Reluctant Treasures

We enjoy being outdoors no matter what the time of year. However, when it comes to providing a sense of wonder, unlike spring, summer and early autumn, late autumn and early winter give up their subtle treasures reluctantly. One must move slowly and look closely or much will be missed.

With the leaves now gone the convoluted bark of the Osage Orange is hard not to notice, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Better in B&W?

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A cloudy cold early November morning gives way to the fleeting sun of an unexpectedly warm afternoon and as if by magic things appear not seen a few hours earlier.

A warm early November afternoon and the first sighting of a Variegated Fritillary for the year, (Donna).

A pond quiet in the cold morning air comes to life in the warm afternoon sun, Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

An Autumn Meadowhawk enjoys the afternoon sun, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Striped Wolf Spider sunning itself along the trail just avoids being stepped on, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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A sheltered place, warmed by the sun, gives refuge to flowers that should be gone for the year. Fungi fruit in response to more generous rain defying the below freezing nights.

In the low late autumn sun Nodding Bur-Marigold defies the season, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss and lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Unexpectedly colorful Changing Pholiota, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tinged with green an unidentified shelf fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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More isolated now, some color still remains.

Road through Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sweatgum leaves, (Donna).

Poison Ivy, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The road along the reservoir evites us to walk further, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Fewer leaves, and a forest canopy of bare branches, allow one to better see the birds that haven’t made their way south.

Against a deep blue November sky a sentinel stands along the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Better in B&W?

Song Sparrow, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna).

American Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Downy Woodpecker (M), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

We continue to see Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam.

Backing off a bit we noticed a Coopers Hawk watching from the distance.

A dark morph American Robin from further north? Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thankfully, with the migrating warblers pretty much gone, the Carolina Wrens continue to entertain along the Scioto River.

Immature Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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For the last few weeks almost every squirrel has had a nut in its mouth.

Gray Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s the time of year when short cloudy days, a landscapes of muted colors, and breezes often too cool to be comfortable tell us that things are going to be quieter for a while.

A shoreline reflection reveals November’s bare branches, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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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.

 

Once In A Lifetime

A number of years ago, on a very still August day, we paddled the liquid glass of Clark Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, the lake’s water is so clear that on a quiet day one has the sensation that the canoe is levitating. Far below, a fascinating variety of aquatic plants can be seen as fish swam lazily by. As we moved along the shore a Loon was spotted a little further offshore. It promptly dove and then winged it’s way right under the canoe. It’s beautiful markings and graceful motion so vividly seen it was as though it and we were suspended in air as it “flew” by. The experience was magical and I was left voicing the thought, “This will never happen to me again in my life!”

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Fast forward to a week ago. We had just gotten out of the car and were starting a walk along Griggs Reservoir when a commotion was noticed in the shoreline brush. What ever was causing the ruckus was small. A moment later one of the perpetrators stopped for a brief rest on a small branch not six feet away.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

The only thing I could think of to say was, “This will never happen to me again in my life!” However, unlike Clark Lake, it just might, as we spend a lot more time walking in the parks near our home than paddling crystal clear loon inhabited waters in northern Michigan. While Ruby-crowned Kinglets are not seen as often as their close cousins the Golden-crowned, they are still observed on occasion during migration. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny the feeling.

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On that same day, as if not to be upstaged, a few Golden-crowned Kinglets made an appearance.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing it’s crown, just.

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A few days later, and just a little further from home, we found ourselves in Highbanks Metro Park looking for birds or whatever else we could find.

Along a trail in Highbanks Metro Park.

Looking a little more like autumn, Highbanks Metro Park.

Leaves collect in a small creek, Highbanks Metro Park.

Sycamore reflections, Olentangy River, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Autumn color peers through the trees, Highbanks Metro Park.

The roots of an upended tree add design to fall color, Highbanks Metro Park.

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As I pursued that elusive “perfect” landscape, Donna, responding to sounds heard in the brush, came upon a very vocal but also cooperative, Tufted Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna)

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3, (Donna).

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While looking for birds and landscapes it was hard not to take a closer look and appreciate the appearance of  various plants as they reflected the season.

Fungi surrounded by leaves of red, green, and yellow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Goldenrod gone to seed, Highbanks Metro Park.

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Wandering through autumn we continue to be treated to other bird sightings including Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of the last warbler migrants to make it’s way through central Ohio.

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bluebird, Griggs Reservoir Park. This time of year they always seem more numerous.

Carolina Wren, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along with enjoying Poison Ivy berries, the  Yellow-rumped Warbler also hunts for insects in the crevasses of tree bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.

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Finally, stepping away from the birds and taking a slightly bigger view of things, below are a few landscapes taken along the Scioto River in recent days in what may be one of the last photographic celebrations of the season.

Path, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Fallen Sycamore along the Scioto.

Sycamore color along the Scioto.

Light rain highlights sycamore leaves against shoreline rocks, Scioto River.

Orange and green along the Scioto River.

Scioto River reflection.

Shoreline rocks along the Scioto River.

Autumn quiet along the Scioto River.

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It’s hard not to be a little contemplative this time of year. It’s undoubtedly brought on in part by shorter days, cooler weather, and the sense that another year is passing. With the sun rising later and the setting earlier there is more time to think. But perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s an awareness of the beauty in the cycle of which I am a part. Autumn, the exclamation point to all that comes before and which will return again in spring. The season that without the coming of winter, would teach us little.

Waiting till next year, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Life In A Cemetary

It had been about a year since we visited Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve and Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve , so we thought a road trip was in order to see what we might find in the way of insects and other wildlife. Last year we had seen a number of hummingbirds at Bigelow so we thought that might be the case again. Unlike Bigelow, which is a very small plot of native prairie, Big Darby Headwaters is a much larger area and one we have only begun to explore. Repeated visits throughout the year would be best to get to know and really appreciate these areas. We usually have to satisfy ourselves with less.

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The first thing one notices upon arriving at Bigelow is how small it is, only about one half acre.  The initial thought is that such a small area shouldn’t take long to explore. An hour and a half later we left and could have easily stayed longer if the Big Darby Headwaters had not beckoned. The number of living things in this small area compared to the surrounding farm field monoculture was mind boggling.

Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery Preserve.

Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

The preferred direction.

A male Red-winged Blackbird seemed concerned about our presence. Perhaps a nest was nearby. Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Painted Lady butterflies were common at Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Take 2.

Take 3.

The cemetery is old by Ohio standards.

Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

A Monarch Butterfly made up for the fact that no hummingbirds were seen, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Donna takes aim on a wildflower, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Gray Headed Cone Flowers and Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

White Campion (alien), Bigelow Pioneer Cemetary, (Donna).

Common Checkered Skipper, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Stink Bug nymph, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Familiar Bluet, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

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Having spent as much time as we thought we should at Bigelow, it was close to noon when we arrived at the Big Darby Headwaters. Usually not the best time of day to be out in nature.

A fair mount of habitat restoration was required to make the Big Darby Headwaters NP what it is today, (Donna).

The hiking trail in Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Calico Pennant Dragonfly, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

A Meadow Fritillary is joined by some of it’s closest friends on Butterfly Weed, Big Darby Headwaters.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Big Darby Headwaters.

A curious Song Sparrow looks on, Big Darby Headwaters.

Michigan Lily, Big Darby Headwaters.

Halloween Pennant, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Tall Bellflower, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Stream, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Depford Pink, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Looking for a bird, Big Darby Headwaters.

Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

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Over the past few days there’s been no shortage of things to see closer to home.

A male Bluebird watches, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Royal River Cruiser, a new dragonfly for us! O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Take 2.

Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Four-toothed Mason Wasp on Rattlesnake Master Flower, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

 

Coneflowers, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

 

Banded Longhorn Flower Beetles, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Silver Spotted Skipper, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Female Eastern Pondhawk, Big Darby Headwaters.

Great Spangled Fritillary, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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

Eastern Amberwing, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Common Whitetail (F), Big Darby Headwaters.

Common Whitetail (M), O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

White Tail Deer, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Even in our backyard .   .   .

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

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I continue to think about the diversity and abundance of life at Bigelow. It may be reasonable to expect that if such places were more numerous or extensive such diversity and abundance might not be as noticeable as the creatures observed there would have more options. However, forgetting for a moment the pollution of the air and water due to human activities, it’s still hard not to wonder about the long term sustainability of the planet when so much acreage has been, and continues to be, developed. Once developed it often becomes just another barren monoculture which at best grows crops that feed us or worse becomes another woods or meadow roofed over for industry, commerce, or shelter, or paved over so that we can drive or park our cars. While more far-reaching solutions are undoubtedly necessary, in the short term planting more wildflowers in lieu of maintaining an extensive lawn might be worth our consideration.

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As always 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.

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.

Waterfalls, Birds, and Other Things

Outings in small boats can provide a unique opportunity to view and photograph wildlife. While we don’t pursue birds in our canoe, one will often take flight when approached. When it does, often crossing right in front of us, it offers an opportunity to get a nice “in flight” profile shot. Gliding silently without paddling often provides a chance to get very close to birds thus offering a photographic opportunity that may not be found while hiking.

Note: underlined text denotes a link which may be clicked on for additional information.

Prothonotary Warbler, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Immature Common Merganser, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A Spotted Sandpiper let us get very close, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Easter Spiny Softshell, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

As we get closer a Great Blue Heron takes flight, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Near the end of our paddle we spot a Great Blue Heron trying to figure out what to do with a just captured snake, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Male House Finch, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A few days ago Wild Columbine was still in bloom along Griggs Reservoir’s the low cliffs, from the canoe, (Donna).

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A small boat may also allow access to hard to reach points of interest for which there is limited or no access on land. In this case it was one named and one unnamed waterfall along Griggs Reservoir that were energized by the recent rain.

Entering a small creek leading to one of Griggs reservoirs waterfalls.

I’ve paddled as far as I can but fortunately it’s only a short walk to the falls.

Good flow over the falls which are about 6-8 feet high. The shot taken under cloudy conditions which controlled shadows.

Take 2. I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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Hayden Run Falls:

Paddling into the cove at Hayden Run Falls a Great Egret does a welcoming dance as two mallards look on.

Hayden Run Falls, about 35 feet high, benefitted from the recent rain. From the canoe pullout a not so easy hike up a rain swollen creek was required to get to the falls. Normally when using a digital single lens reflex I would have opted for a slower shutter speed to create a sense of motion in the water but a Canon SX40 superzoom and the lack of a tripod limited my options. Hayden Run Falls is also accessible via a boardwalk with parking provided off Hayden Run Road.

 

Take 2. Again, I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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When paddling it’s sometimes hard not to do a little cleanup. However, trying to clean up plastic, not to mention all the other stuff, after it’s already in the environment is next to impossible. While some litter is thrown directly into the reservoir, much finds it’s way in by way of storm drains. The reservoir, home to an amazing amount of biodiversity, thus becomes an aquatic “trash can” for a good percentage of the city’s litter.  This phenomena can be observed to a greater or lesser degree in all of Ohio’s lakes and streams. Paddle lakes and streams in states like Michigan or Maine and it’s obvious that a Ohio Beverage Container Deposit Law would largely eliminate this problem.

Trash canoe.

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<<<>>>

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In the past week, when not in the canoe, we’ve had opportunities explore Griggs Reservoir Park as well as a few other favorite spots.

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Birds:

Immature Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

I know it’s a very common bird, but the lovely light compelled me to take the picture, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Protonotary Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Mother Mallard with babies, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Perhaps the tail end of the warblers a female American Redstart poses for my wife, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Baltimore Orioles continue to be quite common in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Egret preening, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron with fish, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tree Swallow, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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As spring turns to summer insects are becoming much more common:

Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Little Wood-sater, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Grape Leaffolder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden-back Snipe Fly. Adults and larvae feed on a variety of small insects, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Making more flies, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Flowers seen are unique to late spring and early summer:

Blue-flagged Iris, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Canada Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In my humble opinion the flower of Virginia Waterleaf is not nearly as pretty as it’s early spring leaves, (Donna).

Blue-eyed Grass, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bittersweet Nightshade, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wafer Ash flowers (not always in the shape of a heart), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Other things:

A Northern Water Snake creates patterns on the otherwise still surface, Twin Lakes, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Very small Snapping Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

After quite a bit of rain the fungus is doing well in Griggs Park.

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The view down a short path leading to the reservoir shows the vegetation to be almost fully leafed out.

Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A special thanks to my wife for supplying many of the photos in this post included those from the canoe as I handled the boat. Given that spring is winding down, my guess is that future posts will contain fewer warbler pictures and probably more insect pictures but one never knows for sure. Future posts may also document new Ohio places explored or at least unique places that haven’t been visited in awhile. Until then, 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.

Bees and Blue Jays

It started with report of sightings at other nearby locations so we thought we’d check out Griggs Park to see if we could spot any Yellow-throated Warblers. Sure enough there they were high in the tops of various Sycamore trees too far away for a photograph but visible through our binoculars.

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We waited for a while hoping one would descend from the treetops but no luck so we decided to see what wildflowers were in bloom in the wooded area below the dam as well as other areas in the park.

Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park.

Sometimes they’re pink, (Donna)

Purple Cress, Griggs Park

Emerging Bloodroot, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In full bloom, (Donna).

 

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

 

Twinleaf, (Donna)

Emerging Butterweed, Griggs Park.

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While the Yellow-throated warblers eluded the camera’s lens other birds were more cooperative. Song sparrows, never far away, entertaining us with a spring rendition of their beautiful song. Chickadees in the middle of nesting activities expressed their disapproval when we got too close.  Nuthatches chased each other about. In small shoreline trees and bushes Golden-crowned Kinglets busily looked for insects among the small branches. Meanwhile a pair of blue jays were just starting work on their new nest. The bluebirds seemed content to watch the activity unfold while enjoying the warmth of the spring sun. Further down the trail a robin looked on with disinterest appearing as though lunch had gotten the better of him.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Chickadee, Griggs Park

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

Blue-jay with nesting material, Griggs Park.

Let see, is this how it goes?

That looks about right.

 

Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Enjoying the warm spring sun.

Robin, so many worms so little time, Griggs Park.

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When out in nature one thing a careful observer can almost always count on is seeing something new. That was certainly the case a few days ago when my wife observed a large number of bees engaged in some very curious behavior.

Across a fairly large area bees were flying about going in and out of many recently dug holes.

At one point we observed a ball of bees tumbling across the ground seemingly in the process of trying to kill something.

They continued to attack what ever it was. This when on for some time and we never got a good look at what the object was.

Despite what it looks like the bees may have been trying to protect not kill what ever it is they are crowding unto. In this case it may be the queen.

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Spring with all it’s activity is definitely a favorite time of the year. In the days to come the Yellow-throated warblers will undoubtedly be more cooperative as they are joined by other migrants from the south either taking up residence or just pausing for a while as they continue their journey north. 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.

Searching For Kinglets

For those of you that follow this blog you know that we spend a lot of time walking in one park near our home. Part of the fascination has been to see what we can discover in this one specific location throughout the year. As the seasons change, it’s often about what we don’t see as much as what we do. From our house the park is also the perfect distance for a long walk which adds to the overall satisfaction of the experience. Finally, without making too much work out of it, we also try to help keep the park free of cans, bottles and other litter which provides a sense of ownership and makes the place just that much more special.

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The leaves are mostly on the ground now in Griggs Park.

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Having provided a rather circuitous introduction you’re probably wondering where this is going. Well it’s about the Kinglets! Several weeks ago we saw quite a few Golden and Ruby Crown Kinglets along the Scioto River below the Griggs Dam but since then nothing. Were had they gone? Had our timing since then just been bad? We were starting to wonder. Would we again see these little birds that do so much to brighten up late fall and winter in central Ohio?

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In then a few days ago, in the company of Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers, there they were.

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Golden Crown Kinglet along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Take 2.

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Take 3, (Donna)

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Take 4, (Donna).

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.   .   .  and not far away.

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Downy Woodpecker (F), a common resident this time of year.

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker contrasts nicely with the fall color.

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A male Cardinal in the afternoon sun puts a smile on our face.

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Male Bluebird Griggs Park. They are easy to spot this time of year.

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Dark Eyed Junco, a winter visitor from the north, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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A Song Sparrow with attitude, (Donna).

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Red-tailed Hawks are hard to miss this time of year.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

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My wife was trying to figure out what this crow was doing.

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Crow playing with Northern Catalpa seed pod, (Donna)

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Take 2.

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And as always there have been other things to notice.

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A Fox Squirrel checks us out, Griggs Park.

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Stink Horn mushroom, Griggs Park, only this one example was found.

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Amazingly, after a number of below freezing nights, we continue to see butterflies, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Not in the best shape but pretty amazing considering the time of year.

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Donna tried her hand at capturing the often ignored shapes and designs of late fall.

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Take 1.

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

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Take 4.

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Take 5.

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On future walks we hope the kinglets, along with their friends, will continue to charm and fascinate making this time of year just a little brighter. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Sunset, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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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.

 

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