“Going Home”

Sometimes, if we’re lucky,  thoughts off our past bring back memories of a special place that may have been part of the lazy warm summer days of our childhood. Such thoughts often awaken a desire to return. But as we all are too well aware there is a danger in trying to go back, things change, and not always for the better.

When I was a young my family spent one or two weeks each summer in northern Michigan. Quite often it was in an area along Lake Huron near Oscoda. As folks would say in Detroit at that time, we went “Up North” for vacation. During those vacations, family drives along the Au Sable River captured my imagination as well as did the fishing trips with my dad to several of the clear, and still relatively undeveloped, lakes in the area.

Time went by with many wonderful bicycling and hiking trips over the years. But the urge to return steadily grew, so several years ago I did return to fish, as well as explore, the areas near to where my family had vacationed. Places like the Rifle River Recreation Area and the Au Sable River and the ponds that are part of that river system.

Recent camping/paddling trips to this area with my wife and fishing trips with friends have revealed an area more magical than I ever imagined as a child. Seemingly endless clear water, Bald Eagles soaring overhead, the song of the Whip-poor-will or the call of a Barred Owl or Loon at night, and great catch and release fishing for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass just to name a few of the things that keep drawing me back.

This year’s experience, our seventh annual fishing trip, was shared and enjoyed by myself and three friends who also enjoy kayak fishing, exploring beautiful lakes, as well as paddling beautiful rivers.

Reflecting on this year’s trip, my wish is that everyone have such a beautiful place. A place, that when returned to, invokes a feeling of “Going Home”.

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Checking gear at the campsite, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Joe-pye Weed, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Gliding across the lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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A hint of autumn, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Trumpeter Swan, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Study 2

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Study 3

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Grass-of-Parnassus, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Jeff catches a nice bass, Rifle River Recreation Area

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A nice Smallmouth is caught and released below Loud Pond Dam on the Au Sable River.

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Reeds, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Morning Fog, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Colorful Fungus (Lobster Mushroom?), Rifle River Recreation Area

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Reflections, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Along the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Heading in, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Sky over the lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Lake through the trees, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Taking a break, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Keith on the Au Sable River.

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Nice Largemouth bass, caught and released, Rifle River Recreation Area.

 

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Loons, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Loons looking for dinner, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Immature Loon, first year, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Adult Loon, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Floating the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam.

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Common Mergansers along the Au Sable River.

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Jim on the Au Sable River.

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Sunset, Rifle River Recreation Area.

 

 

Griggs Reservoir, a Haven for Herons

Since Griggs Reservoir is close to home we often use it for our “workout” paddles during the week when things are quiet. On those paddles we hope to see a few things worth a closer look or maybe even a picture. On a typical ten mile paddle we’ll have fifteen to twenty Great Blue Heron sightings. On some days one or two Black Crowned Night Herons will be seen and on most days two or three Green Herons. The Green Herons are one of our favorites because, as well as being less common, their behavior is often curious or even comical.

On a recent paddle a young Green Heron decided to pose for a few pictures while either hunting for food or preening. It was quite a show. Of course before we encountered the heron there were other things to see.

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Near our launch on Griggs Reservoir

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No shortage of Cedar Waxwings and Kingbirds near our launch in Griggs Park.

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A tree full of Cedar Waxwings, Griggs Park

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Across the reservoir as we head north a Kingfisher tries to hide.

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Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir

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One of many Great Blue Herons seen.

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A heron for every dock (almost)! (Donna)

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A little further north we even see a Great Egret. They never let us get very close.

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Great Egret high in a tree, Griggs Reservoir

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Great Egret, a graceful acrobat, (Donna)

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Still further north heading into the “wetlands” area.

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Paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Griggs Reservoir “Wetlands” landscape.

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Landing, “wetlands” area, Griggs Reservoir.

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But it was an immature Green Heron won the day.

Whether it was hunting:

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Green Heron, study 1, hunting.

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Green Heron, study 2, hunting.

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Green Heron, study 3, hunting

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Green Heron, study 4, hunting.

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.   .   .   or preening:

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During lunch a Green Heron lands near by.

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Green Heron, study 1, preening, (Donna)

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Green Heron, study 2, preening, (Donna)

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Green Heron, study 3, preening, (Donna)

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Green Heron, study 4, preening, (Donna)

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Green Heron, study 5, preening, (Donna)

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When the heron was through entertaining us there was plenty of other things to see.

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Water Willow

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Wasp on Boneset

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Asiatic Dayflower (invasive)

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Wingstem with beetle and Bumblebee

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Virginia White Moth, (Donna)

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Mushroom emerging, (Donna)

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False Dragonhead

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Bee on False Dagonhead

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Silver Spotted Skipper on False Dragonhead

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Ironweed

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Ironweed with bee, a closer look.

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A day to remember as a fresh wind out of the north made for a easy paddle home.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Paddling The Licking River

It had been several years since we paddled north on Dillon Lake which is part of Dillon State Park and headed up the Licking River. It’s a typical paddle for us where we start in a reservoir and paddle up a feeder river for as far as we can or feel like going. Since we enjoy a good paddle and are usually on the lookout for birds and other wildlife, paddling the same stretch of river twice is seldom seen as a problem. The north end of the lake and the Licking River seem very remote during the middle of the week. We had the place to ourselves.

On the day of our paddle the river was running fairly clear as it had been several days sense the last rain of any consequence. On past trips we’ve seen Bald Eagles, beaver, deer, herons, and various types of warblers and flycatchers depending on the time of year. I usually make an effort to fish a little but on this trip, as on previous trips up the Licking, the fish did not cooperate. We were fortunate to see a pair of Snowy Egrets and a juvenile Bald Eagle as we paddled. A young deer even came down to the water’s edge as we drifted by.

The river is definitely one of the most beautiful in Ohio with many bends and sandbars as it winds through a woods that contains many mature trees. On the downside are the many cans and plastic bottles that get caught up along the banks and in log jams on the outside of the bends. Such debris is always a problem in rivers that see a lot of paddling traffic because of capsizes but in this case, given that the Licking is not heavily paddled, they seem to be more the result of Ohio’s lack of a deposit law for cans and bottles.

Below are some pics from the trip:

 

Licking River Map

Licking River Paddle

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Always on the lookout for wildlife. (Donna)

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It’s not long before we spot an immature Bald Eagle.

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The Green Herons are always entertaining  .  .  .

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. . . as they look or their next meal!

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This lovely sandbar told us we didn’t need to paddle any further.

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Looking down river.

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During a snack stop I tried my hand at fishing. No luck. (Donna)

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We try to paddle as close to the bank as possible because you never know what you’re going to see. In this case a very large Fishing Spider! (Donna)

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on a sandbar near the river’s edge, (Donna)

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Liverwort on a rock at river’s edge. Something we’ve been looking for but not always easy to find in Ohio.

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A Ruby Meadowhawk posed for my wife. (Donna)

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Spotted Sandpiper at river’s edge.

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Due to low water it was a shallow mucky affair launching and retrieving the canoe.

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The beauty of the Licking River.

 

 

Celebrating Beauty Closer to Home

I’m always amazed by the distance we have to travel before our brain gets reprogramed and starts to notice beauty that were it closer to home would be passed by unnoticed.

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So in celebration of that which is easy to pass by, below is a collection of photos taken in the last week while walking in Griggs Park or along the Scioto River below the dam. All very close to home and  within the city limits of Columbus. In addition a few were shots were taken while paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir. From where we live it’s a mile and a half by land and five miles by water. In addition, a few pics were taken in our backyard.

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Since we often see the beauty of a place defined by a landscapes rather than a close-up of a flower or bug, along with the bugs and flowers a few landscapes are included. Perhaps an effort on our part to capture the place in a way that speaks to our larger sensibilities. A way one might appreciate it if you were just out for a walk enjoying the day.

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Through the trees, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Mallard at sunset, Griggs Reservoir

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Swamp Milkweed, Griggs Reservoir

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Queen Ann’s Lace at sunset, Griggs Park

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Kingbird, Griggs Park

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Swamp-Mallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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North end of Griggs Reservoir

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Flower-of-an-Hour (member of the Mallow family) ID supplied by my readers, previously unidentified, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Green Heron, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Bumble Bee, backyard

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Coneflower, backyard.

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Painted turtle, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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The reservoir, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Groundnut, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Hackberry Emperor, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Fungus along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Fungus, along the Scioto River

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Rain Garden, Griggs Park

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Wetland, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Blue Vervain, Griggs Park

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Gravel bar, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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False Dragonhead, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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North end of Griggs Reservoir

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Evening Primrose, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Rocks along the Scioto Rive below Griggs Dam.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Immature Cedar Waxwing, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Green bee on Monkey flower, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Monarch, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Tree roots, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Wildflowers at Battelle Derby Creek

Late July and early August is a great time to grab your camera and binoculars and go for a hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The park has reestablished extensive areas of prairie containing many types of native wildflowers. With the flowers come butterflies and other types of insects. Eastern Meadowlarks, Indigo Buntings and other birds are also attracted to the area. If you ever questioned the value of native prairies in promoting biodiversity visit Battelle Darby and take a close look. You’ll be amazed at what there is to see.

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Prairie in early morning, Battelle Darby Creek

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Some parts of the prairie contain ponds, Bullfrog, Battelle Darby Creek

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Bullfrog, study 2 (Donna)

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Cardinal Flowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Tufted Titmouse along the Big Darby River

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Battelle Darby Creek

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Making friends with a butterfly.

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Hackberry Emperor, Battelle Darby

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Sunflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Catapillar, Battelle Darby

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Male Goldfinch, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Coneflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Red Admiral, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Red Admiral, study 2, Battelle Darby Creek

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Red Milkweed Beetle, Battelle Darby Creek

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Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

 

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Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, study 2, (Donna)

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Blazing Star, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie, (Donna)

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Walking through the prairie, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Fungus, along the river, Battelle Darby Creek

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Familiar Bluet, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie, (Donna)

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Tall Bellflower, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Giant Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek

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Daddy Longlegs with prey, Battelle Darby Creek.

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Silvery Checkerspot, Battelle Darby Creek

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Spicebush Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek

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Curious Cardinal, Battelle Darby Creek

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Zabulon Skipper, Battelle Darby Creek

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Turtles, Big Darby Creek

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Prairie, Big Darby Creek Metro Park

Thanks for stopping by and checking out some pictures of nature in central Ohio. We hope you’re inspired to get out and explore nature wherever you live.

 

 

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