Autumn Reflection

As I write this the temperature has finally arrived at more normal levels for early October. Until just a few days ago it was much warmer and the season betrayed by the calendar was having a hard time getting started with leaves still reluctant to show their autumn color. That wasn’t all bad as we were treated to sightings of butterflies and other insects not usually seen this late in the year. Given the above average rainfall it continues to be a great time to see fungi which seems to be almost everywhere. Below is a celebration of some things seen over the past couple of weeks. Missing is “the picture” of me paddling the Scioto River, fishing for Smallmouth Bass, as two mature Bald Eagles circled overhead. Oh well, some things would be hard to capture in a photograph and must just be experienced.

Leaf.

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The above experience prompted me to consider things that can be photographed, which in this case happens to be landscapes. Specifically, it has to do with the difference between how a scene is seen and how the camera captures it. Or putting it another way, after we have been enchanted enough to take the picture, and after a preliminary look are happy with the results, does the image convey the desired message as shot? This then will have a lot to do with the kind and amount of post processing used and it’s limits for a particular photograph. Such things are often a matter of opinion or taste, there being no right or wrong. With that said, we’ve all seen the over saturated colors in autumn landscapes which risk devaluing the place and experience as if to say it wasn’t beautiful enough. Things worth considering I believe.

O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

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As already mentioned it’s been a great year for fungi. Apparently chicken Fungi and puffballs are edible but I think we will just enjoy looking at them. At their peak the colors of some fungi are no less spectacular than the loveliest wildflower.

Turkey tail.

Rosy Russula, Emily Traphagen Park.

Puffballs, (Donna).

Unidentified fungi family with lot’s of character, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Dead Man’s Fingers, (Donna).

Wrinkled Peach Mushroom, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Close up.

An emergent shelf fungi competes with puffballs and fallen leaves for our attention.

A polypore shows off it’s gills.

Chicken Fungi

Bearded Tooth fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Dryad’s Saddle, note the different stages of development in this cluster, (Donna).

Orange Mycena, (Donna).

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A hint of autumn color along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tree roots and fallen leaves.

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Despite our recent fungi fascination other things have been hard to ignore. A number if years ago it took a really spectacular insect to make an impression but as I’ve spent more time looking at them my appreciation has increased. With greater knowledge and understanding it has become much harder to consider them a lower life form less noble than ourselves. They have become part of the beautiful tapestry of life where boundaries between self and the natural world disappear.

Bee on Calico Asters, (Donna).

We had to wait until fairly late in the year to start seeing Common Checked Skippers, (Donna).

Common Green Darner, (Donna).

Yellow-collared Scape Moth is very similar to the Virginia Ctenucha but is slightly smaller, (Donna).

A bee enjoying the same flower gives an appreciation of the Eastern Tailed-Blue’s size, (Donna).

Chickweed Geometer, (Donna).

A beautiful but tiny Gray Hairstreak, (Donna).

Orange Sulfur

A not often seen Variegated Fritillary, (Donna).

Giant Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Eastern Comma

Meadow Fritillaries were very common at Griggs reservoir Park this year, (Donna).

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A leaf is framed by reflections In a stream side pool.

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Pausing at water’s edge, rippled reflections dance to the rhythm of wind and light gracing us with a new vision and an invitation to a new place.

Tree branches reflect on the water’s surface, Griggs Reservoir.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

Passing Through

In central Ohio it’s not quite autumn but with daylight too quickly losing the battle to the setting sun it would be hard, even on a warm day, to mistake it for summer. Plants, animals, insects, weather, and daylight are all in all in a state of flux. It’s as though we’re passing through on our way to somewhere else, to a place that’s easier to put a label on. It’s hard to bring oneself to the realization that present forms of life are dying but such an awareness is inescapable as one walks through the woods. It is a season of paradox as late summer and fall wildflowers arrive doing their best to announce the autumnal fireworks to follow.

Leaf on stream bed.

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Caterpillars active just a few weeks ago have disappeared in preparation to reintroduce themselves next year in a new perhaps more beautiful form. Highlighted by the early morning dew, spider webs are everywhere often to the detriment of passing grasshoppers which seem more plentiful now. Other insects continue to make their daily rounds without the urgency of the squirrels which all seem to have a nut in their mouth. An occasional migrating warbler is seen making its way south while blue jays and crows are noticed more often just passing through while others have undoubtedly taken up residence for the winter.

Nodding Bur-Marigold.

Tree Swallows, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

A very fresh Monarch, (Donna).

Goldenrod, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Killdeer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

A slightly tattered Viceroy, (Donna).

A fresher Viceroy.

Morning Glory, (Donna).

Question Mark, (Donna).

A Banded Garden Spider gift wraps it’s prey, (Donna).

New England Aster.

Bay-breasted Warbler, (Donna).

Sunflower

A male Widow Skimmer, an easy to photograph and fairly common dragonfly.

A hint of autumn along Big Darby Creek.

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Unlike summer, with days that change little from one to the next, it’s a time of year that assigns value to what we have and blesses us with a feeling of gratitude for what soon will be lost.

Rain and reflections.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Maine Musings

Every couple of years we travel to the coast of Maine. It always seems like our stay is too short. The below images around Stonington as well as Mt Dessert Island are in celebration of our recent visit. For photographers enchanted by rugged natural beauty the coast of Maine offers endless photographic opportunities. As if the natural beauty wasn’t enough, exploring the trails of Acadia National Park often treats one’s senses to the fragrance of salt air and balsam. Not something we get to enjoy in Ohio. Our too brief stop in Stonington left us feeling that our next visit will have to encompass more than just a few hours and there are always more places to see and explore on Mt Dessert Island. Plenty of reasons to return.

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Landscapes:

Along Ship Harbor Trail, Mt Desert Island, (Donna).

Friendship Sloop, Southwest Harbor.

Granite along Ship Harbor Trail.

Harbor Scene, Rockport.

The narrows, Ship Harbor Trail.

Dingy, Southwest Harbor.

 

Ocean walk, Bar Harbor.

Ship Harbor Trail.

Stonington chair.

Balanced rock. This very large glacial erratic left behind by the receding glaciers 10,000 years ago has fascinated Bar Harbor visitors for years.

Undated picture of balanced rock perhaps from the early 1900’s.

Waiting for the boat, Bar Harbor.

Northeast Harbor.

Lobster boats, Stonington.

Lobster pound, Southwest Harbor.

Stonington waterfront.

Stonington cat.

Along the Ocean Path, Acadia National Park. This is one of the best trails for seascapes but getting a people free picture can be a challenge.

Gulls and boats, Southwest Harbor.

A view of Northeast Harbor from Thuya Gardens.

Margaret Todd off Bar Harbor.

Rainy afternoon, Bar Harbor.

Ocean Path.

Harbor scene, Bar Harbor.

Incoming wave, Ocean Path.

Peapod, Stonington.

Ocean Path.

Lobster boats, Bar Harbor.

Dories, Stonington.

Harbor scene, Southwest Harbor.

Ebbing tide, Stonington.

Unloading the catch, Stonington.

Salt air and balsam along the Ocean Path.

Kim’s Pride, Stonington.

Window, Southwest Harbor.

Friends, Northeast Harbor.

Boat lift, Stonington.

Reflection, Northeast Harbor.

Windows, Stonington.

Cliff along Ocean Path, Acadia National Park.

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Nature:

We saw several non-breeding Black Guillemots as we explored the coves and harbors.

Calico Asters, (Donna).

Female Common Eider with small crab, (Donna).

Colorful fungi, (Donna).

Greater Yellowlegs, (Donna).

Red Squirrel cuteness, Bar Harbor.

Gull with crab at low tide, (Donna).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Thuya Gardens, (Donna).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, (Donna).

As we hiked a trail in Thuya Gardens, this salamander just avoided my foot.

American Lady, Thuya Gardens, (Donna).

Another view.

Wild Rose, found along many of the ocean side trails.

Asters

As the tide goes out there’s the enchanting world of tide pools to explore, Wonderland Trail, Acadia National Park.

Tide pool detail, (Donna).

Tide pool.

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We hope you enjoyed this brief interlude from our usual central Ohio posts. For a moment this morning as we walking along Griggs Reservoir in the misty rain, except for the lack of salt air, it was hard not to imagine we were back in Maine. Thanks for stopping by.


So Close To Home

Usually when one thinks about life in Columbus, shopping malls, the local college football team, and rapid urban development come to mind. Columbus, with its multifaceted economy has escaped the malaise of many midwestern cities that relied on manufacturing and heavy industry for their prosperity so outlying farm fields continue to give way the strip malls and housing developments.

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Still, embedded right in the center of the metropolitan area, there is nature.  During outings along the Scioto River or on Griggs Reservoir I can’t help but feel blessed. Recently while fishing (catch, photograph, release) the surprisingly productive waters for Small Mouth Bass and otherwise being on or near the river and reservoir I’ve been treated the sights and sounds of Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, Great Egrets, Osprey, Spotted Sandpipers and even an occasional Bald Eagle.  After time spent in these places I can only hope that the treasure I get to enjoy endures and is here for those that come after me.

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Black-crowned Night Heron taken while fishing in the reservoir. A not real common bird!

Another look.

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The river:

The Scioto River.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam is a favorite spot for fishermen.

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.   .   .  and for good reason.

A beautiful Scioto River Small Mouth Bass.

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The reservoir:

An Osprey looks on as I fish in the reservoir.

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Fishing in the reservoir is very good also.

Okay bear with my enthusiasm but just wanted to show the above fish wasn’t an accident.

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Immature Black-crowned Night Heron along the reservoir.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron? If I’m right it’s our first sighting ever along Griggs Reservoir, exciting to say the least!

While paddling Spotted Sandpipers often frequent the water’s edge.

In late August Green Herons seem to be more common along the river and reservoir.

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my enthusiasm. I hope that where ever you live you are blessed to have a special place so close to home.

Taking a break along Griggs reservoir at Hayden Run Falls.

August Rain and Mushrooms

Recently, after several wet days, we decided to take a drive to one of our favorite central Ohio hiking destinations, Clear Creek Metro Park. It’s a park that many frequent when they’re getting in shape for more exotic destinations like the Appalachian Tail or Rocky Mountain National Park. The tails are that challenging.  In our case it was more about seeing mushrooms that we wouldn’t find in parks closer to home, but a beautiful rugged trial lined with ferns that winds its way through old growth Hemlock and oak with a trailhead sign that says something like, “Caution, unimproved trail, proceed at your own risk”, is always a plus. Being located at the southern edge of the last glacier’s advance, on land that has for the most part never been disturbed by farming, logging, or other human activities, has a lot to do with the parks beauty. To optimize our chance of seeing mushrooms we decided to use the Creekside Meadows Trail to access the Fern/Hemlock trail loop. Certainly not the longest hike in the park but given our propensity to stop a look at things it made for a good day’s outing.

Park Trail Map

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Just a short note about the cameras used during the hike. We consider ourselves nature lovers who enjoy capturing the beauty of what we see. Often our outings involve a canoe or long hikes over relatively rugged terrain. For this reason hauling a lot of equipment may not be possible or may take away from the experience of “being” in nature. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a Canon 80D Tamron 18-400 mm combo while my wife continues to rely on a Panasonic FZ200 superzoom for many of her insect and fungi shots. Overall I’m happy with the performance of the DSLR combo and it’s potential for more creative control. However, in the sunny day darkness of Clear Creek’s deep woods, with auto ISO limited to 3200, handheld shots were chancy at best and mostly disappointing. A tripod would have resolved the problem but toting it around as well as setting it up for most shots would have changed the flavor of the hike. On the other hand the FZ200 with its fast 2.8 lens, and auto ISO limited to 800, much more consistently provided usable pictures without the use of a tripod. Something that is good to know because while there is no right or wrong when it come to how we pursue photography it is important to ask yourself what it is you are trying to get from an experience before investing in equipment.

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Chanterelles:

Yellow-footed Chanterelle

Chanterelle, (Donna).

Chanterelle, (Donna).

White Chanterelle

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White Phlox

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Shelf like mushrooms:

Turkeytail, (Donna).

Another look.

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Fall Phlox

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Boletes:

Shaggy-stalked Bolete, (Donna)

Shaggy-stalked Bolete another example.

Two-colored Bolete, (Donna).

King Bolete

Unidentified bolete.

Unidentified bolete

Russula, (Donna).

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A small, yet to be identified, wildflower.

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Other mushrooms:

Destroying Angel, not a good selection for the dinner table!

The fascinating underside of a free gill mushroom, (Donna).

Yellow Tuning Fork

Orange Mycena

Very large emerging free gill mushroom

Further along.

.   .   .  still further.

Unidentified small mushrooms.

Clustered Coral

An unidentified veiled mushroom.

Appears to be a more mature example of the above mushroom.

Unidentified veiled mushroom.

Very tiny unidentified mushrooms

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Pinesap, a parasitic plant classified as a wildflower.

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Along the Creekside Meadows Trail near the end of our day a hiking companion spotted this tiny Ring-necked Snake. The first one we’ve ever seen during our outings.

Ring-necked Snake, (Donna).

Another look, (Donna).

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Finally, I must admit that we are on the steep part of the learning curve when it comes to mushrooms. Using the guides we have available a frustrating number remain unidentified.  Perhaps that is a good thing in the world of mushrooms because if you wrongly identify a mushroom it could be hazardous to your health!

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Thanks for stopping by.

It’s A Butterfly Time Of Year

Not that they aren’t seen earlier in the spring and summer but August does seem to be the time for butterflies. This year it’s been almost impossible to be out for any length of time without seeing a Monarch. In the late morning or afternoon small but beautiful Pearl Crescents make the shorter grass along the trail their playground. The beauty of some butterflies like the Giant Swallowtail is apparent to even a casual observer but others like the Buckeye reveal their beauty only after a closer look. Others like the hairstreaks are easy to miss altogether unless you know what to look for. The good news is that you don’t have to get up a the crack of dawn to see butterflies.

Sunlight filters through the woods along the Big Derby during a recent butterfly hike.

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So below is a celebration of butterflies that have been seen in the last few weeks. Much of the credit must go to my wife who tirelessly pursues these usually unpredictable creatures until she gets the shot she wants while I often content myself to photographing the more predictable wildflowers.

In late summer Bull Thistle is common in the prairie areas of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and seems to attract it’s share of Monarchs.

The Giant Swallowtail is Ohio’s largest butterfly and not one we see every day, Griggs Reservoir Park..

A Giant Swallowtail depositing eggs, (Donna).

Great Blue Lobelia enjoying the more shaded areas of Griggs Reservoir Park.

A very small female Eastern-tailed Blue rewards Donna by opening it’s wings.

Prairie sunflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

The beautiful but very small Gray Hairstreak, (Donna).

Hackberry Emperors are fairly common in Griggs reservoir Park and on a warm day enjoy hitching a ride on your arm to take advantage of your perspiration, (Donna).

Cardinal Flower

A small Summer Azure almost seems to blend in, (Donna).

Wingstem, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park prairie.

The not often seen Meadow Fritillary

The fairly common but lovely Orange Sulfur, (Donna).

New England Aster

Usually not seen in central Ohio until late summer or fall the medium size Buckeye is striking, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fringed Loosestrife also enjoys the more shaded areas along the Scioto River.

A small Zabulon Skipper, (Donna).

A small but lovely Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Lazard’s Tail along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Silver Spotted Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Another look, (Donna).

Gray-headed Coneflowers seem to take flight.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Another look.

A somewhat faded black form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

Black Swallowtail, (Donna).

Black Swallowtail laying eggs, (Donna).

Ironweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

The Peck’s Skipper is a very small moth like butterfly, (Donna).

Cup Plant

Monarch, (Donna).

Monarch

Trumpet Flowers, (Donna).

Mating Pearl Crescents

Pearl Cresent

Tall Bellflower

Eastern Comma

The tiny flowers of Virginia Knotweed.

Certainly not the most aesthetic setting, a Zebra Swallowtail lands in our canoe just as we finish a paddle on Paint Creek, (Donna).

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Where there are butterflies and moths there are caterpillars and no one is better at spotting them than my wife.

Brown-hooded Owlet, (Donna).

Monarch caterpillar, (Donna).

Orange Dog (Giant Swallowtail caterpillar), (Donna).

Another look.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar showing horns. Horns extend when head is touched lightly. Donna).

Without horns protruding, (Donna).

Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar, (Donna).

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars, (Donna).

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We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge some of the birds that continue to charm us as we walk through the woods of central Ohio.

Male Goldfinch, (Donna).

This time of year False Dragonhead can be seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir.

A Ruby throated Hummingbird checks out the Bull Thistle at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Woodland Sunflowers offer a splash of color in the woods along the Scioto River.

A Tufted Titmouse checks Donna out as she attempts to take it’s picture.

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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So what was I doing while my wife was taking so many excellent photographs in central Ohio? Fishing in Michigan of course.

This nice Largemouth Bas went swimming right after posing for this picture.

Fishing at sunset on Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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If time spent in nature speaks to the essence of your being, your soul, you have riches greater than any material procession can offer. A wealth that grows in health, spirit, and the awareness of being part of the greater mystery. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Different Awareness

After a trip up Paint Creek from Paint Creek Reservoir in south central Ohio just a few days ago I couldn’t help but reflect on the magic of paddling a canoe.

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In recent years I’ve found myself drawn to the intimacy of a hike or paddle and being part of one’s surroundings at a slower pace. Unlike the mentality of motion that usually grips us, slowing down or stopping for a better look requires hardly more than a thought. It turns out that the act of stopping, looking, and listening is where the magic is, allowing one to become increasingly aware of the complexity and beauty of the place and in the process becoming more outer directed rather than inner absorbed.  A canoe enhances that experience as one can’t avoid the heightened sense of wind, waves, and current as muscles burn working toward a distant shore or at the other extreme, suspended over brightly colored pebbles quietly moving with the clear flow of a wooded stream while not far off a Wood Thrush calls. Through it all there is a feeling of being part of something much bigger and a resultant inner peace. In my life’s fleeting moment I am blessed to be awake and to be part of it all.

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Paint Creek.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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