spring Beauties and Cutleaf Toothwort, (Donna)

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

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Coltfoot, one of the few examples seen, (Donna)

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Hepatica, a closer look, (Donna)

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Hepatica with leaves not often seen this well due to leaf litter, (Donna)

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 .   .   .   and then there were the mosses and lichen. They’re of particular interest to us because we’ve just starting learning about them having been inspired by the New Hampshire Garden Solutions blog. Our attempt at identification was aided by the Ohio Moss and Lichen Association website.

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Pyxie-Cups, Cladonia pyxidata Lichen, an exciting find!

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Reindeer lichen, Cladonia rangiferina

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Cladonia furcata Lichen with Dicranum moss, (Donna)

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Pyxie-Cups, Cladonia pyxidata Lichen

 

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Yew-leaved fork moss, Fissidens taxifolius?

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Using our Canon SX260’s to capture the action!

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On a lovely spring day we finished the hike feeling very blessed, thankful for time spent with good friends discovering new things in the woods of Ohio.

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Picking up trash, my way of giving thanks.

The Bark of a Sycamore Tree

Showing their stark black brown skeletons against a gray sky, winter is not the most beautiful time of year for deciduous trees. However, after shedding portions of it’s bark in the late summer and fall, the Sycamore is the exception. At a distance the white bark of the Sycamore’s upper branches contrasts beautifully with the trees around it. Taking a closer look nearer to the ground, one can enjoy the bark’s endless patterns and textures.

Trees along the Scioto

Trees along the Scioto, can you spot the Sycamores?

Patterns and Textures

Patterns and Textures, Donna

Sycamore along the Scioto

Sycamore along the Scioto

Unlike today’s windy 15 degrees, yesterday was a good day to be out. There was little or no wind and the temperature was 20 degrees warmer. So with that in mind, we set off on our usual six mile urban hike with hopes of seeing some uncommon birds or maybe an eagle along the river. When not looking at sycamore bark we did enjoy investigating fungi and lichens growing on some of the other trees.

Fungi on fallen log

Fungi on fallen log, Donna

Lichen

Lichen

Fungi and lichen on bark

Fungi and lichen on bark, Donna

Bird Tracts in Snow

Crow tracks in Snow, Donna

Baltimore Oriole Nest

Abandoned Baltimore Oriole Nest

We saw Hooded Mergansers and Mallard Ducks in the river and even Kinglets, Chickadees, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Tufted Titmouse along it, but no eagle. It looked as though it was going to be a routine day. But that was before a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down and landed right in front of us.

Hooded Mergansers and Mallards

Hooded Mergansers and Mallards, Donna

We never could figure out what it was after as we never saw it eat anything. It did seem to be looking for or at something as it repeatedly clawed at or stomped on the ground. After taking some pictures we left it undisturbed to continue it’s quest. The day had been a slightly warmer so perhaps a chipmunk had ventured out and just made it to safety before it had arrived.

Red-tailed Hawk, study 1

Red-tailed Hawk, study 1

Red-tailed Hawk, study 2

Red-tailed Hawk, study 2

Red-tailed Hawk, study 1

Red-tailed Hawk, study 3

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Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

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