Sunday, November 28, 2010

West End Avenue & 96th Street

There's no place like Thanksgiving in New York City- and that's where Megan, Weston and I headed this past holiday weekend.  This was just a very quick trip- but there's nothing like spending a few days in Manhattan to make one appreciate the relative calm of a "little big" city like Columbus.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Today in Delaware County, the stand of cattails that rim the pond behind our office caught my eye.  There isn't much more fun a kid can have than ripping into a cattail- I remember getting covered in the white fluff more than a few times  The fluff is a combination of tiny seeds and small silk like fibers that enable the seed to be spread by wind and water.  And they sure do get around- it's hard to find any semi-permanent bodies of water that don't have cattails rimming the edges.

In Ohio, we have three types of cattails.  The increasingly rare broad-leaf cattail is our native species.  There's also the narrow-leaved cattail, originally thought to be native to the Atlantic coast but now believed to have come to us from Europe.  And last but not least- there's a super aggressive form that appears to be a hybrid between the two species. Wherever you see a massive stand of nothing but cattails, it's most likely the hybrid.

And speaking of the east coast-  we'll be off for a few days for the long holiday weekend- Have a happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Tattered Wings of an Autumn Meadowhawk

The tattered wings of an autumn meadowhawk, photographed today on the Delaware Widlife area. 
Over the past months, I have struggled to give direction to this blog.  The best blogs are focused and updated frequently, and those two qualities have been sorely missing here.  To get me back into the blogging mood, during the work week, I'm going to present one image each evening that represents a simple nature observation I made earlier in the day.  I expect that my 30 mile drive north into the farm country of central Ohio should give me plenty of material for this venture.

During today's lunch break, I encountered this tattered, autumn meadowhawk that has survived several significant frosts.   With snow in the forecast for the end of the week, this insect is not long for this world, but our 60 degree temperatures gave me something to be thankful for- the opportunity to photograph a dragonfly in late November.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ready for Winter

All the leaves are down from our backyard bur oak- finally. We've spent the last four Sunday afternoons blowing, raking, and hauling leaves.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Back to Yellowstone

If you've been following me for a while, you'll remember my trip to Yellowstone this past June.  After I came back, I started a new job, so I didn't have much time to really pour through the images from our three night camping adventure.  I'm off from work today, so this morning I took a second look at the images from America's megafauna capital.

A series of images of this bison scratching its head caught my eye, and I started to work on this particular shot in Adobe Camera Raw. After playing around with several different ways of cropping the image, I saw a little black speck perched upon the dead log.

Ah ha!  A brown-headed cowbird hiding out right next to a bison.  How cool is that?  If you've studied birding or ecology in north America, one of the biggest stories told in the field is the eastward migration of the cowbirds as America's forests were cleared. Adapted to range with the bison of the American plains, the cowbirds didn't have time to raise a nest full of young, so they somehow learned to lay their eggs in other birds nests.  Quite an interesting strategy for sure.  But as we opened up the forests, they started laying eggs in the nests of species that hadn't learned to recognize the cowbird eggs, and, to make  a long story short, we've got plenty of cowbirds around these days.

So although I've seen cowbirds here in Ohio a thousand times, seeing them in the open plains of Yellowstone National Park, sitting right next to a bison, leads me to respect this species just a little more.  They didn't clear the forests of the east- we did!

Slough Creek Valley, Yellowstone National Park, frequented by hundreds, if not thousands, of Bison.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Backyard Mystery

This is what I found in our backyard underneath our giant bur oak this evening.  What can take down a crow in a suburban-within-the-beltway backyard in Worthington, Ohio?  Could a Cooper's hawk really take a crow?  Perhaps a great horned owl?  No carcass in sight- just two wings, some scattered feathers, and a smidgen of intestine.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fall in Maine

In early October, Megan, Weston and I traveled to Little Pond Maine.  I'm not going to blog extensively about that trip, but I did want to share images of this beautiful state.  I can't think of any other place that I would rather be in early October.


Friday, November 05, 2010

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis   
I'm not sure when I first learned about white-throated sparrows.  It was sometime when I was in college- I remembering seeing one on the grounds of a motor inn in Bar Harbor, Maine sometime after I had purchased the Peterson's Birding By Ear C.D.s  I learned the song of this sparrow before I had knowingly seen the bird.  The whistling "Oh Sam Peabody Peabody" or "Oh Sweet Canada Canada Canada", whichever you prefer, is easy to learn and hard to forget.  So when I saw one singing for the first time from atop a planted blue spruce, I knew exactly what I was looking at.

I've gone on to see many white-throated sparrows both in Ohio and Maine, where I captured this image in early October.  Also residents of the northern coniferous forests like the Pine Siskin, these birds are regular common winter visitors here in central Ohio.  I've been encountering flocks of a dozen or so birds on my daily lunch break walk around the Delaware Wildlife area.  I encounter them most often in thickets and edge habitats.  It's neat to think that there is a chance, all be it minuscule, that I might encounter the same bird in Ohio that I may have photographed during the summer in the woods of Maine.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Pine Siskin

Hello nature lovers- I'm back in the game, at least temporarily.  After a six week break from my computer, I finally got it back up and running again.  I've been photographing things along the way, like this Pine Siskin that was hanging out at Deer Haven Preserve on Saturday.  I've never photographed this species, so I was lucky to get this one perfect pose.  If you aren't familiar with pine siskins, they're a type of finch that often migrates southward from coniferous forests further north.  The species  occasionally "irrupts" in large numbers when the food supply is low in the boreal forests.  This one was feeding with a flock of 20 plus goldfinches feeding on nyger and sunflower seed- if I wasn't tipped off by naturalist Kim at Deer Haven, I probably would have never noticed it.