Paddling Into Nature On Griggs Reservoir

This post is a partial summary of the wonderful diversity of life seen during a recent nine mile paddle on Griggs Reservoir. The reservoir is located within the “city limits” of Columbus, Ohio. Except for a few isolated cases where (Bob) is under the photo my wife was kind enough to handle the photography.

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It’s been a wet spring with not many nice days to beckon one out into nature. The wet weather in central Ohio has given many rivers and reservoirs a “chocolate milk” appearance, not the preferred aesthetic when paddling. But finally with a good forecast, wildflowers blooming, and the landscape turning evermore green, we decided it was time to get the boat in the water and do some exploring. Over the years we’ve seen many wonderful things in and along the reservoir but given it’s urban location we always try keep our expectations low. If nothing else we’ll get some exercise and we’ll be outdoors.

We enter one of Griggs Reservoirs small coves looking for Black-crowned Night Herons. The rock outcroppings are a favorite place for Wild Columbine, (Bob).

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The first clue that it might be a better than average day in nature was seeing the Wild Columbine along the reservoirs many rocky outcroppings.

Wild Columbine, (Bob)

A closer look, (Bob).

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While on the subject of wildflowers we also noticed Wild Stonecrop in the same area.

Wild Stonecrop, (Bob)

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A little further on we spotted a snapping turtle in the shallows of one of the reservoir’s small coves. The first of many turtles seen.

A Snapping Turtle checks us out from the safety of the water, (Bob).

Not far away a snapper was also observed sunning itself, a rare behavior for this always submerged creature that only occurs in the spring.

Snapping Turtle.

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Not seen as often as Red Eared Sliders or Map turtles a few softshell turtles were also seen.

Eastern Spiny Softshell.

A second later it disappeared below the surface.

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We probably shouldn’t ignore some of the other turtles:

A Map Turtle catches some rays.

A very small turtle surveys a big world.

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We expected to see more water snakes but only one was spotted.

Northern Water Snake.

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While no Green and Black-crowned Night Herons were seen, a few Great Egrets and countless Great Blue Herons made up for it.

Great Blue Heron.

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Something not fully appreciated is that four species of swallows make there living along the reservoir; Tree, Cliff, Barn and Rough-winged. The Tree, Cliff, and Barn Swallows are fairly numerous and easy to observe. The Rough-winged don’t seem to be as common.

Barn Swallow, (Bob).

On this particular day the Cliff Swallows were putting on the best show as they busily went about building their nests under the Hayden Run bridge.

Cliff Swallow nest building, (Bob).

Caught with it’s mouth full!

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We were really excited to see a pair of Wood Ducks because getting a great picture of this duck usually involves using a blind as you can seldom get close enough in a canoe.

Male and female Wood Ducks.

A slightly closer look.

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Along with the Wood Ducks a much more common and approachable female Mallard is seen with babies.

Female Mallard Duck.

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Remembering an area at the north end of the reservoir where a nested Prothonotary Warbler was observed last year, we headed for that location and were not disappointed.

Prothonotary Warbler.

With nesting material.

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As if in comic relief we couldn’t help but notice a Canada Goose that seem ready to set sail while perched high overhead their mate wondered what was going to happen next.

Canada Goose.

 

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A Spotted Sandpiper was spotted and seemed to be in a cooperative mood as it didn’t immediately take flight as we approached.

Spotted Sandpiper.

Eventually it did get tired of the attention.

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A few other birds were also seen:

Eastern Phoebe.

Tufted Titmouse.

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Over the years we’ve seen Gray, Red and Fox Squirrels but on this day it was a not uncommon Fox Squirrel. They always seem a bit curious about what we’re doing.

Fox Squirrel.

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Near a large beaver lodge at the north end of the reservoir we spotted what we first thought was a young beaver but was probably a Muskrat.

Muskrat.

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It had been awhile since we had seen one along the reservoir so our “Wood Duck” excitement  was more than duplicated with the discovery of a Mink making it’s way along the shore. It’s rapid movement made getting a sharp image a challenge.

Mink.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some Griggs Reservoir nature. A canoe or kayak can be a great tool for exploring and seeing things that would otherwise not be possible. As a platform for observations with binoculars it’s relatively straight forward. Should you decide to try canoe/kayak nature photography be prepared for more challenges than would be encountered shooting from land and a higher failure rate. The best scenario would be to have someone that loves to paddle handle the boat when you are taking pictures. But even if you are solo it is possible to get some great shots.

Hayden Run Falls framed in spring’s green and with a nice flow, (Bob)

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Quiet Walk In The Park

It was a quiet morning at Griggs Reservoir Park with little wind and an overcast sky that threatened rain making it almost too dark for pictures. The kind of day one pretty much has the whole park to themself. My pessimism about what would be seen, much less photographed, was reflected in my selection of cameras as I contented myself just with a Panasonic FZ200 superzoom accompanied by a pair of binos, my wife expressed her optimism by taking a bird camera.

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Rain and the resultant higher water levels meant that in many areas Water Willow graced the reservoir shoreline.

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With the absence of traffic both in the park and on the reservoir, normally wary and prone to flight Great Blue Herons were content to stay on shoreline perches as we walked by. Other birds also seemed less prone to flight as we got close.

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An immature Male Hooded Merganser is spotted with a group of Mallard Ducks, (Donna).

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By a rain puddle a Barn Swallow strikes a contemplative pose, (Donna).

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A Robin with a mouthful of earthworm and mulberry, (Donna).

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Even with the dullness of the morning the unmistakable fire orange of a noisy Baltimore Oriole caught our eye as it streaked by on it way to a nearby tree. Taking a closer look through dense leaf cover revealed an almost completely hidden nest. Suspended by next winter’s bare branches what remained would be easy to spot.

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Male Baltimore Oriole

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

My wife looked ever closer in an effort to see a “new to her” insect or spider. Life that most of us walk right by.

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White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar, (Donna).

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Katydid, (Donna).

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Female Amber Wing Dragonfly

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Through the leaves a lone Painted Turtle is spotted. Not a good day to sun oneself on a log.

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Very small mushrooms caught my eye while a millipede remained unnoticed until a review of the pic. 

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A very small and young Gray Tree Frog tries to remain unnoticed, (Donna).

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Seemingly unabated, wildflowers continue their march through the year. Those that greeted us just a few weeks ago are gone but new ones have taken their place. On a sunny day they speak in a bright and joyful voice so it seems counterintuitive that the best time to photograph them is usually on overcast days. No blown out highlights, deep shadow values, and more saturated colors.

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Horse Nettle is a good plant just to look at but not to touch.

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Canada Thistle is a pesky weed for Ohio farmers.

As if playing “King of The Mountain” the vine and flower of the Morning Glory take advantage of an accommodating Moth Mullein.

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Black-eyed Susan’s spread their cheer. 

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Not the most common of our native wildflower standing forlorn at waters edge is what remined of a fairly large display of Butterfly Weed, someone had picked the rest.

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Daisy Fleabane.

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Thimbleweed.

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Tall Meadow-rue.

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White Moth Mullein.

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Canada Anemone.

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Reservoir landscape.

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It never did rain and as our longer than expected time in the park came to a close so did the time for taking a “closer look” and for reflection. As is often the case when in nature we left much richer than when we came.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Perhaps I should stick with photography!

 

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.

 

 

Summer Wildflowers, Butterflies, and a Few Birds

We’ve been busy documenting nature’s summer in central Ohio. If you are fascinated by insects this is your time of year but be prepared to look closely. The summer heat has done little to discourage the wildflowers which in a shout of color announce their presence. The below shots were taken along Griggs Reservoir and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. I hope they put you in a summer kind of mood.

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Milk Weed Beetle, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Lettuce, Griggs Park, Donna

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Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Potato Vine, Griggs Park, Donna

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Barely seen, dragonflies hover over a reflection, Griggs Reservoir

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Fallen branch and wildflowers, Griggs Park

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Gray Headed Cone Flowers, Griggs Park

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Cup Plant, Griggs Park

 

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Wild Chicory, Griggs Park

 

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Path to the water, Griggs Park

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Thistle, Griggs Park

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park

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Wasp, Griggs Park, Donna

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Eastern Pondhawk,(F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Wing Stem, Griggs Park, Donna

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fireworks in green, Griggs park, Donna

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Biennial Gaura, Griggs Park, Donna

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Widow Skimmer (F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Least Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna

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Rose Pink, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Donna

 

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Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Greek Metro Park, Donna

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Hummingbird Moth, Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park, Donna

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Phlox, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Catbird, Griggs Park, Donna

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Ducklings, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fishing, Griggs Reservoir, Donna

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Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hairy Wood Mint, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Coneflowers, Griggs Park

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Peck’s Skipper, Griggs Park

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Eastern Wood Pewee, Griggs Park

 

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Royal Catchfly, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Royal Catchfly, a closer look.

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Looking for Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bluebird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Kingbird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Barn Swallow, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Luna Moth on our house.

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Quiet morning, Griggs Reservoir

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Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Black Crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Hope you enjoyed this summer celebration of nature in central Ohio. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

Turtles, Snakes, Hawks . . . , Oh My!

Recent explorations in the central Ohio natural places have been good to us. As mentioned in previous posts the warblers are becoming quieter and much harder to find but as is often the case we find other things to fascinate. Below are some discoveries from the past week.

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Early summer wildflowers and flowering trees and bushes.

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Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

 

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Squaw Root, Highbanks Metro Park. Never what one would think of as attractive this example is a bit past it’s prime

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Purple Rocket, Griggs Park.

 

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Flower of the Tulip Tree, Highbanks.

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Fire Pink, Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

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Spiderwort, Glacier Ridge.

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Hairy Hawkweed, Glacier Ridge.

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Squarrose Sedge, Glacier Ridge.

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Mystery flowering bush, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Goats beard, non-native, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Blue Flag Iris, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Virginia Waterleaf, Highbanks. It’s unusual that the leaves are still variegated. The variegated leaves are one of the beautiful things to look for on the forest floor in the early spring.

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Closer look at a waterleaf flower.

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While we’re not seeing the warblers now other birds are still cooperating.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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An easy to hear hard to see Red-eyed Vireo, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area.

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Great Blue Heron takes a momentary swim in Griggs Reservoir, Canon SX40.

 

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The Prothonotary Warblers continue their nesting activity below Griggs Dam along the Scioto River, SX40.

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In the Scioto Below Griggs Dam a Great Blue Heron waits for a lunch delivery, Canon SX40.

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Eastern Phoebe, Highbanks.

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Song Sparrow, Glacier Ridge.

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Barn Swallow, Glacier Ridge.

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Field Sparrow with a mouthful, Glacier Ridge.

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This past week it was fascinating to see Snapping Turtles laying their eggs at Griggs Park.

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Snapping Turtle, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Snapping turtle nest. This one may have already been raided by a raccoon.

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Other reptiles and amphibians also made an appearance.

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Rat Snake high off the forest floor in a tree hole, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50).

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Bullfrog tadpole, Glacier Ridge.

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Bullfrog, Glacier Ridge.

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We’re heading into the insect time of year. Confirmed by the number seen recent walks.

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Bumble Bee, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Zabulon Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Cabbage White Bouquet, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

 

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Tawny-edged Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Common Whitetail, (F), Highbanks, ZS50.

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Common Whitetail (M), Highbanks, ZS50.

 

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Female Blue Dasher, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200)

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When you’re looking for interesting insects and flowers other things magically appear.

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Bleeding Tooth, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50)

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Dead tree, the victim of “bootstrap fungus Bootstrap fungus is caused by honey mushrooms, which are parasitic on live wood and send out long root like structures called rhizomorphs between the wood of a tree and its bark”. (thanks NH Garden Solutions for the ID help!), Highbanks.

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Hope everyone enjoyed our nature menagerie.

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Fishing on the Scioto below Griggs Dam, SX40.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

xxx

 

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