Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Earliest Wildflowers

Some folks may be wondering what happened to “Central Ohio Nature” during the past two months so we thought we better post something to let everyone know we’re alive and well. Actually a little over a week ago, after a winter escape to Florida where we traveled to various state parks and explored numerous natural areas, we found ourselves back in Ohio. Two days of warm weather followed us home before the snow and cold returned on what just happened to be the first official day of spring.

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With camera, canoe, and hiking boots, and a small travel trailer in tow, we feel very blessed to have been able to spend time in warmer climes for a portion of the winter. For the nature lover the beauty, romance, and magic of Florida’s wild areas continually beckons one to explore.

Sunset, Myakka River State Park

Trail, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Bobcat tracks, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Great Blue Heron, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Gator, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Lily Pads on pond, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

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But I digress, this post is about central Ohio’s earliest wildflowers even though mid-March nature in Ohio doesn’t always beckon. One has to journey out with intention and look closely for the magic. The landscape is often rather drab as the below pictures of some of the more interesting features of the early spring woods will attest.

At Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park a vernal pool creates a point of interest in the otherwise still drab landscape. “Vernal pools (often the product of snow melt and early spring rain) are nurseries for a host of species. Big black and yellow spotted salamanders crawl silently along the pool floor to find a suitable place for egg-laying. Caddisflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and other invertebrates abound in these small, still waters. All of these species evolved larvae that develop relatively quickly before the pool dries out”. Ref: Adirondack Almanack.

Unlike the clear water in the previous picture this pool, a remnant of recent high water along Big Darby Creek, is supporting green algae no doubt fortified but agricultural runoff, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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On the last warm day before the snow, armed with my wife’s encouragement, off we went to look for Snow Trillium a favorite early spring wildflower. This small flower, perhaps an inch across, is not as common as it was in the past no doubt the result of habitat destruction. While we are aware of locations where it usually blooms, it’s never certain from one year to the next that it will be seen. An additional challenge is that the flowers don’t hang around long. Once located, we walk carefully and take pictures sparingly as the flower’s small size makes it difficult to see and easy to step on. In addition the soil on the ravine slope where it was blooming was easily disturbed.

Snow Trillium, Franklin County.

Snow Trillium take 2, Franklin County, (Donna).

Snow Trillium take 3, Franklin County, (Donna).

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Now more excited about our prospects, we set off to look for another favorite early spring wildflower, Harbinger of Spring, a few days later. This very small bloom, pollinated by commensurately small bees and flies, is much more common than the trillium. However, due to it’s very small size and the fact that it’s flowers are fleeting and fade away soon after they bloom, it is often missed.

Harbinger of Spring, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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As we continued to look for additional examples of Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring in the woods of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, other just starting to emerge wildflowers revealed their presence.

Emerging Virginia Bluebell, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica take 2, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 3, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 4, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Emerging Purple Cress, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Bloodroot, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot take 2. Still not open two hours after we first saw it, this flower will almost certainly loose at least one petal shortly after blooming making it a challeng to photograph.

Emerging Toadshade Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thinking it would be good to include a few critter pics in this post we couldn’t help but notice that we were being watched as we looked for signs of new life in the forest floor leaf litter.

Fox Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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That about wraps it up for this post. It’s good to be back and we look forward to sharing more experiences as spring unfolds in central Ohio. Also, we will undoubtedly share some of the special things seen during our recent stay in Florida. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXXX

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PS: Right within the city limits along the Scioto River near downtown Columbus, and a short 5 mile bike ride from our house, a new eagle’s nest has appeared. This is truly exciting for those of us who, given the ravages of DDT, would have had to travel a considerable distance to see such a thing in our youth.

Bald Eagle on nest, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

Bees and Blue Jays

It started with report of sightings at other nearby locations so we thought we’d check out Griggs Park to see if we could spot any Yellow-throated Warblers. Sure enough there they were high in the tops of various Sycamore trees too far away for a photograph but visible through our binoculars.

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We waited for a while hoping one would descend from the treetops but no luck so we decided to see what wildflowers were in bloom in the wooded area below the dam as well as other areas in the park.

Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park.

Sometimes they’re pink, (Donna)

Purple Cress, Griggs Park

Emerging Bloodroot, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In full bloom, (Donna).

 

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

 

Twinleaf, (Donna)

Emerging Butterweed, Griggs Park.

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While the Yellow-throated warblers eluded the camera’s lens other birds were more cooperative. Song sparrows, never far away, entertaining us with a spring rendition of their beautiful song. Chickadees in the middle of nesting activities expressed their disapproval when we got too close.  Nuthatches chased each other about. In small shoreline trees and bushes Golden-crowned Kinglets busily looked for insects among the small branches. Meanwhile a pair of blue jays were just starting work on their new nest. The bluebirds seemed content to watch the activity unfold while enjoying the warmth of the spring sun. Further down the trail a robin looked on with disinterest appearing as though lunch had gotten the better of him.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Chickadee, Griggs Park

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

Blue-jay with nesting material, Griggs Park.

Let see, is this how it goes?

That looks about right.

 

Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Enjoying the warm spring sun.

Robin, so many worms so little time, Griggs Park.

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When out in nature one thing a careful observer can almost always count on is seeing something new. That was certainly the case a few days ago when my wife observed a large number of bees engaged in some very curious behavior.

Across a fairly large area bees were flying about going in and out of many recently dug holes.

At one point we observed a ball of bees tumbling across the ground seemingly in the process of trying to kill something.

They continued to attack what ever it was. This when on for some time and we never got a good look at what the object was.

Despite what it looks like the bees may have been trying to protect not kill what ever it is they are crowding unto. In this case it may be the queen.

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Spring with all it’s activity is definitely a favorite time of the year. In the days to come the Yellow-throated warblers will undoubtedly be more cooperative as they are joined by other migrants from the south either taking up residence or just pausing for a while as they continue their journey north. 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.

Spring Wildflowers? Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

The whole idea was to look for early spring wildflowers at one of our favorite Columbus metro parks. As you’ve probably remember us mentioning in the past, one of the good or bad things about looking for very small flowers hiding in last years leaf litter or in amongst other much larger plants is that you find other things, usually trash, but sometimes something very special, something you’ve never seen before. Such was the case yesterday on what turned out to be a seven mile ramble around the trails of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Many folks come to the park to see the bison, once native to Ohio.

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We hadn’t gone far when my wife spotted a very curious object. Arriving back home and checking was our rather limited guide to north American fungi we were able to come up with a fairly educated guess that it was Devil’s Urn, one of the earliest fungi to emerge in the spring.

Devil’s Urn

A little further on another unusual looking fungi was also spotted but this one’s identity remains a mystery.

Some type of polypore?

Turkey Tail, an example of a commonly seen fungi.

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Of coarse the real reason for the hike was the flowers and they didn’t disappoint.

Virginia Bluebells

Purple Cress

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Pink Rue Anemone

The easily overlooked very small flowers of the Harbinger-of-spring, (Donna).

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

Yellow Corydalis, (Donna).

As pretty as any flower, Virginia Waterleaf.

Due to it’s fragile and fleeting nature the flower of the Bloodroot is one of the more difficult to capture.

Immerging Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Take 2, (Donna).

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It’s hard to simultaneously look for wildflowers and birds but a few were hard to ignore, either because of their number or their song.

 

An Eastern Towhee in full song is hard to ignore.

 

At one point a large group of Golden-crowned Kinglets flittered about overhead.

Take two.

Several White-breasted Nuthatches provided a welcome diversion as they chased each other around the tree, (Donna).

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Anytime we discover something that we’ve never seen before it makes for a very special day. 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.

Wishing for Green But . . .

Recently we visited one of our local metro parks for what turned out to be a more difficult than expected hike. The idea was to look for spring wildflowers and migrating warblers. A few days later, after recovering from the hike, we found ourselves paddling the shoreline of a local reservoir again looking for signs of spring.

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Most trees have yet to leaf out which, as the days slowly go by, leaves us wishing things would hurry up. It’s hard not to embrace the idea that nothing says spring like green translucent leaves “stain glassed” by the shadows of branches and light from a low morning sun. However, if one is a wildflower enthusiast you want those ground dwelling plants to have their time in the sun, so no leaves for awhile please. Besides, the bare branches also make migrating birds easier to spot.

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Bare branches mean that plenty of sunlight is reaching the ground. While it looks only to be covered by last year’s fallen leaves there were small green and flowering things to be seen. Clear Creek Metro Park

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We have started hearing, and sometimes seeing, warblers along with a few of the other small migrants.

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park, (Donna).

Golden-crowned Kinglet 8 head on 4 best 4 041516 Griggs cp1

Donna finally got her kinglet! Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

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There were also other suspects:

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Carolina Wren, Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Tree Swallow, Kiwanis River way Park

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Creeper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Larger birds were also in attendance.

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Red tail Hawk seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir while paddling.

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Double Crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons occupied the trees on a small island, while paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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One heron appeared to be eating something.

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Female Mallard with ducklings, , Kiwanis River way Park

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Warmer midday temperatures mean more butterflies. They are also seen earlier in the day, defying what seem like way too cool temperatures. Below are three of the many species seen in recent days.

American Lady 2 041516 Griggs west cp1

American Lady, Griggs Park, (Donna)

 

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Dusky wings and fly an scat, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Morning Cloak, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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While the canopy is still bare there are things to be seen on the forest floor.

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Moss, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Reindeer Lichen, Clear Creek Metro Park

Bloodroot and shadow 1 best 1 041516 Griggs east cp1

Bloodroot can still be found in shaded locations, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Trout Lily, Griggs Park

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Trout Lily couple, Griggs Park.

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A dandelion goes to seed, Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Trillium, Griggs Park west, (Donna).

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Unknown flower, perhaps an escapee, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Wintergreen, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Club moss, Clear Creek Metro Park.

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Today, a hike in Clifton Gorge treated us to more beautiful wildflowers, but they will have to wait for another post.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

 

Cabbage You Wouldn’t Eat

In the last week or so migrating birds have started to move through central Ohio. While there have been reports of early arriving warblers we have yet to see any. That may have more to do with our approach to nature, which at any moment in time focuses on the “low hanging fruit” rather than expending effort to see something that may or may not be there. It’s quite possible that as we were fascinating over a wildflower one of those little buggers flew right over our head. Oh, well.

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So with that in mind this post is mostly about those early spring plants and wildflowers that every year usher in the magic of spring.

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One of the first to be seen is Skunk Cabbage which due to it’s capacity to generate it’s own internal heat, often emerges by melting it’s way through the snow. It’s name comes from it’s skunk like smell. In contrast to it’s smell we’ve always thought it’s appearance to be quite attractive. It almost looks good enough to eat.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Take 2.

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Take 3, almost looks good enough to eat (not recommended!).

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Skunk Cabbage habitat, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park, (Donna).

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Not far from the skunk cabbage it was hard to miss this Eastern Towhee.

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Eastern Towhee, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Another early arriver is Dutchman’s Breeches. It continues to do well against the onslaught of Lesser Celandine in the many areas we visit. Lesser Celandine was introduced into the United States as an ornamental and is now considered invasive.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park, below the dam.

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We did manage to see Swamp Buttercup which is often confused with Lesser Celandine. Note the difference in petals and leaves. It seem less common each year which may be due to the aforementioned invasive.

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Swamp Buttercup, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

220px-RanunculusFicaria[1]

Lesser Celandine, (web pic)

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We always get excited when we spot the beautiful flower of the Bloodroot. Although not uncommon, it is very fragile and doesn’t fair well against the early spring wind and rain.

Bloodroot group 1 032916 Griggs cp1

Bloodroot, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot, Griggs Park below the dam.

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With the rain not every interesting thing on the forest floor is a flower.

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Wood Ear fungus, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Seeming to defy the temperature, early moths and butterflies made an appearance on the few “warmer” days we’ve had.

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Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Moth Grapevine Epimenis 4 LR 3 better 2 040616 Griggs west cp1

Grapevine Moth, Griggs Park west shore, (Donna).

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Red Admiral, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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The flowing water of early spring inspired a beaver’s creativity.

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Beaver dam, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Sometimes a sound overhead pulls us away from the wildflowers.

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Northern Flickers, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Northern Flicker, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Male Cowbird, Griggs Park.

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Fox Sparrow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Tree Swallows, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Male Downy Woodpecker, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Other flowers also fascinated.

Twinleaf buds and leaves 2 040616 Griggs west cp1

Twinleaf buds and leaves, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwort 1 best 1 032916 Griggs cp1

Cutleaf Toothwort, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

Violet 2 duo 1 better 1 040616 Griggs west cp177

Violet, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Spring Beauties 2 colorful 1 032916 Griggs cp13

Spring Beauties, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A lone hepatica brings delicate color to it’s otherwise dreary early spring world.

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Round-lobbed Hepatica, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Other plants were also flowering under the still open tree canopy.

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Toad Shade Trillium, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Virginia bluebells, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Trout Lilies, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Ever feel like you’re being watched.

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Cooper’s Hawk, not far from Griggs reservoir.

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Some plants still have a way to go before their often missed flowers emerge.

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May Apple, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A little further along, (Donna).

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In the days to come we’ll be keeping track of the progress of the May apples while out of he corner of our eye watching for those sneaky migrating warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Rare Flower

After several weeks birding, hiking, and paddling in warm and sunny Florida fifteen hundred miles to our south, we’ve returned to early spring in Ohio.

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Fortunately the welcoming committee was out when we decided to get reacquainted with some of our favorite places.

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This year our timing was just right to see a number of rare Snow Trillium along Griggs Reservoir. This made the day because in past years we often waited too long and missed them. This smallest of Ohio’s trilliums typically arrives in middle to late March and doesn’t hang around. That fact coupled with their small numbers makes them a challenge to find.

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Snow Trillium

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This one’s looking up.

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It’s very unusual to see a group like this, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot were also out but the previous night’s heavy rain was hard on their fragile petals.

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Bloodroot

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Some show color before the flower opens.

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Crab apple blossoms in early spring are always a delight.

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Crab apple Blossoms

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As though pretended to be flowers, spring leaves emerge.

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Leafing out.

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Turkey tail joins in on the competition for the camera’s lens.

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Turkey Tail

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Along Griggs Reservoir Cedar Waxwings announce spring’s arrival.

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Cedar Waxwing

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On the reservoir, marking the time of year, a lone Ruddy Duck seems to be on it’s way to somewhere further north.

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Ruddy Duck

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I apologize for the longer than normal absence of posts. To compensate we hope to have some interesting shots of things seen in Florida in the coming weeks as we continue to celebrate spring in central Ohio.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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