Looking For The “White-throated Sparrow”

In the back of our mind during outings over the past week has been the thought that we might see the season’s first White-throated Sparrow. For us, along with the arrival of the Dark-eyed Junco, this small bird marks the passing of the season and the certain coming of winter. During breeding, they are found further north in either coniferous or deciduous forests up to tree line in the U.S. and across Canada. During migration and during the winter months central Ohio is just one location they call home.

Autumn reflection.

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Recently, walking along the Scioto River looking for White-throated Sparrows, and perhaps a stray kinglet or two, we stumbled across some slightly larger birds.

Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam are always a real treat to see.

Take 2.

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At river’s edge, almost right below the eagles, a young male White-tail deer relaxed. It was apparently not too concerned about the eagles.

White Tail Deer, (Donna).

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The next day, hoping for additional photos of the eagles that were now nowhere to be found, Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere  .   .   .

Golden-crowned Kinglet, along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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.   .   .  along with a few of their close associates with the exception of “the sparrow”.

Male Downy woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Male Bluebird, Griggs reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped warblers continue to stick around enjoying the Poison Ivy Berries, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

“Must you take the picture when my mouths full and besides, I’m not a bird!” Red Squirrel, Griggs reservoir Park.

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A tree’s few remaining leaves seemingly slide a slippery slope to the ground.

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Wanting to check out a location not previously explored, we decided on Shale Hollow Park, one of Delaware County’s preservation parks. Blustery cold conditions made birding less than optimal, so while birds eluded us we did find something quiet different and no less interesting, concretions. Probably some of the best examples we’ve seen in central Ohio. For us it was proof once again that one should always be open to the wonder of the day.

For those that are curious, “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. 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 surrounding strata. Concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities. Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have in the past been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs,  animal and plant fossils, extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.” (Wikipedia)

 

Concretion, Shale Hallow Park, (Donna).

Two concretions that appear to have seen better days.

A concretion that may have been spherical at on time.

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In addition to concretions, with the coming of  wetter weather, there have been other things to appreciate.

Disclaimer: Fungi identifications represent our best effort.

Turkey-tail on log, Shale Hollow Park, (Donna).

Rusty Polypore, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Witches Butter with fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Split-pore Polypore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging mushroom, Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, Shale Hollow Park.

Same as above but further along.

Pink polypore with lichen, (Donna).

Red leaf on Turkey Tail, Shale Hollow Park.

Radiating Phlebia on log, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park

Another view.

On a fallen branch a, almost too small to see, mushroom pops up through some lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Late autumn sentinels along Griggs Reservoir.

The beautiful patterns of newly emerged Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s often when least expected, near the end of a long hike, almost back to the car and too tired to care, that what we seek appears. Such was the case with the White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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Some may wonder what the big deal is. Why is seeing a sparrow so meaningful? For many who spend time in nature the answer is simple; seeing a white-throated Sparrow brings expression to a sense of connectedness to a world much bigger than ourselves. We usually first hear and then see the sparrow and for the time is sees fit are in its presence. It in turn acknowledges us in its own unique way. This small, seemingly fragile, creature has travelled perhaps a thousand miles and during this brief fleeting moment we are part of each other’s world. Next summer if we look, we will not find it. It will again be further north engaged in its own dance to the cycle of life. This wonder graces our lives with the appearance of the first spring wildflowers, the larger than life sound of spring peepers, the spring migration of the many too beautiful to imagine warblers, the sight and sound of a distant summer thunderstorm, the call of the loon on a northern lake, the color of leaves as a low autumn sun filters the branches, and the slow quiet descent of  winter’s first snowflakes.

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Concretion, Shale Hollow Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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A Festival of Fungi at Clear Creek Metro Park

With the amount of rain we’ve had recently it seemed like a great time to visit Clear Creek Metro Park to see what fungi might be making an appearance. The park is unique, located about fifty miles southeast of Columbus in an area where the last glaciers stopped their southward advance. It’s 5,300 acres of woods, sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks are home to hemlocks, oaks, and hickory. As we left Columbus we were hoping to discover some things not seen closer to home.

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It was still early when we arrived and everything was wet from a recent rain. The air was cool but the humidity was very high. Given these conditions, we were drenched in perspiration for most of our five mile hike, with glasses and viewfinders fogging up every time we attempted to take a photograph. On this particular day, it was the price of admission.

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Interestingly, the first thing seen was lichen growing on the roof  of a visitor information board not far from where we parked.

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British Soldier Lichen, red fruiting bodies are less than 1/8 inch across. It was the first we had seen in Ohio.

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Leaving the lichen, we began a rather steep assent into the woods and immediately started seeing fungi. This continued throughout our hike of the Creekside Meadows, Fern, and Cemetery Ridge trails. Seeing so many unfamiliar fungi, the challenge soon became one of trying to figure out we were looking at.

mush P1040479

Violet-gray Bolete

mush Two-colored Bolete maybe 3 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Another example, (Donna).

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More fully developed.

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Turkey Tail on a fallen log.

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Crowded Parchment

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Small purple Bolete. Colors appear to vary among the same species.

 

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Jellied False Coral

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Red-belted Polypore

 

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Unidentified

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Spores being released from a mushroom.

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Berkeley’s Polypore. One area of the woods was dotted with these. This one was about 6 inches across.

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Very large Lepiota mushroom (@12 inches tall)

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Another view.

mush Orange Coral 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Coral Mushroom

mush Chanterelle P1040514

Chanterelles

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Donna moving in for a close shot.

mush Chanterelle 2 trio 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Chanterelles, (Donna)

mush Burnt-orange Bolete 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Burnt-orange Bolete, (Donna)

Mushroom white tan  Clear Creek   cp1

Panther Mushroom, (Donna)

mush Tall Tan Toadstool Clear Creek cp1

Unidentified Amanita, (Donna)

mush Pink Polypore 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Pink Polypore, (Donna)

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Unidentified Mushrooms

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Tufted Collybia

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Another view.

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Apricot Jelly

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False Coral

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Rosy Russula Mushroom

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Powder-cap Amanita Mushroom

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As if all the fungi were not enough, wildflowers were also making their presence known.

flwr Spiderwort  Clear Creek   cp14

Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Starry Campion

Indian Pipe 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Indian Pipe, (Donna)

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Woodland Sunflower

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain leaves.

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Oswego Tea

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A little further away.

flwr Downey Skullcap 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Downey Skullcap, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and while not flowers, pretty nonetheless.

flwr P1040532

A confused leaf!

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Ferns were everywhere.

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Given that flowers and many other plants were in abundance, butterflies and moths were easy to spot.

butt P1040681

Pipevine Swallowtail

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Another view.

butt Great Spangled Fritillary 072115 Clear   Creek cp1

Great Spangled Fritillaries, (Donna)

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Great Spangled Fritillary

Hummingbird Moth P1040714

Hummingbird Moth Blur

Hummingbird Moth 1 LL 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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While not our main objective, we did hear a lot of birds and even managed to see a few.

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Hooded Warbler

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Titmouse

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Eastern Wood-pewee

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Another view.

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A Wood Thrush? refuses to cooperate.

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At the end of our hike, we were in awe of the things seen. Many were first’s for us in Ohio. It had been a magical day.

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Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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