Thursday, July 29, 2010

Squirrel + Car = Vulture Food

My neighbor called to alert me that a turkey vulture had found a squirrel (which apparently lost a game of chicken with a car) and had dragged the squirrel across the street to begin to dine. Not wanting to miss a nice close up photo of such a big – and ugly - bird, I grabbed the camera and raced to get a few photos before the “buzzard” took off. Surprisingly, it let me get fairly close, although it did give me a look that said, "Leave me alone, I'm trying to eat!" Here are the photos.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Early Morning Lightning Photo

A good thunderstorm and a very dark sky makes for a great opportunity for lightning photos. It also helps to have a protected area in which to stand to avoid getting hit by lightning while trying to grab a picture of it. Timing is also a big issue – if the camera shutter isn’t open the split second the lightning flashes, the shot is missed.

All those things came together very early this morning when a small thunderstorm moved through. The lightning and thunder diminished as the storm approached, though. Despite keeping the camera shutter open for several seconds per photo, only one forky flash of lightning popped into view within a period of about 30 minutes. Lucky for me, I had just opened the shutter and caught it. So, after taking over 350 pictures of this storm, I managed to get one decent shot. The photo is below. (The color of the sky has not been altered; the sky was just showing a little morning light, and the sky had a blue/purple cast.)

Click on photo for larger view

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mentor Marsh: Wake Robin, Kerven, & Zimmerman Trails

A long spell of sunny, dry weather over the last two weeks made it ideal to explore the nature trails in my home town. There are several trails that skirt, and go into, the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, which is adjacent to the Mentor Headlands Beach State Park on Lake Erie in Mentor, Ohio. The marsh is a remnant of an ancient riverbed of the nearby Grand River. There are several trails in the area, some better than others for viewing the marsh and/or for birding.

The Zimmerman Trail is two miles long, and we began at the Headlands Drive entrance. We only ventured about ¾ of a mile onto the trail. From the Headlands entrance, the trail is a simple dirt/mud trail, very wooded, hilly, and sometimes not very visible due to a few downed trees. We could hear several birds in the area but could not see many because of the heavy foliage. Since the weather had been dry the trail was very dry, but it is evident that the trail would get messy with wet weather. We did not check out the Rosemary Lane entrance to this trail. There is a very nice view of a marsh pond area on Headlands Drive below the entrance of the trail.

The Kerven Trail, located on Corduroy Road, is also heavily wooded, but has a nice overlook of the Mentor Marsh. The trail to the overlook is not well marked and we found the overlook by accident. We realized on the way back to the beginning of the trail that we had to go on the butterfly meadow path in order to easily get to the overlook.

The nicest trail is the Wake Robin Trail, which is a boardwalk that runs through the marsh itself. There is a short but steep hill with a dirt trail which leads to the boardwalk, so be prepared for this short trek down. (There are plans to connect the boardwalk with another overlook nearby which will allow easy access for all.) We spent quite a bit of time on this short (.35 mile) boardwalk because it was very peaceful and there was a great view of all the different marsh plants, insects, and birds in the area. The height of the phragmites - the tall reeds that have invaded the marsh – is very evident once you are in the marsh at ground level; some easily reached 15-20 feet. Phragmites are not native to this area and over the years they have choked off the natural vegetation in the marsh. There is an effort to restore Mentor’s Marsh’s native habitat around the area of the boardwalk, much to the delight of birds (and humans too).

We also spent some time at the Mentor Lagoons Trails and the Mentor Headlands Dunes Nature Preserve Trail and I will post those photos in the near future. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy these photos – some in black and white – from the Zimmerman, Kerven, and Wake Robin trails.

Zimmerman Trail

Kerven Trail

Wake Robin Trail

All Content © Chris A. Zimmer and

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,, here.