A Unlikely Door

Opening the door this time of year and venturing out into nature isn’t something most of us feel compelled to do. The landscape certainly doesn’t perk one’s curiosity. The wildlife that may be seen, which includes birds for the most part, have often migrated further south.

Along the Scioto River the landscape begs for a blanket of snow.

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However, with it’s lack of leaf cover, the landscape offers one good reason to pass through the door and see what’s still in the neighborhood or what may have moved in from further north. With their endearing behavior and colors that are often a cheerful contrast to their surroundings, birds are a welcome part of the December woods.

A resident all year long in Griggs Reservoir Park, the Carolina Wren’s song and chatter are especially welcome this time of year, (Donna).

Typically the only heron to hang around through the winter, the Great Blue is always a welcome sight along the Scioto River, (Donna).

A winter visitor from the north, the Dark-eyed Junco usually moves in small flocks and typically stays close to the ground. A fun bird to watch, (Donna).

A year round resident that’s always up to something, this Red-bellied Woodpecker has apparently found something to it’s liking, (Donna).

Another visitor from the north, this Tree Sparrow is an easy one to miss, (Donna).

The White-breasted Nuthatch arguably adds more cheer to the winter woods than any other bird, (Donna).

The immediately recognizable White-crowned Sparrow is another visitor from the north, (Donna).

Seen more often than the White-crowned, the the White-throated Sparrow is another sparrow we look for this time of the year, (Donna).

Assuming a graceful pose, a Ring-billed Gull preens on Griggs Reservoir.

Griggs Reservoir Park squirrels beware, this Red-tailed hawk is on the hunt.

In recent years, with the increase in the Catbird population, Mocking Birds have become a rare sight in central Ohio. Seeing this one was a real treat.

Carolina Chickees in Griggs Reservoir Park are always a delight.

Sometimes solitary and sometimes in a group of titmouse and chickadees the Downy Woodpecker is hard to ignore.

American Cardinals are abundant in Griggs Reservoir Park near our home.

As if out of nowhere a Brown Creeper suddenly appears. These birds may be present in the summer months but leaf cover makes them much harder to find.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are not seen as often a some of the other central Ohio woodpeckers. This view would have been obscured by leaves in the summer.

Year-round residents in Griggs Reservoir Park, Eastern Bluebirds also bring joy to the December landscape.

With a beautiful song, Song Sparrows are a year-round resident but are pretty quiet this time of year.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is another migrant from the north. I had to content myself with a feeder picture of this one at a Greenlawn Cemetery.

Ice covered waterways further north have brought waterfowl south. In a local flooded quarry these Buffleheads were no exception.

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In recent days some really special birds have graced us with their presence.

Not far from our home an American Kestrel makes it’s it’s home in a nondescript area of tall grass, brush, and trees adjacent to a quarry.

Just close enough for a decent picture

Perhaps the most noteworthy was a immature Snowy Owl that had travelled from the north country to hang out in central Ohio. They typically eat voles, lemmings, and other small rodents as well as birds so a shortage of such goodies further north is undoubtedly the reason for the visit. Seeing one this close to Columbus is rare.

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Time spent in nature seldom disappoints. The observant eye will always find something that inspires and rewards. One only needs to open the door.

Graced with a light blanket of snow.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Quiet

While walking a few days ago we witnessed a unique display of natures beauty. Unlike many times in November when wind tears at trees and sends autumn color spiraling high overhead and then down to a final resting place, on this particular day the almost bare branches stood completely motionless, in the absence of even the lightest zephyr, while the late afternoon sun seem to transform their remaining leaves into glass sculptors of translucent amber and gold. An experience easily missed had we been absorbed in thoughts of the world or our country’s woes, past, present, or future.

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In spring and summer we enjoy the warm embrace of life in the form of trees, flowers, insects, birds, and other living things. Now we must quietly look much closer. Sometimes in doing so we may be rewarded with with a fleeting glimpse of a wren.

A Winter Wren moves mouse-like among the low laying exposed roots and branches at rivers edge.

A Carolina Wren adds it’s cheerful, bigger than life, voice to the autumn air.

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River reflection.

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Often when surveying the dull landscape of late fall, it’s hard to believe anything else will appear that will be as charming as the wrens, but surprisingly:

Fortified by poison ivy berries and similar delicacies Yellow-rumped Warblers often hang around well into the fall.

A Downy Woodpecker uses it’s tongue, (Donna).

A tiny group of mushrooms add their color.

Eastern Bluebirds also seem to enjoy Poison Ivy berries.

A lonely sentinel defies the season, (Donna).

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet refuses to display it’s crown.

A Golden-crowned Kinglet is a little more cooperative, (Donna).

While hiking at Battelle Darby Creek MP in early November, after already having a period of cold weather, we were surprised by the emergence of  Eastern Comma butterflies. There were so many that we lost count.

A Song Sparrow poses, (Donna).

Late autumn color collage, (Donna).

With most leaves down, the Brown Creepers are much easier to spot.

A male House Finch enjoys an invasive honeysuckle berry. Probably the main way this plant has spread, (Donna).

Winter can’t be far away when Dark Eyed Juncos are seen foraging for fallen seeds below your feeders.

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The late morning November sun plays in the branches of an old oak.

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Looking ahead to days wrapped in winter’s brittle chill I’m remined that no matter whether one spends time with a friend or among the trees there are always opportunities for discovery if one doesn’t live by rote and is truly present in the moment.

A Gray Squirrel huddles against a cool breeze.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

A Rare Bird

From time to time during our walks close to home we see a rare bird. Two days ago we were excited to see an American Kestrel in an undeveloped area south of Duranceaux Park which is located on the west side of Griggs Reservoir. A particular treat as this small falcon has been in decline in recent years. As with many birds this is most likely due to the destruction of suitable habit. In years past, when more time was spent bicycling Ohio’s quiet rural roads, this small robin size bird was seen on a regular basis, sometimes in the middle of a “lunch” consisting of a field mouse, but always taking flight from the roadside power lines before one could get very close. If not perched, they were often seen hovering over an adjacent field waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. 

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Much more common than the American Kestrel, a number of Red-tailed Hawks have been seen recently. 

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Some of the more usual suspects have also graced us with their presence, providing an affirmation that much is well with the world. We’re endlessly fascinated by their behavior as they go about the day making a living in the trees and low lying brush of Griggs Reservoir Park. 

Female Northern Cardinal

Male Eastern Bluebird, (Donna).

Red-bellied Woodpecker, (Donna).

Song Sparrow

Cedar Waxwing, (Donna).

Downy Woodpecker

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During this stark, seemingly lifeless, time of year it’s not always easy to be optimistic about what will be seen when heading into the woods. But even in December’s landscape we seldom return home with empty hearts.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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