A Quiet Walk In The Park

It was a quiet morning at Griggs Reservoir Park with little wind and an overcast sky that threatened rain making it almost too dark for pictures. The kind of day one pretty much has the whole park to themself. My pessimism about what would be seen, much less photographed, was reflected in my selection of cameras as I contented myself just with a Panasonic FZ200 superzoom accompanied by a pair of binos, my wife expressed her optimism by taking a bird camera.

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Rain and the resultant higher water levels meant that in many areas Water Willow graced the reservoir shoreline.

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With the absence of traffic both in the park and on the reservoir, normally wary and prone to flight Great Blue Herons were content to stay on shoreline perches as we walked by. Other birds also seemed less prone to flight as we got close.

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An immature Male Hooded Merganser is spotted with a group of Mallard Ducks, (Donna).

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By a rain puddle a Barn Swallow strikes a contemplative pose, (Donna).

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A Robin with a mouthful of earthworm and mulberry, (Donna).

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Even with the dullness of the morning the unmistakable fire orange of a noisy Baltimore Oriole caught our eye as it streaked by on it way to a nearby tree. Taking a closer look through dense leaf cover revealed an almost completely hidden nest. Suspended by next winter’s bare branches what remained would be easy to spot.

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Male Baltimore Oriole

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

My wife looked ever closer in an effort to see a “new to her” insect or spider. Life that most of us walk right by.

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White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar, (Donna).

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Katydid, (Donna).

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Female Amber Wing Dragonfly

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Through the leaves a lone Painted Turtle is spotted. Not a good day to sun oneself on a log.

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Very small mushrooms caught my eye while a millipede remained unnoticed until a review of the pic. 

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A very small and young Gray Tree Frog tries to remain unnoticed, (Donna).

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Seemingly unabated, wildflowers continue their march through the year. Those that greeted us just a few weeks ago are gone but new ones have taken their place. On a sunny day they speak in a bright and joyful voice so it seems counterintuitive that the best time to photograph them is usually on overcast days. No blown out highlights, deep shadow values, and more saturated colors.

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Horse Nettle is a good plant just to look at but not to touch.

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Canada Thistle is a pesky weed for Ohio farmers.

As if playing “King of The Mountain” the vine and flower of the Morning Glory take advantage of an accommodating Moth Mullein.

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Black-eyed Susan’s spread their cheer. 

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Not the most common of our native wildflower standing forlorn at waters edge is what remined of a fairly large display of Butterfly Weed, someone had picked the rest.

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Daisy Fleabane.

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Thimbleweed.

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Tall Meadow-rue.

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White Moth Mullein.

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Canada Anemone.

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Reservoir landscape.

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It never did rain and as our longer than expected time in the park came to a close so did the time for taking a “closer look” and for reflection. As is often the case when in nature we left much richer than when we came.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Perhaps I should stick with photography!

 

An Early June Paddle On Griggs Reservoir

A few days ago while fishing I was fortunate to see two Black-crowned Night Herons. Such a sighting is always a treat in Ohio as, unlike Great Blue Herons, they are only found in a few isolated locations with Griggs Reservoir being one. As you might expect most of their activity is a night so during the day they are usually found perched quietly in trees at waters edge.

 

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Fishing rig for the reservoir.

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Black-crowned Night Heron

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Given my good fortune the day before, my wife expressed the desire to do a paddle, bird camera in hand, with the express goal of seeing and perhaps photographing the herons. Of course as most birders know there is an element of uncertainty to these endeavors. After eight miles of paddling no Black-crowned Night Herons were seen much less photographed but as is often the case other things made up for it.

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As I moved the canoe closer a very young White Tail fawn at waters edge tries to remain unnoticed, (Donna).

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An also very young Map Turtle, about the size of a fifty cent piece, enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

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We catch a rare glimpse of a female wood slinking along the shore with young ones. Usually by the time we get this close they’ve scattered. An outcome we try to avoid, (Donna).

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Typical evasive “wounded” maneuver by a female with young when you get too close, (Donna).

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In a second he was gone but that was all the time my wife needed to catch this Mink. Pretty exciting as it had been a while since we’d seen one, (Donna).

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A Red-eared Slider poses for a picture. It may now be more common in the reservoir than the Map Turtle, (Donna).

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Usually several groups of mallard duckling are seen during early June paddles, (Donna).

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Like all youngsters this immature Red-tailed Hawk was making a lot of noise, demanding to be noticed.

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Given the number of nesting boxes Prothonotary Warblers are certainly not rare in central Ohio. However, whenever we find one “setting up housekeeping” in a natural tree cavity it’s particularly exciting. Such was the case with the below female at the north end of Griggs.

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Prothonotary Warbler, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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We were almost to the 161 bridge and Kiwanis Riverway Park when we saw the prothonotary and usually go just a little further before turning for the journey home. However, on this particular day it was hard to imagine what would be discovered that would top that already seen so with a fair breeze off our stern we somewhat reluctantly pointed the bow south and headed home. A wonderful way to finish the day.

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Thanks for stopping by

 

 

Late May At Cedar Bog, a Celebration of Biodiversity

It was not an ideal day for a nature outing with the temperature forecast to reach 90 F with matching humidity. However, after three days of suffering with what appeared to be a case of food poisoning and feeling restless, I convinced my wife I was feeling well enough to take a trip to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve a pleasant back roads country drive from Columbus just a few miles south of Urbana off route 68.

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It’s one of Ohio’s unique natural areas and given the timing of our trip there was a good possibility of seeing a showy lady’s slipper. It’s a flower that’s much more common in states north but is also seen in a few Ohio locations. By itself the flower might not have been enough to justify the drive but we were also enticed by the preserve’s biodiversity and the fact that it was home to other rare things such as the endangered spotted turtle. The bog (not really a bog), is said to be the largest and best example of a boreal and prairie fen complex in Ohio. Walking slowly and looking intently no spotted turtles were seen the day of our visit but other things made up for it.

A small stream flows through the fen. In fact the whole fen is really flowing.

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Upon entering the preserve we were immediately greeted by a indigo bunting singing from what seemed like the highest branch in the tallest tree.

Indigo Bunting

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Amazingly, while others were seen throughout the preserve, we didn’t have to travel far to come across our first showy lady’s slipper.

Capturing the fen’s unique beauty.

Showy Lady’s Slippers

A closer look, (Donna).

Not fully emerged.

Blue Flag Iris were also present. Unlike yellow irises they are native.

Sometimes leaves, in this case those of a young tulip tree, are as fascinating as any flower.

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Not to be outdone by the flowers a little further along a large dragonfly performed it’s aerial display before finally posing for a picture.

Brown Spiketail, (Donna).

 

Another view.

Others were also seen.

Painted Skimmer

Another view, (Donna).

Female Common Whitetail

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Where there are dragonflies there are usually damselflies.

Mating Eastern Red Damselflies, (Donna).

Female Ebony Jewelwing

Male Ebony Jewelwing

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During our admittedly short visit only one species of butterfly cooperated for the camera.

Silvery Checkerspot

Another view, (Donna).

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Usually we find ourselves drawn to butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies but when looking for them it’s hard not to notice and appreciate other insects.

Golden-backed Snipe Fly

Crane Fly

Flowers were particularly fragrant which wasn’t lost on this hover fly.

Daddy Longlegs

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle, (Donna).

Mating bee-like robber flies.

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The preserve is also known to be home to a population of mississauga rattlesnakes and while none were seen we did see a northern water snake as well as the broad headed skink which we have not seen elsewhere in Ohio.

Northern Water Snake

Broad Headed Skink

Another view.

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Considering the wet environment and amount of fallen trees it was somewhat surprising that only one type of rather plain fungi was spotted.

An unidentified fungi.

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As if it had been inspired by the indigo bunting, a common yellowthroat made it’s presence known just as we were about to leave the preserve reminding us not to wait so long before our next visit.

Common Yellowthroat

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When we visit islands of unique diversity like Cedar Bog it’s hard not get swept up by the thought of what Ohio was like before Europeans settled the area and, with the aid of the industrial revolution, transformed much of the land into a monoculture of corn, soybeans, or wheat.

Now, when diving through rural Ohio on a late spring day the landscape seems permanent, natural, and right, and painted with the new green of crops and freshly leaved trees often beautiful to our 21st century eyes. However, a very short 250 years ago it would have looked very different and been home to many more diverse living things. Just as we, with first hand knowledge of what was there before, may morn the loss of a farmers field to a new strip mall or housing development such things become legitimate, right, unquestioned with the passing of time once the land has been transformed. The march towards less and fragmented islands of biodiversity continues.

It is true that change is inevitable but how much biodiversity do we and other living things need to thrive ten years from now, one hundred, how about in one thousand years when our sun will still be warming the planet much as it does today? Cedar Bog both delights and challenges us with it’s beauty and it’s questions.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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We didn’t see them all, but . . .

this spring the warbler migrants have been as enchanting as ever. While the mix of birds that pass through our area is undoubtedly fairly consistent from year to year what we end up seeing isn’t. There is always a little frustration when a favorite bird doesn’t present itself in our local park especially when they were almost impossible to miss the year before. With many birds having come and gone, and others now much harder to see and photograph due to the increased leaf cover, we thought it would be a good time to showcase some that were seen.

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One doesn’t always have to travel far. One morning, after hearing it’s call, we found a Chestnut-sided Warbler in our front yard.

Chestnut-sided warbler on it’s way north.

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At our local park, sometimes not more than a few yards from each other, my wife might see a bird that I would miss completely. A persistent call helps, but unless one detects movement the often brightly marked birds can be hard to spot.

Black & White warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With a small insect.

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Blackpoll warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

2. (Donna).

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Yellow warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Still further from home others were seen along Alum Creek Reservoir and the south shore of Lake Erie at Magee Marsh.

Yellow warbler, Magee Marsh.

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Blackburnian warbler, Magee Marsh, (Donna).

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Prothonotary warbler seen while canoeing the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Magnolia warbler, Magee Marsh.

2. (Donna).

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Northern Parula warbler, Magee Marsh.

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In our local park, in addition to the warblers other birds have been active and hard to ignore.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2. (Donna).

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Probably just passing through a Swainson’s thrush peeks out from behind a small branch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Blue-headed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is seen at Griggs Reservoir Park and appears to be nesting in the area.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Cedar Waxwing also nest in Griggs Reservoir Park .   .   .

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as does this male Red-winged Blackbird.

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Seen more often in the winter this Hooded Merganser enjoys the morning sun along the Scioto River just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam .   .   .

then commences to tidy up.

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Wildflowers also continue to enchant and never fail to provide strong competition for our attention.

Wild Columbine along the rock faced shore of Griggs Reservoir.

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While we will continue to see warblers for the next week or so it’s always a bit of a let down when one senses that spring migration is coming to an end. True, one can travel north and see birds but as nesting activities begin in earnest things become quieter and the birds more secretive.

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But for this year in this writers eyes the gift has been given. It is the realization once again that we are part of a sacred world of diversity and wonder and no more noble, important, or worthy than the warblers that are also part of earth’s fabric of life and grace our lives each spring as they make they way north to continue the cycle.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Spring along the Scioto River.

 

Eagles and Herons In Action

First, I would like to thank my friend Ba Huynh for making the below pictures available for this blog. Many of the shots required much watching and waiting behind a tripod mounted camera. This approach, requiring the photographer to anticipate the action and plan such things as camera location in advance, allows Ba to capture pictures I often miss with my catch it when it happens walk around style. That being said, the really exciting aspect is that all of these images were all taken within the Columbus city limits. Truly nature at our doorstep!

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Bald Eagles:

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Great Blue Heron:

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Thanks again Ba for making your wonderful photos available. Through the many birders, nature enthusiasts, and photographers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know I’m constantly reminded how important it is to discover one’s passion and allow it to take you on that privileged adventure we call life.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Then One Morning They Were There

Just a few days ago, during a spring migration walk along Griggs Reservoir, it was quiet. Sure there were a noticeable number of Yellow-rumps, one or two Yellow-throated were heard so high in the Sycamores that they threatened to go into earth orbit, and even some Palms were flitting about with tails bobbing, but most of the kinglets had moved on with nothing else within easy binocular reach taking their place. An unwelcome reminder that spring migration can be that way, one day the land of plenty the next not so much.

Yellow-throated Warbler (trust me) high in a Sycamore.

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Over the past few years we’ve enjoyed monitoring a few locations close to home. While we do go further afield we’ve noticed that for us by concentrating on a few locations, the place, as will as the creatures that call it home, seemed to be valued more. We acknowledge that by not hopping in the car in response to an E-bird post there are birds that will not see. With that in mind, the next day we found ourselves back at Griggs Reservoir Park to see if things had changed. Amazingly, as if by magic, brightly colored orange birds that were no where to be seen the day before were now streaking through the air to perches high in trees or low in bushes, they seemed to be everywhere. The park was transformed. Did they arrive quietly during the night on the “red eye”? Your guess is as good as ours. Many were undoubtedly just passing through while others, based on observations from years past, will make the park and it’s environs home for the summer decorating the trees with their hanging nests. As you have probably already guessed these brightly colored birds were Baltimore Orioles.

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Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2, (Donna).

3, (Donna).

4, (Donna).

5, (Donna).

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A female sneaks in.

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Even with the arrival of the orioles, other birds including some that are migrants continued to compete for our attention.

A White-breasted Nuthatch strikes a classic nuthatch pose.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen snacking on ants

.   .   .  while another is engaged in a little home construction.

A very vocal Catbird announces his arrival from points south

.   .   .   while another looks on, (Donna).

Cliff Swallows, a species that in this case builds their communal grouping of nests under a bridge crossing the reservoir, were in the process of gathering nest building material (mud) resulting in a frenzy of activity around a small puddle not far from their nest site, (Donna).

A House Wren pauses momentarily .   .   .

then continues it’s song, (Donna).

The Cardinal is a beautiful but very common bird in Ohio. We have to remind ourselves not to take it for granted.

A male Bluebird bathed in a sea of green waits for lunch to fly by.

Right now Palm Warblers may be even more common than Yellow-rumps, (Donna).

A Cape May Warbler gets close enough for a photo with my Panasonic FZ200.

Based on the fact that that is where we often saw them, Red-eyed Vireos seemed to really enjoy the Sycamore trees, (Donna).

An almost always vocal Tufted Titmouse entertains us, (Donna).

If you hear a melodic and louder than it should be song, it could be a Tufted Titmouse.

The Spotted Sandpipers are also back in the neighborhood.

From a distance, without the aid of binoculars, we first mistake the movement of a Swainson’s Thrush for that of a robin. Many have been seen in the last few days and most are probably just passing through.

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Donna captures an amazing well camouflaged Brown Creeper

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With the leaves just emerging the orioles were easy to spot but that’s changing fast. In a few days, as green continues to embrace trees and bushes, they will be heard but even with their brilliant color they will be much harder to see. Many will move on with other species taking their place as the march of spring migration continues through central Ohio. We will wait expectantly for our next “new for the year” sighting and there undoubtedly will even be another post to celebrate it. Will it be an American Redstart, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or something else?

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Until then thanks for stopping by.

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Redbuds in bloom.

 

Spring Wildflowers Along The Darby

Even for Ohio it’s been an unusually fitful spring, with a warm sunny day followed by one that is cool cloudy and blustery with maybe a little rain or light snow thrown in for good measure. On a recent sunny day we decided to check out the wildflowers along a “new to us” trail that is accessed off Gardner Rd. in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. We were not disappointed as we walked through a wonderful arboretum of nature’s spring.

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Phlox, Big Darby Creek Metro Park.

The subtle beauty of Large Flowered Bellwort. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Toadshade Trillium as a buttercup competes for our interest, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Spring Beauty gets pollenated, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Jacobs Ladder, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Flowering tree, (Donna).

Large-flower Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Large-flowered Bellwort, Big Darby Creek Metro Park.

White Trout Lilies, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A beautiful example of a Toadshade Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A shaft of light illuminates the beauty of a White Trout Lily, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Spring Azure visits flowering Phlox, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Flowering cherry, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Very blue Spring Beauties, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells were very common, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hispid Buttercup, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Purple Cress, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Large Flowered Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

With an open forest canopy this trout lily celebrates the warm spring sun, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Even with wildflowers to enchant it’s difficult not to notice other things.

In the midst of their nest building activities Blue Jays are hard to ignore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A Chipping Sparrow with it’s beautiful rufus crown catches our eye, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Feathers sparkling in the sun a Starling investigates a nesting cavity, Griggs Reservoir Park.

This time of year along roadside ditches, rivers, and lakes Red-winged Blackbirds are everywhere, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Less noticeable than their male counterpart the female Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived in central Ohio, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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They seemed to be getting along just fine .   .   .

Tree Swallows, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

and then .   .   .

Just what they were communicating remains a mystery, (Donna).

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The Yellow-rumped warblers continue to be a common site at Griggs Reservoir Park.

Female Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Kingbird, our first sighting of the year at Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A Palm Warbler along the shore of Griggs Reservoir.

Another look.

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For nature lovers in central Ohio that have never visited Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, do so, this quietist of the Columbus metro area metro parks is one of our favorites. In just a few days we’ve seen a noticeable increase in the green of the forest canopy so the days of spring wildflowers are fleeting. In the last few days there have been reports of  an increase of warbler migrants moving though the area so in the near term we will not run out of things to enchant.

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Thanks for stopped by.

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