Cold Weather Brings Nature Our Way

Every two or three years a period of unusually cold winter weather results in the land and water north as well as in central Ohio being covered with snow and ice for a prolonged period of time.  When this happens waterfowl and other birds that may not be able to make a living further north are forced to seek suitable habitats in our area. The result is the opportunity to see birds in locations where it would be extremely unlikely other times of the year. A gift to nature lovers courtesy of cold arctic weather.

Ice creeps out into the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

The negative to all of this is that windy 0 F to 15 F temperatures preclude the use of serious photographic equipment on long hikes. Briefly popping out of the car, if you are able to get close enough to your subject, is the only option. If one is set on doing a long hike, stuffing a smaller superzoom under your coat does work but fingers freeze almost immediately when you try to manipulate the camera.

Landscape transformed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

A habitat that attracts birds almost at our doorstep is the open flowing water of  the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. In the past couple of weeks we’ve been fortunate to observe a variety of waterfowl at that location. Others birds, such as Trumpeter Swans, have been reported but we’ve yet to see them. Timing is everything as the birds move up and down the river corridor. More often than not there is a least one Bald eagle present as the number of ducks and geese make for easy pickings.

Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

A closer look.

 

Crowded conditions, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A Red-headed Duck tries to ignore a rambunctious Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Hooded Merganser on patrol, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This one found a crayfish. Did you know that 21 species of crayfish call Ohio home.

There were no shortage of Common Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Common Merganser

A nice group of male Common Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A little closer.

Three Goldeneyes pose, (Donna).

Canvasback a little too far away for a decent pic, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Mute Swan, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Cackling Geese, shot is courtesy of our follow birding friend Ed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This buck seemed confused about the best place to relax. We thought it might be sick or injured but the next time we checked it was gone, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Red-headed Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

Amazingly, Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the Scioto.

There is often at least one Bald Eagle observing the activity along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

.

It’s also been a good year for Snowy Owls in Ohio with numerous birds being reported. The mechanism for that invasion, while perhaps partly due to the weather, also is the result of the past breeding season being a good one resulting in young owls looking for new hunting grounds further south as the increased population puts pressure on resources further north. Other birds such as Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs, to a greater or lesser degree, find their way into Ohio from further north during most winters.

Along farm fields not far from our home a roadside spill of corn attracted Horned Larks, a real treat to see. “The barer the ground, the more Horned Larks like it. Look for them in open country with very short or no vegetation, including bare agricultural fields. They breed in short grassland, short-stature sage shrubland, desert, and even alpine and arctic tundra.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Take 2.

At the same location, at first looking like some type of sparrow, was a Lapland Longspur, another first for us! They are a common songbird of the Arctic tundra, and winter in open fields across much of the US and southern Canada.

Take 2, (Donna).

.

Other creatures have also been braving the cold.

Not far from the concentration of waterfowl on Scioto River this Fox Squirrel was trying to warm up in the 10F sunshine, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Nearby an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was also spotted, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Our friend Ed told us about two Eastern screech owls located not far from Griggs Reservoir Park and was kind enough to send some pics our way.

. . . and a red morph, Ed.

Ed and Bob, photo courtesy of Sheila.

.

Returning home after a recent outing we were treated to some interesting bird activity right in our front yard.

Dark-eyed Junco. “Dark-eyed Juncos breed in forests across much of North America and at elevations ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet. They are often found in coniferous forests including pine, Douglas-fir, spruce, and fir, but also in deciduous forests such as aspen, cottonwood, oak, maple, and hickory. During winter and on migration they use a wider variety of habitats including open woodlands, fields, roadsides, parks, and gardens.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Competing with a Gray squirrel for goodies.

The chickadees love the sweetgum tree.

And so do the goldfinches.

A female Downy Woodpecker also takes advantage of the front yard feeders.

.

We feel very blessed to have so many fascinating creatures paying us a visit this winter. A very warm coat, that didn’t get worn once last winter, has come in very handy the last few days as we’ve been out and about. Today, as I finish writing this, the temperature is a balmy 35F. Time to get out and see what else we can find!

.

Finally, one of the joys of being a lover of nature is meeting kindred spirits like Ed and Sheila when out in the field. Ed, thanks again for supplying the pics!

.

Flowing water and extremely cold temperatures create ice pancakes along the Scioto.

Birds of Florida on Foot and by Canoe

Our recent six weeks of hiking and paddling in Florida resulted in a lot of photographs.

.

The pictures below provide a record of some of the birds seen. While lovely in their right, we are left with the feeling that they don’t come close to conveying the overall sense of wonder experienced as we explored the trails and waterways of Florida. Equipped with the knowledge that places visited were home to many fascinating living things, the wonder was with us even when we didn’t see a plant, bird or other animal that begged to be photographed. We returned home with the feeling that just being in such places had been more than enough.

(click on images for a better view)

.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron 1 LL 1 031416 Estero River cp1

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, from the canoe, Estero River, (Donna)

IMG_0040

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

IMG_0122

Ruddy Turnstones, Bald Point State Park

IMG_0139

Sanderlings, Bald Point State Park

IMG_0228

Royal Tern, near Ochlockonee State Park

IMG_0296

Bald Eagle, St Marks NWR.

IMG_0329

Brown-headed Nuthatch, Ochlockonee River State Park

IMG_0392

White-eyed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0444

Red-shouldered Hawk, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0454

Blue-headed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0464fix

Carolina Wren, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0493

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0512

Northern Parula Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0555

Cat Bird, Shady Acres RV Park.

IMG_0593

Black and White Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0598

Black Vultures, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_0661

Swallow-tailed Kite, Shady Acres RV Park

IMG_0685

Little Blue Heron, Ding Darling NWR.

IMG_0721

White Pelicans, Ding Darling NWR.

IMG_0768

Immature Yellow-crowned Nigh Heron, Ding Darling NWR.

IMG_0829

Little Blue Heron, Six Mile Cypress Slough

IMG_0850

Blue-headed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

IMG_7514use

Black and Turkey Vultures over the Suwanee River and Manatee Springs State Park. Moments before these birds were all perched in trees around the spring, Then, as if on queue, they all took flight.

IMG_9696

Mockingbird, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9672crop

White Pelicans, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9701

Pied Billed Grebes, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9736

American Wigeons, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9746use

Brown Pelican with Kingfisher, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9780

Red-cockaded woodpecker , Ochlockonee River State Park., These birds are threatened in much of their range due to loss of habitat.

IMG_9803

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee State Park.

IMG_9842

Brown Pelican, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9871

Horned Grebe, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9896

Eastern Phoebe, St Marks NWR.

IMG_9910

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River NWR.

IMG_9925

Tri-color Heron, from the canoe, Wakulla River

IMG_9956

Hermit Thrush, Ochlockonee River State River.

P1060292

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ochlockonee River State Park

P1060452fix

Eastern Towhee, Ochlockonee River State Park

P1060522 Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park,

P1060657use Black-bellied Plover and Dunlins

Black-bellied Plover and Dunlins, Bald Point State Park

Snowy Egret 2 best 2 further away 1 020716 Wakulla river cp1

Great Egret, (Donna). We spotted this bird as we were making our way down the Wakulla River with the current, an outgoing tide, and a fairly strong wind at our back. Managed to get the canoe swung around and slowly headed back upstream while my wife started to shoot. While never our intention the bird soon tired of our interest and flew away. In my opinion it was the best bird pic of the trip.

P1060809

Piping Plover, Bald Point State Park. A rare and endangered bird.

P1060825

Bald Eagle, Bald Point State Park.

P1060841

Laughing Gull, Bald Point State Park

P1060910crop

Cardinal, Manatee Springs State Park

P1060949

Black Vulture, Manatee Springs State Park.

P1060962

Yellow-throated Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

P1060997

Red-headed Woodpecker, Manatee Springs State Park

P1070222

Black Vultures, Manatee Springs State Park

P1070259

Tri-color Heron and Brown Pelican, from the canoe, island off Cedar Key.

P1070319

Great Egret, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

P1070323

Take 2.

 

P1070351

Juvenile Ibis, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

P1070364

Green Heron, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

P1070420

Roseate Spoonbill, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

P1070454

Peleated Woodpeckers, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

 

P1070618

Osprey, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

P1070833

American Oystercatcher, from the canoe, Cedar Key

P1070854crop

American Avocets, from the canoe, Cedar Key

P1070912

Black Skimmer, from the canoe, Cedar Key

P1070931

Least Terns, Cedar Key

P1070969

Wood Stork, Six Mile Cyprus Slough, Ft Meyers

P1080476

Sandpiper, from the canoe, Lovers Key State Park

P1080523

Snowy Egret, from the canoe, Lovers Key State Park.

P1080967

Great Crested Flycatcher, Shady Acres RV Park.

P1090237

Brown Pelican, from the canoe, Estero River

 

White Ibis with bright red legs 1 LL 1 031216 Six Mile Slough cp1

Ibis, Six Mile Cypress Slough, (Donna).

.

Now back in Ohio, we visited one of our favorite spots earlier today. While nuthatches, creepers, and various woodpeckers were present, no Bald Eagles were seen nor did any Scarlet Tanagers show themselves. But we have seen them there before and you never know about tomorrow.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

“Who Put This Thing Up Here Anyway?”

It was very windy today but even so we thought a long walk to our local slice of nature along the Scioto River might be in order. So off we went. An incriminating statement as to how seriously I take my windy day nature photography was that at the last minute I dropped a Panasonic ZS50 in my pocket along with a small pair of binoculars. I wasn’t expecting much.

.

Arriving at the reservoir we noticed most birds seen seemed to be flying sideways so we decided to concentrate on looking for newly emergent wildflowers.

.

As we shuffled along, looking down towards our feet at any small flower that managed to avoid being stepped on, it wasn’t long before a fellow nature lover and friend got our attention. Camera in hand, he was hoping to spot a Bald Eagle or other bird of interest. He asked if we’d seen the dead raccoon. Equipped with my negative response he lend us to a spot where the poor raccoon could be seen across the river, seemingly impaled high up in a very tall tree.

.

Exactly how it got there and what caused it’s demise will remain a mystery but what we witnessed happening afterward was equally intriguing.

.

P1000241use

At first it was hard to tell what the object being devoured was.

P1000248use

Nonetheless the Turkey Vultures appeared to be enjoying it, if not the seating arrangements.

P1000254use

“Who put this thing way up here anyway?”

P1000267use

The vultures took their turn at “the table” for some time but finally before the next in line could get seated, the sorry fellow (an immature raccoon) understandably lost his grip and fell out of the tree.

P1000267close look

For those that have an appetite for it, a closer look.

.

Desperate to cleanse my photographic palette, I aimed the ZS50 at anything that would sit still.

P1000272use

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

P1000289use

Along the river a Great Blue Heron feels the wind’s effect.

.

Since this type of thing doesn’t happen in our neighborhood very often I promise a the next post will be easier to stomach.

.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Warblers and Wildflowers

Spring has finally started to live up to its name. Recently we’ve been hiking Battelle Darby and paddling O’Shaughnessy Reservoir. Along with the many different wildflowers we’ve also seen Yellow-rumped, and Black & White Warblers and enjoyed the recently arrived Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Today, while paddling back to our launch site, a Bald Eagle soared overhead.

White Trout Lilly

White Trout Lilly

Toadshade Trillium

Toadshade Trillium

White Trout Lilly

White Trout Lilly

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

P1010800c

Question Mark

Question Mark

P1010821

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Yellow Trout Lilly's

Yellow Trout Lilly’s

IMG_2105

IMG_2109

White Trout Lilly

White Trout Lilly

IMG_2125

Toadshade Trillium

IMG_2129

Bloodroot

Dutchmans Breeches

Dutchmans Breeches

Battelle Darby

Battelle Darby

Waterleaf

Virginia Waterleaf

O'Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

Yellow Trout Lilly

Yellow Trout Lilly

Cutleaved Toothwort

Cutleaf Toothwort

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Home in December

A sunny day provided a great opportunity to see what birds were calling Greenlawn Cemetery home in the days before Christmas. Reports of White-winged Crossbills were what got us down there, but in a place as big as Greenlawn, they might be easy to miss.

For the first hour or so not many birds were spotted. However, the many mature Oaks and Evergreens were at least beautiful to look at even if they weren’t appealing to the birds.

Continuing to appreciate the trees, we spotted an interesting Oak in the distance that was worth investigating. Approaching it we found that it was full of White and Red-breasted Nuthatches! The Red-breasted Nuthatches, like the White-winged Crossbills, are winter visitors in this area.

A little while later we finally found the Crossbills in some Sweet Gum trees but not before we had nice views of Downy Woodpeckers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Chickadees, Brown Creepers, and a Carolina Wren.

.

White Winged Crossbill

. IMG_1416

. IMG_1382

. IMG_1369

.

IMG_1351

.

IMG_1340

. IMG_1332

.

All in all a good day. Thanks for stopping by.

Diary of an Aesthete

A Journey Of Heart And Mind

quercuscommunity

Life after the Care Farm

Out For 30

Exploring the world, 30 days at a time.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Photos by Donna

It's all about the jouney.....not the destination!

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Nareszcie urlop

English & Polish TravelBlog / Poland, Europe, the World

Eloquent Nature by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

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