Bluebirds of Happiness

Recently we explored one of our local haunts, Griggs Park and the river below the dam, hoping to see migrating warblers. Just the day before an immature Bald Eagle had been perched over my head as I fished in the river. Maybe it would be there again today. If the birds didn’t cooperate we would be rewarded with some fall colors which, while past their peek, were still nice.

Remember: for a better view click on the image.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam as autumn progresses.

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Walking south we did see warblers but they were in the tree tops making a “serious” photo impossible. There were the usual woodpeckers flying about and we were rewarded with a good sighting of a Golden-crown Kinglet that refused to sit still for a picture. The eagle had apparently moved on so after checking out the usual “good spots” we decided to head back to the car. It was warming up so perhaps we’d see more birds as we worked our way back.

In the fall Bluebirds from further north find Griggs Park to be a good location for insects and other edibles. We don’t see them in the winter so they apparently move further south as the cold eliminates their food source. On this particular day we got lucky and sighted a number of birds right along the shore of the reservoir as we walked north.

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Female Bluebird, Griggs Park

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Male Bluebird

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Off to look for his mate.

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Happy at last, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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During the Bluebird excitement I glanced over my shoulder and saw a Nuthatch, almost close enough to touch, seriously investigating something in a tree. I swung the camera around and just started shooting hoping for the best.

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Nuthatch, study 1, (Griggs Park)

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Nuthatch, study 2

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Nuthatch, study 3

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Usually I don’t get too excited about photographing House Finches but this male was striking and seemed to enjoy having it’s picture taken.

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Male House Finch, study 1, Griggs Park

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Male House Finch, study 2

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While shooting the House Finch a Song Sparrow stopped by.

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park

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A little further along a White-crowned Sparrow posed.

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White-crowned Sparrow below Griggs Dam.

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Not all our friends were feathered.

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Gray Squirrel with a mouthful, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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I’m in love with this scene so, as autumn has progressed, I’ve taken the liberty to post several shots.

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Tree roots along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

Digital Photography and A Love of Nature

For those of you that have been seduced by nature photography I’m sure at times you’ve been left thinking how much photography has contributed to your love of nature. This can be particularly true in the digital age where a camera can be a tool for artistic expression or at the other extreme very useful for collecting data. After returning from a day in the field, we have immediate access to the images taken. This allows us to savor the experience in ways that were impossible in the days of film. Sometimes an image is not only pleasing but offers important information that may have been missed had we just relied on a quick glance through the binoculars, “Wow, that was a Meadow Fritillary not a Aphrodite”!

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However, film had the advantage of forcing us to count the cost before we decided to photograph a subject. That in turn immediately assigning value to the subject and our efforts. In the digital age we live with a dearth of own images as well as the images of others which can act to trivialize our efforts. We click the shutter with little thought of the cost so the subject becomes less important, a momentary diversion before we move on the next target. But, if there is sufficient interest and motivation, digital photography can allow us to explore the subject a ways that would have been cost prohibitive in the past. Digital cameras have also introduced a level of spontaneity and play to photography that it never had before.

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Finally, given that almost anybody with some skill or luck can take a decent picture, a quick review of images on the Internet would seem to indicate that in a search for uniqueness post processing, which offers control never dreamed of in the days of film, has become a bigger part of the equation. We now live in an Internet world full of incredibly jacked-up “fantasy” shots of just about every subject in our world and beyond. These images blur the line between traditional photography that in the past was thought to reflect some sense of reality, and art. So we are challenged to ask ourselves what it is that we’re trying to say. Is our goal to render the subject as one might see it with the naked eye or as something more?

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Since there is no going back I’m left thinking about my own modest efforts at photography. Fortunately I remain unshaken, despite my own dearth of images. For me nature photography will always be a celebration of and reverence for the subject.  As long as photographs taken continue to express that love I will continue to venture out camera in hand.

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Below are images taken in and around Columbus during the last week:

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Tree roots along the Scioto River on a sunny day.

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White-throated Sparrow below Griggs Dam

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An ever elusive Kingfisher in the distance, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Yellow-rumped Warbler along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Just managed to catch this Golden-crowned Kinglet along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Reflections, Big Darby Creek, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bluebirds are common this time of year in Griggs Park.

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Path, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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The False Dragonhead is still blooming, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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The dance of the dueling Downies, Griggs Park

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. . . the dance continues. (Donna)

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. . . and continues. (Donna)

 

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. . . on their own unique dance floor. (Donna)

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Acrobatic squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Enjoying a Black Walnut, Griggs Park

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The squirrels have been busy, Griggs Park

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Auricularia auricular, Jelly Ear , Griggs Park

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From another angle, (Donna)

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Bear Lentinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Autumn morning light, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Eastern Comma (a bit tired), Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Meadow Fritillary, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Walking in Griggs Park we can’t help but notice the Milkweed Bugs. They are very common and will even appear on warmer winter days.

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Milkweed Bugs, pretty but don’ try and eat them!

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Road along the reservoir, Griggs Park

A Fleeting Autumn Day

The photographs below are in celebration of autumn in central Ohio. Inspiration was found on a recent visit to High Banks Metro Park as well as closer to home along the Scioto River. The High Banks landscape, with it’s ravines and mature trees, offers opportunities to explore autumn color not found elsewhere in the area. The Scioto River with it’s wooded banks and recently low relatively clear water also provided unique opportunities. Not all color was found in leaves. We were also fortunate to find some fungus with it’s own special beauty.

It is fleeting. Even on the nicest days, leaves often seem to cling precariously to branches as their colors change.  A driving overnight rain results in tree top branches being naked by morning that appeared fully clothed the night before. Later in the day, in a statement of inevitability, steady autumn winds take care of what is left.

 

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Autumn along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Sycamore leaves along the Scioto

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Type of small puffball?, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Common Mycena, High banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Orange Fungi/Slime Mold?, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker below Griggs Dam, (shutter speed couldn’t quite stop it’s head)

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Getting ready for winter, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Camera shy, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Mushrooms and leaves, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Mystery Polypore, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Autumn heron, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Hornet’s nest along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Creek bed, High Banks Metro Park

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Fence, High Banks Metro Park

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Bridge over ravine, High Banks Metro Park

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Forest floor, High Banks Metro Park

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Autumn light, High Banks Metro Park

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Splash of color, High Banks Metro Park

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Yellow leaves, High Banks Metro Park

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Trail of leaves, High Banks Metro Parks

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Leaves and fungi, High Banks Metro Park

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High Banks Metro Park Overlook

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Fallen tree, High Banks Metro Park

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Vines, High Banks Metro Park

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Autumn path, High Banks Metro Park

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Tree roots and autumn leaves along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

Autumn Grace

                                                   Autumn Grace

                                                                                            .         

                                                                    During nights,

                                                                    longer and colder now,

                                                                    autumn is splashed

                                                                    on green leaves.

                                                                                 .

                                                                    In early still foggy mornings,

                                                                    reds, yellows, and

                                                                    gray brown branches,

                                                                    create subtle intricate patterns.

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                                                                    Later, in the bright piercing sun,

                                                                    leaves ignite against a deep blue sky.

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                                                                    Then, carried away by a sudden breeze

                                                                    in a flight of celebration,

                                                                    they grace the ground

                                                                    in shades of gold.

                                                                                                                      .

                                                                                                                             RSP

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Maple, Griggs Park

                                                                  

 

Fall Caterpillars

Recently we decided to visit Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park hoping for fall color and landscapes and perhaps some inspiration for a poem about autumn. Fall colors in central Ohio’s natural areas are always a challenge, plenty of yellows and browns, but due to the lack of maples not many bright reds and oranges. Interestingly, autumn color within the city is much better because humans like and plant a variety of trees.

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Despite the lack of spectacular fall color our walk was not without it’s rewards. The weather was perfect, there was some color, and unbeknown to us “Darby Days” a wonderful celebration, with displays and exhibits, of the plants, insects, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and other wildlife that call the park home was being held.

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A hint of fall color along the trail, Battelle Darby Creek

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But for us the caterpillars discovered along the way turned out to be the real stars of the day. What makes most caterpillars interesting is wondering what moth or butterfly they will become. The caterpillars we saw were undoubtedly looking for a place to pupate in anticipation of that transition next spring. Unlike many moths which may require special techniques and equipment to photograph as they are only easy to find and attract at night the caterpillars almost posed for us requiring no specialized equipment other than reasonably good eyesight.

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Woolly Bear – Isabella Tiger Moth, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

Isabella Tiger Moth

Isabella Tiger Moth, Wikipedia

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Hickory Tussock moth caterpillar, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

Hickory Tussock Moth

Hickory Tussock Moth, Wikipedia

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Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Giant Leopard Moth, Wikipedia

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A little further, just off the trail, my wife noticed some interesting fungi.

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Small yellow stemmed fungi, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Larger fungi family, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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While she was capturing that action I decided to relax on a park bench but was soon awoken by incessant pecking overhead.

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Downy Woodpecker (male), Battelle Darby Creek

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Downy Woodpecker (male), Battelle Darby Creek, study 2

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Downy Woodpecker (male), Battelle Darby Creek, study 3

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Downy Woodpecker (male), Battelle Darby Creek, study 4

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Downy Woodpecker (male), Battelle Darby Creek, study 5

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Finally, nearing the end of our hike we felt as though we were being watched. Other than an occasional deer, most of the critters we see (or see us) when visiting the metro parks are small, but this guy, one of several in the park, is an exception. Fortunately he was on the other side of the fence.

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American Bison, an integral part of the Ohio landscape prior to European settlement, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Autumn Walks

We walk along Griggs Reservoir almost every day. Lately, bright and sunny may give way to a day that is cloudy and overcast with just a bit of rain. This autumn we’ve been looking closer as every day brings small changes to the canvas. Each with it’s own unique light revealing extravagant color or subtle beauty. The celebration is sometimes very close, perhaps right at your feet as a colorful leaf comes to rest in a puddle, or further away as nearby bare branches turn colors on the opposite shore into stained glass.

In the last week, whether walking or paddling, Osprey can be seen overhead. Soon they will be heading south. Starlings are seen in tree tops. Were they there before and just not noticed? Wood Ducks, Coots, and Pied-billed Grebes have been more common. Passing through from points north no doubt. We’ve had to content ourselves with a few sightings of Yellow Rumped warblers to get our fall warbler fix.

Click on image for higher resolution.

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Patterns in color, Griggs Park

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Morning sun, Griggs Park

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Morning sun just reaching the opposite shore, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection on a cloudy day, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection, study 2, Griggs Park

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Cardinal with red leaves, Griggs Park

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Cardinal, study 2, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Red leaves without the Cardinal, Griggs Park

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Treetop Starlings, Griggs Park

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Autumn sun on leaves, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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A song that makes one smile, Song Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Still plenty of Great Blue Herons along the reservoir, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fall fungus, Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Recent rains have brought color to lichen, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Autumn on a stump, Griggs Park

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Leaves caught by a shaft of sunlight, Griggs Park

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Park path, Griggs Park

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From a recent rain, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fallen leaves line the park road, Griggs Park

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Reflections and fallen leaves, Griggs Park

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Oak leaves, Griggs Park

Paddling Into Autumn

Trees in autumn are a grand garden in bloom. Each day offers a new arrangement of colors and patterns to delight one who simply chooses to be in their presence.

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Patterns and color, Griggs Reservoir

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The weather was going to turn as it often does this time of the year. Today it’s quiet, sunny, almost sublime, tomorrow, cloudy, cold, and blustery. Better get out and see what there is to discover. Tomorrow we may be inside looking out as wind driven rain, or even worse snow, pelts the window.

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Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Autumn flowers (Sneezeweed), Griggs Reservoir

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Along the shore deer watch as we pass, Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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It was quiet when we started. The water’s surface, now the resting place of early fallen leaves, was only disturbing by the movement of our canoe and the occasional falling leaf. The morning sun drew out the emerging reds and yellows along the west shore and in the coolness warmed our backs as we worked our way north.

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North of Fishinger Road, Griggs Reservoir

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West shore, Griggs reservoir

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Capturing the color, Griggs Reservoir

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Hint of color, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Stopping to clean up some shoreline trash rewarded us with a nice view, north end of Griggs Reservoir,

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Later in the day, having spent some time exploring the most northern part of the reservoir, we retraced our path and headed back to our launch site. The wind picked up as we paddled south making pictures a challenge. I managed to control the boat as a Spotted Sandpiper slowed down just enough for a picture.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Spotted Sandpiper, study 2, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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With only a few strokes left in our nine mile paddle we discovered some unexpected color.

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Chicken Mushroom, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Later, at home, feeling that good kind of tired, we looked over pictures and recalling the things we’d seen. It had been a beautiful to paddle.

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Griggs Reservoir

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