Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2018

A foggy morning

Today dawned with a chill in the air, and a dense cloak of fog shrouding the landscape. I was up and out early to complete some errands, but when I saw the misty ethereal landscape, plans were tabled. Tossed some camera gear in the vehicle, and headed out to attempt to create some fogscape images along the nearby Olentangy River.

As always, click the image to see at full size (it'll look better)
Lonely tire swing

Photography Exhibition - and talk! Saturday, January 27

Robinson Falls, formerly "Corkscrew Falls", Hocking County, Ohio
Finally, after several untapped opportunities, I am presenting my first public exhibition of photography. The exhibit will be housed at the Lowe-Volk Nature Center in Crestline, Ohio, and will debut Saturday, January 27. It runs through February 24. Thanks to Josh Dyer of the Crawford (County) Park District for the invite, and prod. Also, at 1 pm on January 27 at the same place, I will present a program entitled "A Romp through Ohio's Flora and Fauna". The photo gallery is basically a microcosm of the talk - a showcase of the fascinating biodiversity of Ohio. All are welcome and I hope to see you there!

Scroll on for some examples...

The colorful, architecturally ornate flowers of purple fringeless orchid, Platanthera peramoena
I selected 43 images, all of which were taken in Ohio in 2017. So, the pictures are hot off the press, and cover a wide range of flora, fauna, and landscapes. All of the ima…

American marten!!

The west entrance to one of North America's great protected wildlands, Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. I made a whirlwind trip here over the last week - a journey I could be writing about for some time. There were other stops, including Niagara Falls which was a mind-numbingly beautiful icy wonderland, and Lake Ontario near Toronto. There, scores of long-tailed ducks and other fowl congregated.

But it isn't everyday one gets a "life mammal", at least someone like me, who has made an effort to see mammals for a long time. So, if I post nothing else about this northern foray, I will at least share this new mammal, an extraordinary beast by any accounting.

Ontario Route 60 slices through the park, and the scenery along its entirety is stunning. There was a fair bit of snow but not that much, so getting around wasn't too tough. One mammal to watch for while driving is moose. The massive beasts are frequently seen along 60, and sometimes come to the roa…

A mass of mergansers

Last Saturday, I made my umpteenth million trip to Lake Erie, that great water body that sits about two hours to my north. The lake is an irresistible draw, especially for one who is deeply into birds. Of the 420+ species that have been found in Ohio to date, well over 400 have occurred along Lake Erie.
Many of my excursions to our 4th largest Great Lake (by far the smallest, by water volume) have been in winter. Conditions can be brutal, but if you're willing to tough it out, the rewards are often great. I had no doubt that this day, January 6, would be a bit nippy. At one point on the drive up, near Lodi, the mercury registered - (minus!) 11 F!
By the time I arrived at Miller Park, in the shadow of the big power plant at Avon Lake, it had warmed to 5 F. Offsetting that warming trend were strong icy winds blasting across frozen Lake Erie from the north. Warm water outflows from the plant always keep a big patch of water from freezing, and winter birding is always interesting at …

Nature: Some birds built to withstand frigid weather

A horned lark seeks seeds/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch January 7, 2018
Jim McCormac

The exceptionally frigid weather of late reminds me, as it always does, how tough the feathered crowd is. When the mercury plummets to zero or below, one wonders how birds survive. It’s 1 degree Fahrenheit outside as I write this, and I’d surely not want to overnight out there. But not only do birds survive Arctic chills, most of them thrive. At least those that linger. Far fewer species occur in Ohio in winter than any other season. Most birds migrate to warmer, more food-rich climes. Some may only venture a few states southward; others might go all the way to the tropics. They’ll return when days lengthen and food supplies increase. Half-hardy species can be “fair-weather” migrants, such as blackbirds, turkey vultures and eastern bluebirds. If winter conditions turn brutal, many of them flee south. They may remain in mild winters. Waterbirds such as ducks, herons and gulls have little choice bu…

Some Florida waders + cute owls

The polar blast continues here in Columbus, Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest. It's 10 F as I write this, and will drop below zero tomorrow night. It's been frigid for a while - a true winter! - although it is projected to warm significantly next week.

I've been working through photos from a Florida trip of last February - paring the wheat from the chaff, labeling, and archiving. Just looking at all of these Floridian birds makes me feel warmer, and the images bring back memories of basking in balmy Sunshine State weather, often only arm's length from excellent subjects. If you like to photograph birds, it's hard to beat Florida.

All of these, with the exception of the burrowing owls, were shot at either Ding Darling on Sanibel Island, or Gatorland near Orlando. The owls were some of the many that call Cape Coral home.

The drive through Ding Darling produces LOTS of birds, and lots of photo ops. Here, from L to R, is a white ibis, snowy egret, and great egret - stu…

Nature: Ohio scientists finally learning flying squirrels' secrets

A southern flying squirrel in Athens County/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch December 31, 2017
NATURE Jim McCormac
Perhaps no one knows as much about southern flying squirrels as Don Althoff. The professor of biology at Rio Grande College in southern Ohio has devoted two decades of study to these fascinating mammals. I spent one early-December day shadowing Althoff as he conducted squirrel research in the rugged, forested hills of rural Athens County. We weren’t alone. The squirrels intrigue many of his students, and at least 15 of them joined us. While largely out of sight and mind, flying squirrels are often the most common of our squirrels, at least in wooded habitats. They frequently occur in well-treed urban neighborhoods, including many in Columbus and its suburbs. But southern flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal. Sometimes they’ll visit bird feeders, and if the feeders are lit by nightlights, people may notice them. Sometimes slathering peanut butter on tree trunks lures them in…