It Was A Really Big Beaver, Honest!

Early this morning I decided to take a break from warblers and such and go kayak fishing on Griggs Reservoir. During the week with most people at work it’s actually pretty quiet, so along with catching and releasing pan fish and an occasional bass, wildlife are often seen. With this in mind, I usually have a small pocket cam and a pair of binoculars with me.

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I had just started fishing after paddling across the reservoir when I noticed a rather large tree stump that seemed to be eating something. It became obvious real quick, even without the aid of binoculars (it was only about 25 feet away), that it was a very large Beaver.  Given it’s size, this one must have been a very mature specimen as Beaver continue to grow throughout their lives. It was a great photographic opportunity that wasn’t, as my pocket cam with it’s handy 20x zoom was resting safety on my desk at home right beside my binoculars.  The only excuse is that an early morning fog had apparently shrouded my brain. Not long after that, again along the shore, a Mink momentarily stopped it’s constant and often erratic movement to gaze curiously as I fished. Again, no camera, no pictures.

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It was a good outing, a little over five miles of paddling, Wood Ducks, Baltimore Orioles, Double-crested Cormorants, Great-crested Flycatchers, etc.,  and a reasonable selection of fish caught. But I promise to take the Beaver and Mink more seriously during future outings in the hope that an upcoming post may contain a few photos. For now, I humbly offer the below, taken during a recent walk along the reservoir.

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Lot’s of green.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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One of the most beautiful of our late spring wildflowers.

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Blue Flag Iris

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Multiflora Rose is making an appearance along the river.

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Often grouped together a Multiflora Rose is singled out.

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Other flower’s also delight.

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Goats Beard, (Donna)

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Deptford Pink, (Donna)

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A particularly attractive grouping of Daisy Flaebane

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My wife notices some small skippers.

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Male Zabulan, (Donna)

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Dun Skipper, (Donna)

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A White breasted Nuthatch shows off some pretty nice accommodations.

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White Breasted Nuthatch along Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

An Unexpected Duck

A few days ago we found ourselves paddling the Twin Lakes area of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking for warblers. It was a good outing with Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers seen along with Tree and Bank Swallows, Great-crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, a Bald Eagle, etc.

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However, the Northern Shoveler pictured below was a bit of a surprise. Shouldn’t it be a little further north by now? Later, after we were off the water, additional investigation revealed the Northern Shoveler migration can cover a larger time period when compared to other waterfowl. So, maybe the sighting shouldn’t be a big surprise.

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Male Northern Shoveler, Twin Lakes

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Take 2, Twin Lakes

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Adding to the excitement, Bank and Tree Swallows were nice enough to pose for their portrait.

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Barn Swallow, Twin Lakes

 

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Tree Swallow, Twin Lakes

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Of course no late spring outing is complete, be it the Twin Lakes Area, Griggs Reservoir, or the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, without acknowledging some of the other participants.

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Great Blue Heron with lunch, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Fox Squirrel relaxing on a branch overhanging the water, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Canada Geese babies. Griggs Reservoir

 

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Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir

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Yellow Throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water snake, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Let’s not forget some of the flowers seen.

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Dames Rocket, Griggs Reservoir

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Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

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Yellow Flag Iris, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Chives, Griggs Reservoir

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Haven’t had a mystery photo for quite a while so any idea what the object in the below photograph is?

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What is it?, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

What We Saw After We Didn’t See The Kirtlands Warbler

The report was that a Kirtlands Warbler had been seen at Highbanks Metro Park. There were even pictures on the Central Ohio Birders Facebook page.  We don’t usually chase birds but this one wasn’t far from home. Besides, if we weren’t successful in finding it, High Banks, with it’s many nice trails, would be a great place for a hike.

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Stream, High Banks Metro Park

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Well, as the title of this post indicates, we didn’t see the Kirtlands Warbler, but not wanting to waste a good day, we set off to see what else we could find.

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It was a great day to be in the woods. New green was everywhere. It was quiet except for birds calling, now harder to see with leaves almost fully out. The earth dampened by a recent rain, as well as the flowering plants, released the scent of spring.

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Not far down the trail:

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Berries will soon be on their way.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Sassafras Leaves

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Jelly Ear Fungus

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Common Split Gill that has aged a bit. (Based on input from a mushroom expert.)

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Witches’ Butter

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Sensitive Fern

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As the air started to warm more insects were about:

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Tiger Beetle and female Common Whitetail

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A closer look at the Tiger Beetle

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Golden-backed Snipe Fly

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Duskywing

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Male Zabulon Skipper

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Female Zabulon Skipper

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Silver Spotted Skipper

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Pearl Crescent

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While not the Kirtlands Warbler, we did see a few birds.

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Summer Tanager in a treetop. Too far away for a good pic.

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A Cape May Warbler (F) checks us out.

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Female Bluebird.

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Indigo Bunting

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By hikes end, the day had given so much we’d pretty much forgotten about the warbler.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Spring Wonder at Griggs Reservoir

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It seems that nature is in it’s most generous mood. “New” arrives everyday whether it’s in the form of a bird, flower, or other creature. Places that may seem ordinary later in the year are magically transformed by this new life. Even for those of us that spend large amounts of time walking in the woods or paddling along rivers, this time each year is no less fascinating.  This is certainly the case for a special place to us, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River just below the dam, which is not far from our home. For those of you that follow this blog you know we write about this place often. Residents of central Ohio probably know where it is, for all others, it’s located right within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. For us, this fact greatly contributes to the magic.

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In an attempt to document this magic, the photos below are a record of some things seen  over the last two weeks.

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 Common Red-breasted Mergansers along the Scioto River.

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Can’t help but think these Red-breasted Mergansers (corrected per reader comment) should be further north by now, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are gone but others have taken their place.

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Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf along the Scioto, (Donna)

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Wild Stonecrop along the reservoir, (Donna)

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Golden Alexander along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and one of the more unique late spring wildflowers has appeared on the low cliffs along the reservoir.

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Wild Columbine along the reservoir

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Wild Columbine typically grows on vertical rock faces.

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A good selection of reptiles have also been observed.

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Red Eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water Snake, Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell, Griggs Reservoir

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On one of our paddles, two deer look on as we glide by.

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Whitetail Deer along the shore, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Then there are the birds.

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Tree Swallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Prothonotary below the dam, (Donna)

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Prothonotary, below the dam.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continue to be a common sighting below the dam.

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Singing Baltimore Oriole (male) along the Scioto River below the dam, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, below the dam.

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Here till the fall Cedar Waxwings have finally made an appearance, Griggs Park.

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Cedar Waxwing

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There are mothers and fathers with babies.

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Canada Geese share the parenting responsibilities, Griggs Reservoir

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 But among the birds, the real treat is the return of mating pairs of Wood Ducks.

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Wood Ducks on the Scioto River below the dam.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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The female Wood Duck has to have good parenting skills because she’s on her own, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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Not to long after mating the Male Wood Duck will be hard to find, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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.   .   .   and it’s all happening so close to our home! What’s happening close to yours?

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One of the coves popular with Wood Ducks on Griggs Reservoir. The rock faces in the background are a typical location for Wild Columbine.

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Hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by.

Super Zooms Visit Magee Marsh

Last Wednesday May 13th we found ourselves at Magee March celebrating spring migration with some of our closest feathered friends. This post is about birds seen that we were able to photograph with relatively inexpensive super zoom cameras. We thought it would be fun to leave the “bird cameras” at home and see how we would fair trying to get a few shots using the popular constant aperture super zoom from Panasonic. Since we can never anticipate what the bird is going to do, and to increase our chances of getting a usable image, we always shoot in burst mode. So we hope you enjoy our little adventure. Some shots are okay, some good, and some even better.

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All things being equal, for very erratic fast moving subjects, a small, light, maneuverable camera wins the day. All things are not equal. In lower light or difficult lighting conditions, a good DSLR will focus faster and more accurately. Also, due to it’s larger sensor will generally produce better images if paired with a good lens. However, to reiterate a statement we’ve all heard, the best camera is the one you have with you.

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One can write an epistle about camera equipment for birding but some questions the selection process should address are:

– What do I intend to use the resultant photos for? The tradeoffs involved in getting the highest quality image with the most creative control may not be worth it. Sometimes good is good enough.

– Am I a birder that would like to get a few “memory shots” and not too concerned about whether or not I get an image of every bird?

– Am I a photographer that loves the challenge of getting the best images of the most birds possible on any given day?

– How much equipment do I feel like carrying?

– How much do I feel comfortable spending?

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To give you an idea of how much cropping and post processing was done, “as shot” and “final” images have been included to highlight some of the more challenging situations. To keep it simple all images were shot as jpeg’s.

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To the pictures:

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Bay Breasted

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Bay Breasted, (cropped)

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Bay Breasted, (cropped)

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Bay Breasted female, (cropped), (Donna)

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Cape May, (cropped)

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Cape May

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Cape May (cropped)

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Northern Parula, (cropped)

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Take two, (cropped), (Donna)

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Blackburnian

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Blackburnian (cropped)

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Blackburnian, (the best of the day just slightly cropped), (Donna)

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Palm

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Palm, (cropped)

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Yellow, (cropped)

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Blackpoll Warbler original file 1

Blackpoll, (Donna)

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Blackpole, (cropped)

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Kingbird

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Kingbird, (cropped)

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House Wren, (cropped)

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Tennessee, (corrected per reader input), (cropped), (Donna)

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Tennessee, (corrected per reader input), (cropped)

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Great Egret, (cropped)

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Baltimore Oriole, (very low light, cropped)

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Red Wing Blackbird

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Thanks for stopping by.

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A Caterpillar Has a Bad Day

Often I’m so caught up the beauty of nature and that I lose touch with it’s other “darker” side. It’s easy to forget that it’s “a jungle out there”. When in such an elevated state it’s usually not long before I see something that brings me back to reality and the awareness of just how tough nature can be. It’s about trying to eat and keep from being eaten. In the sequence below it’s obvious that whatever defenses the caterpillar had they weren’t effective. It’s hard not to feel sorry of the caterpillar and lower our opinion of the nuthatch. We humans tend to do that. Trying to feel better, I find myself thinking about the consequences of an unchecked caterpillar population, but of course I’m left with the realization that unchecked population growth in any group is bad for the system as a whole.

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Nuthatch with caterpillar, 1

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2

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4

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5

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Then, as it often does, being out in nature brings me back from darker thoughts with a message of hope, and gives reason to smile.

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Baby Mallards, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

Birding By Canoe, A Perfect Day, Thursday, May 7th

We were on the reservoir early, just as the sun was starting to filter through the trees. There was no wind. Resting your paddle for a quick look around, the canoe, with small ripples, continues moving quietly, just as you left it. A perfect day to see birds as we glided along the wooded shore.

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Morning, Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Our route on Alum Creek Reservoir looked something like this:

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Alum Creek Reservior

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It wasn’t long before we were hearing birds. In fact we were hearing a lot more than we were seeing. But as is often the case when canoeing on the beautiful morning, it’s tough to complain.

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But as we continued to look we managed to catch a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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Great Crested Flycatcher, (Donna)

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A little further, we pulled out to look for wildflowers.

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Sometimes getting out of the canoe to explore the shoreline presents a bit of a tripping hazard.

 

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Bluets, (Donna)

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Solomon Seal, (Donna)

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Young ferns

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Not long after, back in the canoe, we spot a sandpiper.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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Normally so common as to be a nuisance, it was hard not to admire the parenting skills of Canada Geese.

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Canada Geese, Alum Creek

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Safely ashore.

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In the middle of the lake a male Wood Duck let’s us get close enough for a photo.

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Wood Duck, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

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But one picture was enough.

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We finally reach the Osprey nesting area and noticed a least two pair were now nesting in trees along the shore rather than on the nesting platforms situated in the lake. Pretty exciting!

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Osprey perched near it’s nest, (Donna)

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Osprey nest, (Donna).

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Osprey in flight, (Donna)

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Several different types of swallows were seen. These two posed.

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

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Tree Swallow, (Donna)

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We paddled up the creek and looked for a spot to pull out for lunch. The river flowed quietly, dragonflies cruised by but didn’t land, and a House Wren announced it’s presence, as we ate.

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Lunch spot, Alum Creek.

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After lunch my wife went exploring for insects

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Tiger Beetle, (Donna)

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The very tiny White-striped Black Moth, not one we’ve seen or noticed before, (Donna)

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Others were also enjoying the river.

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Fishing on Alum Creek

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As we headed back to our launch site the warm sun had started to draw turtles out of the water.

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell

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Being a rather large reservoir with many inlets, there’s always another one to explore.

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Cove, Alum Creek Reservoir

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We arrived back at our starting point with tired bodies but rested spirits.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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