Cold Weather Brings Nature Our Way

Every two or three years a period of unusually cold winter weather results in the land and water north as well as in central Ohio being covered with snow and ice for a prolonged period of time.  When this happens waterfowl and other birds that may not be able to make a living further north are forced to seek suitable habitats in our area. The result is the opportunity to see birds in locations where it would be extremely unlikely other times of the year. A gift to nature lovers courtesy of cold arctic weather.

Ice creeps out into the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


The negative to all of this is that windy 0 F to 15 F temperatures preclude the use of serious photographic equipment on long hikes. Briefly popping out of the car, if you are able to get close enough to your subject, is the only option. If one is set on doing a long hike, stuffing a smaller superzoom under your coat does work but fingers freeze almost immediately when you try to manipulate the camera.

Landscape transformed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


A habitat that attracts birds almost at our doorstep is the open flowing water of  the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. In the past couple of weeks we’ve been fortunate to observe a variety of waterfowl at that location. Others birds, such as Trumpeter Swans, have been reported but we’ve yet to see them. Timing is everything as the birds move up and down the river corridor. More often than not there is a least one Bald eagle present as the number of ducks and geese make for easy pickings.

Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

A closer look.


Crowded conditions, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A Red-headed Duck tries to ignore a rambunctious Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Hooded Merganser on patrol, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This one found a crayfish. Did you know that 21 species of crayfish call Ohio home.

There were no shortage of Common Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Common Merganser

A nice group of male Common Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A little closer.

Three Goldeneyes pose, (Donna).

Canvasback a little too far away for a decent pic, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Mute Swan, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Cackling Geese, shot is courtesy of our follow birding friend Ed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This buck seemed confused about the best place to relax. We thought it might be sick or injured but the next time we checked it was gone, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Red-headed Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

Amazingly, Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the Scioto.

There is often at least one Bald Eagle observing the activity along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


It’s also been a good year for Snowy Owls in Ohio with numerous birds being reported. The mechanism for that invasion, while perhaps partly due to the weather, also is the result of the past breeding season being a good one resulting in young owls looking for new hunting grounds further south as the increased population puts pressure on resources further north. Other birds such as Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs, to a greater or lesser degree, find their way into Ohio from further north during most winters.

Along farm fields not far from our home a roadside spill of corn attracted Horned Larks, a real treat to see. “The barer the ground, the more Horned Larks like it. Look for them in open country with very short or no vegetation, including bare agricultural fields. They breed in short grassland, short-stature sage shrubland, desert, and even alpine and arctic tundra.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Take 2.

At the same location, at first looking like some type of sparrow, was a Lapland Longspur, another first for us! They are a common songbird of the Arctic tundra, and winter in open fields across much of the US and southern Canada.

Take 2, (Donna).


Other creatures have also been braving the cold.

Not far from the concentration of waterfowl on Scioto River this Fox Squirrel was trying to warm up in the 10F sunshine, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Nearby an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was also spotted, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Our friend Ed told us about two Eastern screech owls located not far from Griggs Reservoir Park and was kind enough to send some pics our way.

. . . and a red morph, Ed.

Ed and Bob, photo courtesy of Sheila.


Returning home after a recent outing we were treated to some interesting bird activity right in our front yard.

Dark-eyed Junco. “Dark-eyed Juncos breed in forests across much of North America and at elevations ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet. They are often found in coniferous forests including pine, Douglas-fir, spruce, and fir, but also in deciduous forests such as aspen, cottonwood, oak, maple, and hickory. During winter and on migration they use a wider variety of habitats including open woodlands, fields, roadsides, parks, and gardens.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Competing with a Gray squirrel for goodies.

The chickadees love the sweetgum tree.

And so do the goldfinches.

A female Downy Woodpecker also takes advantage of the front yard feeders.


We feel very blessed to have so many fascinating creatures paying us a visit this winter. A very warm coat, that didn’t get worn once last winter, has come in very handy the last few days as we’ve been out and about. Today, as I finish writing this, the temperature is a balmy 35F. Time to get out and see what else we can find!


Finally, one of the joys of being a lover of nature is meeting kindred spirits like Ed and Sheila when out in the field. Ed, thanks again for supplying the pics!


Flowing water and extremely cold temperatures create ice pancakes along the Scioto.

A Thankful Reflection

The last day of 2017, what better time to stop for a moment and reflect back to the wonders of nature seen in central Ohio in the past year.


Griggs Reservoir.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden Crown Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along the Scioto River

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

November reflection, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Covered Bridge, Mohican State Park.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Buckeye, (Donna).

Monarch, (Donna).

Griggs Reservoir

Solitary leaf


Design, (Donna).

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Autumn color.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Giant Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.

Mink, Au Sable River MI, (Donna).

Au Sable River Smallmouth, MI, (Donna).

Devoe Lake, MI.

Cardinal Flowers, Rifle River Rec, Area, MI.

Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec. Area. MI.

Common Loons, Devoe Lake, MI, (Donna).

Meal time, Devoe lake, MI

Caspian Tern, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, MI.

Catbirds, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Griggs Reservoir waterfall.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Cliff Swallows, (Donna).

Gray Squirrel.

Baltimore Oriole.

Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

Prothonotary Warbler

Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir

Yellow-collared Scape Moth, (Donna).

Northern Water Snake.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Blue Heron, Scioto River, (Donna).

Hayden Run Falls

Mating Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park.

White-crowned Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Palm Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Turkey, Blendon Woods Metro Park, (Donna).


Looking at the landscape as we walked along the Scioto River yesterday it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. Very cold weather has made the river below the dam one of the few stretches of open water that waterfowl can now call home.

Hooded Mergansers.

More robins than we could count took turns getting a cool drink at waters edge.

Ring-necked Ducks.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam


As always, thanks for stopping by and have a Happy New Year!


A Holiday Wish

We just wanted to take a moment to thank all our readers for following this blog over the past year. You make it so much fun to write.

Our holiday wish is that peace and love grace the lives of each and every one you this holiday season and throughout the coming year.



Thanks for stopping by!


Hiking Back In Time

A sunny warm late November day provided an excellent opportunity for a hike back in time. Our hiking destinations were Blackhand Gorge and Flint Ridge. Both are nature preserves located just east of Newark, Ohio in an area rich in Native American history. Given the limited daylight hours and the fact that we wanted to visit both places, the hikes just wet our appetite for future trips when hopefully there will be more time. My interest in areas like these has been encouraged by a visit to Mound City  a few years back, an opportunity to learn about Cahokia, and books such as “1491“, and “The Mound Builders“.


The name Blackhand originated from an indian petroglyph in the shape of a dark hand on the face of a sandstone cliff along the north side of the Licking River which runs through the gorge. Unfortunately the cliff along with the petroglyph was destroyed in 1828 during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Along with a bike trail through the gorge on an abandoned railroad right of way, there were also several hiking trails wandering through oak and beech woods adjacent to long abandoned sandstone quarries.

Blackhand Gorge

The Licking River flows through the gorge.

In some areas what remains of the canal system locks can be seen.

The days of the canal were very brief. It was soon made irrelevant when a rail line was run through the gorge.

The old railroad cut makes an interesting frame for the adjacent trees.

Christmas Ferns provided some welcome green amongst the dull brown of fallen oak leaves, (Donna).

Mushrooms also provided color, (Donna).

Where there’s a rock face and moisture there’s liverwort, (Donna).

Cracked Cap polypore, (Donna).

Adjacent to the gorge are abandoned quarries that up until the early 1900’s mined sandstone for use in the manufacture of glass.

Abandoned quarry, (Donna).

Nature has gradually reclaimed the area around the now flooded quarries.

Along the gorge trees have to be very innovative to survive.


The history of Flintridge goes back some 10,000 years, just after the last ice age when native peoples first visited the site. The Hopewell was one culture known to have quarried flint in the areaThe flint taken from this site was apparently highly prized for its multicolored beauty as well as for being of high quality making it ideal for use in arrow heads, axes, and other cutting tools as well as ornamental or ceremonial objects. Flint from this site has been found at archeological sites throughout the eastern United States. As we hiked around the preserve, quarry pits were everywhere, some flooded and some not, while over head stood some of the largest beech trees we’ve ever seen.

Flint Ridge


One example of the color of the flint.

Exploring the area around the pits.

More flint color variations, (Donna).

Flooded pit.

A low November sun projects the shadow of leaves on to the bark of a Beech tree.

Pits were everywhere. For thousands of years this was a busy place!


Smaller Beech trees hang onto their leaves for most of the winter.

Moss and and back lite beech leaves prove color in an overwise somewhat monocolor landscape

Donna hugs a very large Beech.

It was a long way to the top, (Donna).


It’s always a treat to find magic near home, something fascinating, unexpected, perhaps even sacred. With that thought it was hard not to feel the presence of the those that lived on this land long before Europeans when we walked the trails within Flint Ridge.


Thanks for stopping by.


For a moment an Oak leaf miraculously balances on the railing of a foot bridge.




Reluctant Treasures

We enjoy being outdoors no matter what the time of year. However, when it comes to providing a sense of wonder, unlike spring, summer and early autumn, late autumn and early winter give up their subtle treasures reluctantly. One must move slowly and look closely or much will be missed.

With the leaves now gone the convoluted bark of the Osage Orange is hard not to notice, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Better in B&W?


A cloudy cold early November morning gives way to the fleeting sun of an unexpectedly warm afternoon and as if by magic things appear not seen a few hours earlier.

A warm early November afternoon and the first sighting of a Variegated Fritillary for the year, (Donna).

A pond quiet in the cold morning air comes to life in the warm afternoon sun, Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

An Autumn Meadowhawk enjoys the afternoon sun, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Striped Wolf Spider sunning itself along the trail just avoids being stepped on, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.


A sheltered place, warmed by the sun, gives refuge to flowers that should be gone for the year. Fungi fruit in response to more generous rain defying the below freezing nights.

In the low late autumn sun Nodding Bur-Marigold defies the season, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss and lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Unexpectedly colorful Changing Pholiota, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tinged with green an unidentified shelf fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).


More isolated now, some color still remains.

Road through Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sweatgum leaves, (Donna).

Poison Ivy, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The road along the reservoir evites us to walk further, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).


Fewer leaves, and a forest canopy of bare branches, allow one to better see the birds that haven’t made their way south.

Against a deep blue November sky a sentinel stands along the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Better in B&W?

Song Sparrow, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna).

American Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Downy Woodpecker (M), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

We continue to see Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam.

Backing off a bit we noticed a Coopers Hawk watching from the distance.

A dark morph American Robin from further north? Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thankfully, with the migrating warblers pretty much gone, the Carolina Wrens continue to entertain along the Scioto River.

Immature Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.


For the last few weeks almost every squirrel has had a nut in its mouth.

Gray Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park.


It’s the time of year when short cloudy days, a landscapes of muted colors, and breezes often too cool to be comfortable tell us that things are going to be quieter for a while.

A shoreline reflection reveals November’s bare branches, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.


Thanks for stopping by.




Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.


Looking For The “White-throated Sparrow”

In the back of our mind during outings over the past week has been the thought that we might see the season’s first White-throated Sparrow. For us, along with the arrival of the Dark-eyed Junco, this small bird marks the passing of the season and the certain coming of winter. During breeding, they are found further north in either coniferous or deciduous forests up to tree line in the U.S. and across Canada. During migration and during the winter months central Ohio is just one location they call home.

Autumn reflection.


Recently, walking along the Scioto River looking for White-throated Sparrows, and perhaps a stray kinglet or two, we stumbled across some slightly larger birds.

Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam are always a real treat to see.

Take 2.


At river’s edge, almost right below the eagles, a young male White-tail deer relaxed. It was apparently not too concerned about the eagles.

White Tail Deer, (Donna).


The next day, hoping for additional photos of the eagles that were now nowhere to be found, Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere  .   .   .

Golden-crowned Kinglet, along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.


.   .   .  along with a few of their close associates with the exception of “the sparrow”.

Male Downy woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Male Bluebird, Griggs reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped warblers continue to stick around enjoying the Poison Ivy Berries, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

“Must you take the picture when my mouths full and besides, I’m not a bird!” Red Squirrel, Griggs reservoir Park.


A tree’s few remaining leaves seemingly slide a slippery slope to the ground.


Wanting to check out a location not previously explored, we decided on Shale Hollow Park, one of Delaware County’s preservation parks. Blustery cold conditions made birding less than optimal, so while birds eluded us we did find something quiet different and no less interesting, concretions. Probably some of the best examples we’ve seen in central Ohio. For us it was proof once again that one should always be open to the wonder of the day.

For those that are curious, “A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the surrounding strata. Concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities. Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have in the past been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs,  animal and plant fossils, extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.” (Wikipedia)


Concretion, Shale Hallow Park, (Donna).

Two concretions that appear to have seen better days.

A concretion that may have been spherical at on time.


In addition to concretions, with the coming of  wetter weather, there have been other things to appreciate.

Disclaimer: Fungi identifications represent our best effort.

Turkey-tail on log, Shale Hollow Park, (Donna).

Rusty Polypore, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Witches Butter with fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Split-pore Polypore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging mushroom, Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, Shale Hollow Park.

Same as above but further along.

Pink polypore with lichen, (Donna).

Red leaf on Turkey Tail, Shale Hollow Park.

Radiating Phlebia on log, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park

Another view.

On a fallen branch a, almost too small to see, mushroom pops up through some lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Late autumn sentinels along Griggs Reservoir.

The beautiful patterns of newly emerged Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park.


It’s often when least expected, near the end of a long hike, almost back to the car and too tired to care, that what we seek appears. Such was the case with the White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.


Some may wonder what the big deal is. Why is seeing a sparrow so meaningful? For many who spend time in nature the answer is simple; seeing a white-throated Sparrow brings expression to a sense of connectedness to a world much bigger than ourselves. We usually first hear and then see the sparrow and for the time it sees fit we are in its presence. It in turn acknowledges us in its own unique way. This small, seemingly fragile, creature has travelled perhaps a thousand miles and during this brief fleeting moment we are part of each other’s world. Next summer if we look, we will not find it. It will again be further north engaged in its own dance to the cycle of life. This wonder graces our lives with the appearance of the first spring wildflowers, the larger than life sound of spring peepers, the spring migration of the many too beautiful to imagine warblers, the sight and sound of a distant summer thunderstorm, the call of the loon on a northern lake, the color of leaves as a low autumn sun filters the branches, and the slow quiet descent of  winter’s first snowflakes.


Concretion, Shale Hollow Park.


Thanks for stopping by.




Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

Once In A Lifetime

A number of years ago, on a very still August day, we paddled the liquid glass of Clark Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, the lake’s water is so clear that on a quiet day one has the sensation that the canoe is levitating. Far below, a fascinating variety of aquatic plants can be seen as fish swam lazily by. As we moved along the shore a Loon was spotted a little further offshore. It promptly dove and then winged it’s way right under the canoe. It’s beautiful markings and graceful motion so vividly seen it was as though it and we were suspended in air as it “flew” by. The experience was magical and I was left voicing the thought, “This will never happen to me again in my life!”


Fast forward to a week ago. We had just gotten out of the car and were starting a walk along Griggs Reservoir when a commotion was noticed in the shoreline brush. What ever was causing the ruckus was small. A moment later one of the perpetrators stopped for a brief rest on a small branch not six feet away.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

The only thing I could think of to say was, “This will never happen to me again in my life!” However, unlike Clark Lake, it just might, as we spend a lot more time walking in the parks near our home than paddling crystal clear loon inhabited waters in northern Michigan. While Ruby-crowned Kinglets are not seen as often as their close cousins the Golden-crowned, they are still observed on occasion during migration. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny the feeling.


On that same day, as if not to be upstaged, a few Golden-crowned Kinglets made an appearance.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing it’s crown, just.


A few days later, and just a little further from home, we found ourselves in Highbanks Metro Park looking for birds or whatever else we could find.

Along a trail in Highbanks Metro Park.

Looking a little more like autumn, Highbanks Metro Park.

Leaves collect in a small creek, Highbanks Metro Park.

Sycamore reflections, Olentangy River, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Autumn color peers through the trees, Highbanks Metro Park.

The roots of an upended tree add design to fall color, Highbanks Metro Park.


As I pursued that elusive “perfect” landscape, Donna, responding to sounds heard in the brush, came upon a very vocal but also cooperative, Tufted Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna)

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3, (Donna).


While looking for birds and landscapes it was hard not to take a closer look and appreciate the appearance of  various plants as they reflected the season.

Fungi surrounded by leaves of red, green, and yellow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Goldenrod gone to seed, Highbanks Metro Park.


Wandering through autumn we continue to be treated to other bird sightings including Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of the last warbler migrants to make it’s way through central Ohio.

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bluebird, Griggs Reservoir Park. This time of year they always seem more numerous.

Carolina Wren, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along with enjoying Poison Ivy berries, the  Yellow-rumped Warbler also hunts for insects in the crevasses of tree bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.


Finally, stepping away from the birds and taking a slightly bigger view of things, below are a few landscapes taken along the Scioto River in recent days in what may be one of the last photographic celebrations of the season.

Path, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Fallen Sycamore along the Scioto.

Sycamore color along the Scioto.

Light rain highlights sycamore leaves against shoreline rocks, Scioto River.

Orange and green along the Scioto River.

Scioto River reflection.

Shoreline rocks along the Scioto River.

Autumn quiet along the Scioto River.


It’s hard not to be a little contemplative this time of year. It’s undoubtedly brought on in part by shorter days, cooler weather, and the sense that another year is passing. With the sun rising later and the setting earlier there is more time to think. But perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s an awareness of the beauty in the cycle of which I am a part. Autumn, the exclamation point to all that comes before and which will return again in spring. The season that without the coming of winter, would teach us little.

Waiting till next year, Griggs Reservoir Park.


Thanks for stopping by.




Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.






Diary of an Aesthete

A Journey Of Heart And Mind


Life after the Care Farm

Out For 30

Exploring the world, 30 days at a time.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Photos by Donna

Birds and Wildlife Photography

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Nareszcie urlop

English & Polish TravelBlog / Poland, Europe, the World

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer


The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright


Nature photography

Views From A Small Island

A photographic record of the everyday and the not so everyday life around the UK.

Mike Powell

My journey through photography