Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Horned Grebe at OSU

The weather warmed up into the mid 40's today so I took a noontime walk around campus. I had noticed some interesting ducks while driving over the bridge onto campus this morning and I wanted to check to see what they were.

The most interesting find was this male Horned Grebe. I've only seen these on the west coast before, so it was a treat to see one on the Olentangy near Drake Union.

I think it was the American Coot that I had spotted on my drive in this morning. There was only one on the river when I went there over the noon hour.

The other cutie today was this female bufflehead. She was fun to watch as she was diving for fish. Each time she surfaced the gulls would harrass her and try to steal her food.

This is an American Black Duck --

not to be confused with

A female Mallard.

Here's a pair of mallards.

This must be a mallard hybrid of some sort. I couldn't find anything to match it in Sibley's. The head and bill look like a mallard, but it has a bright white chest and neck, and the wings and back are a beautiful rufous color without mottling.

This is the smallest size variety of Canada Goose. I think it's been moved to its own species, but I'm not sure as to the name. Cackling Goose, perhaps? I'll have to look in my Ohio Bird book.

This is a scene from underneath the King Avenue Bridge.

Canada Goose prints in the snow.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rice bowl project - finished

I finished the Rice Bowl Project piece today. This design is from my "hidden world" series, which is inspired from the microscopic landscape of plants. I need to put another coat of oil on in a few days and then it's ready to ship up to AAW for their exhibit at the Landmark Center. The progress pics I posted earlier are on this link.

This is the back side of the bowl.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New ducks!

Steve and I went to Greenlawn Dam on the Scioto to look for some more new ducks for our bird list. We found three new ones today: Redhead, Common Goldeneye, and Buffleheads. We also saw Mallards, Lesser Scaup, Pied-bill Grebe and Hooded Mergansers along with Ring-billed Gulls, Canada Goose, and a Great Blue Heron. Unfortunately, I don't have a big enough lens to shoot good photos from across the river, but I took a couple that were good enough that you can see the field marks of the ducks. No pics of buffleheads or hooded mergansers today. We'll have to go back to this spot with the telescope sometime.

We first took a look at the river from above the dam. Not much to see in the way of birds, but this sight was pretty intriguing. Looks like a bad day for someone, but it's actually a set-up for a training exercise for the Columbus Fire Department. Some lucky trainees are going to have to go into the icy water this evening to rescue a couple of mannequins from this overturned and submerged car.

Here are two of the three firemen who set up this exercise. "This isn't going into the Dispatch, is it?" they asked. No - just on my blog. . .

That's Steve walking toward the dam. Nothing to see from there, so we had to drive over to the other side of the river and walk down the bike path to see some ducks.

Here's the frozen river above the dam. Those buoys will probably host some herons come summer time.

Ok, that's better. Two males and a female redhead duck.

The aptly named common goldeneye.

This Canada Goose was near the shore I was photographing from, so it's a much better picture.

Icecicles from the drain pipes on Greenlawn bridge. We still have a lot of snow on the ground. It has a crust of ice on top, which makes walking through it pretty fun. We're supposed to have freezing rain tonight. Winter is still with us here in central Ohio.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rice bowl project

Here are a few progress pics on my AAW Rice Bowl Project piece. I've done all of the carving at this point and I'm now working on the texturing. You can see the initial layout on this project by scrolling down to the last picture on my post about the OSU snow day from last week.

I'm using a small diamond burr in my Foredom micromotor tool to do the texturing.

The inside surface of the bowl is also carved and will be completely textured. I've not enjoyed working with this stinky elm, but I do like how the motif worked on the form. I'll use this motif again with a nicer piece of wood in the near future.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Birding in the snow

Steve and the kids had a holiday today. Unfortunately, OSU doesn't celebrate President's Day and so I had to go to work. I did come home an hour early, though, and Steve and I went to Grigg's Reservoir to do some birding. Steve had gone there earlier and had seen a Hooded Merganser. I wanted to see one, too, so we went back to the same spot to look again.

This is the dam at Grigg's Reservoir. Ice covers the river above the dam, but the water is mostly ice-free below the dam. The ice won't last more than a few days from now. We are finally out of the cold snap we've had for the past three weeks. The weather warmed up to 41°F today. I accidentally strayed onto a patch of ice on the river and it made a resounding "crack," which was enough to make me hop upslope in a jiffy.

We saw two Great Blue Herons fishing at the top of the dam.

This is a poor picture of an American Black Duck. I sometimes see these ducks at Mirror Lake on the OSU campus, but Steve hadn't seen one before.

What's this? I stopped along the river to take some photos and this little fellow snuck up behind me to nibble on my boot. He was looking for a handout, but we didn't have anything to share with him.

Sorry, but all I have in my pocket is another camera lens.

On to the next sucker, I mean, kind-hearted soul.

Nothing here, either. Sorry, little mallard. You'll have to go dabble in the river like all of your fellow ducks.

There were a couple of kingfishers working the river, too. This one was on a branch across the river from us, so it's not a very good photo.

Here's another new duck species for our list. These are Lesser Scaups. I love the bright blue bills they have.

They're smaller than mallards, but are kind of similar in appearance when seen from a distance. The lighter color of body and the blue bills and dark head give them away when you seen them in the binoculars.

Here's the prettiest bird of the day, and another new one for the life list. This is a male Hooded Merganser. We also saw a couple of females.

What a beauty.

There were hundreds of Canada Geese and dozens of Mallards hanging out on the river today.

A fisher of the human sort - taking his chances below the dam.

A Great Blue Heron doing the same atop the dam. I saved this as a black & white photo rather than color.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another day in the snow

We received another two inches of snow today so Steve and I decided we needed to go do some birding at the OSU Wetlands Park. First, though, we went to Wild Birds Unlimited to restock on thistle and oil sunflower seed. I also purchased an excellent binocular for my fieldwork - a real splurge in the form of Swarovski's 8 X 32. Wow, what a difference! It's like looking at the world with telephoto eyes. Steve snapped this picture of me checking him out with my new binocular.

We've had such a long cold snap that most of the water around here is frozen over, including the billabong. I've posted a lot of pictures from this area over the past year and you can browse through my archive to look for pictures of the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, shorebirds, and various other birds. This is one of our favorite places to look for birds. Today, however, the walk was pretty rough going - the paths weren't cleared in the wetlands area. The bike path had been previously plowed, but today's snow hadn't yet been cleared.

The snow does look nice on all of the tree limbs, though.

I especially like the contrasts the snow and branches make in the tangled undergrowth.

This is the bridge on the bike path near Dodridge road. Steve's checking out the large population of Canada Geese - about 200 of them hanging out in a clear spot in the river.

About 200 geese, fewer than a dozen Mallards, about 50 Ring Billed Gulls, and a Great Blue Heron.

It's pretty crowed in the free flowing water.

They're not looking too happy, but at least they have access to water and the good things to eat in the river. The poor robins in our area are suffering greatly - many of them are dying because the ground is frozen and they can't get to their worms and such.

I saw a lot of squirrels digging in the snow to look for their buried caches. Most of the squirrels look fat and healthy, so they must be successful at finding their stored food. The ones in our yard are fattening up on bird seed.

At the other bridge, north of the wetlands park, the open water is even smaller in area. Ring billed gulls dominated this open patch of water.

The river sure looks different when it's iced over.

Yep - it's definitely cold out here. That's the other side of the bridge, looking upstream.

This gull caught a small fish and was being chased by a couple of other ones trying to steal it. Steve took a nice photo of the chase.

They sure look cold out there. Notice that the ones standing in snow are standing on one leg? They must alternate feet every few minutes or something.

This Great Blue Heron was flying up kind of high, so it's not a great picture. My favorite picture of a flying GBH is the one I took at the Florida woodturning symposium about a month ago.

The pictures I took of Ring-billed gulls in flight turned out pretty well, though. I like the shades of gray from the ice in this one.

I was standing on the bridge shooting pics with my 300 mm zoom lens. I tracked the birds and shot a series of photos at a high shutter speed.

I'm always amazed at how well my camera captures the images of birds in motion. I use a Canon Rebel-XT.

A juvenile Ring-billed gull standing in the water.

One of the adults warming its feet in the water. I never realized that these gulls have a red ring around a yellow eye.

After we came home I was looking for our backyard birds through the kitchen window. I couldn't find any, which was strange since we had been counting dozens of cardinals, sparrows, finches, and the like earlier in the day. Then I noticed this Coopers Hawk up in the tree, which explained why our backyard birds were absent. I called Steve to come look and he went out to get some good photos while I watched it through my new binocs. By the time Steve finished and I went outside to shoot some pics, the hawk had moved and turned its back to me. So, my pics aren't all that nice, but you can see Steve's pic by clicking here.

This isn't quite an AHV, but nearly so. I've been mooned by a Coopers Hawk.