January 26, 2014

A Winter Walk in the Park

A couple of blocks from our house, but separated from us by a busy state highway, is the large body of water known as Griggs Reservoir. The dam that forms the reservoir on the Scioto River (pronounced SY-oto for you out-of-towners) is just a couple of miles downstream and recently we heard that some interesting ducks and other waterfowl had been seen below the dam. So, when it finally stopped snowing this morning, and the driveway had been shoveled, we headed for the river.

One look at the dam had us wondering what bird in its right mind would want to paddle around in the freezing water

but then that thought was overtaken by hoping for something really cool, like a Harlequin Duck that would have been right at home in the turbulent water. We didn't have any luck with the Harlequin, but as we walked south along the river we weren't disappointed with the waterfowl that were mixed in with the legions of Canada Geese and Mallards.

This pair of Common Goldeneyes was an exciting sight because they are among the less common of our wintering ducks here in central Ohio. As we looked more closely, we saw at least a dozen of these beautiful birds. 

Check out these Ring-necked Ducks--one of my favorites. We always say that they should be called Ring-Billed Ducks, but there actually is a ring of cinnamon color around their necks, visible only in perfect light. The second duck from the left is a female Common Goldeneye. 

Over a dozen Hooded Mergansers swam and dove in the fast-moving water. The snazzy males are spectacular but I've always liked the pert cinnamon crest on the females too:

It was fun to see this winter-plumaged Horned Grebe on the far side of the river. Very hard to photograph, it kept diving and coming up in unexpected places!

We were also treated to views of a few sleeping scaup, a spectacular look at a Belted Kingfisher, and a decent look at a far-off Black Duck. We weren't the only folks out at the river today; we saw 2 other birders, 3 frisbee-golfers, a dog-walker and...well, I'm not sure what you would call it but this fellow said he was having a lot of fun!

I'm not a huge fan of winter but the season certainly shows off the beauty of the magnificent sycamore trees that line the river.

A snowy walk along the river turned out to be a great way to spend the afternoon!

UPDATE: My daughter in Colorado informed me that the fellow in the picture is practicing "slacklining" which is quite popular where she lives in Boulder. According to Wikipedia there are many styles of the sport, as well as competitions. It does look like fun, especially if you can fall into deep snow and not directly on the ground!


  1. Beautiful! I wonder if tightrope walking is getting to be a new activity for the young. Seems like an odd place to practice it, but you sure saw some pretty birds.

    1. See the update on the blog re: slacklining!

  2. Thanks! We saw people doing this tree-to-tree walking once in Boulder. Last night we had dinner with John and Liz and mentioned it, and he said he had seen it in Colorado. So maybe it is a Colorado "thing" that has made its way to central Ohio!

  3. This is wonderful! Brought back memories of my wildlife identification classes at OSU as a Natural Resources student/grad. We'll have to take a trip down there. Thanks for sharing.