A Feast For The Gulls

Usually this time of the year in central Ohio we’re busy looking for the earliest spring wildflowers such as the uncommon Snow Trillium.

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But we also walk along the local reservoirs (Griggs and O’Shaughnessy Reservoir) hoping to see migrating waterfowl. Recently we weren’t disappointed when three inches of rain shocked area waterways resulting in thousands of dead or dying shad. It was a banquet for Bonaparte’s Gulls passing through the area and an excellent opportunity to observe these beautiful birds.

Immature, non-breeding and breeding Bonaparte’s Gulls.

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Bonaparte’s Gull, (Donna)

Adult breeding Bonaparte’s Gull.

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A few larger Ring-billed Gulls were also getting into the act.

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Not to miss out on the easy meal Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons were also present.

Great Egret, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron, (Donna)

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Fish die-offs, particularly shad, are not that uncommon in reservoirs. However, this is the first time we’ve happened upon such a feeding frenzy.

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We hope this post finds everyone doing well. Thanks for stopping by.

Gulls On Ice

Ring-billed Gulls are not uncommon in central Ohio but yesterday they caught our attention in a setting that was just a bit out of the ordinary. Warm weather and an ice covered reservoir resulted in a thin covering of water on the ice. The gulls seems to be enjoying it!

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.

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Griggs Reservoir

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Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.

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. . .

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. . . (Donna).

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Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.

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Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.

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Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.

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Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.

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Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.

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Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.

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In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.

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A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).

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Other things have also brought color to the landscape.

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Leaves on ice, (Donna)

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Sycamore branches against a blue sky.

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Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)

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We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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Molly Cat

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Bluebird of Happiness

They may be in the park all year long, probably are, but we always seem to see them more in late fall and winter. Maybe we’re just more appreciative.

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, SX40

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In recent days a fair amount of time has been spent along Griggs Reservoir and the river below the dam trying to verify  if a pair of eagles are building a nest. An occasional eagle has been spotted overhead but no additional work seems to have been done on what appeared to be the start of a nest.

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When the eagles refuse to cooperate the camera gets pointed at other things. In some of the shots below, curiosity about the performance limits of my old Canon SX40 got the best of me so I had fun playing around with it. In an effort to improve picture quality I was trying to keep the ISO as low as possible at full zoom by supporting the camera using a tree, my knee, or a hiking stick. Other shots were taken with Panasonic FZ200’s.

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Male Kingfisher along the Scioto, SX40

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Female Kingfisher along the Scioto River in low light, SX40.

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Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River in low light.

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Some subjects fascinate when everything else has turned gray/brown, like the still red leaves of what I believe to be Service Berry.

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December color.

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take 2.

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Take 3.

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A few of the Blue Bird’s closest friends also made an appearance, some in low light, again taxing the capabilities of the SX40.

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Brown Creeper, SX40

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Downy Woodpecker, (Donna)

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Chickadee, SX40

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Carolina Wren, (Donna)

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Junco in low light., SX40.

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Crow, (Donna)

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Gull reflection, SX40.

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Happy ducks, (Donna).

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Finally, a few modest shots that hopefully speak for themselves.

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Poetry in motion, SX40.

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Reflections.

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Thanks for stopping by

Early Spring Raindrops and Kinglets

The other day I was chatting with a friend and looking out the window at an early spring, gray brown, day. A quiet rain was falling. Water hung on still bare branches focusing the light. The water drop points of light reminded me that we need to cherish each day. Some days are just easier than others.

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Early spring rain.

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. . . but a closer look.

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Early spring days do try men’s souls. Certainly not an original thought. We can’t help but feel like we’re waiting for something.

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Waiting for green along Griggs Reservoir.

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To better manage such discontent, maybe the trick is to always be curious. The other day a Red Winged Blackbird stopped by are front yard feeder. Not something we’ve seen before as it’s a bird associated with more rural settings and we live right in the middle of the city.

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An uncooperative Red Winged Black Bird at the top of a tree in our front yard.

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Recently, on a day blessed with more sunshine, we went looking for Snow Trilliums. There is one spot along the reservoir not far from our house that so far has not been overrun by development or more common plants. No trilliums were seen. We’ll try again in a few days.

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But patience and attention pay off because we did see a few birds, most notably Golden Crowned Kinglets. A bird that will soon be heading north.

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Along Griggs Reservoir, on one of the few remaining areas covered with ice, a Hering Gull dwarfs a Ring-billed.

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A White-breasted Nuthatch peeks from behind a tree as we look for trilliums.

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Donna captures a beautiful Downy Woodpecker.

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The same downy from a different angle.

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Donna decided to take this photo but we’re not sure the Robin was happy about it.

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Probably the earliest we’ve ever seen a Mocking Bird, (Donna)

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Where there are Nuthatches and Downy’s you usually see Chickadees, (Donna).

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Not far away a Song Sparrow announces spring.

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We can always count on a Red-bellied Woodpecker to make an appearance.

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The real treat of the day were the Golden-crowned Kinglets, (Donna)

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But when you’re looking at the ground for trilliums you do see other things.

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Snowdrops are one of the earliest spring flowers to poke their head above the ground, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Vernal witch hazel contrasting beautifully with the gray brown surroundings, (Donna)

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This time of year the lichen really stands out, (Donna)

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Adding color to otherwise drab branches.

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Thanks for stopping by.

White-winged Scoters on Griggs Reservoir

It’s always exciting when something unexpected is discovered. Since Griggs Reservoir and the park that runs along a portion of it’s eastern shore are located within the city limits of Columbus, our expectations are not always real high when it comes to seeing unusual wildlife. Such was the case during yesterday’s walk along the reservoir.

It was a cold, windy, but sunny day and the even though the temperature was below freezing the ice was mostly off the reservoir due to recent warm weather and heavy rains. The first thing we noticed was the unusually high number of Ring-billed Gulls. Some were in large groups and others scattered about. Some were in the water and other were relaxing on the numerous ice rafts still floating in the reservoir.

It soon became obviouse what was attracting the gulls. Numerous dead, but remarkable “fresh” looking, shad were on the ice, in the water, and along the shore. Recent high water and turbidity, rapid rain induced temperature fluctuations, and lack of oxygen due to the winter’s heavy ice cover may have all led to their demise.

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Ring-billed Gull with shad, Griggs Reservoir

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir

With the reservoir mostly free of ice waterfowl had dispersed from open water areas in the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. We saw Goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers, and Ringed Necks. Unfortunately they were all swimming along the opposite shore so no National Geographic quality photos were possible and those taken fell into the category of data acquisition.

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Common Goldeneye, Griggs Reservoir

But the highlight of our day was the unexpected sighting of six White-winged Scoters.

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White-winged Scoters, Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

Winter to Spring?

A few days ago the temperature was hovering around zero degrees. A couple of days later, after a fair amount of rain, it was close to fifty. If the temperature had stayed below freezing and the reservoir ice covered, we had hoped to continue our observation of waterfowl concentrated in the river. That had now all changed. The ice was pretty much gone and the waterfowl had dispersed.

We checked below the dam but the river was running high with a strong current and there were no birds. However, not far away at an abandoned quarry, now a very clear nice size lake, we were successful. Unfortunately, due to economics and/or lack of vision, this lovely body of water has been surrounded by office buildings and asphalt parking lots rather than a nice urban park but the birds don’t seem to mind.

Buffle Heads and Pie-billed Grebes

Buffle Heads and Pied-billed Grebes

Ring-necks and Buffle-heads

Ring-necked and Buffle-heads

Gulls on Ice

Ring-billed Gulls on Ice

Ring Necks and Coots

Ring-necked and Coots

The next day was sunny so we walked along Griggs Reservoir wondering what we would see but glad to be outside. The birds were apparently also happy about the sun as they were quite active. When not looking at birds my wife yielded to her recently acquired interest in lichens and mosses.

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Nuthatch, study 1

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Red-shouldered Hawk, study 1

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Red-shouldered Hawk, study 2

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Tender Polypore on tree, Donna

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Downy Woodpecker, study 1, Donna

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Male Bluebird, Donna

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Female Bluebird, Donna

Yellow-orange fungi better 011414 Griggs cp1

Fungi, Donna

White-Breasted Nuthatch 011414 Griggs cp1

Nuthatch, study 2,  Donna

Tan Fungi better 011414 Griggs cp1

Ochre Spreading Tooth, Donna

Mallard pair 011414 Griggs cp1

Mallards, Donna

Lichen with pink 011414 Griggs cp1

Lichen, Donna

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Moss

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Turkey Tail

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Downy Woodpecker, study 2

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Thanks for stopping by.

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