My Florida Photo Favorites

It’s been several weeks since our return from Florida. For the last few years we’ve been blessed to travel to various state parks exploring nature and the area’s natural beauty. I’ve chosen to post a few of my favorite photos from this years trip. A following post will include some of my wife’s favorite photos. Photos are favorites, when they capture the unique beauty of a creature, are of something not seen before, or contribute in some way to the story. Favorites need not always be great photographs.

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The parks visited over a period of eight weeks were: Myakka River State Park, Kissimmee Prairie State Park, Lake Kissimmee State Park, Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park,  Ochlocknee River State Park, and Three Rivers State Park. The idea was to start south and work our way north as the weather warmed going into early spring.

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This year we used bikes for the first time to initially explore trails which we could then hike if they looked promising. This coupled with the use of a canoe allowed us to spend time in a number of different Florida environments. On long hikes or bike rides our “go to” camera was the Panasonic FZ200. In the canoe or on shorter hikes we used DSLRs with telephoto zooms.

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Along the trail, typical of many of the parks visited.

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Myakka River State Park has been a favorite for the past two years primarily because of the potential for nature/bird photography. Paddling can be enjoyable if you and your partner(s) don’t mind being in close proximity to some rather large gators. The distance one can paddle within the park may be limited depending on water conditions and your determination. Hiking is good with some trails traversing more diverse habitat than others.

This Glossy Ibis gives ample reason for the name, Myakka River SP.

A Little Blue Heron strikes a rather exotic pose, Myakka River SP.

These Roseate Spoonbills were taking full advantage of the concentrated but temporary food source caused by a recent hurricane that flooded a substantial portion of the park trapping fish and other edibles in depression pools left as the water receded, Myakka River SP.

Wood Storks and Whistling Ducks seem to get along just fine, Myakka River SP.

A Wood Stork shows off it’s catch, Myakka River SP.

Momentarily startled, birds take a break from the depression pool feeding frenzy, Myakka River SP.

The Whistling Ducks in a better light, Myakka River SP.

Red Shouldered Hawks (FL morph) are very common, Myakka River SP.

This Snowy Egret provides ample proof as to why these birds were almost driven the extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s all for the sake of fashion, Myakka River SP.

White Pelicans over Myakka River SP. Something that must be witnessed in person as a photograph does not capture their graceful flight.

Florida Tassel Flower, Myakka River SP.

Peaceful coexistence in Myakka River SP. At least until the gator grows up!

If you love gators take the hike (permit required) to the Deep Hole in Myakka River SP. A hiking partners count indicated that there were 151 along the shore and 18 in the water the day we were there.

An Anhinga dries out and in the process makes a beautiful picture, Myakka River SP.

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Kissimmee Prairie State Park was a new park for us this year. The main draw was the chance to see Crested Caracara as well as Burrowing Owls. The trails, while extensive, were often under water. A trail capable bicycle is almost essential if you really want to explore the park. While no Burrowing Owls were seen, a Black-crowned Night Heron rockery as well as other bird species made the stay worthwhile.

Numerous creatures call the park home.

While looking for the Crested Caracara we were delighted to see this Loggerhead Shrike, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Take 2.

Eastern Meadowlarks were quite common in the park. Getting close enough for a really great photo was always a challenge.

A beautiful White-eyed Vireo.

Trail in Kissimmee Prairie SP.

A side by side comparison of a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Black Swallowtails almost never seem to land but then one afternoon, as I looked at some distant birds, there it was right at my feet..

A Black-crowned Night Heron rookery of perhaps 30 or 40 birds was discovered along one of the trails. They scattered as soon as we got close.

Exploring the trail near the rookery, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

While reconnoitering a new trail we found this Florida banded water snake, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Probably the most interesting bird seen during our stay was the Crested Caracara. Common in SW Texas it’s range is very limited in Florida, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Take 2.

 

Can you find the insect? Kissimmee Prairie SP.

An immature Little Blue Heron casts a lovely reflection, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Sometimes we only saw evidence of wildlife, a Bobcat, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

One wonders how many birds fall prey to alligators, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

A lone sentinel, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

While many miles of hiking trails were advertised not all were suitable for that purpose.

Numerous White Peacock butterflies graced the trail edge as we hiked, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

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Lake Kissimmee State Park is a favorite offering fairly extensive paddling and hiking opportunities. Nature viewing, while not as concentrated an experience as Myakka River, is very good. Campsites are some of the best in Florida. The only downside is airboat noise on the weekend and make no mistake they are load.

There are many lovely trails in the park.

A Tricolored Heron poses as we paddle Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP

Not many Green Herons are seen in Florida, perhaps due to their excellent camouflage, but his one was spotted along Tiger Creek.

Take 2.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP.

A Snowy Egret along Tiger Creek.

While bicycling on one of the park trails this Eastern Towhee posed for a picture.

Along the lake shore this Red-shouldered Hawk almost eluded the camera’s lens.

One of the most beautiful birds in Florida, the Purple Gallinule seen along the shore of Lake Kissimmee. Supposedly not all that uncommon but we haven’t seen many over the three years we’ve been going to Florida.

A Pine Warbler seems to be checking something out.

Sure enough!

Some distance away, a solitary Bald Eagle watches as we paddle by.

In a quest to get a dramatic picture of this rather large gator we paddled a little too close. It wasn’t happy and neither was my wife!

A Northern Parula Warbler proves difficult to photograph.

Along the trail in Lake Kissimmee SP a rather large Yellow Rat Snake makes itself comfortable in the morning sun.

A closer look.

A Gopher Tortoise ambles along a park road. They can live for almost 60 years and their borrows provide habitat for numerous cretures including Burrowing Owls. Days will go by and we won’t see one and then .   .   .

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Payne’s Prairie Preserve State park was a new park for us this year. With it’s extensive area we hoped to see a variety of wildlife. Of interest is the fact that the park maintains herds of Spanish Horses as well as Bison. Many waterfowl had already departed on their journey north when we were there.

I had been trying for several days to get a good picture of a Northern Parula Warbler as they seemed to be everywhere. Then one morning sitting outside while visiting a local bakery for breakfast one just about landed on my nose, thankfully I had my FZ200.

Blue Winged Teal, Sweetwater Wetlands Park near Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

Green Winged Teal???  Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

A mother’s love! Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Osprey, Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Palmetto reflections, Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

The Spanish horse is considerably smaller than a typical quarter horse. All have the same coat.

A Song Sparrow catches a spider, Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

A very small anole, Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

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For a number of years Ochlocknee River SP has been one of our favorite parks due to it’s potential for paddling as will as the close proximity of other areas of interest for the birder and nature lover; Bald Point SP and St Marks NWR. Hiking in the park itself, while not extensive, does provide the opportunity to see the threatened Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

The white morph of the Gray Squirrel comprises a charming part of the park’s welcoming committee.

A small active bird, the Brown Headed Nuthatch is a challenge to photograph.

Oystercatcher, Bald Point SP near Ochlocknee River SP.

Royal Terns, Bald Point SP.

A juvenile Bald Eagle flexes it’s wings, St. Marks NWR.

Brown Pelicans, Bald Point SP.

Least Terns, Bald Point SP.

Taking a break during an eight mile paddle exploring a side creek to the Ochlocknee River, Ochlocknee River SP.

A group of Sanderlings take a great interest in something, Bald Point SP.

A Ruddy Turnstone checks out what’s left of a Horseshoe Crab, Bald Point SP.

This Brown Thrasher was a regular visitor at our campsite.

The Ruddy Turnstone is thinking; “Let someone else do the work and just as they retrieve the morsel, steal it!”

Rain Lilies along the road, Ochlocknee River SP.

Snowy Plover, St Marks NWR.

Marbled Godwit, St Marks NWR. A life bird for us!

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Ochlocknee River SP.

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Three Rivers SP was a new park for us this year and was selected primarily for it’s paddling potential. The lake was fairly open and much of the shoreline was shallow and weed choked making it less than ideal for paddling. Due to the lakes huge area wildlife was well dispersed making viewing a bit of a challenge. It was an excellent area for butterflies with some good, if not extensive, hiking trails.

Red Buckeye was in bloom at Three Rivers SP.

Taking a break during a long paddle on Lake Seminole, Three Rivers SP.

Immature Common Loon, Three Rivers SP.

A closer look.

Rain Lilies, Three Rivers SP.

Black Swallowtails on Bull Thistle.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Zebra Swallowtail, Three Rivers SP.

Black Swallowtail.

An almost constantly in motion Pipevine Swallowtail

Osprey on nest, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

Crimson clover, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

Lily pads, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

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That’s it for this post. Many other pictures could have been posted but if you made it this far I’m impressed with your forbearance. Looking back on our experience, we’re reminded what an unbelievably beautiful but fragile resource Florida’s natural areas are. As one drives the highways of the state signs of new or proposed development are not uncommon so pressure on limited resources continues.

Sunset, Myakka river SP.

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When I started out taking pictures years ago I was fascinated with light and composition as subjects of interest were photographed. It was rewarding to make the effort to capture what was being experienced when looking at a scene. A big fringe benefit, and true blessing, has been a heightened curiosity about the world around me. What is that bird or bug that was just photographed, what is significant about it, and why does it matter. The world is much bigger now.

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Thanks for stopped by

An Almost Perfect Disguise!

Caterpillars can be hard to believe. In recent weeks my wife’s “eagle eye” has spotted one that certainly seems to confirm this. Along with interesting caterpillars there have been other August insects and wildflowers to fascinate. Each season offers up it’s own treasures.

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As an aside, my old Canon manual focus glass has found new life mounted on a Sony A7 body so I’ve enjoyed trying to capture a “sense of place” with the old lenses as we explore some of our local haunts.

Griggs Reservoir, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

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During a recent walk we entered the world of caterpillars when my wife noticed this interesting specimen.

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar shows off it’s horns while the picture gets photo bombed by a pair of very small mating moths. The horns are usually not evident but a slight tap on the it’s head brings them out, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

The Black Swallowtail butterfly:

Male Black Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Female Black Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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On another day as we walked along Griggs Reservoir, three almost identical “bird droppings” were spotted. Very suspicious!

Our suspicion was validated as we identified them as Giant Swallowtail caterpillars. (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

The Giant Swallowtail butterfly:

Giant Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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The Monarch Butterfly caterpillars had a though act to follow after the “bird droppings”. However, this year it’s been exciting to see so many as well as the resultant butterflies. You know it’s a good year when you often hear, or say to your hiking companion, “There’s another Monarch!” Last year we saw very few.

Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Reservoir Park.

The Monarch butterfly:

Monarch Butterfly, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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The Big Darby has been running low but clear. A sign of late summer in Ohio.

The Big Darby, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

For Ohio the water was very clear in the Big Darby but it’s shallow depth and silt covered bottom didn’t show it off, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

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During a lunch break along Alum Creek Reservoir last week, a number of wasps were more than happy to provide free entertainment!

Katydid Wasp, (Sphex nudus) with a stunned katydid nymph, Alum Creek State Park, (Donna).

The Katydid Wasp proceeds to drag it’s pray into a pre dug hole to serve as a food source for it’s larvae when they hatch, (Donna).

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Two days ago, as we made our way along one of our area metro park’s excellent trails, I mentioned to my wife that there appeared to be two humming birds around some thistle half way across the meadow. Before I realized what had happened she disappeared. The only way I could reel her in was with the zoom on my camera!

Going after the humming birds, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Success, (Donna).

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Along with caterpillars and butterflies there have been other interesting late August insects as well.

Mating Thread-waisted Wasps, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

 

Cuckoo Leafcutter Bee with it’s fascinating blue eyes, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

When does a moth not look like a moth? When it’s an Ailanthus Webworm Moth! Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A grasshopper hugs a coneflower, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tachinid Fly, (Epalpus signifier), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The Common Spreadwing is the largest of the damselflies, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A quiet fishing spot along Griggs Reservoir.

Griggs Reservoir.

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Fungi hasn’t been that noticeable due to the lack of rain but recently two examples begged to be photographed.

Northern Tooth fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A rather large polypore, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Wildflowers.

Cup Plant, Griggs Reservoir Park, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

Virginia Knot Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Gracing the shore of Griggs Reservoir, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

Tall Bellflower, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Wingstem, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Great Blue Lobelia, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Coneflower Prairie, Battelle Darby Greek Metro Park.

Ironweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

False Dragonhead, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A fascinating plant, Ground Cherry, discovered during a recent walk.

Ground Cherry, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The flower, (Donna).

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As we look for butterflies, or are engaged in other pursuits, it’s hard not to notice the other things.

In relation to it’s size the very small Cricket Frog probably jumps the furthest of any of it’s species! Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

An immature Indigo Bunting eludes a good photo at the very top of a tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

An over exuberant Blue Jay enjoys the water, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Black-crowned Night Heron photographed recently while fishing on Griggs Reservoir. Probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to one.

A “too cute” Red Squirrel along the shore of Griggs Reservoir. Exciting because we rarely see them in this area.

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In late August the sound of insects dominate the woods.

As if in protest, a Carolina Wrens does it’s best to break the silence of it’s kind.

In the now often cooler mornings, heavy with dew, spider webs are everywhere.

Walking, those suspended across the trail brush against one’s face.

By noon, as if  to deny that summer is slowly coming to an end, butterflies and dragonflies take flight.

Bees, seemingly busier than ever, are everywhere on late summer wildflowers.

Leaves on some trees have already starting to change.

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Looking for birds, Griggs Reservoir Park, Sony A7 Canon FD 28mm.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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

It’s Their Eyes

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

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

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

Bee Balm, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

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

Chicory, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

Swamp Milkweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Jewelweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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

Gray-headed Cone Flower, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Easily overlooked Hairy Wood-mint, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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

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

Lazard’s Tail, (Donna).

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

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

Common Wood-Nymph, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Blue-fronted Dancer, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Busy backyard Bumble bees.

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

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

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

Ebony Jewelwing, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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

Clymene Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

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

Red Admiral, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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

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

Emerald Jumper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2.

Great Spangled Fritillary, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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

Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

Black Swallowtail in our backyard.

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

Cicada, Cedar Bog, (Donna).

Sunglasses anyone?

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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

 

A Spring Gift Along The Reservoir

This post covers some of the birds as well as other things that have been seen along the Scioto River corridor in central Ohio in the past few days. Many of the birds seen will continue their migratory journey further north. It’s a magical time of year as green spaces, especially those along lakes and rivers, are transformed by the sights and sounds of birds perhaps not seen other times of the year.

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Some birding days are better than others. In the spring a strong wind from the north usually means more birds. A wind from the south seems to send them on their way. All the birds may seem to be in the treetops one day while the next they’re at eye level making an impossible subject easy to photograph. While no one can guarantee what will be seen, even an inexpensive pair of binoculars will greatly increase your chances of seeing birds allowing you to enter their world and appreciate creatures with such unique beauty that it’s sometimes hard to believe.

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Everyone has their own way of appreciating nature, while we do make a point of traveling to more distant locations, we try to concentrate on a few areas close to home, observing the changes as the year progresses. A benefit of visiting a “favorite spot” often is that one is blessed with a sense of ownership, not in a possessive sense, but rather as a caring participant. A litter bag is always part of our equipment as it’s especially hard to walk by litter after one has just seen a Scarlet Tanager. The real plus is that through listening, looking (perhaps taking a picture), and allowing myself to be in the place, I’m extended beyond myself to a larger whole. Through this experience, which I once heard referred to as “a prayer”, I become richer and more grateful.

 

Griggs Park along the reservoir.

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A few days ago my wife was looking for warblers right along the river as I did likewise along a some trees a little further away from the water.  She was paying attention to the low lying brush at water’s edge when she decided to look up into the overhead tree branches and found herself confronting a much larger bird.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto River just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam, it didn’t stay long .   .   .

before it flew across the river .   .   .

to a safer perch. (Donna).

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Out of the corner of my eye I did see the eagle as it flew by but right in front of me there was a Great Crested Flycatcher. What to do, a flycatcher in the bush or a flying eagle. I chose the bird in the bush.

Great-created Flycatcher along the Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir Dam..

Take 2.

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Warblers are surprisingly small when compared to the Great Created Flycatcher but make up for their size in quantity. Many, including Cape May and Yellow-rumped, continue to be seen.

Black and White warbler, Emily Traphagen Park.

Take 2.

Male American Redstart, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Redstart with mayfly, Griggs Park.

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It’s hard to ignore the orioles which continue to be very common. Right now there are so many in Griggs Park that it’s quite possible that only a few will nest here with the remainder heading further north.

Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

Female Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

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It was a real treat to see our first Cedar waxwings of the year.

Cedar Waxwings, they handed the berry back and forth several times. Griggs Park.

Cedar Waxwings, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Red-eyed Vireos are often spotted in dense treetop leaf cover but every once in a while they come down so we can get a better look.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park.

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An Acadian Flycatcher was also seen.

Acadian Flycatcher? Griggs Park.

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We first spotted a streak of white, black, and red. Open landing the Rose Breasted Grosbeak played hide and seek as it chowed down on what were apparently very tasty seeds.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park.

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Another bird seen only during spring migration is the Scarlet Tanager.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

Just a minute.

There, that’s better.

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Morning sun and leaves, Griggs Park.

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The Swainson’s Thrush is usually only seen during migration.

Swainson’s Thrushes were everywhere in Griggs Park.

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Our first Kingbird of the year along Griggs Reservoir. Some will stick around to nest in the park.

Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We also noticed a few “non-bird” type things.

Immature male Common Whitetail, Emily Traphagen Park.

False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Female Black Swallowtail, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

The Northern Water snake orgy goes on, see previous post, (Donna).

A Woodchuck tries to blend in, Griggs Park.

Wild Columbine, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna). This photo was inspired by one of our birding friends.

A chipmunk poses, Duranceaux Park.

Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Zebulon Skipper, Emily Traphagen Park. (Donna).

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We can’t forget all the other birds seen in the past week. Many of these are year round or summer residents.

A very noisy Winter Wren, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park.

Hidden in the leaf cover an immature Eastern Phoebe waits for it’s next meal, Duranceaux Park.

Blue Jays continue to be industrious, Griggs Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker looks for a meal in Emily Traphagen Park.

The beautiful marking of a Northern Flicker are clearly seen as it briefly pauses overhead, Griggs Park.

Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park.

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Hairy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

Easy eats may be why we’ve seen so many Great Egrets along the reservoir and river this spring, (Donna).

Great Egrets, Griggs Park

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With spring in full swing, there’s almost too much is going on, but we hope everyone enjoyed this photographic celebration of spring in central Ohio.

Griggs Reservoir Cove, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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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.

Florida, Paddling, Hiking, and Other Things Seen

Most of our photographic energy when paddling or hiking in Florida is directed at the birds, however it’s hard not to see other things when you’re out exploring. For any of you that have travelled to Miami or Naples or any of the other developed areas these pictures will not remind you of that Florida. In our quest to explore ad be in nature we try to avoid such places and look for the natural beauty. While it is still a place of much beauty, when driving through the many developed areas one cannot help but feel Florida is being “loved” to death.

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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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The first place we visited was Myakka River State Park. In addition to many species of birds it’s home a lot of very large Alligators!

Hammock, Myakka River SP.

 

Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Living dangerously, Myakka River SP.

Alligator heaven, Myakka River SP.

Almost everything’s cute when it’s little, Myakka River SP.

Cooling off, Myakka River SP.

Lots of babies, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Bellowing, Myakka River SP.

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Sunset, Myakka River SP.

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Rumor has it that the alligators enjoy a turtle now and then. Hopefully this fella will live to a ripe old age.

Florida Redbelly Cooter, Myakka River SP

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Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Air plants, Myakka River SP.

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Whether in Myakka or otherwise there were always butterflies and other insects to facinate.

White Peacock Butterfly, Myakka River SP

Black Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, central Florida, (Donna).

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, (Donna).

Pondhawk, Ochlockonee River SP.

Long-tailed Skipper, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Zebra Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Palamedes Swallowtail, Chassahowitzka River.

Red-banded Hairstreak, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Jumping Spider, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Roseate Skimmer, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Ornate Pennant, Lake Kissimmee SP. (Donna)

Fiddler Crabs, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

Fiddler Crabs in combat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

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One of the more interesting places in Myakka River SP  is the Deep Hole.

Heading towards the Deep Hole.

Alligators were everywhere!

The Deep Hole, Myakka River SP.

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After Myakka we made our way about 90 miles tp Lake Kissimmee SP in the center of the state and then on to the Chassahowitzka River area and then Chassahowitzka River SP in the panhandle.

Live Oak, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Lake Kissimmee SP

Exploring Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Along the trail, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

St Mark’s Lighthouse, St Mark’s NWR.

Sopchoppy River, St Marks NWR.

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My wife was better about documenting the flowers.

Thistle, Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, (Donna)

Golden Club, Sopchoppy River, (Donna).

Florida Scrub Roseling, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

British Soldier Lichen, Lake Kissimmee SP

Sundew, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Rain Lilies, Wakulla River

Checking out the Spider Lilies, Wakulla River.

Spider Lilies, Wakulla River

Southern Blackberry, Ochlockonee River SP.

 

St John’s Wort, Ochlockonee River SP.

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We also ran across a number of snakes and other reptiles during our adventures.

Banded Water Snake, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Eastern Racer, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Brown Anole, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Green Anole, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna)

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.   .   .  and then some other creatures.

Armadillo, Chassihowitzka River area, (Donna).

Bobcat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

White Squirrel, Ochlockonee SP.

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Central Florida landscape, (Donna).

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Below are some birds pics that missed the previous Florida post.

Osprey trying a new fishing technique, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

White Pelican trying not to get it’s feet wet, Upper Myakka Lake, (Donna).

Limpkins, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Red Shouldered Hawk (FL variant), Lake Kissimmee SP, (Donna).

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This year proved to be especially good for seeing River Otters while we paddled various rivers.

River Otter, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

River Otter, Sopchoppy River, (Donna)

River Otter, Sopchoppy River

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Views from the canoe, an incomplete photo record of places paddled.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP.

St Marks River, (Donna).

Tiger Creek into Tiger Lake, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Crawford Creek, Chassahowitzka River

Fish Camp, Crawford Creek.

St Marks River

Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Canoe wake reflection, Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Yes there is someone in the stern of the canoe.

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Those of you that follow this blog know I like to occasionally like to put a line in the water. Florida didn’t disappoint.

Largemouth Bass Sopchoppy River

Largemouth Bass, Lake Kissimmee, (Donna).

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That about wraps up Florida for this year. Whether on foot, in a canoe or kayak it’s a great place to enjoy nature. Thanks for stopping by.

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Sand and Water, Bald Point SP, (Donna).

 

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XXX

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

Back Road Rambling, Central Ohio Nature Preserves

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

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

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Smith Pioneer Cemetery, dry and not much in bloom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Royal Catchfly was everywhere, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

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

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

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Take 2.

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Take 3.

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Overlooking a sea of soybeans, Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery.

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

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

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and another one of those “things”.

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Spain Creek Covered Bridge.

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

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Headwaters of the Big Darby.

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Big Darby Watershed

 

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Area Map.

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A 2.6 mile trail meanders through woods and meadows.

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Signs provid information on the area.

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

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Variegated Fritillary, Big Darby Headwaters Preserve, Donna.

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Another view, Donna.

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

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

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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