“Black Lagoon” Crayfish and Things Eating Things

Well not exactly the Black Lagoon (recalling a movie from childhood), but while I was in Michigan fishing my wife continued to explore the areas around our home in central Ohio. One morning between heavy rain storms she observed some rather interesting behavior by the local crayfish population in Griggs Reservoir as they gathered along the shore and then partially crawled out of the water. We spent some time researching crayfish (did you know there are 20 species in Ohio?), trying to understand this behavior but to no avail. Our only guess is it had something to do with the recent heavy rains.


The Griggs Reservoir crayfish seemed to be waiting in line to peer above the water’s service, (Donna).


One rather large specimen takes his time looking around, (Donna).


It became a group activity.


Upon my return we spent time paddling Griggs Reservoir as well as exploring Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for late summer dragonflies and butterflies. At Prairie Oaks we arrived about 20 seconds to late, according to our hiking companions, to witness a garden spider making quick work of a dragonfly that it had captured in it’s web. That spider was fast!


Unfortunate dragonfly, Prairie Oaks


Black and Yellow Garden Spider.


.   .   .  and continuing with the same theme, just a few days earlier my wife caught this robber fly enjoying lunch at the expense of a careless bee.


Robber Fly, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Also courtesy of my wife sharp eye, one last series of photos dealing with things eating other things.


Double-crested Cormorant attempts to eat a Crappie on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).


Ultimately, the Crappie being just a little too big to swallow, swam away, (Donna).


We don’t usually consider ourselves a food source so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that if a creature is not in the process of being eaten, it is usually searching for or waiting to ambush it’s next meal, or if successful, eating it. Spending time in nature guarantees one will witness such things from time to time. In the last few days not everything seen has been in the process of eating or engaged in some unusual hard to explain behavior. Some things were just posing for the camera.


There were butterflies, some of which like the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue are very small.


Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park.


Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Viceroys, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.



Summer Azure, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).


Juvenal’s Duskywing (F), Griggs Reservoir.




Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna).


Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Griggs Reservoir.


Common Whitetail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.


Eastern Pondhawk (F), Prairie Oaks Metro Park.


Calico Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).


Powdered Dancer (Blue form), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).


Ebony Jewelwing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).


Eastern Pondhawk, Griggs Reservoir


Moths, they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes.


Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).


Chickweed Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).


and other things.


Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).



Common Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Bumblebee on False Dragonhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir.


Arrowroot, north end of Griggs Reservoir.


Map Turtle with friend, Griggs reservoir, (Donna).


Loaded with pollen, Griggs Park, (Donna).



Solitary Sand Wasp, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Oh yes, we have been seeing birds and a few posed for a picture.


Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).


Hairy Woodpeckers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.


Mallards creating reflection art, Griggs Reservoir.


Once again we find ourselves amazed at what is seen right under our nose in central Ohio. Should you be curious about such things, but not inclined to try your hand at photography, get a pair of binoculars, preferably a pair with close focus capability, and a new world will be opened to you! Thanks for stopping by.


North end of Griggs Reservoir from the canoe, (Donna).



Devoe Lake’s Summer Gift

Every summer for the last number of years in the company of friends I’ve made a fishing pilgrimage to the Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. On this year’s trip, like most recently, many  fish were caught and released. Only six hours north of our home in central Ohio, it’s a special place where nesting Loons can be seen. While paddling it’s not uncommon to have one surface nearby or to see other wildlife not far away. The Loons are unique in their nesting requirements and are certainly there because no motors are allowed on any of the lakes in the park. If you want to fish, or just explore, it must be under your own power.


Loons, Devoe Lake


Areas of the country that are privileged to have four seasons, unfold like a flower in spring and summer only to experience a fiery death during the shorter, colder, red, and yellow days of fall. Devoe Lake is such a place, where the beauty of spring and summer is not ours for long, where for a brief time under blue skys and puffy white clouds one witnesses the sights and sounds of birds, insects, and wildflowers as life is celebrated. A place where a quiet observer may see a Loon attentively feeding her young as dragonflies, or even a Bald Eagle, fly overhead and where a Kingbird and Green Heron may be seen perched in a tree at waters edge while somewhere further down the lake the raucous call of a Kingfisher is heard.


The strikingly beautiful flower of the Grass-of-Parnassus common along the shore of Devoe Lake


Early morning, Devoe Lake.


A typical catch on Devoe Lake. Many fish show evidence of having been previously caught.


Prized for their good taste and seeming abundance a successful Devoe Lake fisherman shows of his catch of 35 Bluegill. In recent years with the rise in popularity of kayak fishing and more sophisticated boats, often equipped with fish finders and GPS, such catches are a lot easier and undoubtedly more common on Devoe. On a lake that’s less than a mile long and one half mile wide one can’t help wondering if such good times will last.


A Red Spotted Purple visits our campsite, Devoe Lake rustic campground.



Reflecting the rays of the low sun against a gray sky, a Kingbird waits for an insect to fly by, Devoe Lake.


Just be taking a break? A juvenile Green Heron perches high in a tree at waters edge, Devoe Lake.


Paddling under gray skies and clouds that threaten rain, Devoe Lake.


Bald Eagles along the shoreline of Devoe Lake


Return just a few months later and this unique beauty will be gone. No wildflowers will grace the shoreline of the lake. Rain, whether falling quietly or pounding to accompaniment of lightning and the sound of thunder, will have given way to the silence of the seasons first snow. At night the call of the Eastern Whip-poor-will will not be heard. The lake’s blue surface will not dance to the beat of an ever changing breeze and Painted Turtles will not cruise the clear depths below your canoe. It will be quiet except for the wind as it moves through now bare branches. The sky will more often be gray and the water now solid, unmoving, and partially covered in white, will reflect it’s color.


Morning sun and mist, Devoe Lake.


No matter the season Devoe Lake gives of it’s beauty sparingly and then takes it away leaving one to wait restlessly for another year.  The fleeting days of summer are no exception.


Thanks for stopping by.

August Nature on Central Ohio’s Reservoirs

Recently we paddled the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir not far from our home in Columbus and then a couple of days later ventured about sixty miles due south to paddle Paint Creek. Given that it’s mid-summer we weren’t real optimistic about what we’d see. That said, one thing we observed which seemed rather counterintuitive given the summer’s midday heat was that the birds were much more active and approachable midday. This is something we’ve become accustomed to when looking for butterflies, dragon and damselflies, but necessary for other creatures. Of course, it is the insect time of year so we were not surprised to see plenty of them but in addition we were fortunate to see birds including immature Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, and hawks.


For those interested in Ospreys, paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir can be very rewarding this time of year. Ospreys and their recently fledged offspring seem to be everywhere.  During our paddle we also had two Bald Eagle siting’s, however, they didn’t hang around for a photograph. Many Green Herons were also seen as we explored the shoreline and numerous coves. With lake levels slightly low exposing shoreline rocks numerous solitary and spotted sandpipers were also seen.


Osprey, north end of Alum creek reservoir, FZ200


Closer look, FZ200



Adult Osprey, FZ200


Taking flight, Donna, FZ200


Flag-tailed Spinyleg, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200


Paddling up Alum Creek, FZ200


Long-jawed Orbweaver, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200


One of many Green Herons, this one was strutting it’s stuff, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200


Fall Phlox, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200


Amberwing, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200


Very young Map turtle, alum Creek, Donna, FZ200



Solitary Sandpiper, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200


The paddle up Paint Creek is stunning, it’s hard the believe you’re in Ohio. As the day progressed it seemed easier to get close enough to Kingfishers so that the resulting photograph didn’t leave you wondering what kind of bird it was.

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Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, dark morph, Paint Creek, Canon 3ti 18-135mm lens.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.


Butterflies on scat, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200


Double-crested Cormorant looking rather mysterious, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.


Eastern Amberwing (F), Donna, FZ200

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Male Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Female Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.


Bob’s big fish (White Bass), Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.


Spicebush Swallowtail, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.


Green Heron tidying up, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.


Mushrooms on a log, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.


Common Arrowhead, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.


One member of Donna’s Hackberry Circus, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.


After spending time exploring Alum Creek Reservoir and Paint creek we returned to our own “backyard”, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River, where we also found things to fascinate.


Summer along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.


Sunflower, Griggs Park, FZ200.


Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park, FZ200.


Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.



Immature Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Another look.


Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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The Scioto River below Griggs Dam, another view, FZ200.


One of the very few Buckeyes seen so far this summer, Griggs Park, FZ200.



Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, FZ200.



Black-crowned Night Heron, very early morning, Griggs Reservoir, ZS50.


Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


Robber fly, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


Monarch, Griggs Park, FZ200.


Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


One of many Hackberries seen, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


Horace’s Duskywing, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.


Often we find ourselves walking along residential streets on the return leg of an urban hike to Griggs Park. We usually don’t expect to discover anything special but you never know what you’re going to see.


Immature Red-tailed Hawk just outside our kitchen window, FZ200.



Immature Cooper’s Hawk, residential street near our home, FZ200.


We hope you’ve been able to get out and explore and appreciate nature this summer. Thanks for stopping by.



Back Road Rambling, Central Ohio Nature Preserves

It was partly an excuse to go for a Sunday morning drive, something we don’t do very often. Usually we head for a location, necessary equipment in hand, and paddle or hike. However, there were three locations we thought would be worthwhile to check out: Smith Cemetery State Nature Preserve, Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, and Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve. The cemeteries provided an opportunity to see natural prairie habitat as it looked prior to much of the land being plowed up. Depending on what we found the areas visited might be included in our list of spring and fall destinations for birds and other wildlife.


There wasn’t much going on at our first stop; Smith Cemetery,


Smith Pioneer Cemetery, dry and not much in bloom.


so we headed a few miles down the road and were not disappointed.


The Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery is very small compared to the surrounding monoculture that generates the food we depend on.


Despite it’s small size there were plenty of things to investigate, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.


In the distance an old barn. A vanishing sight, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.


The area was an island of flowers and plant diversity, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.


Looking at some of the markers one couldn’t help but wonder what the area was like back then, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.



Royal Catchfly was everywhere, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.


and where there is catchfly there are butterflies, Black Swallowtail, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

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But is if the flowers and butterflies weren’t enough, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird made an appearance, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, Donna.


Take 2.


Take 3.


Overlooking a sea of soybeans, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.


After the cemeteries we headed to the Headwaters of the Big Darby Preserve, northwest of Marysville, Ohio.


We had to check out of few things along the way.


and another one of those “things”.


Spain Creek Covered Bridge.


Despite the delays it wasn’t long before we reached our destination. The area has undergone quite a bit of restoration in an effort to return it to it’s pre-farm field state.


Headwaters of the Big Darby.


Big Darby Watershed



Area Map.


A 2.6 mile trail meanders through woods and meadows.


Signs provid information on the area.


Several Giant Swallowtails were seen in the meadows, Big Darby Headwaters Preserve.


Variegated Fritillary, Big Darby Headwaters Preserve, Donna.


Another view, Donna.


Depford Pink, non-native, Big Darby Headwaters Preserve, Donna.


It’s always rewarding to explore new places or those one hasn’t visited in a while. This outing served as a reminder to do that more often.


Thanks for stopping by.



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