2014 Favorites, Part 2 of 2

Below are a few of my favorite landscape shots of 2014. Unless identified otherwise all were taken within a few miles of our home in central Ohio


Alum Creek State Park





Waterfall, Griggs Reservoir



West Highland Way, Scotland



West Highland Way, Scotland




Alum Creek



Battelle Darby Metro Park



Griggs Reservoir




Scioto River below Griggs dam


Tree roots and snow, Scioto Ricer


Griggs Park


Scioto River through the trees


Fallen tree, High Banks Metro Park


Tree roots and leaves, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Autumn, High Banks Metro Park

Bob IMG_4095use

Scioto River below Griggs Dam


Autumn along the Scioto River

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Griggs Reservoir

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam


Island on Devoe Lake, Michigan


Sunset, Devoe Lake Michigan


North end of Griggs Reservoir


Scioto River below Griggs Dam


Paint Creek

Paint Creek Landscape 3 072914 csb1-2

Cliffs along Paint Creek


Alum Creek Reservoir

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High water, Scioto River


Creek, Alum Creek Reservoir


Fallen trees, Prairie Oks Metro Park


 Wishing you all the best for 2015!

Sometimes Less Is More


A few weeks back a deal by one of the major internet retailers of $297 for a Panasonic FZ200 prompted me to pull the trigger for two. One for my wife and one for myself. It’s a camera I’ve been looking at for some time due to a fast 2.8 lens throughout it’s zoom range. My wife’s FZ150, even with it’s slower lens, has consistently produced pictures of higher technical quality than my Canon SX40. The Canon has produced some very good images but it’s just not quiet a match given the type of shooting we do given it’s slower focus speed, difficulty focusing in shady areas, and sharpness issues at full zoom.


Why a super zoom rather than a DSLR you might ask. Generally it’s because we often do rather long hikes and lugging my DSLR “bird camera”, in addition to our always mandatory binoculars, not to mention extra clothing, food, and water, would take away from the experience of being there. Also, our pictures only need to be good enough to tell a story on this blog. To date no one has offered to compensate us for our “photographic excellence” so spending large amounts of money in the pursuit of image quality is hard to justify. The FZ200 gives up some reach over many of the other super zooms, including my SX40, but I haven’t found a longer zoom coupled with the EVF of most super zooms to be particularly useful for small critters that move fast. Having said all this, it goes without saying that super zooms aren’t for everyone. Modern DSLR’s offer image quality and control that’s not easy, and in most cases impossible, for a super zoom with it’s small sensor to duplicate and that say’s nothing of the ability of a DSLR coupled with a good lens to get the picture when high ISO’s and fast focus are required. So we have to accept that with our super zooms some pictures will always be out of reach.


So far theFZ200 has been a joy to use. Below are some initial photos from the last few days. Still working on a few adjustments to get the most out of the camera.



Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 1



Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 2

Golden-crowned Kinglet looking up best 1 122714 Griggs south cp1

Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 3, Donna



White-throated Sparrow


Red-bellied Woodpecker


Red-tailed Hawk


Downy Woodpecker

Downy with seed in beck best 1 122614 highbanks FZ200 cp1

Downy Woodpecker, Donna


Kingfisher, a little to far away.

White-breasted Nuthatch looking down best 1 122714 Griggs south cp1

Nuthatch, Donna


Gray Squirrel


Landscape along the Scioto River


Trees along the Scioto River


Bald Eagle a little too far away

Jelly Ear fungi and moss from below 2 122714 Griggs soouth cp1

Fungi, Donna

Fungi and moss from below 122714 Griggs south cp1

Fungi, Donna


Whatever camera you use I hope you find time to get out and enjoy nature in your neighborhood.



2014 Favorites, Part 1 of 2

Thought I’d have a little fun looking through some of our pictures from the past year and picking out some of my favorites. A photographic stream of consciousness. My wife continues to make many beautiful  contributions to the pictures on our blog.

Bluebird on branch 011414 Griggs better cp1

Bluebird, Griggs Park


Scioto River Landscape

Scioto River Landscape

Tufted Titmouse fluffed up against the cold.

Tufted Titmouse fluffed up against the cold.

Red-tailed Hawk, study 1

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park


Carolina Wren, front yard.

White-breasted thinking 012814 fyard cp1

Nuthatch, Front yard.


Pileated Woodpecker Koreshan State Hist Site

Pileated Woodpecker Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing Koreshan State Hist Site


Swan in ice, Griggs Reservoir


Purple Gullinule, lorida


In flight, Florida





Paddling the mangroves, Florida

black-and- white warbler 021214 six mile cypess cp1

Black and white warbler, Florida


Bald Eagle, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

white-throated sparrow best 2 030414 Griggs cp1

White-throated sparrow, Griggs Park

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

Willets playing in the waves 020814 Lovers Key beach cp1

Willets in the surf, Florida


Song Sparrow, Griggs Park

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Loon, spring migration, Columbus quarry.


Horned Grebe, spring migration, Columbus quarry.


Box turtle, a rare find, Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park

Hepatica duo best 041314 Alum Creek trail cp1

Hepatica, Alum Creek State Park


Trillium, spring woods, central Ohio

Crawfish in water 041914 Griggs cp1

Crawfish, Scioto River

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Yellow-throated warbler, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Flowering wild ginger, Griggs Park


A gathering of turtles, Scioto River below Griggs Dam


Palm Warbler, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Baltimore oriole 1 050314 Griggs south cp1

Baltimore Oriole, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.


Scarlet Tanager, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Baby Mallards 13 tasty lunchtime 050914 Griggs cp1

Mallard ducklings, Griggs Reservoir

Spotted Sandpiper best 050914 Griggs cp1

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

Baby Mallards 5 and Mom in water 050914 Griggs cp1

Female Mallard with ducklings, Griggs Reservoir

Prothonatary warbler best 4 051214 Twin Lakes cp1

Prothonatary warbler, central Ohio.


Spinney Soft-shell Turtles, central Ohio.

Brown Thrasher with bug 1 051914 GA Papps home cp1

Brown Thrasher, Georgia

4 Yellow Warbler 2 052314

Yellow warbler, central Ohio


B-17G fly over, Columbus

z Indigo Bunting Singing 052514 Battelle Darby cp1

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park


Eastern Meadowlark, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park


Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park

Clouded Sulpher Trio 062314 Griggs cp1 best

Clouded Sulfurs, Griggs Park


Bald Eagle, Scioto River north of Columbus.


West Highland Way, Scotland


West Highland Way


Griggs Reservoir


Osprey, Griggs Reservoir


Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

What do you need to do to get a drink around here?

The other morning it was below freezing when I looked out the window and observed a Downy Woodpecker getting a drink. Had snow been on the ground I doubt it would have gone to this much trouble. But then again, who really knows the mind of a woodpecker.


Downy Woodpecker at frozen bird bath.


That water is hard!


Sending some more ice particles flying..



Later that day we explored the area along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto river to see if any new migrating ducks had taken up residence or if a Bald Eagle might be about.

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We did see a Common Merganser, Ruddy Ducks, Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls on the reservoir and an immature Red-tailed Hawk along the river, but alas, no Bald Eagle.


Red-tailed Hawk along the Scioto

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Common Merganser (a little too far away for a good pic), Griggs Reservoir



My wife continued her quest to discover interesting fungi and lichen.

White furry fungi 121514 Griggs south csb1

Furry white fungi (Schizophyllum commune), (Donna)

Wood Design with eyes 121514 Griggs south cp1

Tree stump, (Donna)

Lichen collage 1 121514 Griggs south csb1

Lichen, (Donna)



While I managed to get a nice shot of a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Blue Bird even made an appearance.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park


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Blue Bird, Griggs Park



Thanks for looking in.


Bobbing For “Hedge Apples”

A few weeks back we were walking along Griggs Reservoir looking for migrating waterfowl and we witnessed some unusual behavior by our resident population of Mallard ducks. At first it looked like a game, perhaps a Mallard version of water polo, but then we realized they were attempting to eat an object that keep scooting away , diving below the surface, and then bobbing up only to be nibbled on again.


They went this way   .   .   .


then that   .   .   .


then around   .   .   .


and back again


It turned out to be the bright green barely floating fruit of an Osage Orange tree or what is sometimes referred to as a “hedge apple”. Apparently a somewhat tasty morsel to the ducks because they keep up their efforts as long as we watched.


Meanwhile one of the objects of our quest looked on.


“What are those Mallards doing anyway?”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir


“Perhaps the other side of the lake will be quieter”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir


A few days later on another outing along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, as I looked for Bald Eagles, my wife was able to get some interesting shots of fungi.

Furry Fungi 120914 Griggs south cp1

“Furry Fungi”, Donna

Wood pattern abstract 2 120914 Griggs south cp1

Patterns in wood, (Donna)

Tight mushroom cluster on moss 120914 Griggs south cp1

Mushroom Cluster, (Donna)

orange mushrooms from underneath 120914 griggs s. cp1

Mushrooms on a log, (Donna)

Orange mushroom cluster 120914 griggs south cp1

Another group, (Donna)

moss and maroon fungi 120914 griggs south cp1

Contrasting colors, (Donna)


Finally, yesterday, after several rainy cloudy days, sunshine meant a hike at Battelle Darby Metro Park in the hopes of observing some bird activity. Perhaps we would even see a Northern Harrier.  While no harriers presented themselves, we did see a Kestrel, and a Bald Eagle both of which eluded the cameras lens. However, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk did pose for us.


Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, study 1, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park


study 2


study 3


study 4


study 5


A Coopers Hawk wasen’t quite as cooperative.


Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park


.    .    .    and no trip into the central Ohio woods this time of the year is complete unless we see our friends the Golden Crowned Kinglets who often when seen are in the company of Chickadees, Titmouse and Nuthatches.

golden-crowned kinglet 121114 Battelle darby

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

golden-crowned kinglet side view 121114 battelle darby cp1

Golden-crowned Kinglet, (Donna)


Golden-crowned Kinglet


That’s about it for this post. Hope you all have a chance to get out and enjoy nature in the coming days. Thanks for looking in.

A Tree Not To Be Trifled With

Nature in Ohio this time of year offer it’s own subtle beauty.


Scioto River


But any time of the year a walk in the Ohio woods will quite likely take you by a tree that at first is hard to understand. We’re used to seeing or learning about plants that have different types of defense mechanisms. Certainly anyone who has tried to remove thistles from their garden has had a first hand experience. Osage Oranges thrive in Ohio and approaching a bird through their tangle is likely to result in a painful stick. They are common in Ohio no doubt because, prior to the advent of barbed wire, they were planted by farmers to contain livestock. Then there are plants that rely on toxins or bad taste to deter predators.

Osage Orange

Osage Orange, from a previous post, Griggs Park


But the tree I’m referring to has physical defenses that far exceed anything else in the woods. Currently there is no animal in Ohio feeding on buds and leaves that is formidable enough for these defenses to be effective. So what gives?

P1020423 (2)

Honey Locust, Griggs Park


Close up of Honey Locust thorns (two to three inches long), Griggs Park


The thorns are not restricted to the trunk


It turns out that a look into our past and a visit to Orton Hall on the Ohio State University campus solves the mystery.

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Giant Ground Sloth, Orton Hall, OSU

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Giant Ground Sloth, study 2, Orton Hall, OSU


Megalonyx Jeffersoni


It turns out that we are looking at the results of an evolutionary arms race between plant and animal that ended around eleven thousand years ago. It would appear that the plant was the winner as no ground sloughs can now be found in Ohio. But is isn’t that simple, in addition to other factors that may have contributed to their demise it is thought that early bands of hunting humans may have been a large factor.

So the next time a walk in the woods offers you something that just doesn’t make sense, have some fun and ask yourself why.

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