Celebrating Mother’s Day on Griggs Reservoir

We decided to paddle Griggs Reservoir with the goal of hopefully seeing some unique wildflowers that populate the low shoreline cliffs. In addition, while the migrating waterfowl have long since left, we might see one of our favorite local residents, the Wood Duck. Considering the number that nest in the area, we were pretty sure we would also see a few Baltimore Orioles. Given the wind, which presented significant boats control issues, my wife was kind enough to take care of most of the photography while I took care of the boat.

click on images for a better view

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After a short paddle to the cliff area, we discovered the flowers we were looking for.

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Wild Columbine, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Stonecrop, Griggs Reservoir

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European Bird Cherry, Griggs Reservoir

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Prior to setting up house keeping the male and female Wood Ducks always seem to stay together.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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Male Wood Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few other suspects, including a Black-crowned Night Heron, greeted us as we paddled on.

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Red-eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

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Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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But not to be outdone and as if they were celebrating Mothers Day in advance, the female Mallards decided to introduce their recently hatched ducklings. It was a real treat!

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Crossing Griggs Reservoir to safety, Female Mallard with ducklings, (Bob)

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Later we found them safe on the other side.

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One duckling decided it wanted to go exploring.

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Mom and the others followed.

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Heading for adventure.

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Mom kept an eye on the flotilla.

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This is fun!

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To swim or to climb?

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. . . or maybe eat!

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One mother Mallard seems to have an adopted duckling.

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A mother’s love!

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Very young and very cute!

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And not to be left out. The “Hey wait, what about me!”, Baltimore Oriole.

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A Baltimore Oriole at waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

The Fish Was Just Too Big

It’s fascinating how often something interesting happens in nature when you’re on your way to do something else. An outing recently along the Scioto below Griggs Dam was intended to be a test session after we changed some settings on my wife’s Panasonic FZ150 and Olympus E620 to improve performance in the branch infested, fast paced, world of warbler photography.

click on image for a better view

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Before even starting to look for warblers we noticed a Great Blue Heron at river’s edge quite frustrated with something it was trying to eat. A closer look revealed the problem.

 

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The heron was acting strange.

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It was trying to eat a fish.

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It’s eyes might be bigger than it’s stomach.

The fish was just too big!

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Further on, Baltimore Orioles seemed to be everywhere. At one point, four males were flying circles around us as they chased each other.

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Baltimore Oriole, study 1 (Donna)

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Baltimore Oriole, study 2

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A bird was seen quietly moving around in the brush and lower trees. It turned out to be a Swainson’s Thrush. Not a bird we were looking for but exciting nonetheless.

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Swainson’s Thrush, (Donna)

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The first Red-eyed Vireos we’ve seen this year,

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Red-eyed Vireo, study 1

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Red-eyed Vireo, study 2 (Donna)

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along with our first Prothonotary Warbler.

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 1

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 2

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Prothonotary Warbler, study 3

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We finished our outing seeing warblers seen before over the few days,

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Palm Warbler

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Yellow-rumped Warbler coming in for a landing

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

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Yellow-throated Warbler

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along with a few other birds that call the area home all summer.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

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Blue Jay, (Donna)

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Song Sparrow

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As I write this I can’t help but notice a Common Grackle at our feeder. A very beautiful but common bird that’s easy to take for granted.

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Common Grackle

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Celebrating Spring at Prairie Oaks

Recently we spent several hours at Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for migrating warblers and other signs of spring. We were completely drawn into the moment with butterflies, wildflowers, warblers and other migrating birds surrounding us as we walked along the river. Sunlight filtering through the emerging translucent leaves creating the effect of green stained glass further setting the mood.

In addition to the pictures below a number of birds and butterflies were seen where no photograph was possible. So below is just a glimpse of what you might have seen had you walked the trails in the last few days. Some pictures turned out amazingly well and others fall into the category of “data acquisition” but they all, in their own small way, celebrate spring at Prairie Oaks.

as always you can click on and image for a better view

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At Prairie Oaks many forms of life are attracted to the river.

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The Big Darby, study 1

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Like warblers, flycatchers and other birds.

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A Baltimore Oriole watches as we head down the trail.

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Black and White Warbler, (Donna)

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A Tufted Titmouse looks for insects

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A Great Crested Flycatcher announces it’s presence with a unmistakable call.

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A Eastern Towhee peeks from behind the leaves.

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A Kingbird surveys it’s realm from a tree top.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers like to be around water.

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Yellow-throated Vireo

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Palm Warbler

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Yellow-throated Warbler

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Catbird, (Donna)

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Magnolia Warbler

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Warbling Vireo, study 1

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Warbling Vireo, study 2

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Nashville Warbler

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Nashville Warbler

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Constantly in motion, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet plays hide and seek.

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The smaller creeks that feed into the river are often dry by mid summer.

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Spring flow.

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Butterflies were enjoying the spring sun.

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Eastern Comma

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Painted Lady

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A pond that may also be dried up by July.

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Spring Pond

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But right now the pond is home.

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Leopard Frog in hiding.

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Water Strider

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Fungi run a very close second to wildflowers in natures beauty contest.

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Shelf Fungi, (Donna)

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Wildflowers compete for our attention.

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Wild Geraniums, (Donna)

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Phlox, (Donna)

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Dandelion along the trail.

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Buckeye leafing out, (Donna)

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The Big Darby was flowing clear.

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The Big Darby, study 2

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Translucent leaves contribute to the magic of spring.

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The springs woods at Prairie Oaks

A Tropical Bird in Columbus

We decided to go for a walk below Griggs Reservoir Dam this morning hoping to see some migrating warblers. Usually Saturday morning is a weekly date with our tandem bicycle but the weather looked threatening so birding, where we could get back to the car quickly, seemed like the thing to do. The wind was supposed to pick up later in the day so we got an early start.

The first bird to greet us was one of our favorites, a Baltimore Oriole. Usually we see them at the top of tall trees after he trees have fully leafed out making them difficult to photograph. However, this one was lower in a tree whose leaves were not yet completely hiding it. It struck numerous poses for us as it busied itself eating what appeared to be young seed pods.

click on image for a better view

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Baltimore Oriole, study 1

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Baltimore Oriole, study 2

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Baltimore Oriole, study 3

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Baltimore Oriole, study 4

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Baltimore Oriole, study 5 (Donna)

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After almost being chased back to the car by a passing shower, we continued on, hearing lots of birds but not seeing much. Today, with it leafing out more, our line of sight wasn’t what it was just a few days ago. Cardinals seemed to be everywhere so we didn’t give it much thought when a bright red bird appeared in the distance. A quick look through the binoculars revealed it to be not a Cardinal but a Scarlet Tanager! We were excited as we usually have to travel some distance to see such a bird and here it was less than two miles from our house. It was undoubtedly just passing through but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. The Scarlet Tanager is one of those birds that, when seen, transports me to the jungles of South America. It looks just a little out of place in Ohio.

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Scarlet Tanager

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Scarlet Tanager, study 1

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Scarlet Tanager, study 2

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Energized buy the tanager we continued on, seeing other tropical and sub-tropical migrants including a Great Crested Flycatcher, a Warbling Vireo and numerous warblers.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, study 1

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Warbling Vireo, hiding

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Palm Warbler, study 1

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Palm Warbler, study 2

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Great Crested Flycatcher

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Orchard Oriole, study 1

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Orchard Oriole, study 2

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Nashville Warblers, too far away!

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, study 2

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When the birds didn’t have our attention we couldn’t help but notice some beautiful fungus which was undoubtedly a product of recent rains.

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Dryad’s Saddle, study 1

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Dryad’s Saddle, study 2

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Mystery Mushroom, (Donna)

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Shelf Fungi, also Dryad’s Saddle?

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A Scarlet Tanager in the middle of Columbus. It doesn’t get much better.

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Scarlet Tanager, (Donna)

 

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A Yellow-throated Warbler Entertains Us

On one of our usual spring walks along Griggs Reservoir and the river below the dam looking for wildflowers and warblers

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Just turning green, a view across the Scioto

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we were excited to see several very interesting and beautiful spring wildflowers. A very small one was new to us. It’s size having allowed it to evade previous discovery.

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Kidney Leaf Buttercup, very small and new to us

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Wild Ginger Flowering

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A White Trout Lilly in full bloom

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Across the river we observed a Red-tailed Hawk peering above the edge of it’s nest. Too far away for a good photograph.

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Red-tailed Hawk on nest

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We noticed that Goldfinches seemed to be everywhere

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Male Goldfinch

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But what made the day really special was that on our way back to the car, having seen no warblers up to that point, we noticed movement near the top of a tree and stopped to take a closer look. For what seemed too short a time, we were entertained by a Yellow-throated Warbler busily going about it’s day.

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A lovely way to end a spring walk along Griggs Reservoir.

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Robin at sunrise

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Thanks for stopping by.

Quietly Looking, Grebes and Loons

Yesterday the air was cool, the sun warm, and there was little wind, so I decided to peddle the bike  down to Watermark Quarries with the idea of enjoying the Loons one more time before they continued their journey north. I found myself feeling very content as I sat quietly on the bank, in the presence of the birds, looking. The Loons, along with a few grebes, and some other suspects, almost seemed to be looking back.

as always click on the image for a better view

 

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Even a Muskrat swam by, Watermark Quarries

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Common Loon, Watermark Quarries

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Common Loon, Watermark Quarries

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Common Loon, Watermark Quarries

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Common Loon taking a bath?, Watermark Quarries

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Red-necked Grebe, Watermark Quarries

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Pied-bill Grebes, Watermark Quarries

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Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries

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Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries

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Horned Grebe, Watermark Quarries

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Thanks for stopping by.

Loons in Central Ohio

I feel that I need to start off by saying that the Common Loon totally fascinates and captures my imagination. If you’ve ever had the privilege of being in the north woods in the spring and early summer you’ll understand why. There’s no question that Loons are visually stunning and their behavior is fascinating, but during mating season it’s the calls they make at night that set them apart from every other bird. Laying quietly in your sleeping bag and listening will take you to a wild, primal, and magical place that few sounds, with the exception of the call of the Wolf, can duplicate.

So it’s with great anticipation every spring that I look for them to pass through Columbus on their way north to breeding grounds on secluded lakes in Michigan and Ontario. During nesting Loon’s do not tolerate human activity very well, especially lakes with a lot of motorboat traffic. The main reason for this is that, while they are very well adapted to life in the water, they cannot walk on land. Because of this their nests must be located at the waters edge making the them vulnerable to boat wakes.

Loon’s eat fish, and the bodies of water in central Ohio provide a place to rest and contain an ample source of food that Loons need to fuel their journey north. With one of the highest wing loadings of any bird they also have one of the highest sustained flying speeds. This coupled with the fact that they can only take of from water presents some interesting challenges. So wherever they land they must have enough room to take off and it seems to take forever for them to do so as they run along the surface flapping their wings slowly gaining flight speed.

But it all works together and it all interconnected. Just as the quiet secluded northern lakes are critical in that they provide suitable food and nesting habitat, so to are the lakes and abandoned quarries of central Ohio. Without these key stops their journey wouldn’t be possible. There would be no Loons.

So below are a few pictures celebrating the yearly passage of Loons through central Ohio.

click on the image for a better view

Antrim Lake:

 

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Mature Common Loon, Antrim Lake

 

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Sneaking along, Antrim Lake

 

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Diving, Antrim Lake

Watermark Quarries:

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Common Loon, Watermark

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Fish sighted!

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Looking for a fish, Watermark

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Loon, Watermark

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Immature Loon, Watermark

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Immature Loon, Watermark

Finally, a few other bird seen in central Ohio in recent days while out looking for Loons:

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Red-breasted Merganser, Scioto River

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Redhead Duck, Watermark

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Horned Grebes, Watermark

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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