On The Shoulder of Very Small Giants!

Recently we were thinking about all the birds that nest in Griggs Reservoir Park or in the immediate environs. A list of some of the more interesting ones would go something like this:

White-breasted Nuthatch,

Cardinal, Northern Flicker,

Kingbird,

Red-bellied Woodpecker,

Rose-breasted Grosbeak,

Blue Jay,

Yellow-throated Warbler,

Black-crowned Night Heron,

Northern Parula Warbler,

Protonotary Warbler,

Kingfisher, Wood Duck,

Baltimore Oriole,

Cedar Waxwing,

Mallard Duck,

Great Egret,

Great Blue Heron

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well I think you get the idea. It’s amazing that  just a few years ago we were ignorant of much of this. To become more aware has taken time coupled with repeated outings to the park and reservoir. While some visits have been pretty quiet, in general learning about the birds has been a rewarding activity.

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Too further this point, recently we’ve been fortunate to photograph a few of the “youngsters”. The always active Kingbirds have been hard to miss.

Two Kingbird chicks see the parent approaching, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna, pics 1-4).

The parent arrives but apparently with no food.

But the other parent did have something to offer.

Open mouths, hard for a parent to miss!

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While we’ve heard them calling from time to time over the past few weeks, Yellow-throated Warblers have been illusive so the one below was a pretty exciting find!

Juvenile Yellow-throated warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

 

Take 3, with an ant.

Take 4.

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Always cute, a few Mallard ducklings were present along the reservoir. Interesting because we’ve seen a stream of ducklings over the last two months indicating there is no fixed time to mate.

Mallard Ducklings, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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While not youngsters, a few other birds also allowed us to take their picture. For those of you that have tried to photograph a Kingfisher you know they don’t usually cooperate so even an average picture is an accomplishment.

Female Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Black-crowned Night Heron, one of two seen as we paddled the reservoir. We haven’t seen as many this year perhaps due to the larger than normal number of Great Egrets.

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As mentioned above the birds have been rewarding but we never imaged we would discover a new snake right within the city limits of Columbus! It was seen while canoeing Griggs Reservoir and was located in a low lying bush overhanging the water. While looking at the one below another one splashed into the water. Needless to say we were very excited by this discovery!

Queen Snake, frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along fresh water streams. Some will try to bite which due to their small teeth is not a treat to humans. However, all use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. (ODNR) Their habitat is very specific, and this snake is never found in areas that lack clean running streams and watersheds with stony and rocky bottoms. The water temperature must be a minimum of 50 °F (10 °C) during it’s active months due to  dietary requirements that consist all most exclusively of newly molted crayfish. (WIKI)

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Summer wildflowers have benefited from the recent rain.

Rain garden, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Vervain, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Joe Pye Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Lizards Tail and Swamp Milkweed at the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that in the summer we tend to focus more on insects. This year is no exception, except I’ve finally really caught the “bug” from my wife. Having made that declaration, as hard as I look I will never match her ability to see these little guys!

Soldier Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Female Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Giant Spreadwing, not one we see often, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Amber and Black Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Pelecinid Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Silvery Checkerspot, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Take 2, Donna)

Metallic Gold Fly, very small, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Robber Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Duke’s Skipper, Griggs Reservoir.

Dukes Skipper (M), Griggs Reservoir.

Blue Dasher (F), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Common Dogbane Beetles, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Question Mark, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Orange Sulfur (F), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The photo of the below dragonfly was an especially exciting because it very seldom lands.

Wandering Glider, the common name of this species may be the most appropriate of any of species. It is a strong flier, with a circumtropical distribution. It is found in nearly every contiguous state, extreme southern Canada, southward throughout Central and South America, the Bahamas, West Indies, Hawaii and throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, except for Europe. It is regularly encountered by ocean freighters and is a well-known migratory species. Because of its ability to drift with the wind, feeding on aerial plankton, until it finally encounters a rain pool in which it breeds, it has been called “…the world’s most evolved dragonfly.” (Odonata Central) , Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

After much searching Donna finally found a few Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Spicebush Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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There was a time when I wasn’t all that excited about “insects”, pointing my camera at butterflies, dragonflies, and the like only when the birds weren’t cooperating. Arriving home after one such an outing I took a close look at the images obtained and was amazed at the beauty of many of these creatures that are so easy for us to disregard. It’s hardly breaking news but some time ago I heard that if we compared the weight of all humans with that of all insects we would make up a very small piece of the pie. The below chart illustrates that point. For life to exist on this small sphere we stand on the shoulders of giants but in our case they are very small giants. Something to think about!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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There has been quite a bit of rain recently so we paddled to one of the local waterfalls. It did not disappoint, Griggs Reservoir.

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

 

 

 

Life In A Cemetary

It had been about a year since we visited Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve and Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve , so we thought a road trip was in order to see what we might find in the way of insects and other wildlife. Last year we had seen a number of hummingbirds at Bigelow so we thought that might be the case again. Unlike Bigelow, which is a very small plot of native prairie, Big Darby Headwaters is a much larger area and one we have only begun to explore. Repeated visits throughout the year would be best to get to know and really appreciate these areas. We usually have to satisfy ourselves with less.

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The first thing one notices upon arriving at Bigelow is how small it is, only about one half acre.  The initial thought is that such a small area shouldn’t take long to explore. An hour and a half later we left and could have easily stayed longer if the Big Darby Headwaters had not beckoned. The number of living things in this small area compared to the surrounding farm field monoculture was mind boggling.

Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery Preserve.

Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

The preferred direction.

A male Red-winged Blackbird seemed concerned about our presence. Perhaps a nest was nearby. Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Painted Lady butterflies were common at Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Take 2.

Take 3.

The cemetery is old by Ohio standards.

Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

A Monarch Butterfly made up for the fact that no hummingbirds were seen, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Donna takes aim on a wildflower, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

Gray Headed Cone Flowers and Royal Catchfly, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

White Campion (alien), Bigelow Pioneer Cemetary, (Donna).

Common Checkered Skipper, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Stink Bug nymph, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Familiar Bluet, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

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Having spent as much time as we thought we should at Bigelow, it was close to noon when we arrived at the Big Darby Headwaters. Usually not the best time of day to be out in nature.

A fair mount of habitat restoration was required to make the Big Darby Headwaters NP what it is today, (Donna).

The hiking trail in Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Calico Pennant Dragonfly, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

A Meadow Fritillary is joined by some of it’s closest friends on Butterfly Weed, Big Darby Headwaters.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Big Darby Headwaters.

A curious Song Sparrow looks on, Big Darby Headwaters.

Michigan Lily, Big Darby Headwaters.

Halloween Pennant, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Tall Bellflower, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Stream, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Depford Pink, Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

Looking for a bird, Big Darby Headwaters.

Big Darby Headwaters, (Donna).

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Over the past few days there’s been no shortage of things to see closer to home.

A male Bluebird watches, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Royal River Cruiser, a new dragonfly for us! O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Take 2.

Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Four-toothed Mason Wasp on Rattlesnake Master Flower, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

 

Coneflowers, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

 

Banded Longhorn Flower Beetles, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Silver Spotted Skipper, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Female Eastern Pondhawk, Big Darby Headwaters.

Great Spangled Fritillary, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Jewelweed, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Eastern Amberwing, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Common Whitetail (F), Big Darby Headwaters.

Common Whitetail (M), O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

White Tail Deer, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Even in our backyard .   .   .

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

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I continue to think about the diversity and abundance of life at Bigelow. It may be reasonable to expect that if such places were more numerous or extensive such diversity and abundance might not be as noticeable as the creatures observed there would have more options. However, forgetting for a moment the pollution of the air and water due to human activities, it’s still hard not to wonder about the long term sustainability of the planet when so much acreage has been, and continues to be, developed. Once developed it often becomes just another barren monoculture which at best grows crops that feed us or worse becomes another woods or meadow roofed over for industry, commerce, or shelter, or paved over so that we can drive or park our cars. While more far-reaching solutions are undoubtedly necessary, in the short term planting more wildflowers in lieu of maintaining an extensive lawn might be worth our consideration.

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As always thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

It’s Their Eyes

We continue to see Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and other birds in the parks near our home. However, this post celebrates the wildflowers, butterflies, and other insects seen recently.

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When presented with two equally good photos, one of a bird and the other of a insect I usually find myself more attracted to the bird. It’s not to hard figure out why, a bird’s eye more closely resembles our own, they are vocal much like ourselves, and often seem to have better parenting skills than we do. The world of insects is not as easy to understand, and when it is, it can be annoying, destructive and sometimes even painful. When I was young, undoubtedly because I was much closer to the ground and spent a considerable amount of time outside, I had a greater curiosity about “bugs”.  Now, years later, retired with more leisure time, my interest has been rekindled as I take a closer look at the plants and flowers that, to a large extent, comprise the insect’s world.

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The flowers of early summer seem to do most of their celebrating in meadows and along roadsides. Some like Bee Balm and Jewelweed venture into the woods if sun light is available and Lazard’s Tail is never far from the water.

Bee Balm, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Rattlesnake Master, a rather rare plant in Ohio. O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Chicory, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Saint John’s Wort, (Donna), O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Swamp Milkweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Jewelweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Poke Weed is not an uncommon sight this time of year, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Gray-headed Cone Flower, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Easily overlooked Hairy Wood-mint, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Shadows from an adjacent plant decorate a Wild Potato Vine blossom, Griggs Reservoir Park,

Donna checks out some Lazard’s Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Lazard’s Tail, (Donna).

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With coneflowers and milkweed in full bloom, insects seem to be everywhere. Many leaves, pristine and virgin a month ago, now soldier on with portions missing giving further evidence of the insect’s industry. Spiders and assassin bugs wait in ambush.

Donna takes aim on an unsuspecting butterfly, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Common Wood-Nymph, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Blue-fronted Dancer, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Busy backyard Bumble bees.

A Female Eastern Pondhawk keeps an Eyed Brown Butterfly company, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Paddling is a great way to see all kinds of wildlife, including dragonflies. Getting a picture of one is another matter. O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Eversole Run.

That is, unless one lands on your finger, Eastern Amberwing.

Ebony Jewelwing, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Little Wood Satyr, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Clymene Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

It’s easy to be thankful you’re not a small flying insect when you stare down a Female Widow Skimmer, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

An Assassin bug nymph lurks in the leaf cover, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red Admiral, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

Green bee on Chicory, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Pearly-eye, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerald Jumper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2.

Great Spangled Fritillary, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bumble Bee on milkweed blossom. It’s amazing how many insects make a living off this plant, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very small but beautiful Summer Azure, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black Swallowtail in our backyard.

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After the many years since my youth, when they were an almost integral part of each summer day, I’m again starting to “warm up” to the bugs. We don’t always understand each other and need to work on our communication skills, but I think there’s hope. However, one area that continues to be a challenge is their eyes. I’m okay until I take a picture and blow it up. That’s when I find my brain being stretched a bit, partly in awe, if I was a lot smaller it would be fear, but in any case all of the sudden these guys seem very different almost alien bringing back thoughts of 1950’s Sci-fi movies. Fortunately that’s when I catch myself, realizing that most of them bare me no ill intent.

Cicada, Cedar Bog, (Donna).

Sunglasses anyone?

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

It’s Almost Time To “Kick Them Out Of The House!”

It’s early summer and many young birds have fledged but that doesn’t mean parental responsibilities have ended. In fact, based of what was recently observed during walks in Griggs Reservoir Park, the parents are working harder than ever as the increasing size of their growing young means increased appetites.

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The feeding behavior of Barn Swallows, almost scary to watch, involves the adult racing toward their offspring at a very high rate of speed only to slam on the breaks at the last second before delivering the meal. Their insect gathering skill was born out by the fact that they were seldom gone for more than a minute or two before returning with food.

Perched in a treetop immature Barn Swallows wait patently, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Food must be on it’s way.

Sure enough, (Donna).

It doesn’t take long to deliver the meal!

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The feeding behavior of Northern Flickers, involving parental regurgitation, was a little more sedate if not more appetizing.

Mom regurgitates the meal, (Donna).

Down the hatch! (Donna).

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While no parents were observed tending to them, repeated sightings of immature male and female Rose Breasted Grosbeaks indicates that there may have been a nest in the area. All very exciting for us because this is the first year we’ve observed grosbeaks nesting in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Immature male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

The female, (Donna).

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It continues to be a great year for egrets in central Ohio. In the now many years that we’ve been observing birds in and around Griggs Reservoir we’ve never noticed this many. They seem to be everywhere.

Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons along the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

Great Egret, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Feeding on berries as well as insects, the park’s numerous Cedar Waxwings continue to entertain us with their antics.

Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Staring us down, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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In recent days other birds have also put a smile on our face so lets not forget a few members of the supporting cast!

A Kingbird waits for it’s next meal which could quite possibly be a careless dragonfly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

One of a pair of nesting Blue Jays in Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Between short sorties to catch flying insects, a Eastern Phoebe rests, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Catbird seems to be asking, “What are you looking at?”, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s always rewarding to watch nature in action. However, based on the level of effort put forth by the parents we’re left thinking that it won’t be long before they’re “kicked out of the house”. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

 

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