A Special Place In Michigan

At least once a year for the last number of years we’ve traveled seven hours from central Ohio to the expansive 4500 acre Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. With it’s fairly extensive system of hiking and mountain bicycling trails, plus lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s a beautiful quiet nature lovers paradise. The park’s woods contain conifers, including some fairly large White Pine, as well as deciduous trees like oak and maple making it home to a great diversity of insects, plants, birds, and animals. The park has two campgrounds, one with electrical hookups, and one that is rustic. We prefer “tent” camping in the Devoe Lake rustic campground with it’s pit toilets and handpumps, whether in our small trailer or in a tent, because the sites are bigger, more secluded, and a variety of birds often come right to your campsite. In addition the rustic campground communicates with park’s best hiking trails without the need to get in your car.

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Park Map.

A south loop hiking trail cuts through meadows interspersed with stands of trees that attract numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies not mention birds such as Indigo Buntings that love that type of habitat.

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South Trail

The northern loop takes the hiker on much more rolling terrain interspersed with swamps and culminating along a ridge that provides a panoramic view of four of the parks lakes.

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Grousehaven Lake from the park loop road.

The lakes offer a variety of fish species to attract the angler including Brook and Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and panfish.

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Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

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Many of the lakes just outside the park boundary offering public access are heavily developed with boat and dock filled shorelines and large year round homes which in recent years have replaced many smaller cabins set back in the trees. Some of the larger multistory dwellings seem almost ready to topple into the lake giving these small bodies of water more the feel of a large recreational swimming pool. Even so, the lakes do offer good fishing even if with somewhat diminished natural aesthetic. However, if communing with nature is your goal, it is worth it to travel away from the park to the nearby Au Sable River and it’s chain of lakes which offer a rewarding undeveloped destination for the photographer, fisherman, and nature lover.

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Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Within the park, even without a very special species of bird, there is ample reason to  return year after year to enjoy the park’s beauty. But the very special bird that makes the park so irresistible is the Common Loon. Numbers seen vary year to year but they’re always there with their haunting cry breaking the silence of the night. To our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting loons can be found.

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Common Loon

 

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With young, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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Meal time, (Donna).

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The young are growing fast.

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Lodge Lake.

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An equally enchanting bird usually seen on Grebe Lake is the Trumpeter Swan. During one paddle the call of the adults across the lake gave ample evidence as to how they got their name.

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Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

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Another look.

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Being old enough to remember when they suffered the ravages of DDT and were very rare Bald Eagles always have a high wow factor. We had a number of sightings in the park and at least five the day we paddled Loud Pond along the Au Sable River.

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I control the canoe and my wife often takes the pictures.

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Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

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Donna get’s a picture of one of the Bald Eagles seen on Loud Pond.

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Equally fascinating were the other birds seen during our hikes and paddles.

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A Great Crested Flycatcher over looks a meadow on the south trail.

 

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An immature Great Crested Flycatcher asks to be fed, (Donna).

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A Catbird puts everything into it’s song, (Donna).

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A good day for the Cedar Waxwing, not so much for the dragonfly, (Donna).

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Along the south trail in the very top of a tree a Chestnut-sided Warbler sings it’s heart out, (Donna).

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A Green Heron makes a living along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Too far away for a good pic, perhaps an immature Rose Breasted Grosbeak?

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Ever on the lookout for flying insects, like sentry’s Kingbirds lined the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Another look, (Donna).

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Near water’s edge a Kingbird sits on it’s nest, (Donna).

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Donna catches this female Kingfisher along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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A Tree Swallow party along the shore of Devoe Lake,(Donna).

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Numerous Rose Breasted Grosbeaks were seen but they proved a challenge to photograph, (Donna).

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Spotted sandpiper along the shore of Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

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The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know we love dragonflies. While butterflies may initially catch your eye very few creatures fascinate in the air like the  dragonfly. But the relationship fraught with conflict because we also love birds and the dragonflies maneuverability is often not enough to avoid becoming a tasty high protein snack.

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Calico Pennant, (Donna).

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Female Ruby Meadowhawk

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Blue Dasher, (Donna).

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Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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This Damsel fly on flower illustrates the capability 0f the micro 4/3rds Panasonic (Leica) 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

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Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

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Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

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Female Calico Pennant.

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Male Halloween Pennant.

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Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

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Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

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Most of the time when we take a picture we have a pretty good idea what the subject is. When we don’t part of the fun is during the research to figure out what it is. So far the ID of this rather nondescript dragonfly remains a mystery.

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The Vesper Bluet is a late afternoon and evening damselfly, (Donna).

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Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

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River Jewelwing seen along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

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The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

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Butterflies live a rough life. Subject to the effects of rain, wind, sun and sometimes attempted predation they often become rather tattered with age. Like wildflowers much of their magic come from the fact that they are only here for a short time. During this most recent visit it was interesting because we didn’t see as many as expected and often the ones seen were rather tattered. However, the few that were in nice enough shape to merit a photograph took up the slack.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

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Northern Pearly-eye

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Northern Pearly-eye another view.

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American Copper, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna).

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Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

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Peck’s Skipper with a partially shaded wing explores an iris.

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Northern Cloudywing Skipper

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Eastern Comma.

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Monarch, (Donna).

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The very small and seldom seen Banded Hairstreak, (Donna).

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No matter when one visits the park in spring and summer there are some flowers that are seen and some that are not. Turtleheads and Cardinal flowers usually appear in August so we missed them this year but others were present.

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Certainly not a flower but one of a number of very large White Pines in the park. How do you capture it’s impressive size in a photograph?

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St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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Yellow Water Lily

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Black-eyed Susan’s appear to take flight, (Donna).

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This American Wintergreen was growing in a very moist area, (Donna).

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Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

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Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

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Water Lily.

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Water Lily times two, (Donna).

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A hover fly checks out a water lily.

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Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

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Small and very common in the meadow areas along the south trail this one has eluded identification.

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Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

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New Jersey Tea or Wild Snowball, interestingly it has been used for treated such things as gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, cough, fever, chills, spasms, bleeding, . . . “.

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Monkey Flower, (Donna).

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Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

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Indian Pipe, (Donna).

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

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Fern.

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At their peak these Picture Plant flowers will turn a deep burgundy. See below for the leaves.

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The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

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Daisy Fleabane, very small, very common, very beautiful.

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Early morning on Grebe Lake.

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When out on a day’s hike looking for birds, flowers, or butterflies it’s hard not to notice other things and sometimes they become the most memorable.

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Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

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Pixie Cups, north trail.

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We saw quite a bit of this colorful fungi the day we hiked the south trail.

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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle along the trail, (Donna).

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American Toad, (Donna).

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Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

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A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

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British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

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Early July is apparently not the best time for fungi. This was one of the few not very colorful examples seen.

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Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

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A Map Turtle catches a few rays, (Donna).

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A large Porcupine is spotted along the south trail, (Donna).

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So much natural diversity in one Michigan state park! This year we left the park wishing for a few more days to explore, to look more closely with intention, to breath in the fragrance of balsam, or just to gaze up into the splendor of the green canopy of trees surrounding our campsite. Perhaps that’s the best way to leave.

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Devoe Lake.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Cause and Effect

Recently, after several weeks of very dry weather, the rain came. One day it amounted to almost three inches. Once clear and lazy, area rivers are now swollen and turbid and flow with more purpose as though their water has somewhere to go. The precipitation came too late to have a major effect on the season’s color but the orange, yellow, and brown of oaks and hickories is now more saturated. The moist earth returns it’s recent gift to the humid early morning air, as suspended leaves, some no longer green, appear to almost come back to life.

Griggs Reservoir

The crotch of a tree provides a resting place, Emily Traphagen Park.

Stump, Emily Traphagen Park.

Fallen tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Two days ago during a walk in an area park a bench provided a place to eat lunch. In the stillness we watched an occasional leaf  from some unknown high branch in a nearby tree, like a large early winter snowflake, silently float down and land quietly at our feet. A few descended without a flourish, but most either spiraled, spun, or sashayed side to side on the last and only journey of their lives. They joined those already fallen to complete the cycle of life. One here, another there, slowly, as we sat watching, they never stopped. Today, as I write this, with wind howling past a partially open window, the scene would be much different.

Moss covered roots grace a hillside, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

Fall color, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Rotting log, Emily Traphagen Park.

Leaves of the Shagbark Hickory, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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It’s hard not to think of them as friends, the group of birds; robins, nuthatches, blue jays, etc., that are such an important part of our walks in nature near home.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Pigeons, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Carolina Wren, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Mallard reflection, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Autumn color, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Others birds, such as the Bald Eagle, are only seen on occasion but that occasion is a miracle. When I was young, in the days of DDT, a trip to Alaska may have been necessary to see one. Now they can be seen just a mile and a half from our house. Ospreys are seen more frequently, but soon they will embark on their journey south following the already departed community of Black-crowned Night Herons that through early fall call Griggs Reservoir home. With each osprey sighting we wonder if it will be the last until next year.

A Bald Eagle is framed by fall color on the west side of Griggs Reservoir.

Osprey along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A pond forms the backdrop for shoreline grass, Emily Traphagen Park

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The true magic of the rain, after such a long period of dry weather, is the fungi. Many just seem to appear out of nowhere while others, having endured the dryness, regain their color. Identifying what is seen can be a challenge.

Puffballs, Emily Traphagen Park.

Non-inky Coprinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Turkey Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Some type of polypore, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Artist’s Bracket, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Crust fungi, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park,, (Donna).

Common Spilt Gill, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A jelly fungus on the left and Witches’ Butter, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

An emergent polypore, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Angel’s Wings, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wolf’s Milk Slime, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very rare sight near our home, Crown-tipped Coral, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss on what appears to be False Turkey-tail causes one to wonder just how long it’s been there. Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Luminescent Panellus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Early morning fog, also the result of the recent rain, greeted us during a walk at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park creating splendor in a spider’s web.

Banded Garden Spider, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Still standing, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Later, as we continued our walk, we noticed a few moths that apparently had gathered on the light gray wood siding of a park building during the night.

Large Maple Span Worm Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Dot-lined White Moth, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

White-marked Tussock Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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As we continued on a number of Eastern Commas where seen, usually right on the trail.

Eastern Comma, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Along the trail, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

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When the rain came, after such a long period of dryness, I stepped out onto our porch, took a deep breath, watched, and listened. The rain fell softly at first, with the sound of a mouse playing as it touched the dry places. After a while, standing there, the rain leaving fleeting patterns in driveway puddles, it’s fragrance in the wet grass, soil, and filling the air, I was taken to a different place and embraced by a feeling of newness and rebirth.

Glacial Erratic, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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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.

 

An Early Autumn Paddle

Early autumn is one of our favorite times of the year. There are usually fewer people on the trails, rivers, and lakes as many have moved on to other things; football games, school, etc. September often has a period 0f sunny windless days making time spent in the canoe a pure joy. The landscape still mostly green is accented by the brilliant reds and yellows of a few trees determined to get a head start on fall making it all the more striking.

A small fish surfaces disturbing an early autumn reflection.

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Realizing that opportunities for comfortable paddling are starting to slip away, a few days ago we decided to paddle the north end Alum Creek Reservoir into Alum Creek with the hope of seeing fall warblers as we made our way along the shore.

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At first the sun struggled to burn off an early morning fog.

The fog begins to lift not long after we start paddling.

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But when it did .   .   .

The far shore erupts in color.

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A closer look revealed that the fog and the soft sunlight was giving a jewel like quality to spider webs too numerous to count.

Spider webs and autumn leaves.

Graceful designs.

Different colors.

What could I make with my own hands that would be any more beautiful?

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As we continued on close to shore, color frames the reservoir.

Just a few feet from shore offered some unique perspectives, (Donna).

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On this particular day the flowers seen were mostly those right along the shore and seemed to be thriving in that location.

Turtlehead

Sunflower

Beggars Ticks, very small flower.

False Daisy, also very small.

Broad-leaved Arrowhead.

A closer look.

Swamp Smartweed, (Donna).

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On the quiet surface the canoe seemed to glide forever.

Calm

Color, (Donna).

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Pullouts offer an opportunity to explore areas along the water and it usually doesn’t take my wife long to find interesting insects.

Gladiator Katydid, (Donna).

Weevil, Lixus iridis, a large weevil with a flat oval body, and a pointed shield. Completely covered in short hairs, yellow to brown, sometimes fading to grey. Thick legs and antennae. Habitat is wetland or close to water.

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Painted turtles greeted us as we paddled.

Unlike many turtles that sense our approach while we’re still quite far away resulting in a quick slide or plop into the water, Painted Turtles appear to enjoy having their picture taken, (Donna).

Do the turtles sense that the good times of summer are about to end? (Donna).

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While few warblers were seen and none were photographed, Ospreys were heard overhead, and we were fortunate to see some of the other usual suspects.

A Green Heron stalks it’s prey.

Time to straighten things up, Great Blue Heron.

We lost count of the number of Double-crested Cormorants seen, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, (Donna).

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After about four miles we arrive at a gravel bar on Alum Creek that usually marks the most northern point of our paddle unless we feel like dragging the canoe more than paddling it.

A lone rock marks the end of the paddle north and our lunch stop.

A great spot for lunch!

.   .   .   and a scenic pullout.

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Autumn reminds us, perhaps more than any other season, that nothing lasts. It reminds us to stop being passively entertained and instead to entertain and enrich ourselves, to venture out into disappointment and discovery, to experience being part of something larger, and to be alive.

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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.

A Few Days Along The Rifle River

Last week we spent a few days in Michigan in the Rifle River Recreation Area not far from the town of West Branch on the northeast side of the lower peninsula. With a number of excellent hiking trails, and lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s an excellent place for nature viewing. The lack of boat generated wakes on Devoe Lake means that Loons nest there. To the best of our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting Loons can be seen. There are also Bald Eagles, Osprey as well as other birds to enjoy. When out exploring one is also treated to dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a number wildflowers not seen in central Ohio. Not far from the park is the AuSable River and the adjacent National Forest create even more opportunities for paddling and outdoor adventure.

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

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We could spend hours watching loons. A quiet paddle on Devoe Lake allows one to observe them as they go about their day.

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

In the middle of preening this adult seems to be sneaking a peek.

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

The adult comes through. How does a bird as big as a loon chase down such a small fish under water?

One more picture.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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Bald Eagles are sometimes seen flying overhead as we observe the loons with their young. If they get too close the adult loons create quite a commotion!

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

An Osprey takes a break along the shoreline of Devoe Lake, (Donna).

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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Most birds were seen from the canoe as we made our way along the shoreline of Devoe and Grebe Lakes, as well as Loud Pond on the Au Sable River.

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

A Kingbird, the dragonflies worst enemy, waits for it’s next meal along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Three Caspian Terns circled overhead, occasionally landing, as we made our way back to our launch site on wind swept Loud Pond. A few reasonable sharp images were obtained.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Kingfisher actually stays put long enough for a “usable” picture, Devoe Lake.

A Green Heron is caught preening, Devoe Lake, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

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While hiking, especially this time of year, birds usually give way to the wildflowers and interesting types of fungus.

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

Knapweed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

Just after this picture was taken this tree got a big hug!

Hawkweed.

Cardinal Flower was quiet common in the wet areas of the park.

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

Picture Plant and flower. Tough to get a good picture of.

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

An attractive flower that has eluded identification. Some type of lobelia?

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

Another example of some of the interesting fungi seen, (Donna).

Virgin’s Bower. (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

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Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were seen as we enjoyed the wildflowers included one butterfly not typically seen in central Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

The very small American Copper, not a butterfly we’ve seen in central Ohio, (Donna).

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Mating Robber Flies. Robber flies are one of the insect worlds more ferocious looking subjects. An appearance that is not unwarranted!

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

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Shall we go for a hike or paddle? The decision is often made based on the weather conditions. Wind and choppy water make canoe photography with long lenses almost impossible. However, should conditions permit we’re usually not disappointed be the flowers seen as we paddle!

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

Meadow Sweet, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”),  (Donna).

Swamp Smartweed

Water Shield, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

Burr Reed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

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Sometimes when hiking you don’t have to look real close to be overwhelmed by the beauty.

Gamble Creek, Class 1 trout stream, Rifle River Rec Area.

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No post would be complete without touching on some of the reptiles and amphibians seen. Seeing the skink was a surprise.

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

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While fishing along the Au Sable River upstream of Loud Pond, a Mink is sighted!

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

Au Sable River, catch and release, Small Mouth Bass. The river is one of the best Small Mouth Bass fisheries in the Midwest.

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We spend a lot of time looking and exploring but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for just being there.

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this very incomplete sample of things that can be seen and experienced in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

The beauty is, the more time spent in nature the more you will see, the more you see the more you will want to understand and soon you’ll be carried away by the wonder and magic of it all.

As always thanks for stopping by!

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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.

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

.   .   .   ,

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.

 

 

 

 

A Celebration of Florida Birds

It’s been a while since our last post so after almost two months bumming around some of Florida’s most beautiful natural areas in sunny 70 degree weather we now find ourselves back in central Ohio looking out the window as a 25 F wind blows snow around our front yard. One way to celebrate the trip, and perhaps to feel a little warmer, is to post pictures of a few of birds seen while while hiking and paddling. Perhaps no one species expresses the diversity and beauty of nature like birds, each with their own unique appearance and behavior. Florida gives one an excellent opportunity to witness and perhaps photograph that diversity and beauty.

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For those that are curious, our stay in Florida consisted of time spent at Myakka River SP; great hiking, big gators, and great wildlife photography, Lake Kissimmee SP; great hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife, the Chassahowzitka River Campground;  great paddling, fishing, and wildlife, and Ochlockonee River SP; great hiking, paddling, and wildlife.

 Click on images for a better view.

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Salt Creek, Chassahowitzka River

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Great Blue Heron, Myakka River SP.

Limpkins, very common in Myakka River SP.

Cardinal, Myakka River SP.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

A Brown Thrasher serenaded us early every morning, Ochlockonee River SP.

Green Heron, seldom seen, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

Common Moorhen, Myakka River SP.

Pileated Woodpecker, Myakka River SP.

Greater Yellowlegs, Myakka River SP.

Little Blue Heron, Myakka River SP

Sand Hill Crane, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilts, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilt, a closer view showing eye color, Myakka River SP.

Least Sandpiper, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, breeding plumage, Myakka River SP.

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

American Avocet, Myakka River SP.

Glossy Ibis, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagle, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Eastern Phoebe, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Wood Thrush, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Carolina Wren, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagles were almost always overhead, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Chassahowitzka River.

Pied-billed Grebe, Chassahowitzka River

Brown Pelican, Chassahowitzka River

Blue-winged Teal, St Marks NWR.

Vermilion Flycatcher, St Marks NWR.

Female Kingfisher, Wakulla River.

Mockingbird, Ochlockonee River State Park

Black Skimmers, Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP.

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Pine Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Red-cockaded woodpeckers, endangered, Ochlockonee River State Park

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ochlockonee River State Park

White Ibis, Myakka River SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-headed Woodpecker, one of eleven sightings that day, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Anhinga, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, not as common as The Black-crowned, Chassahowitzka River.

Eastern Towhee, common, Ochlockonee River State Park

Laughing Gull with Least Tern, Bald Point SP.

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Along the trail, Myakka River SP.

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Given the weather we came back to we may decide to stay longer next year. There’s always something new to discover. Thanks for stopping by.

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.

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Griggs Reservoir

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Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.

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. . .

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. . . (Donna).

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Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.

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Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.

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Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.

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Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.

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Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.

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Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.

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In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.

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A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).

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Other things have also brought color to the landscape.

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Leaves on ice, (Donna)

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Sycamore branches against a blue sky.

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Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)

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We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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Molly Cat

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

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