I got a nice email from commenter Scott Jobe last week informing me that the American Cancer Society 2011 Pan Ohio Hope Ride  would be coming through our area at the end of the week.  My riding record this year has been dismal for all kinds of reasons so I would have missed it without his email alert to me.  I spent an hour or so waiting and watching the cyclists…and have attached a few photographs below…


Swan with collar


Last week as I was browsing for photoblogs I ran across this one. The photography was pretty good so I started paging back through the archives looking at older posts until I came to the one linked to. Her story of the snow goose was pretty cool.

Yesterday morning as we rode the trail north of Millersburg to Holmesville we noticed a swan in a flooded field west of the trail.  There appeared to be something wrong with its right wind…and it had a collar similar to the snow goose had in the Durham Township blog post. I took several photographs of it and, sure enough, I could read the R45 designation in black on the yellow collar. I followed the other blogger’s link to http://www.reportband.gov and filled out the online form. While there is no guarantee that they will have information on this particular bird, I’m hoping to get a certificate in few weeks indicating where this bird was collared…stay tuned.

After an unusually long winter season of cold, snow, ice, and then flooding, spring is finally beginning to make its appearance.  We’ve been able to get out for a several late afternoon rides along the trail.  The early spring wildflowers are beginning to open.  We’ve seen hepatica, spring beauty, bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, and coltsfoot.  The trilliums and trout lilies are not far behind.

Today was the first really warm day we’ve had with temperatures in the upper 70’s or low 80’s (F).  We saw several small snakes on the trail…garter snakes, northern brown snakes, and a common watersnake.  I’ve noticed a couple of mosquitoes already too.

Most of the low areas along the trail were flooded earlier this spring so much of the vegetation is covered with silt.  In the next couple of weeks the wetlands should transform themselves from a muddy brown into a vibrant green.

Bruce, Leah, and I did the World Wide WP 5K this afternoon on bicycles (we actually did 15 K) but we spent a lot of time looking at flowers, birds, and snakes…does that count?

Pan Ohio Hope Ride

Last Friday morning I drove down to the Depot for a morning ride to Holmesville. There was a lot of activity in the parking lot and the pavillion…it looked like preparations for an organized cycling tour or run. I found out later that this was the American Cancer Society Pan Ohio Hope Ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati and Friday was their “Century Day”…100 miles from Wooster to Westerville.

I started my ride north. I hadn’t gone very far before I started meeting cyclists…a few small groups at first but then more and more. I stopped to take a few photographs. As one group went by, I heard one of the riders say, “There’s a buggy coming.” , I thought as a warning to the other cyclists. Then I realized that he was talking to me with the implicit meaning that I could get a picture of the buggy. He didn’t realize that we see buggies every day but never this many bicycles and riders…

Catching Up

Suddenly the summer is almost half gone and I haven’t gotten into my summer riding schedule yet. So this week I have ridden to Holmesville and back every morning. Somehow I had forgotten just how enjoyable those early morning rides are, even in the rain as it was this morning.

Leah and I have ridden to Killbuck in the evening several times on an irregular basis. We saw the fawn along the Killbuck Creek back in the middle of June. It stood perfectly still to avoid detection but was brightly lit against the shadows so its spotty camouflage didn’t work too well.

Two days later we saw two small snapping turtles on the trail about a half mile apart. The first one was quite lethargic, just laying low on its plastron and looking up at us. The second one was more animated, turning to always face us and standing up as high as it could on outstretched legs…pretty ferocious.

This past Tuesday as I was riding back from Holmesville, across from the Holmes County Home, I noticed a quick movement along the east side of the trail. Suddenly without warning, a sandhill crane ran out in front of me and down the trail squawking before it took off. No pictures of that one…


Last week on our way back from a ride to Killbuck, I noticed a turtle with an oddly shaped shell. We turned around and went back for a look. There, attached to the back of the turtle’s shell were two leeches. One of them was pretty big. I took a few pictures while my wife got a stick to try to removed them. The little one came off easily but the bigger one was firmly attached. Eventually with some persistence on my wife’s part, the big one was removed too. On closer examination, we could see at least one more very small leech, perhaps less than a quarter of an inch long, riding along on the back of the larger leech. The largest one was quite animated after its removal, stretching, arching its back, and laying flat on the pavement.

I don’t know if they would have bitten all the way through the turtle’s shell for a meal or whether they were just hitching a ride across the trail. Either way its efforts were frustrated.

I am always amazed to see a tree that has been taken down by a beaver. It would seem to be akin to a human being cutting it down with a sharp pocket knife but the teeth and muscles of the beaver are probably better suited for cutting trees than human hands and steel. Earlier this spring I watch a young beaver pull an overhanging branch down into the water and snip it off. It was done very quickly.

As I look at the tree in the photograph, I wonder how much control they have over where the tree falls. It looks as if more wood has been gnawed from the side that it fell toward. That could be by coincidence, by the geometry of the bank where he stood, or by the skill of the animal.