Spring Takes Flight at Prairie Oaks

We hadn’t been to Prairie Oaks for a while so we thought we’d head over to what is one of Columbus’s nicer metro parks and see how spring was progressing.  The day was breezy and cool so we weren’t sure what we’d find. Often the birds stay put on such days making locating them a challenge. But the sun did pop through the clouds periodically, and when it did, the birds, as if on cue, became more active. On this day, as often seems to be the case, the most magical event happened near the end of our adventure just as we arriving back at the parking lot after five miles of walking, looking. and then walking some more.

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A spring creek flows through the park on it’s way to the river.

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We hadn’t gone very far when a few birds appeared to greet us.

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White-throated Sparrow

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A Tree Swallow takes a break.

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A Yellow-throated Warbler not cooperating for the photographer.

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Further on my wife noticed some Dryad’s saddle. The time of year and recent rains all had contributed to a bumper crop.

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Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna)

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Dryad’s Saddle. The one at the top is just emerging.

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In full bloom, (Donna)

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While it’s just a few miles from Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the diversity of spring wildflowers at Prairie Oaks is not as great, but the flowers are beautiful just the same.

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Golden Ragwort

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Large-flowered Bellwort

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Wild Geranium

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Spring Beauty

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Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trillium

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It was an extensive patch.

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Where there are wildflower you can count on seeing other things.

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A tiny Spring Azure, (Donna)

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As if to mimic the flower. A great shot by my wife of a butterfly that’s very difficult to get a photo of with wings open. Perhaps the warm sun and cool air helped.

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A Bumble Bee heads for Virginia Bluebells.

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On final approach

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Flaps down!

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Touchdown!

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As we continued our exploration we were fortunate to see a few of our other feathered friends.

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Eastern Towhee

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Yellow Warbler

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Take two. Okay, I couldn’t help it. The bird was so cute!

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The Big Darby flows through Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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During high water the soil is scoured from around the roots of this Sycamore tree.

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The Big Darby.

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Many of the turtles we come across seem to have a very acute awareness of their surroundings making them deceptively hard to photograph. They usually slide off the log and disappear under the water’s surface just as we get ready to click the shutter. But not this time.

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Red Eared Slider

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Painted Turtle

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The group, (Donna)

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Spring nurseries for frogs and other living things surrounded by luminescent green.

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My wife checks out one of a number of spring nurseries.

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Frog heaven.

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At the end of our walk, not a hundred yards from our car, we observed a group of Killdeer (males?)  making quite a fuss.

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A meeting of the Killdeer.

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The discussion was loud and went on for quite awhile.

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One seems to have made his point and wants to move on.

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.   .   .   but then as if tired of the their earth bound or perhaps just to celebrate the day,

.   .   .  they took flight.

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Killdeer in flight, (Donna)

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Revealing a beauty not seen until they were in the air. (Donna).

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.   .   .   as a straggler tries to catch up.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Battelle Darby Early Spring Day

After the better part of five hours and seven miles we were back at our starting point, the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park’s visitor center parking lot. Tired, but so much richer for our effort. Below is a partial record of things seen on this beautiful late April day.

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From a distance the woods were just starting to green with the colors of bare branches still prominent.

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Path near the visitor center

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The hope was to photograph some spring warblers and other spring migrants. While we did see Yellow-rumped and Northern Parula’s and Eastern Towhee’s in the tree tops or thick brush none would pose for us. However the wildflowers more than made up for our lack of success with the birds.

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Peak time for spring wildflowers.

 

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. . . with trees flowering and just starting to leaf out.

 

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Goldenseal, (Donna)

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit, (Donna)

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Buttercup

 

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Wood Poppy

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Another view.

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Large Flowered Trillium

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Another view.

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Another view, (Donna)

 

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Ragwort

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Wild Blue Phlox, (Donna)

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Hepatica, (Donna)

 

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Large-flowered Bellwort

 

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Mayapples carpet the forest floor.

 

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Spring light.

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The wildflowers encircled numerous seasonal pools and wet areas.

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Vernal pool.

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Mallard

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The Mallard’s pond.

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Not far from the visitor center Donna investigated a wetland area.

 

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Leopard Forgs, (Donna)

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A closer look, (Donna)

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We were able to photograph a few birds during the day.

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Blue-gray Gnatcather

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Tufted Titmouse working on lunch.

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Must be good!

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Must you photograph me while I’m eating?

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A male Red-winged Blackbird announces it’s presence.

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. . . as the female waits nearby.

 

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A Red Squirrel watches as we look at trilliums.

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A not real common Red Squirrel watches as we look at wildflowers, (Donna)

 

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When not looking at the wildflowers the Big Darby was there to appreciate.

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An old railroad bridge across the Big Darby.

 

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Early spring on the Big Darby

 

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The Big Darby

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Woods Have a New Song

Actually it’s many songs that all blend together. On resent walks we’ve enjoyed the call of the the Chipping Sparrow. A call not heard just a few weeks ago. Heard but not seen, a Northern Parula’s distant song finds it’s way around the many still leafless trees to our ear. Not to be out done, Chickadees, Cardinals, Titmouse, Nuthatches, and tree top Yellow Throated Warblers are more than happy to add their notes.

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The magic for me is that many of these small birds have travelled so far to enchant us as we walk through our local woods. A wave of beauty, in song and color, that works it’s way north in fits and starts, as food and weather allow.

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(click on the image for a better view)

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The Yellow Throated Warblers love the tops of Sycamore trees.

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Yellow-throated Warbler below Griggs Dam.

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A short pause.

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Then singing again.

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Bluebells continue to bring color to the woods.

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Bluebells along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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One picture just won’t do.

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Perhaps some of the few that have endured another central Ohio winter, one wonder’s what the nearby Great Blue Heron’s think of all this.

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Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Preening

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Time for lunch.

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It isn’t just the wildflowers that bestow a sense of wonder.

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Box Elder below Griggs Dam

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While certainly not one of the most vocal or colorful, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher still charms us with it’s antics.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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. . . take two.

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. . . take three.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Turtles and Trout Lilies

I must confess that on a recent urban hike down to the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir I was so enraptured by the beauty and warmth of the spring day that I had a hard time taking pictures. I just wanted to be not do.

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Fortunately my wife wasn’t as seriously affected and managed to get some lovely shots of Trout Lilies among other things.

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Bird wise, Blue Gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen but were either uncooperative or two far away for a picture that would do them justice. Yellow Throated Warblers were heard signing their hearts out in the top of Sycamores but they weren’t moving making them hard to locate.

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Below are a few of the things seen:

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White Trout Lilies in full bloom, (Donna)

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A close up, (Donna)

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They get their name for their leaves that reminded someone of a Brown trout, (Donna)

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They weren’t everywhere but where they were it was a real celebration, (Donna)

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A Robin poses for my wife

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The Cut-leaf Toothwort was making a good showing.

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Another view showing it’s leaves.

 

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker seems to almost land on my wife’s head, (Donna)

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Looking rather strange, Dryad’s Saddle emerges

 

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Eastern Comma enjoys the spring sun, (Donna)

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Several Flickers were seen.

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It’s a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, honest!

 

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A lone Map Turtle enjoys the warm sun.

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While across the river several have found the perfect log, (Donna)

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A male Goldfinch sums up the day, (Donna).

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Thanks for stopping by.

Vernal Pools and Spring Wildflowers

The woods at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park  are a very good place to take a long walk. This time of the year, if you love spring wildflowers, it’s a great place. Yesterday, with that in mind, we packed water and a lunch and headed out with the goal of seeing trilliums and perhaps a few spring warblers.

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The park’s spring woods contain many shallow pools that usually last a few weeks and are gone. The aesthetics of these vernal pools is primarily what attracts me but the real magic is that, due to their lack of predatory fish, they are home to a variety insects and other small creatures. The most obvious of these being various species of frogs and toads which use the pools for reproduction. Salamanders may also use them to reproduce. Depending on location fairy shrimp may also be part of the mix.

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Some pools are small.

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Others larger.

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When not being fascinated by the vernal pools it was impossible not to be enchanted by the emerging life of the forest floor most dramatically represented by the wildflowers.

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It was the striking appearance of this Toad Shade Trillium’s leaves that attracted our attention. In a few short days they will be uniformly green.

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Dutchman’s Breeches were everywhere.

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A rare pink variant. (Donna)

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Wood Anemone

 

 

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While not quite as common as the Dutchman’s Breaches, we did see a lot of Cutleaf Toothwort. (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort, another look.

 

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This Yellow Violet was one of a few we saw. (Donna)

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Beautiful but unusual Yellow Sedge. (Donna)

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The small flowers of the Yellow Corydalis. (Donna)

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The beauty of Virginia Waterleaf.

 

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Large groups of White Trout Lilies were seen.

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This one was ahead of the others. (Donna)

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Spring Beauties were well represented.

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Some were more pink in color. (Donna)

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Spicebush, (Donna)

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Fragile but beautiful Rue Anemone.

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Rue Anemone, another look.

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Purple Cress

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Spring showcases the beauty and symmetry of young leaves

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Virginia Bluebells that were slightly ahead of the rest.

 

But when your looking for wildflowers you just might see   .   .   .

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Common Water snakes enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.

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While no warblers were seen there were other birds to enjoy.

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Female Eastern Towhee

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The male was close by.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Male Downy Woodpecker. (Donna)

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With the female close by. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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The fact that the warblers and white trilliums eluded us has provided good reason for a return visit. Not that one is needed.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Carnivorous Butterfly But No Warblers

During a recent trip to Georgia cooperative weather allowed us to get the canoe in the water and do some exploring on Lake Sidney Lanier. The lake is huge with  large parts heavily developed due to it’s close proximity to Atlanta. However the area we choose to explore by starting from Don Carter State Park is not as developed and as a result has many interesting coves and inlets to explore.  In the last couple of years the region has been blessed with plenty of rain so the lake level has stayed near summer pool. A few years before that the area was suffering from draught conditions and the lake level was down in excess of 10 feet. Not much fun for paddling.

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The idea was to look for wildflowers and warblers. While we were treated to a bald eagle flying overhead, just out of camera range, we didn’t have much success with flowers or warblers. However, we did see butterflies and a rather rare one at that.

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Entering one of Lake Lanier’s many coves.

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The leaves were just starting to come out.

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What’s going on here?

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Soon another smaller butterfly joins the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Duskywings all looking for some valuable nutrients from some type of bird droppings, perhaps from a Great Blue Heron?

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My wife moves closer for a better look. It’s a rare Harvester Butterfly! In it’s larval stage it feeds on aphids making it the only carnivorous butterfly in North America.

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We turned away from the butterflies for a moment to notice an Eastern Box Turtle cautiously observing the proceedings.

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Eastern Box Turtle

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Not far from Lake Lanier, in the woods behind the family home, we did discover some new to us wildflowers and a few birds were also seen.

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Young leaves

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Purple tipped White Violet, (Donna)

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Creeping Phlox, (new to us)

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Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Star Chickweed, (New to us)

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Lichen and moss

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Turkey tail

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Four Spotted Angle Moth, (Donna)

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Wood Thrush, a bit too far away for a good shot.

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Hermit Thrush, also a bit too far away.   .   .

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Back in Ohio, hoping for better luck, we continue our quest for spring warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Between The Spring Rains

The last few days have brought a lot of, sometimes very hard, rain. We wondered what condition the spring wildflowers would be in as we ventured into the woods along Griggs reservoir and the Scioto river during the few dry spells.

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Below is some of what we found:

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Virginia Waterleaf was just about everywhere.

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The Bluebells are coming along.

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Encouraged by all the rain an Oyster mushroom makes an appearance, (Donna)

 

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An Eastern Coma getting ready for take off, (Donna)

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The Dutchman’s Breeches have really come into their own, (Donna)

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Cutleaf Toothwort, (Donna)

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Bloodroot was found in large groups on the west side of the reservoir.

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Bloodroot

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Twinleaf group with buds, (Donna)

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Twinleaf, (Donna)

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Twinleaf group

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While looking for wildflowers we were fortunate to see Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a White Crowned sparrow but none was willing to pose for a picture.

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A Tufted Titmouse watches from above, (Donna)

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“Red leaf flower”, (Donna)

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Meanwhile in our back yard a Chickadee continues to work on it’s nest.

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Taking a break.

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Donna photographing Mayapples

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Mayapples

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A Coot doesn’t seem quite sure what to do with the muddy water of the reservoir.

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Coot

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With an improving weather forecast for the next few days we are looking forward to venturing further afield in our search for spring warblers and wildflowers.

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But before we leave I thought I’d include a cute pic of a Grackle enjoying a bath.

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Not content with just the rain, a Grackle enjoys taking a little bath, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

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