Migrating Into Spring

For some living things it is a migration through time that ushers in their seemingly too brief visit each spring. For others it’s a journey through both time and space. In each case April brings “magic” to the central Ohio woods and meadows. It’s a time of beauty in small things as the grander landscape has just begun to put on its coat of green.

With the cool spring it wasn’t that long ago that we saw Snow Trillium, now the Large Flower Trillium have started to appear.

Despite the cold spring in nearby trees we now notice early spring migrants, flowers of another kind.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, (Donna)

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to look. Up or down? Wildflowers capture our imagination, but when we look down as our feet shuffle through last year’s leaf litter and see Twinleaf or Cutleaf Toothwort, how many warblers fly by overhead? A good problem to have.

Twinleaf, (Donna)
Cutleaf Toothwort

Almost too small to notice with the naked eye several objects are in constant erratic motion in the nearby brush. We pursue them with our binoculars, which often only brings a bare branch into focus, but finally succeed in identifying them as a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Showing its crown. A few moments earlier, in full display and missed by the camera, the top of its head had exploded into ruby flame.

Most of what interests me in nature, a wildflower at my feet or a warbler in a tree, is small. Much of it would go unnoticed if I didn’t pay attention and even so there is much that is missed. Wildflowers not as often, but birds really do benefit when viewed though a decent pair of binoculars. However, having said that, the start is really about paying attention. But how does one care enough about things, that have never been experienced or even seen, to pay attention, to look, to listen? For me that’s the wisdom that time spent in nature graciously provides.

An emergent Bloodroot flower is embraced by its leaves, (Donna)
Toadshade Trillium, both the leaves and flower compete for our eye.
Virginia Bluebells are starting to appear, (Donna)
When one looks at Dutchman’s Breeches it’s hard not to smile.
Some wildflowers are very common and unlike trillium can be seen just about anywhere. Such is the case with Spring Beauty.

Along with those that may be passing through, other birds also compete for our attention.

A curious male Eastern Bluebird
Tufted Titmouse plays peek-a-boo.
Female Northern Cardinal
The Eastern Towhee is one of the more striking members of the sparrow family.
Northern Flickers are one of the woodpeckers seen excavating nesting cavities in a nearby park, (Donna)
This Broad-winged Hawk appears to be nesting near Griggs Reservoir not far from our home.
Will this Brown Thrasher make central Ohio home for the season or move on?
Field Sparrow, its song is sublime.
This male Red-winged Blackbird will nest in central Ohio.

The natural world speaks to us in a voice without words. In the “year” of human history it’s been less than four hours that technology and our modern lifestyle, with its illusion of wellbeing and comfort, has isolated us from that world. For many of us its voice is no longer heard. For most of our history we have been an integral part of nature, we have been nature! So, it may not be surprising that it is a voice that truly speaks to our soul. It’s ironic that technology now lets us share its sights and sounds in ways heretofore not imagined. When it comes to appreciating birds, modern binoculars have only been around for a little over 100 years and capable digital photography not much more than 20. Fortunately, if we just get out of our houses and cars and venture into nature without any modern technology, there is much that it has to say.

Thanks for stopping by.

Spring Walk

Despite a colder than normal spring with some trees showing just a hint of green, the longer days and the now more persuasive rays of the sun continue their call for nature to awake. Recently our walks in the wooded areas of local city parks have carried with them the unavoidable expectation of the season.

Bloodroot, so fragile to forces of wind and rain and hear so briefly as if a dream.
A migrating Golden-crowned Kinglet announces the season.
A cloudy cold day is not enough encouragement for the flowers of the Twinleaf to open.
High in a tree this Barred Owl will be impossible to see in a few weeks when the leaves are out.
It’s flower looking tired, it was still exciting to find more evidence of the rare Snow Trillium in a local park.
A migrating Ruby-crowned Kinglet refuses to show its crown but is still a welcome sign of the season.
A Northern Flicker ignores our presence as it works on its nesting cavity.
On a day that’s apparently just warm enough for the insects, an Eastern Phoebe waits.
Arriving a few weeks after the males, a female Redwing Blackbird is entertained by their suitors’ calls.

Sometimes with the expectation of the season comes the unexpected, a Fox Squirrel that appears to be Break Dancing (click on panes for a better view):

Much of what brings real meaning to life are the acquired tastes that must be pursued with intention after just the smallest beginning flicker of interest. In nature, as with most of life’s experiences, the more you look the more you see and then appreciate, becoming richer for it.

Thanks for stopping by.

An Early Spring Paddle

In recent days bird activity betrays the fact that from a distance the landscape is still more reminiscent of a snowless winter day than spring. Hearing but not seeing any first of the season migrating warblers we’ve nonetheless been entertained by other birds engaged in spring preparations or just passing through.

Eastern Phoebe

White-throated Sparrow

Downy Woodpecker

It’s a male!

Female Cardinal.

An illusive Brown Creeper

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It’s not just the sight and sound of birds, but the call of spring peepers in low lying flooded areas, that bring music to the day. Much easier to see but not nearly as vocal, bullfrogs are also present. Under budding bare branches in wooded areas a closer look around our feet reveals spring wildflowers sparkling in last year’s leaf litter.

Spring Beauty

Bloodroot, (Donna)

Twinleaf, (Donna)

Bullfrog

The very small flowers of Harbinger of Spring, (Donna)

Dutchman’s Breeches, (Donna).

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Recently, after arriving at a local park, a magic moment occurred when a large group of White Pelicans were spotted overhead on their way north. Something we don’t recall ever seeing in central Ohio before. By the time cameras left their bags, etc., there was time for just one shot before the birds were obscured by nearby trees.

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The chocolate milk color of water in most central Ohio reservoirs says spring and offers proof of recent heavy rains and runoff from yet to be planted farm fields. However, yesterday we ignored the water’s uninviting color, given that it was an otherwise a perfect day, and launched the canoe to go exploring. As we headed out, numerous Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Bonaparte’s Gulls continued to feed on small dead or dying shad (as they have for the last couple of weeks), while turtles took advantage of the warm sun.

Almost ready to launch on Griggs Reservoir in our fast 18ft Sawyer Cruiser.

Red Eared Sliders enjoy the sun, (Donna).

Many trees are starting to leaf out. There were very few boats on the reservoir for a Saturday.

Great Egrets in breeding plumage, (Donna).

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This large beaver lodge has been at the north end of Griggs Reservoir for years.

A lighter Red Eared Slider and a Map Turtle.

My wife had numerous opportunities to photograph Wood Ducks during our paddle. This was one of her best shots.

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So hopefully warbler spring migrant pictures will grace the pages of a blog in the near future but in the mean time we’ll continue to celebrate all of the other things seen.

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Stay safe and as always, thanks for stopping by

Early Spring Wildflowers At Clifton Gorge

We had been seeing early spring wildflowers closer to home so we though a trip to Clifton Gorge, an area known for it’s unspoiled beauty as well as wildflowers, to see what might be popping up. Driving to our destination we tempered our enthusiasm by agreeing that sometimes it’s just as important to take note of what one doesn’t see as well as what one does. and besides there are few places in Ohio that are better to take a hike.

Conifers along the Little Miami River add color to an otherwise drab early spring landscape.

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We didn’t have to walk far before we realized we wouldn’t be disappointed. True, some flowers still had a way to go:

Dutchman’s Breeches a few days away from being in full bloom.

Actually, this Bloodroot may have opened up later in the day.

Toadshade Trillium’s leaves are beautiful. In this case, the flower, which never really opens up, is a few days away from blooming.

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With dryer weather later in the year, this small waterfall will be no more.

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But other flowers were in full bloom.

Hepatica getting ready to open, (Donna). There are 39 native Ohio species.

Along with the Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring, Hepatica is one of the earliest Ohio wildflowers to bloom, (Donna).

Hepatica, in this case sharp lobed, showing it’s leaves which disappear quickly once the flowers bloom, (Donna).

Bloodroot, trying to catch up.

This Blue Hepatica was stunning, (Donna).

A few Snow Trillium were still in bloom.

Snow Trillium.

Seeming to be a bit early, Wild Ginger was also found.

Wild Ginger has a flower but you need to look closely, (Donna).

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Along the river.

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Perhaps the most exciting find, Scarlet Cup Fungi, was no a flower at all. It occurs from late winter to early spring and was spotted it in several locations

A Scarlet Cup group perhaps a bit past their prime.

This one looked as though it had emerged more recently and had lovely color and shape.

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We hope to get back to Clifton Gorge in a couple of weeks to see how things have changed and very few things speak of change as clearly as spring.

Thanks for stopping by.

A favorite Clifton Gorge landscape.

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