Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mobile Blogging Test

I just downloaded an app that allows me to blog from my iPhone. We'll see how this works!

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 Ohio Botanical Symposium

Another Ohio Botanical Symposium is, as we say in true Iron Chef style, "ovah".  Today's event was again super.  If you weren't able to attend, we were treated to a wide variety of topics on all things botanical, ranging from climate change to clovers and back again to reconstructing the pre-settlement vegetation of Clark County in west-central Ohio.

And congratulations to my botanical sensei Rick Gardner for putting together his eighth conference in a row.  One big announcement was made today- in case you missed it.  The symposium is moving to an every-other-year format.  I know Rick is tired and exhausted from putting this conference together year after year.  It gets increasingly difficult to find a new slate of speakers.  But Rick, please reconsider.  We all love the botanical symposium in its current format and I'd like to see it happen every year.

Thanks Rick for a wonderful event!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


If you have a fast internet connection, be sure to select the 720p or 1080p options for much higher quality video.

This afternoon we had a nice little hail storm pass through Worthington- It's been a long time since I've seen this much hail.  Weston thought that it was pretty cool that thousands of little balls were falling from the sky. 

Bald Eagles at Highbanks Metropark

Attending the nest
This past Sunday, March  19th, I spent almost two hours observing the bald eagles at Highbanks Metropark.  If you'd like to see them, I detail all that you need in this post.  Yes, the eagles are far away, but from the platform at highbanks they can easily be observed with a good pair of binoculars.  All it takes is a little bit of patience.

When I first arrived, the was little activity at the nest.  In fact, I wasn't able to tell if an eagle was even in the nest.  After a few test shots, I finally did see a white head and a yellow bill resting on the edge of the sticks.  About a half hour later, the eagle in the nest emerged.

The nest sits atop the branches of a tall sycamore tree above the Olentangy River

Both the male and female eagles incubate the eggs, and at various times during the day, they switch duty.  When I first arrived, only one eagle was in the area, but after about an hour, this bird flew up the river corridor from the south and alighted high above the riverbank.  By this time, a small crowd had gathered at the platform, and we were ready for some eagle action- they didn't disappoint.

High above the Olentangy
This eagle was hungry- it wasn't long before it started diving down towards the river, and then flying back up into the trees with sustenance.

Can I capture a meal?
Yes, I often think of bald eagles as eating carrion, but this one appeared to capture fish right out of the river- It's possible the fish were already dead, stunned gizzard shad from the recent flooding. 

Gizzard shad perhaps?
 Whatever the fish was or how the eagle captured it, it was quite thrilling to watch an eagle obtaining prey above the Olentangy, in the middle of Central Ohio.

Let's eat.
Although I had to rush back home to help with the kids, I left with a smile on my face after watching our national's symbol soaring around Central Ohio.

If you would like to see the eagles at Highbanks, I have posted details here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Highbanks Metropark Bald Eagles 2011

Highbanks Overlook- March 20, 2011-  Click on image for a MUCH larger photograph.

The bald eagles are once again nesting at Highbanks Metropark, and it is quite a place to visit.  By far, the most popular page on my blog the past year has been last year's posting about the highbanks bald eagles.

The eagles have apparently built a new nest.  If you click on the image above, I've drawn an arrow that points at a dark spot that is the nest.  Although the overlook is really far away, the eagles fly up and down the corridor of the Olentangy River and they can be seen with the naked eye.  To see them in the nest, however, you really need to have a good spotting scope.  On weekend afternoons, metroparks volunteers are often setup with a spotting scope aimed right at the nest.  Take a look at their Facebook page for more updates on the eagles and when the volunteers will be staffing the overlook platform.

To get to the platform, drive into highbanks, and turn left at the first picnic area.  Drive through the picnic areas until you get to the last small parking lot on the left.  Park.  While facing the woods, you'll want to take the trail that heads to the left.  Metroparks has done the work for you after that- they've placed very nice signs that lead you back to the overlook.  Here's a map.  The walk is about a mile through the woods and up and down hills, but the path is solid crushed limestone, doable even with a jogging stroller.  If you can't find it or have questions, just check in at the nature center. 

And finally, I think one of the biggest questions I've heard about this nest is the web camera.  It is NOT up and running yet, but hopefully it will be soon.  I know it will be extremely popular.

If you can, get out to Highbanks and check out the eagles.  This past Sunday I watched them attend the nest, soar up the valley of the Olentangy, perch high in the trees, and dive down twice into the river to catch and eat fish.  More on that, including photos, will be coming soon.  It was awesome.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Don't Forget the Moon

"Super Moon"- March 19, 2011
Tonight's full moon is the biggest and brightest since 1993- when I was a mere freshman in High School.  Oh, those were the days..........

The moon is certainly full- and it's really bright- don't forget to go out and bask in the moon glow.


Musical Sawfly

Last year at work we found these really cool looking caterpillars devouring a patch of  POISON IVY outside our office door.  Yes, they were eating poison ivy, and pretty much defoliating this little patch that had invaded the yew hedge.  What type of butterfly used poison ivy as a host plant, we all wondered? Well, it turned out that what we had found weren't butterfly caterpillars, but the larvae of the poison ivy saw fly.

Sawflies have a recognizable shape- there isn't much apparent separation between the thorax and the abdomen, so when the first insects to fly this year turned out to look like the picture above, I knew exactly what I was dealing with.

I got out my camera and macro lens, hoping to catch a few of these sawflies this afternoon, but I didn't have any luck.  Weston was out playing with me so I decided to grab my guitar and do a little impromtu jam in the out-of-doors.  So much for those sawflies, I'll get them another day.

Weston eventually got into some mischief, I think he climbed to the top of the turtle sandbox and was standing on it with a giant grin when I put my guitar down.  After rescuing the little guy from impending doom, I returned to the guitar, and wham, there was my sawfly, right on my pick guard.

With the camera right there, it didn't take long to snap off a few shots of this little hymenopteran.  Now to my next question to answer- what type of saw fly is it?


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delaware Wildlife Area Birds

Turkey Vulture

This is the ROAD to a boat launch, completely flooded!



Red-winged Blackbird



Ring-neck ducks

The flooded Delaware Wildlife area is teeming with waterfowl and other birds right now- it's an amazing place to be.  Yesterday I was able to photograph Canvasbacks for the first time, one of my favorite ducks.
Happy Spring-

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Like it, I Love it, I Want Some More of It....

March 16, 2011, Delaware Wildlife Area

What could I be talking about?  Spring, of course!

I'm sorry if I've put the lyrics for an annoying country song into your head- but I just couldn't help myself.  Today while I was inching down a gravel road, trying to avoid massive potholes, I spotted a few hopping leopard frogs taking advantage of the warm afternoon.  Peepers and chorus frogs were also calling- all in the middle of the day.  I love spring.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Thaw

After two weeks of paternity leave, I was back in the office yesterday for a full day of work.  On my drive up to northern Delaware County, I was pretty surprised by all the "road closed" signs.  I knew that north central Ohio had received quite a bit of rain the past few weeks, but I was not prepared to detour my usual route to work because of flooding.

That assumption was pretty foolish- Our office sits on land surrounding a federally owned reservoir.  And in the spring, the reservoir fills with water after big rains and releases it over time.  Still, I wasn't prepared for just how high the reservoir had risen.

Whetstone Creek, December 14, 2010

Here is a snapshot I captured during my lunch break back in December of Whetstone Creek, which runs into the Delaware Reservoir.  During winter, the reservoir is low, and the stream runs here as if there was no reservoir.

Upon hearing how high the water was, I walked back to this same vantage point yesterday, and wow, was I blown away by just how high the water had risen in the reservoir.

Whetstone Creek, March 14, 2011

What once was a quiet, flowing creek in December had become a massive river.

Here is my December photo with a line that represents the approximate high water mark of this season's flooding.

I hope you stayed dry this Spring.  Obviously, our situation here in Ohio pales to the absolute devastation that the people of N.E. Japan have experienced. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping depiction (at least from the point of view from a guy that spends a ton of time looking at aerial photographs) is presented by The New York Times.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Brode Man- Chance at Non-brown Eyes?

It was pretty clear fairly soon that Weston had Brown eyes like his daddy, but Brody's steely blue baby eyes haven't completely revealed what color they will eventually be.  Megan's eyes are hazel with a tinge of orange in the center- they're really quite cool.  Only time will tell.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brody / Weston Comparison

One at 13 days, the other at ten.  Who's who? 

A Happy Baby

There's nothing like a happy smiling baby- just look at that little drop of milk.  What else could be better?