We didn’t see them all, but . . .

this spring the warbler migrants have been as enchanting as ever. While the mix of birds that pass through our area is undoubtedly fairly consistent from year to year what we end up seeing isn’t. There is always a little frustration when a favorite bird doesn’t present itself in our local park especially when they were almost impossible to miss the year before. With many birds having come and gone, and others now much harder to see and photograph due to the increased leaf cover, we thought it would be a good time to showcase some that were seen.

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One doesn’t always have to travel far. One morning, after hearing it’s call, we found a Chestnut-sided Warbler in our front yard.

Chestnut-sided warbler on it’s way north.

2.

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At our local park, sometimes not more than a few yards from each other, my wife might see a bird that I would miss completely. A persistent call helps, but unless one detects movement the often brightly marked birds can be hard to spot.

Black & White warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With a small insect.

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Blackpoll warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

2. (Donna).

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Yellow warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Still further from home others were seen along Alum Creek Reservoir and the south shore of Lake Erie at Magee Marsh.

Yellow warbler, Magee Marsh.

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Blackburnian warbler, Magee Marsh, (Donna).

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Prothonotary warbler seen while canoeing the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir.

2.

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Magnolia warbler, Magee Marsh.

2. (Donna).

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Northern Parula warbler, Magee Marsh.

2.

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***

In our local park, in addition to the warblers other birds have been active and hard to ignore.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2. (Donna).

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Probably just passing through a Swainson’s thrush peeks out from behind a small branch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2.

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Blue-headed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2.

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A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is seen at Griggs Reservoir Park and appears to be nesting in the area.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Cedar Waxwing also nest in Griggs Reservoir Park .   .   .

2.

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as does this male Red-winged Blackbird.

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Seen more often in the winter this Hooded Merganser enjoys the morning sun along the Scioto River just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam .   .   .

then commences to tidy up.

3.

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***

Wildflowers also continue to enchant and never fail to provide strong competition for our attention.

Wild Columbine along the rock faced shore of Griggs Reservoir.

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While we will continue to see warblers for the next week or so it’s always a bit of a let down when one senses that spring migration is coming to an end. True, one can travel north and see birds but as nesting activities begin in earnest things become quieter and the birds more secretive.

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But for this year in this writers eyes the gift has been given. It is the realization once again that we are part of a sacred world of diversity and wonder and no more noble, important, or worthy than the warblers that are also part of earth’s fabric of life and grace our lives each spring as they make they way north to continue the cycle.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Spring along the Scioto River.

 

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).

6.

A female sneaks in.

xxxx

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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.

2.

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.

 

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).

<<<>>>

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!

 

My What A Big Baby!

When not further afield our local park continues to provide interesting things that amaze. In this case it was a Song Sparrow attentively feeding one her “babies”.

Closer to home, the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.

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With quite a mouthful, a Song Sparrow heads back to her “offspring” in Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The “little one” doesn’t appear to have missed many meals! (Donna).

Mom, watch your head, “Junior” is hungry and has a big mouth! (Donna).

After that ordeal mom needs to straighten up!” (Donna).

As you’ve probably figured out the “little one” is actually an immature Cowbird whose egg was dropped into the Song Sparrow nest by it’s freewheeling parents. Obviously not a good thing for the Song Sparrow or any other bird that falls victim.

Considering the Song Sparrow’s plight, an observant Red-eyed Vireo appeared to have a few things to say,

the whole thing seemed to have a nearby Catbird a little unraveled,  (Donna)

and the Kingbird also appeared to be beside itself, (Donna).

but did manage to regain it’s composure!

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Why have so few bird species discovered the advantage of depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds?  But if the practice were more common it is hard to imagine how it would work. At the extreme, no bird would be rising it’s own offspring. Talk about mass confusion! I guess for now we’ll be left with the mystery and thankful the practice remains the exception! 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.

A Spring Gift Along The Reservoir

This post covers some of the birds as well as other things that have been seen along the Scioto River corridor in central Ohio in the past few days. Many of the birds seen will continue their migratory journey further north. It’s a magical time of year as green spaces, especially those along lakes and rivers, are transformed by the sights and sounds of birds perhaps not seen other times of the year.

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Some birding days are better than others. In the spring a strong wind from the north usually means more birds. A wind from the south seems to send them on their way. All the birds may seem to be in the treetops one day while the next they’re at eye level making an impossible subject easy to photograph. While no one can guarantee what will be seen, even an inexpensive pair of binoculars will greatly increase your chances of seeing birds allowing you to enter their world and appreciate creatures with such unique beauty that it’s sometimes hard to believe.

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Everyone has their own way of appreciating nature, while we do make a point of traveling to more distant locations, we try to concentrate on a few areas close to home, observing the changes as the year progresses. A benefit of visiting a “favorite spot” often is that one is blessed with a sense of ownership, not in a possessive sense, but rather as a caring participant. A litter bag is always part of our equipment as it’s especially hard to walk by litter after one has just seen a Scarlet Tanager. The real plus is that through listening, looking (perhaps taking a picture), and allowing myself to be in the place, I’m extended beyond myself to a larger whole. Through this experience, which I once heard referred to as “a prayer”, I become richer and more grateful.

 

Griggs Park along the reservoir.

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A few days ago my wife was looking for warblers right along the river as I did likewise along a some trees a little further away from the water.  She was paying attention to the low lying brush at water’s edge when she decided to look up into the overhead tree branches and found herself confronting a much larger bird.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto River just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam, it didn’t stay long .   .   .

before it flew across the river .   .   .

to a safer perch. (Donna).

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Out of the corner of my eye I did see the eagle as it flew by but right in front of me there was a Great Crested Flycatcher. What to do, a flycatcher in the bush or a flying eagle. I chose the bird in the bush.

Great-created Flycatcher along the Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir Dam..

Take 2.

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Warblers are surprisingly small when compared to the Great Created Flycatcher but make up for their size in quantity. Many, including Cape May and Yellow-rumped, continue to be seen.

Black and White warbler, Emily Traphagen Park.

Take 2.

Male American Redstart, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Redstart with mayfly, Griggs Park.

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It’s hard to ignore the orioles which continue to be very common. Right now there are so many in Griggs Park that it’s quite possible that only a few will nest here with the remainder heading further north.

Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

Female Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

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It was a real treat to see our first Cedar waxwings of the year.

Cedar Waxwings, they handed the berry back and forth several times. Griggs Park.

Cedar Waxwings, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Red-eyed Vireos are often spotted in dense treetop leaf cover but every once in a while they come down so we can get a better look.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park.

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An Acadian Flycatcher was also seen.

Acadian Flycatcher? Griggs Park.

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We first spotted a streak of white, black, and red. Open landing the Rose Breasted Grosbeak played hide and seek as it chowed down on what were apparently very tasty seeds.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park.

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Another bird seen only during spring migration is the Scarlet Tanager.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

Just a minute.

There, that’s better.

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Morning sun and leaves, Griggs Park.

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The Swainson’s Thrush is usually only seen during migration.

Swainson’s Thrushes were everywhere in Griggs Park.

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Our first Kingbird of the year along Griggs Reservoir. Some will stick around to nest in the park.

Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We also noticed a few “non-bird” type things.

Immature male Common Whitetail, Emily Traphagen Park.

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

Female Black Swallowtail, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

The Northern Water snake orgy goes on, see previous post, (Donna).

A Woodchuck tries to blend in, Griggs Park.

Wild Columbine, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna). This photo was inspired by one of our birding friends.

A chipmunk poses, Duranceaux Park.

Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Zebulon Skipper, Emily Traphagen Park. (Donna).

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We can’t forget all the other birds seen in the past week. Many of these are year round or summer residents.

A very noisy Winter Wren, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park.

Hidden in the leaf cover an immature Eastern Phoebe waits for it’s next meal, Duranceaux Park.

Blue Jays continue to be industrious, Griggs Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker looks for a meal in Emily Traphagen Park.

The beautiful marking of a Northern Flicker are clearly seen as it briefly pauses overhead, Griggs Park.

Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park.

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Hairy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

Easy eats may be why we’ve seen so many Great Egrets along the reservoir and river this spring, (Donna).

Great Egrets, Griggs Park

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With spring in full swing, there’s almost too much is going on, but we hope everyone enjoyed this photographic celebration of spring in central Ohio.

Griggs Reservoir Cove, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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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.

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.

 

 

Late Summer Magic; Insects and Fall Warblers

Late August isn’t usually when I think of seeing fall warblers in central Ohio. Although I’m sure that’s the result of a certain level of ignorance on my part. So not really expecting the warblers this early, most of our efforts in recent days have been spent looking for, and enjoying, the “bugs” that currently seem to be in their prime. What started as a way to say curious during the summer doldrums has now become a real goal of our explorations.

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Whether a spider, butterfly, moth, bee, or dragonfly their unique beauty and behavior, so unlike our own, takes us into a truly different world.  Fascinating as they are I wouldn’t want to return “in the next life” as an insect. The dragonfly is too efficient and maneuverable a flying machine bringing a quick end to anything flying nearby that it considers a meal. The life cycle of many wasps requires that caterpillars become live hosts for their larva. A convenient meal for the future wasps but undoubtedly not a pleasant experience for the caterpillar.  A garden spider quickly dispatches and gift wraps a careless fly in silk for later consumption. And just when you think your the biggest, baddest, “bug” around, a bird comes along. I could go on but it is sufficient to say, it’s not for me.

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Praying Mantis in our backyard garden. They’ve been observed catching unsuspecting humming birds that get a little too close.

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A closer look, this is one insect that has no trouble holding on to it’s meal!

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Iron weed and a Clouded Sulfur, flowers upon flowers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Wasps making baby wasps, Prairie Oaks Metro Parks.

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Pelecinid Wasp, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Question Mark, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Spotted Orbweaver, Griggs Park

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Triangle-bearing Orbweaver (very small), Griggs Park

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Very small Mayfly close to the water, Griggs Park

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Funnel Weaver Grass Spider, (Donna)

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Bumble bee, (Donna).

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Overhead view of a Katydid, (Donna)

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Walnut Caterpillar, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Marbled Orbweaver, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Unidentified fly, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Mayfly, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Grasshopper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Spotted Orb Weaver (underside), Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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It’s not as if there haven’t been birds around. Sometimes, in our quest for insects, we get so engaged in looking down we forget to look up! The Osprey was discovered as we were looking for warblers and provided many great poses as he devoured a fish just two of which are shown below.

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Osprey with fish, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Take two.

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Northern Flicker, finally managed to get an image which shows off most of it’s distinctive markings, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Red-bellied Woodpeckers, adult and immature, Griggs Park

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Great Blue Heron and nest, north end of Griggs Reservoir. This is special because it’s the first nest I’ve noticed at that area in some time.

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.   .   .  and then there were the warblers, always more seen than successfully photographed.

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Black and White, Griggs Park

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Yellow-throated, Griggs Park.

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American Redstart, 1st year, Griggs Park.

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From a different angle, (Donna)

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Cape May, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Immature Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park

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When in nature take a moment to enjoy the whole, allowing yourself just to be.

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Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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With the fall migration just getting started we’re looking forward to what will be seen in the coming weeks.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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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