May 10 Shelf Cloud as it clears a tree line to my west. This one was silent until it arrived with 34+ mph winds of very cold air.
It’s “shelfie” season: the time of year when springtime convective weather generates strong thunderstorms and picture-worthy shelf clouds. The popular term for shelf cloud photos, playing upon the term used for smart phone self-portraits or selfies, is shelfie.
May 10 was the first opportunity. I took up position and awaited the storm’s arrival in the parking lot of a public park. As the storm approached I could see only the separated top of the shelf above the treeline; that gave it the appearance of a wall of cloud (not a wall cloud) looming in the distance. The feature came closer and finally made visual separation from the trees and I knew I wasn’t about to be swept away!
Looking like a wall of clouds, the separated top of the approaching shelf cloud is visible above a tree line.
The storm was silent, no thunder, until it drew closer and I could hear the roar of wind in the treetops. A 34 mph peak wind was plenty strong, however, and ushered in a steep temperature drop. I was glad to have a jacket with me.
May 14 Shelf Cloud. You can see the rain curtain in the distance. When the view of the far woods turned white, I knew it was time to get into the car or get very wet!
Another photo-op presented itself with a squall line of severe thunderstorms on May 14. I thought I’d given myself enough time to reach a selected observation point in a city park in Lorain County but as I drove I realized I wouldn’t make it in time. So I bailed to a rural road and found a likely spot: a farmer’s access drive from the road to an wide-open field. I parked, got out of my car, and there it was! There was thunder and lightning with this one so I had some concern; nearby objects were better targets than me so I told myself I was okay. The shelf rolled over my location quickly. Intense rain arrived with 43 mph winds. And then it stopped. The rain and wind simply stopped. That was a very intense, concentrated line that moved along very quickly. A strange experience.
After the Storm. The rain abruptly ended, the wind calmed, and the sky to the west became bright. A strange experience.
The day was beautiful for a Sunday in early March — sunny and mild with a high temperature of 60ºF — so we headed out to a couple of favorite, easy-to-access spots for a little walking and bird spotting.
Sunlit iridescent plumage of a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) makes the bird an uncommon beauty.
The F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, a part of Summit (County) Metro Parks, features a beautiful visitors center with an observation room viewing a large bird feeding area. Today Common Grackles were the dominant presence. Bright sunlight and our angle of view brought out incredible iridescence in the birds’ plumage changing them from common to uncommon beauties.
A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), on a nest-building mission, glides overhead in the afternoon sun.
Following a short walk on paved and dry pathways at Nature Realm, we made a little visit to the Bath Road Heron Rookery, at the northern city limits of Akron. There seemed to be fewer nests this year, one formerly-inhabited tree was entirely vacant. Seen in other trees were the stick nests and mated pairs of birds standing upon them. Occasionally a heron would glide down from a tree to search for nest-building materials, then loft them back to their waiting mate in the tree. I shot a good number of photos but this overhead view is my favorite of the day.
These are common, everyday birds going about the business of living; if we look at them closely and well we will discover the uncommon beauty of the commonplace.
Among the first Bluebirds to show up at my feeder, this one arrived after freezing rain enshrouded the feeder’s rain shield in icicles.
I’ve never seen them. I’ve never, ever seen Bluebirds in my yard or at my feeders. Until this month.
Wherever two or more are gathered, there’s an argument. Eastern Bluebirds on an icy birdfeeder.
First I saw a couple of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) show up just after I restocked my feeders for the morning. They returned the next day and then there were three. Skip forward a few days and yesterday, February 12, I counted eight — eight! — of the beauties around the feeders, in neighboring trees, and on the ground!
One of the eight Eastern Bluebirds that appeared in my Northern Ohio front yard February 12.
I don’t know why this year is different but at a time when I could use some cheering up, the Bluebirds flock to the view from my window. And they do, indeed, bring happiness.
NOT Bluebirds but they can certainly eat a lot of bird seed!
Cooper’s Hawk frustrated by low hedge!
There was some excitement this dreary afternoon as this Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) first perched on a small tree in our front yard to stake out our bird feeder; then chased a couple of sparrows into a nearby row of barberries (seen here). This time the little birds escaped, rocketing out in separate directions at ground level from beneath the thicket and the predator. A pile of gray feathers beneath the bird feeder a couple of weeks ago were evidence that a Mourning Dove wasn’t so lucky as today’s sparrows. (Image shot though window glass and screen.)
A stroll in the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary at Wolf Creek Environmental Center led us out over the wetland area via boardwalk. Along the walkway was a late-season water lily bloom, floating on dark waters in the afternoon sun. Nearby, tiny green dots of plant life float. It was warm that day but cold days lie ahead. Nature knows.