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Showing posts from November, 2016

Nature: Ohio winters offer a warm welcome for tree sparrows

An American tree sparrow/Jim McCormac
Nature: Ohio winters offer a warm welcome for tree sparrows
Columbus Dispatch November 27, 2016
NATURE Jim McCormac
Come late October/early November, the American tree sparrows descend on Ohio’s meadows. To these plucky little songbirds, Ohio’s winters are its Florida vacation.

Tree sparrows breed as far north as the Arctic Circle. Some of the birds that winter in Ohio might have traveled 2,000 miles south to reach our latitude. Tropically speaking, that’s equal to hopping on a jet and flying south to San Jose, Costa Rica.

One often hears the sparrows before seeing them. Foraging flocks are usually concealed in the vegetation, but they make their presence known with beautiful calls. Tree sparrow notes sound like delicate icicles softly shattering; a crystalline tinkling melody that carries the promise of short frigid days to come.

Tree sparrows are rather extroverted, unlike most of their brethren. When on alert, flocks will often rise atop vegetation…

Conkles Hollow, on a misty morning

One of the crown jewels of Ohio's rich natural resources is the Hocking Hills. This region, which is a short drive southeast of Columbus and is centered in Hocking County, is noted for its steep hemlock-cloaked gorges, impressive sandstone cliffs, and overall stunning scenery. While I've made scores of trips here over the years, I must confess to avoiding the area somewhat in recent years.
Too many people.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad the tens of thousands of folks visit Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls and all of the other iconic Hocking Hills hotspots. By visiting such glorious natural areas, a person would seemingly have to become more interested in nature and conservation, or so it would seem. So, I'm glad my fellow primates flock to these places. But, alas, my fellow primates are also VERY NOISY. And that drives me crazy when I'm in places such as the one we will visit in this blog.
To many Hocking Hills veterans, Conkles Hol…

Indian Run Falls

A gorgeous series of limestone shelves cascades the waters of Indian Run ever lower, their fate to eventually merge with the much larger Scioto River.

I am all too often guilty of ignoring my backyard in favor of more distant and exotic places. Such was the case with the stunning Indian Falls Park, which is only ten minutes from home.

I'd been here, to be sure, but the last time was pre (serious)-camera, and that was probably 15 years ago. Lately I've been seeing some nice photos posted here and there of Indian Run Falls, and decided this morning was the ideal opportunity to visit.

There was a rainfall last night that added an almost perfect amount of water to the stream - not so much that one couldn't traverse the stream, but enough to create nice waterscapes. So, over to the falls I went, arriving shortly after sunrise on a cold - high 30's - blustery November day.

Accessing the best section of falls is quite easy. The City of Dublin owns the property and maintains …


The city of Columbus, Ohio, as seen last evening just prior to nightfall. I made this image from the Rich Street bridge across the Scioto River, and the fading light cast the edifices of downtown in a beautiful golden glow.

I, and many others, were down here to see - and attempt to photograph - the largest "Supermoon" since January 26, 1948. The moon circles Earth on an elliptical orbit, and when a full, or new, moon coincides with the moon's closest approach to our little blue dot, we get the so-called Supermoon.

The proper term for this phenomenon is the perigee-syzgy moon, the perigee being the closest point that an orbiting body comes to its host. As it had been 60 years since the moon had been this close to Earth, people were understandably excited. And if you missed last night's celestial show, you'll have to wait until November 25, 2034 for a similar lunar performance.

Click the pic to enlarge - it'll look better
The Supermoon can be seen cresting the …

A parliament of Cedar Waxwings

Too much STUFF has kept me out of the blogosphere of late, or at least much reduced my normal volume of posts. That might continue for a few weeks.

But I've not been idle, and have scads of material. For now, I will leave interested readers with this dignified parliament of Cedar Waxwings, lording over the summit of a tall pin oak. They were part of a flock of about 120 birds at Stage's Pond State Nature Preserve last Friday morning. After the group preening was complete, they descended en masse on lianas of wild grape and plundered the berry crops.

Some amazing Hocking Hills rock formations (wordless)

Ohio Natural History Talk: Thursday, November 10, Worthington

I'm giving a talk in my own backyard, for a change, for the Friends Foundation of Worthington Libraries. It starts at 7pm next Thursday night, November 10, and it's free and all are welcome.
You can get the gist of the subject matter from the beautiful flyer that the Friends created, above. That subject and description gives me ample wriggle room, and I look forward to dusting off lots of images of a wide spectrum of Ohio's flora and fauna, and natural beauty. I'll have some overarching point to all of this, which will be the importance of conservation and why ALL the cogs in the wheel are important.
CLICK HERE for more info, and I'll look forward to seeing you there if you can go.