Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Enchants

We’re in the process of preparing for a hiking trip in Scotland and what better park than Battelle Darby to go for a long walk. Besides, who knows what flowers, birds, or other wildlife might make an appearance, or what follow bloggers we might meet along the way. My wife cautioned that we shouldn’t stop too often to look at “things” or the walk would lose it’s training effect. As you can see from the photos we weren’t entirely successful in meeting that goal.

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Trail at the south end of the park

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Our route:

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The route

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The first thing we noticed was an Eastern Meadowlark:

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Eastern Meadowlark no far from the Nature Center

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Eastern Meadowlark

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Not long after that wildflowers started to appear:

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Log and Appendaged Waterleaf

Oxeye Daisy Duet

Ox-eye Daisies, (Donna)

Miami Mist - J Petranka's Flickr Site

Miami Mist, new to us, seen but not photographed due to technical difficulties – picture is from J Petranka’s Flickr Site. This flower is interesting for reasons other than it’s beauty. As my wife found out, if touched it can produce a fairly severe burning itching sensation in the area that comes in contact!

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Yellow Flag Iris

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White or Red Baneberry, new to us.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Virginia Waterleaf

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Wild Geranium

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Violet Wood Sorrel, new to us, perennial plant is up to 6″ tall. It consists of a small cluster of trifoliate basal leaves on long petioles that emerge directly from the ground. Individual trifoliate leaves are about 1″ across and they open up during the day. The leaves may turn purplish in response to cold weather or strong sunlight, otherwise, they tend to be greyish green. (from the web)

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Black Cherry

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Foam Flower

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Goats Beard

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White Violet

Appendaged Waterleaf best 052514 Battelle Darby cp1

Appendaged Waterleaf, (Donna)

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Spiderwort

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Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Wild Cucumber

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Where there are flowers:

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Northern Pearly-eye (Donna)

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Pearl Crescent , (Donna)

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Not to be outdone the birds started to show up.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

 

Eastern Bluebird 052514 Battlelle Darby cp1

Femal Eastern Bluebird, (Donna)

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Red-winged Blackbird, (Donna)

Rosebreasted Grosbeak 052514 Battelle Darby cp1

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, (Donna)

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In a tree along a meadow a Indigo Bunting sings.

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At one point along the trail we heard a fairly loud buzzing/whirring sound coming from the nearby woods, like a sound that might be made by many small wings. We headed over to investigate and found a swarm of bees! Have you ever seen such a thing? Neither had we. After pictures were taken we didn’t stick around.

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Bee Swarm!!!!

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As the trail returned to the river’s edge we collected ourselves and noticed a Common Water Snake relaxing on a rock. A  little later a Rat snake was seen but not photographed until another one was seen at the nature center.

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Common Water Snake on a rock in the Big Darby

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Back at the nature center Tim shows us a Rat Snake

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A immature Gray Squirrel seems curious as is watches from a trailside tree.

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Young Gray Squirrel

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From what we could see on the trees, the park isn’t home to a rich variety of lichens but we did see a very nice shelf fungus.

Polypore fungi vertical stack 052514 Battelle Darby cp1

Polypore fungi, (Donna)

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Our walk was made all the more special because we had the opportunity to meet and take a few minutes to chat with Tracy of Season’s Flow. We left the park tired from the long walk and the many investigative side trips but so much richer for our experience.

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The Big Darby in spring.

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***

 

Seeing a Very Unusual Bird and Remembering

Normally when on a walk to explore nature, it’s a flower or warbler that highlights the outing. Today a very large bird flew overhead. For a moment, without protest, it took us away from our enjoyment of the many Cedar Waxwings that were occupying the trees and bushes along the reservoir.

The bird’s call was unmistakable and for most men my age, when it came into view, identification was not difficult.

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Boeing B17 heavy bomber used for daylight missions over Germany during WWII

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Boeing B17 heavy bomber, visiting Columbus for tours and rides.

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After the sound the four Pratt and Whitney radial engines faded into the distance, we got back to enjoying the birds.

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Reservoir

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The very common Morning Dove was also present along the river. It’s beautiful call announces that spring is really here.

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Morning Dove along the Scioto River

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Now that it’s leafed out the Orioles are much harder to see but we did manage to get one record shot.

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Baltimore Oriole along the Scioto River

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My wife was busy taking inventory of the wildflowers that were in attendance.

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Yellow Flag Iris along the Scioto River, (Donna)

g Star of Bethlehem 052414 Griggs cp1

Star of Bethlehem along the Scioto River, (Donna)

g Daisy Fleabane Griggs IMG_0739

Daisy Fleabane along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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and I was again trying to identify some of the lichen seen.

Flavoparmelia caperata IMG_3278

Flavoparmelia caperata

Candelaria concolor and Physconia lichen IMG_3276

Candelaria concolor (orange) and Physconia lichen

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So on this Memorial day weekend a deep feeling of gratitude goes out to the men and women who have served at sea, in the air, and on the ground to preserve our freedom and way of life.

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In Remembrance

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***

Searching for Warblers by Canoe

This morning we decided to canoe the shoreline of Alum Creek Reservoir and look for warblers. After it leafs out, we’ve found this to be a great way to see birds while enjoying a day on the water.. When hiking a trail through the woods your line of sight can become very limited as the season progresses but paddling a shoreline can provide an unobstructed view of  the trees and brush as the birds move in and out of view.

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It was a beautiful cool clear day, a little windy but the blue sky was dotted with puffy white clouds. The excitement started before we even got into the canoe with the unusual sighting of two deer swimming across a rather wide part of the reservoir.

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Below is a map of our route of about six and one half miles:

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Alum Creek Reservoir Paddling Route

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Exploring the many coves is a big part of the draw. Sometimes we’re able to beach the boat and explore on foot:

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Pullout, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Exploring on foot, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Pond, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Is wasn’t long before we spotted Yellow Warblers which nest in the area and are fairly common this time of the year:

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Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 1, (Donna)

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Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 2

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Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 3

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Sometimes it’s just about enjoying a beautiful secluded cove:

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Cove, Alum Creek Reservoir

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There were other birds, including Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Ducks, Green and Great Blue Herons, and Osprey, but only the following wanted their picture taken:

female Red-winged Blackbird 052314 Alum Creek Pond CP1

Female Red-winged Blackbird, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Eastern Pewee 1 052314 Alum Creek CP1

Eastern Wood Pewee, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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Kingbird, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Indigo Bunting 052314 Alum Creek CP1

Indigo Bunting, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and turtles, including Painted and Spiny Soft Shells, but only this one sat still long enough for a photo:

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Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are giving way those found in late spring and summer:

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Dames Rocket, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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Daisy Fleabane, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

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A wonderful day enjoying nature:

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Alum Creek Reservoir

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***

 

A Red-eyed Vireo Entertains Us

For the past several weeks we’ve been hearing Northern Parula Warblers in the small wooded area along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. Hoping to get photograph before it leafs out making the bird(s) impossible to find, we’ve made several trips trying to locate them. So far we haven’t had any luck getting a photograph but have been compensated for our efforts by other things.

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Tree roots intrigue along the river running high from recent rains;

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Tree roots, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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Trying to make up for the absence of the Northern Parula a Red-eyed Vireo puts forth it’s best effort;

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Red-eyed Vireo below the dam at Griggs Reservoir

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Red-eyed Vireo, study 2

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Wildflowers continue to fascinate;

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Appendaged Waterleaf below the dam at Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf , study 2

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A male American Redstart in a nearby bush checks us out;

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American Redstart, immature male, below the dam at Griggs Reservoir

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****
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Finally, a quick trip to Houston for our son’s graduation from Rice and a stop in Georgia to visit my aging mom resulted in a few pictures that have nothing to do with central Ohio but seemed too nice not to share.

One Violet best 1 051914 GA Papps home cp19

Violet, northeastern Georgia, (Donna)

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Nodding Thistle and leaffooted bug, probably Leptoglossus phyllopus (Linnaeus), northeast Georgia

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Nodding Thistle, northeast Georgia

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Nodding Thistle with Gulf Fritillaries, northeast Georgia (Donna)

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Nodding Thistle, invasive, northeast Georgia

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Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Herman Park, Houston

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Red-eared Slider, Herman Park, Houston

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Brown Thrasher, northeast Georgia (Donna)

Spring Activity at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

A few days ago we decided to explore the Twin Lakes Area of O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve by canoe. Part of the fun is the journey so we decided to paddle from a launch point on the other side of the reservoir. As a result we had the opportunity to pass a number of lovely coves along the way. The total length of our paddle was between four and five miles.

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Cove, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna)

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We hoped to see Prothonotary Warblers which are fairly common in the Twin Lakes area this time of year. We were successful and my wife put together a nice study of one of the males.

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 1, (Donna)

Prothonatary Warbler best 8 051214 Twin Lakes cp1

Prothonotary Warbler, study 2, (Donna)

Prothonatary warbler best 4 051214 Twin Lakes cp1

Prothonotary Warbler, study 3, (Donna)

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 4, (Donna)

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 5, (Donna)

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While she was busy with the warblers, I was taking a few pictures of some of the other suspects.

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King Bird

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Tree Swallow

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Tree Swallow, study 2 (Donna)

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Taking flight, (Donna)

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Recent rains had really brought out the color in some of the lichens. The brown lichen with a white fringe was one we hadn’t noticed/seen before.

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Green Lichen, (Donna)

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Brown with white fringe lichen, (Donna)

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Paddling further, my wife spotted some Pussytoes just beginning to flower along the bank.

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Pussytoes, (Donna)

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A Common Water snake kept an eye on us as we glided by.

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Common Water Snake

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And if the birds and everything else weren’t enough, heading back to our launch site we spotted the largest concentration of Spiny Soft Shell turtles that we’ve ever seen in central Ohio. While perhaps not as aggressive as the more solitary Snapping Turtle, they will bite if given a reason. On this particular day they seemed okay sharing their log with a Few Map Turtles.

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Large concentration of Spiny Soft Shells

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Map Turtles were also tolerated on the same log.

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Two large Spiny Soft Shells

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Spiny Soft Shell tolerating a small Map Turtle.

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Pretty exciting considering it all was like something we might see while visiting the Columbus Zoo which interestingly enough is only a couple of miles away.

Celebrating Mother’s Day on Griggs Reservoir

We decided to paddle Griggs Reservoir with the goal of hopefully seeing some unique wildflowers that populate the low shoreline cliffs. In addition, while the migrating waterfowl have long since left, we might see one of our favorite local residents, the Wood Duck. Considering the number that nest in the area, we were pretty sure we would also see a few Baltimore Orioles. Given the wind, which presented significant boats control issues, my wife was kind enough to take care of most of the photography while I took care of the boat.

click on images for a better view

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After a short paddle to the cliff area, we discovered the flowers we were looking for.

Wild Columbine and roots 050914 Griggs cp1

Wild Columbine, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Stonecrop, Griggs Reservoir

White Flowers on bush 050914 Griggs cp1

European Bird Cherry, Griggs Reservoir

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Prior to setting up house keeping the male and female Wood Ducks always seem to stay together.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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Male Wood Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few other suspects, including a Black-crowned Night Heron, greeted us as we paddled on.

Turtle on log 050914 Griggs cp1

Red-eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

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Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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But not to be outdone and as if they were celebrating Mothers Day in advance, the female Mallards decided to introduce their recently hatched ducklings. It was a real treat!

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Crossing Griggs Reservoir to safety, Female Mallard with ducklings, (Bob)

Baby Mallards 1b and Mom resting on dock 050914 Griggs cp1 1

Later we found them safe on the other side.

Baby Mallards 3 walking down ramp 050914 Griggs cp1

One duckling decided it wanted to go exploring.

Baby Mallards 4 and Mom walking 050914 Griggs cp1

Mom and the others followed.

Baby Mallards 5 and Mom in water 050914 Griggs cp1

Heading for adventure.

Baby Mallards 6 and Mom all in a row 050914 cp1

Mom kept an eye on the flotilla.

Baby Mallards 10 rock explore 050914 Griggs cp1

This is fun!

Baby Mallards 9 climbing up on rock 050914 Griggs cp1

To swim or to climb?

Baby Mallards 13 tasty lunchtime 050914 Griggs cp1

. . . or maybe eat!

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One mother Mallard seems to have an adopted duckling.

1 Baby Golden Duckling with Mom 050914 Griggs cp1-2

A mother’s love!

2 Baby Golden duckling 050914 Griggs cp1

Very young and very cute!

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And not to be left out. The “Hey wait, what about me!”, Baltimore Oriole.

Baltimore Oriole ground zero good side view 050914 Griggs cp1

A Baltimore Oriole at waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

The Fish Was Just Too Big

It’s fascinating how often something interesting happens in nature when you’re on your way to do something else. An outing recently along the Scioto below Griggs Dam was intended to be a test session after we changed some settings on my wife’s Panasonic FZ150 and Olympus E620 to improve performance in the branch infested, fast paced, world of warbler photography.

click on image for a better view

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Before even starting to look for warblers we noticed a Great Blue Heron at river’s edge quite frustrated with something it was trying to eat. A closer look revealed the problem.

 

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The heron was acting strange.

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It was trying to eat a fish.

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It’s eyes might be bigger than it’s stomach.

The fish was just too big!

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Further on, Baltimore Orioles seemed to be everywhere. At one point, four males were flying circles around us as they chased each other.

Baltimore Oriole 2 looking right 050814 Griggs cp1

Baltimore Oriole, study 1 (Donna)

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Baltimore Oriole, study 2

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A bird was seen quietly moving around in the brush and lower trees. It turned out to be a Swainson’s Thrush. Not a bird we were looking for but exciting nonetheless.

Swainson's Thrush 050814 griggs cp1b

Swainson’s Thrush, (Donna)

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The first Red-eyed Vireos we’ve seen this year,

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Red-eyed Vireo, study 1

Red-Eyed Vireo beak open 050814 Griggs cp1

Red-eyed Vireo, study 2 (Donna)

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along with our first Prothonotary Warbler.

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 1

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 2

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 3

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We finished our outing seeing warblers seen before over the few days,

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Palm Warbler

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Yellow-rumped Warbler coming in for a landing

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

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Yellow-throated Warbler

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along with a few other birds that call the area home all summer.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

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Blue Jay, (Donna)

Song Sparrow IMG_6260

Song Sparrow

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As I write this I can’t help but notice a Common Grackle at our feeder. A very beautiful but common bird that’s easy to take for granted.

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Common Grackle

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