You Never Know What You’ll Find

The July morning on Alum Creek Reservoir was warm, misty, and still when we started our paddle. In such conditions the canoe moves effortlessly across the lake’s smooth surface. The only sounds were those of our paddles as they rhythmically entered the water, the faint chatter of a few birds along the mostly oak and hickory shoreline, and the occasional thunder from a distant storm. Was the storm coming our way? We took a chance and continued on.  As the day progressed under a soft hazy sky, the wind stayed away, and the spotty thunderstorms, always lurking in the distance, never did find us.

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The luxury of such a day is that the trip out from the launch site as well as the return are equally easy. The absence of a stiff headwind and it’s accompanying waves encouraged us to explore more of the lake than we might have otherwise.

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Our typical route when we paddle the north end of the reservoir.

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Alum Creek Reservoir

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Green Herons were everywhere.

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Immature Green Heron

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Mature Green Heron

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Ready to pounce.

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Showing it’s crest.

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The Kingfishers were practicing their avoidance behavior. Never allowing us close enough for a really good shot as we moved along the shoreline.

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Female Kingfisher

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Another look.

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80% of our shots.

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It was hard to miss the ever present Double-crested Cormorants.

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Cormorant shapes.

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Even a sandpiper stopping long enough for a photo.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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It was good to see the Osprey family doing well. One of several at the north end of the lake.

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Osprey family.

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A water snake struck a nice pose as we paddled up Alum Creek past the small town of Kilbourne.

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Common Water Snake

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But wouldn’t you just know it, on the way back, an owl was waiting “just for us” in one the last coves we decided to explore.

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Barred Owl in a cove on a tree overhanging the water.

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Thinking I might want to get out of here.

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Out of here.

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To a more secluded spot.

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Not something we often see from the canoe and a real thrill.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Festival of Fungi at Clear Creek Metro Park

With the amount of rain we’ve had recently it seemed like a great time to visit Clear Creek Metro Park to see what fungi might be making an appearance. The park is unique, located about fifty miles southeast of Columbus in an area where the last glaciers stopped their southward advance. It’s 5,300 acres of woods, sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks are home to hemlocks, oaks, and hickory. As we left Columbus we were hoping to discover some things not seen closer to home.

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It was still early when we arrived and everything was wet from a recent rain. The air was cool but the humidity was very high. Given these conditions, we were drenched in perspiration for most of our five mile hike, with glasses and viewfinders fogging up every time we attempted to take a photograph. On this particular day, it was the price of admission.

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Interestingly, the first thing seen was lichen growing on the roof  of a visitor information board not far from where we parked.

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British Soldier Lichen, red fruiting bodies are less than 1/8 inch across. It was the first we had seen in Ohio.

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Leaving the lichen, we began a rather steep assent into the woods and immediately started seeing fungi. This continued throughout our hike of the Creekside Meadows, Fern, and Cemetery Ridge trails. Seeing so many unfamiliar fungi, the challenge soon became one of trying to figure out we were looking at.

mush P1040479

Violet-gray Bolete

mush Two-colored Bolete maybe 3 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Another example, (Donna).

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More fully developed.

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Turkey Tail on a fallen log.

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Crowded Parchment

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Small purple Bolete. Colors appear to vary among the same species.

 

mush P1040451

Jellied False Coral

mush P1040445

Red-belted Polypore

 

mush P1040442

Unidentified

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Spores being released from a mushroom.

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Berkeley’s Polypore. One area of the woods was dotted with these. This one was about 6 inches across.

mush P1040422

Very large Lepiota mushroom (@12 inches tall)

mush P1040425

Another view.

mush Orange Coral 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Coral Mushroom

mush Chanterelle P1040514

Chanterelles

mush Chanterelle P1040522

Donna moving in for a close shot.

mush Chanterelle 2 trio 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Chanterelles, (Donna)

mush Burnt-orange Bolete 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Burnt-orange Bolete, (Donna)

Mushroom white tan  Clear Creek   cp1

Panther Mushroom, (Donna)

mush Tall Tan Toadstool Clear Creek cp1

Unidentified Amanita, (Donna)

mush Pink Polypore 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek csb1

Pink Polypore, (Donna)

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Unidentified Mushroom

mush P1040662

Unidentified Mushrooms

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Tufted Collybia

mush P1040481

Another view.

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Apricot Jelly

mush P1040530

False Coral

mush P1040520

Rosy Russula Mushroom

mush P1040517

Powder-cap Amanita Mushroom

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As if all the fungi were not enough, wildflowers were also making their presence known.

flwr Spiderwort  Clear Creek   cp14

Spiderwort, (Donna)

flwr P1040667

Starry Campion

Indian Pipe 1 best 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Indian Pipe, (Donna)

flwr P1040545

Woodland Sunflower

flwr P1040460

Downey Rattlesnake-plantain

flwr P1040461

Downey Rattlesnake-plantain leaves.

flwr P1040413

Oswego Tea

flwr P1040414

A little further away.

flwr Downey Skullcap 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Downey Skullcap, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and while not flowers, pretty nonetheless.

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A confused leaf!

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Ferns were everywhere.

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Given that flowers and many other plants were in abundance, butterflies and moths were easy to spot.

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Pipevine Swallowtail

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Another view.

butt Great Spangled Fritillary 072115 Clear   Creek cp1

Great Spangled Fritillaries, (Donna)

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Great Spangled Fritillary

butt Great P1040648

Great Spangled Fritillary

Hummingbird Moth P1040714

Hummingbird Moth Blur

Hummingbird Moth 1 LL 1 072115 Clear Creek cp1

Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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While not our main objective, we did hear a lot of birds and even managed to see a few.

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Hooded Warbler

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Titmouse

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Eastern Wood-pewee

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Another view.

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A Wood Thrush? refuses to cooperate.

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At the end of our hike, we were in awe of the things seen. Many were first’s for us in Ohio. It had been a magical day.

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Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Dazzled By Dragonflies at Prairie Oaks

So far it’s been one of the wettest summers in recent memory but finally a day with morning sunshine and no threat of rain until things warmed up in the afternoon. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, off we went to Prairie Oaks Metro Park, one of our favorite places to look for dragonflies, damselflies as well as butterflies and moths in central Ohio.

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We were not disappointed. For a day’s outing, this one probably holds the record for the number of species seen and photographed. Some of the cruisers alluded us but anything that would perch, even if only for a second, was fair game.

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However, not long after arriving we saw this guy and depending on your point of view, it may or may not have been the encouragement needed as we started our quest.

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Red-winged Blackbird, Beaver Lake Area

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Are you really going to eat all that?

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But not long after, our faith in the balance of nature returned as continuing to explore we checked out the Darby Bend Lakes area.

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Ebony Jewelwing, female

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Blue-fronted Dancer, female

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Blue-ringed Dancer, male

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Blue-fronted Dancer, male

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Teneral (just metamorphosed), damselfly.

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Teneral (just metamorphosed), damselfly.

 

Common Whitetail 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Common Whitetail, (Donna)

Calico Pennant 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Calico Pennant, (Donna)

Blue Dasher female 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Blue Dasher, female, (Donna)

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Eastern Amberwing

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Great Blue Skimmer, male

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Widow Skimmer, male

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Ruby Meadowhawk, male

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Halloween Pennant, female

Halloween Pennant 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Halloween Pennant, male, note red spots near leading edge of wing tips, (Donna).

Wider Skimmer female 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Widow Skimmer, female, (Donna)

Eastern Pondhawk male 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks   cp1004

Eastern Pondhawk, male, (Donna)

Eastern Pondhawk female 3 best ever 1 071915 Prairie Oaks   cp1

Eastern Pondhawk, female, (Donna)

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.   .   .  and there were wildflowers.

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Phlox

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Catnip

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Blazing Star

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Teasel

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Different strokes . . .

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White Phlox

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Jewelweed

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A few butterflies were also seen.

skipper P1040312

Sliver Spotted Skipper

skipper P1040222

Another view.

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Red-spotted Purple

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.   .   .   and even a spider.

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Fishing Spider

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Each time we go out there always seems to be something new to see.

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Beaver lodge, Darby Bend Lakes.

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While hardly an original thought, it’s worth being mindful that every day can be an adventure if we choose to make it so.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

A Little North of Ohio, Part 3 of 3, Hiking in Algonquin

As mentioned in an earlier post, our time in Algonquin Provincial Park was split pretty much evenly between paddling and hiking. The trails we hiked, Beaver Pond, Mizzy Lake, Lookout, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and Bat Lake  were all a short drive on Hwy 60 from our campsite at Pog Lake along the park’s southern edge.

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Most of the trails go through very biologically diverse areas with fascinating flowers, fungi and forest floor creatures. While the trails are not especially difficult, good hiking shoes, lightweight slacks and a long sleeve shirt, and insect repellent, especially in the early summer, will make the experience a lot more enjoyable. To fully appreciate these places it’s a good idea to allow enough time so you can really look around otherwise you’ll be missing most of what’s going on.

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Below is a record of some of the things we saw:

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On you way to hike there’s always the chance you may have to rescue something.

Rescuing a Snapper

Hwy 60 Snapper

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The trails were varied with the woods often opening up into some beautiful views.

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Mizzy Lake trail.

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Wetland, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Different types of fungi were everywhere.

mushroom family 1 062315 Mizzy Lake Trail cp1 csb1

Mushroom Family, (Donna)

Ling Chih P1030301

Unidentified Fungus

Finger Fungi P1030625

Finger Fungus

Cup Fungi P1030527

Cup Fungi

Butterscotch Mushroom family 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Butterscotch Mushrooms, (Donna)

Red Mushroom 062115 Algonquin

Red Mushroom, (Donna)

yellow-orange fly agaric 062115 Algonquin   csb1

Yellow-orange Fly Agaric, (Donna)

Yellow tongue fungus 062315 Lake Mizzy Trail cp1

Swamp Beacons fungus, (Donna)

witches butter 062315 Algonquin cp1

Witches Butter, (Donna)

Sphagnum-bog Galerina 062315

Sphagnum-bog Galerina, (Donna)

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Ling Chih Fungus

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Slug on Comb Tooth Fungus

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Pinwheel Marasmius  Mushroom

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Unidentified shelf Fungus

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.   .   .  and lichen too!

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Lung Lichen

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Common Button Lichen

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Unidentified Lichen

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Pixie Cup Lichen

British Soldier Lichen 1 062315 Mizzy Lake Trail cp1

British Soldier Lichen, (Donna)

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By late June many of the orchids have already come and gone. However, we were fortunate to see a few.

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Lady slipper along the trail, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Lady Slipper, showing leaves.

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A nice group.

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There were other flowers and plants to fascinate.

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Blue Flag Iris

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Lilly Pads

Corn Lily P1030476

Corn Lily

Coralroot 062115 Alqonquin cp1

Coralroot, (Donna)

Common Wood-Sorrel 2 better 1 062015 Algonqun hike   cp1

Common Wood-Sorrel, (Donna)

Yellow Parasitic plants 1 062015 Algonquin csb1

Yellow Parasitic plants, (Donna)

Twinflower 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Twinflower, (Donna)

Spiral Ferns 1 062015 Algonquin hike csb1

Spiral Ferns, (Donna)

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Moss fruiting bodies

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?

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Leaves

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Pale Laurel Fowers like very wet araes.

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Bunch Berries

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Hawkweed

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Pale Corydalis

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It doesn’t seem like you can go anywhere in Algonquin without seeing Sundew.

sun P1030617

Sundew

sun dews 2 better 1 062415 Costello Creek cp1

A closer look, (Donna)

sun P1030419use

Closer yet.

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We had high expectations of seeing and photographing warblers. Birds were heard, especially Winter Wrens, but because of the leaf cover few were seen (we did manage to see Magnolias, Northern Parulas, and Yellow-rumps)  but few were photographed.

Red-eyed Vireo 062415 Algonquin Pog Lake campground    cp1

Red-eyed Vireo, (Donna)

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Along the trail we were never far from the “handiwork” of beavers.

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Beaver dam, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver dam, Beaver Pond Trail.

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.   .   .   and the beavers themselves.

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Beaver family, Mizzy Lake Trail.

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Moose are also fairly easy to spot in late June.

Moose P1040783

Bull Moose along Hwy 60, (Ben)

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We were always on the lookout for dragonflies, moths and butterflies. Sometimes they cooperated.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 2 on flower 1 062115 Algonquin   cp1

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

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Catching sunlight in a pine, a White Admiral catches our eye.

Common Wood-Nymph 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna)

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Snail on the forest floor.

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With flowing water everywhere .   .   .

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Reflections, Bat Lake Trail

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Flowing towards a larger stream

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Water, moss, leaves, rocks

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The trails could be wet.

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Mizzy Lake Trail

Ben at Bat Lake boardwalk 1 062115 Algonquin cp1

Bat Lake Trail Boardwalk, (Donna)

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The toads and frogs didn’t seem to mind.

Toad Emily

American Toad, (Emily)

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Wood Frog

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Green Frog

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Waiting for lunch.

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If no flower, insect reptile amphibian or other creature caught our attention there was always the scenery.

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Pond, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver Pond

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Hiking around Pog Lake

Bob on top of Lookout trail 062115 Algonquin csb1

Lookout Trail overlook, (Donna)

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Stream, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Fallen tree,

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Campsite, Pog lake

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Wetland, Spruce Bog Boardwalk

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Beaver lodge, Beaver Pond Trail

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Pog Lake

 

 

Small Wonders, Summer in Central Ohio

Most of the pictures in this post are a result of my wife’s skill, tenacity, patience, and love of the small creatures that grace nature in central Ohio and so often go unnoticed. It wasn’t that long ago that I thought of insects as second class citizens. Wouldn’t you rather look at or take a picture of a warbler? Okay, many insects are essential to natures food chain, many are important for pollination, surprisingly few actually “Bug” us, but some are also amazing to watch.

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We hope you enjoy the following pictures and that you’ll also be excited to take a closer look. But be forewarned that unlike a beautiful sunset, a mountain landscape, or the spontaneous smile of a small child, these marvels must be pursued with intention to fully appreciate their wonder.

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Right in our backyard:

Black Swallowtail 2 closer 1 071115 Backyard cp1

Black Swallowtail, (Donna)

Black Swallowtail 8 full out 3 on cucumber leaves 1 071115   backyard cp1

Another view, (Donna)

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Not far from our backyard along Griggs Reservoir.

Purple Conflowers Collage 2 071215 Griggs nature walk   cp1

Coneflowers, (Donna)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blue Vervain

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A very small butterfly.

Least skipper 1 070715 Griggs paddle cp1

Least skipper, (Donna)

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A moth, really? Judging from the number of pictures taken just to get a few good ones, it’s safe to say we got pretty excited. Not an uncommon moth but not often seen.

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A Hummingbird Moth heads for a snack.

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Lunch time!

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This is actually pretty good!

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There must be more of that stuff here somewhere.

Hummingbird Moth 6 side view 4 Best 1 071215 backyard   cp1

Okay, I’ll pose and let you take my picture, Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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Black-eyed Susan’s in Griggs Park.

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Black-eyed Susan’s

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Near waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

Ebony Jwelwing female 3  head on 1 070715 Griggs paddle   cp1

Ebony Jewelwing female, (Donna)

Ebony Jewelwing female 2 close-up 1 070715 Griggs paddle   cp1

Ebony Jewelwing female, (Donna)

e Powdered Dancer 1 070715 Griggs paddle cp1

Powdered Dancer, (Donna)

Stream Bluet 2 closer 1 070715 Griggs paddle cp1

Stream Bluet, (Donna)

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Cup Plants.

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Cup Plants along Griggs Reservoir.

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A wasp and a fly.

Wasp on milkweed 1 071215 Griggs nature cp1

Wasp, (Donna)

Thick-Headed Fly 071115 Backyard flowers cp1

Thick-Headed Fly, (Donna)

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Another moth, is it really?

Virginia Ctenucha 3 head on 2 best 1 071115 Backyard   flowers cp1

Virginia Ctenucha, (Donna)

Virginia Ctenucha 2 071115 Backyard flowers yellow   cp1

Virginia Ctenucha, (Donna)

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Other butterflies seen.

Summer Azure on white flowers 1 LL best 1 071115 backyard   flowers cp1

Summer Azure, a small butterfly, (Donna)

Silver Spotted Skipper 4 LR on pokeweed 2 best 1 071215   Griggs nature walk cp1

Silver Spotted Skipper, not uncommon, (Donna)

Silver Spotted Skipper 3 LR on pokeweed flower 1 071215   Griggs nature walk cp1

Silver Spotted Skipper , showing it’s silver spots, (Donna)

Red Admiral 4 LL 3 best 2 071115 backyard flowers cp1

Red Admiral, (Donna)

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Last and in this case least, a very small moth.

Pyrausta orphisalis – Orange Mint Moth 071115 backyard   flowers cp1

Pyrausta orphisalis – Orange Mint Moth, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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A Little North of Ohio, Part 2 of 3, Paddling in Algonquin

During a recent visit to Algonquin Provincial Park our time was spent equally between paddling and hiking. While the hiking is fantastic, the real reason one goes to the park is to paddle. If you love canoeing, and Algonquin is within reach, by all means put it on your list. With a land area greater than the state of Rhode Island, and countless lakes big and small, you could spent a lifetime exploring and getting to know this park by canoe.

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Should you be curious about what it’s like, below are a few photos of a very small slice of the park. Hopefully the shots will go a little way towards satisfying your curiosity and perhaps wetting your appetite.

Emily 2

Narrows between Pog Lake and Whitefish Lake, (Emily)

A Emily 1

Rock Lake, (Emily)

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Sometimes it’s like paddling through a flower bed.

yellow pond lily 062415 Costello Creek csb1

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna)

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Water Lily

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Another view of a Yellow Pond Lilly

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Taking a break during a portage.

Ben and Emily and Bob relaxing on the river beach 1 062015   Algonquin csb1

Relaxing below the dam along the river that connects Pog with Whitefish Lake, (Donna).

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Couldn’t help but wondering what fish were in the lake so I got out my pole. All were released after my curiosity was satisfied.

Bob with Rock Bass 2  fixed

Rock Bass, Pog Lake, (Donna)

P1030556 no toes

Smallmouth, Pog Lake

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In the shallows at waters edge there were some unusual plants to be seen, Sundew and Pitcher Plants.

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Sundew, death to any small insect that gets too close.

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Picture Plant Flower, (front view)

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Picture Plant Flower, (rear view)

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Picture Plant leaves are located about a foot below the flower, death to any insect that falls in.

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We can’t forget the birds. Warblers and such were not very cooperative, at least while we were in the canoes.

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A Great Blue Heron along the shore one of only a few seen. Not as common as they are around Columbus.

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A Heron Gull enjoying lunch. The fish not so much.

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Do you mind, I’m trying to eat!

Loon 1 close-up of head good 1 061915 Algonquin pog lake   csb1

A Loon surfaces next to the canoe, (Donna)

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Loon on nest, we were careful not to get too close. This shot was taken from about 75 yards.

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A second look.

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A female Black Duck with the kids.

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and as we paddled on   .   .   .

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Costello Creek

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Rock Lake

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other living things were seen.

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Painted Turtle

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Our last paddle was on a day when one feel’s as though they could paddle forever.

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Costello Creek

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Thanks for stopping by.

Revisiting The Falls Of Griggs Reservoir

We thought before we did another post on Algonquin Provincial Park, we’d take a look around our neighborhood since returning from the north country, and see what’s going on.

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While we were gone and since our return there’s been a lot of rain in central Ohio. This has left the reservoirs high and muddy, conditions hardly conducive to canoeing. For a few days we contented ourselves exploring on “dry” land. Finally yesterday, deciding that a paddle was in order, off we went to explore Griggs Reservoir. My wife was thinking that the waterfalls might have benefited from all the rain, and since we last looked at them a couple of years ago, they might be worth checking out. I was a bit skeptical as conditions have to be just right for the waterfalls to show well.

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Water overflowing Griggs Reservoir Dam inundating the trees below.

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With rain then sun, early morning walks reveal a special beauty.

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Sunlight filters through the trees.

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As the flowers and insects celebrate.

Field Goat's Beard 2 070115 Griggs s. cp1

Goats Beard, (Donna)

Blue Fronted Dancer 1 on leaf 1 070115 Griggs south   cp1

Stream Bluet, (Donna)

Red Admiral 4 best 1 070115 Griggs south cp1

Red Admiral, (Donna)

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Ailanthus Webworm Moth with fliy

P1030784

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly

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Coneflower

P1030716

Milkweed

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Pearl Cresent

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The birds, not to be left out, were taking advantage of the insect bounty and whatever else was offered by the rains.

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Eastern Phoebe

Baby Birds 4 best 1 070215 Griggs paddle cp1

Babies, (Donna)

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A Kingbird waits for it’s next meal.

P1030850 (2)

A mother mallard with family cruise for edible tidbits washed into the reservoir.

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The primary purpose of our paddle was to see the waterfalls. We weren’t disappointed.

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As close as our canoe could get to the first falls.

Bob posing by waterfall 2 070215 Griggs paddle cp1

Yours truly exploring the second falls, (Donna)

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The second falls.

P1030825 (2)

The falls at Hayden Run, the largest along the reservoir.

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Our next post will return the Algonquin. Thanks for stopping by.

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Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright