A Rare Duck

Based on a reported sighting we recently we found ourselves at Prairie Oaks Metro Park gazing intently out across one of the park ponds looking for Long-tailed Ducks. It’s a species that breeds in the far north and is otherwise usually found along the Atlantic and Pacific coast and if seen would be a new bird for us. After a tip from a fellow birder, and with the use of a spotting scope and binoculars, one bird was located without too much trouble. It must have found something to its liking in one particular location because after numerous dives it always surfaced in the same general area. While I enjoyed watching the bird’s behavior through the scope my wife did her best to get some shots despite the less than optimal light.

My wife managed to get some shots showing the long tail.




While observing the Long-tailed Duck a pair of Horned Grebes made an appearance.

Horned Grebes, (Donna).


As a bonus just a day before while looking for migrating waterfowl a Bufflehead proved to be unusually cooperative.

Male Bufflehead, Watermark Quarry.

At least for a while  .   .   .

Taking flight.



But as if the Long-tailed Duck wasn’t enough, the most magical moment may have been right after seeing the Bufflehead when a much smaller but no less charming bird appeared in a bush not far away.

While it appears larger, the Golden-crowned Kinglet is about the same weight as a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Too cute for just one picture.


Several years ago we were paddling on a reservoir just northeast of our home when a Bald Eagle flew overhead. They were not all that common in central Ohio at the time. A few minutes later, hugging the shore, we entered small cove, and the very next bird we saw was a hummingbird darting from flower to flower. To see an eagle and a hummingbird in such close proximity in time and space left us in awe of the incredible diversity and beauty of birds.


Thinking about what nature means to humankind and considering for a moment the size, shape, behavior, habitat, and abilities in just the world of birds stretches our mind beyond what we ever thought possible and I believe beckons us to hold all that is part of nature sacred.


Thanks for stopping by.


Waterfowl and Ice

A recent walk was filled with anticipation. Cold weather had resulted in a fresh covering of ice on Griggs Reservoir. When this occurs, the Scioto River, free flowing below the dam, concentrates any waterfowl that might be in the area.


On the reservoir there were signs of animal activity.


A light layer of snow reveals the movement of animals crossing the reservoir.


Tracks, might be a Robin.


A Canada Goose apparently changed it’s mind, (Donna).


A frozen fish, and the promise of an easy meal, tempts a small animal. It didn’t make much progress so apparently the “frozen” part was not to it’s liking.


Design, (Donna)


What we hadn’t anticipated were the fascinating ice formations along the river. As mentioned in previous posts they are caused by freezing temperatures and receding water levels.


The Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.


Admiring one of the many “Ice Chandeliers”.


Ice chandeliers, (Donna)


Chandelier variations, (Donna).


Along the river, (Donna)




A closer look.


The bigger picture, (Donna).


A small formation, (Donna).


After some time enjoying and trying the capture the beauty of the ice we continued our search for the anticipated waterfowl.


Ring-necked ducks posing for the camera, (Donna).



Another view through shoreline branches..


While not as plentiful, across the river Hooded Mergansers also made an appearance.


There were also a few Goldeneyes.


.   .   .   and Buffleheads.


A few other birds refused to be left out:


A female house sparrow enjoys the late afternoon sun.


Female Downy.


A Goldfinch “photo bombs” the Junco’s portrait.


Based on weather forecasts, the ice on the reservoir should be around for awhile. That considered, who knows what birds will be seen in the days to come. In their number there might even be a Bald Eagle.


Thanks for stopping by.







Visitors from The Frozen North

February in Ohio has left us shivering. The abnormally cold weather has resulted in frozen lakes and reservoirs both here and further north. The open water that remains provides refuge to waterfowl that would normally be much more dispersed. One such area is the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.


Below is a partial photographic inventory of the birds seen there in the last day. Some, such as the Common Golden Eye and Hooded Merganser, are fairly common winter visitors. Others are less so, and because of that they are a real treat to see.


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Common Goldeneyes and Ring-necked Ducks cruise the opposite shore, Scioto River below Griggs.


Red-breasted Mergansers join the Goldeneyes.


A parade of Goldeyes.


Safety in numbers.


What appears to be a lone Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid.


Lesser Scaup


Common Mergansers almost avoiding the camera.


Common Mergansers


Surrounded by Canada Geese


Great Blue Herons not wanting to have their picture taken.


A Red-breasted Merganser tries to fit in.


A pair of Canvas Backs, a Black Duck, and a female Bufflehead almost go unnoticed.


We often think of there being less biodiversity in winter but the Scioto River below Griggs dam opens our eyes. Thanks for looking in.


A Winter Waterfowl Invasion


One of the most exciting things in central Ohio nature happens in the winter when sufficiently cold weather freezes the reservoirs. As mentioned in previous posts, winter waterfowl from further north are normally dispersed on the large reservoirs around Columbus making observation difficult. But when they freeze the birds concentrate in the open water just downstream of the dam spillways.


Today we visited the spillway just below the Hoover Reservoir Dam and had great views of Buffleheads, Hooded Mergansers, Northern Shovelers, Common Goldeneyes, Lesser Scaups, Redheads, American Wigeons, and Ringed-neck ducks. It was fun to see other people out with cameras and binoculars enjoying the birds. Not something we would have probably seen 15 or 20 years ago. Nowadays there is definitely a greater interest.

(click on images for a better view)


Spillway below Hoover Reservoir Dam.

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Female and male Northern Shovelers

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Male Bufflehead

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Male Northern Shoveler

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Shovelers and Redheads

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Northern Shoveler and Lesser Scaup


Immature male Northern Shoveler

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American Wigeons

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Male and female Northern Shovelers


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A couple of days before our trip to Hoover we visited one of our usual haunts, the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, and saw a immature Bald Engle, Common Goldeneyes and Hooded Mergansers. Being close to home this location has become our “go to area”  as we can almost always count on seeing something of interest.


Immature Bald Eagle, study 1


Immature Bald Eagle, study 2


Hooded Mergansers


Common Goldeneyes


Thanks for looking in

It Must Be Spring We Saw Turtles

We’ve been spending a fair amount of time the last few days looking for migrating waterfowl. However, a couple of days ago we did see our first warbler of the year, a Yellow-rumped, so it’s been a challenge deciding where to put our effort. All of the sudden it seems a though things are changing really fast.


Yesterday while on Loon patrol along Griggs Reservoir Park , a Bufflehead stayed close to shore and posed as a Song Sparrow sang nearby.

Click on images for a better view.

Bufflehead, Griggs Reservoir 033114

Male Bufflehead and you can actually see it’s eye. Difficult to photograph because of the very white whites and black blacks. Griggs Reservoir

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir, 033114

Song Sparrow along Griggs Reservoir, Certainly not a Prothonotary Warbler but with a song second to none!

Today we visited Watermark and were fortunate to see Red-necked and Horned Grebes along with Coots, Canada Geese, Double Crested Cormorants and Buffleheads. The Grebes were of particular interest as we had hoped to see the Loon that had been reported at this location yesterday. As you may have guessed all the birds were pretty far away when photographed.

Red-necked Grebe, study 2, Watermark, 040114

Red-necked Grebe (non-breeding), Watermark

Red-necked Grebe, Watermark, 040114

Red-necked Grebe (non-breeding), study 2, Watermark

Horned Grebe, Watermark 040114

Horned Grebe, Watermark

Horned Grebe, study 2 Watermark 040114

Horned Grebe, study 2, Watermark

Another stop was Kiwanis Riverway Park where we were excited to see our first turtles of the year on a log sunning themselves. You could hardly blame them as it was sunny with a temperature of about 75 F. While in the same area a Red-shouldered Hawk flew over with a small snake in it’s talons and landed nearby. How often does that happen?

Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

A hint of green, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Male Mallard, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Male Mallard looking quite comfortable, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-eared Slider, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Red-eared Slider, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Painted Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Painted Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Red-shouldered Hawk with snake closeup, Kiwanis Riverway Park, 040114

Close-up of the unfortunate snake.




A Red-necked Grebe Crashes a Goldeneye Mating Dance

Yesterday we decided to try something different; just sit quietly at rivers edge just below Griggs Dam and wait for the birds to come to us. We usually photograph birds as we walk and what ever we happen to see is what we try to capture. Because we’re walking, sometimes relatively long distances, carrying a lot of equipment is usually not part of the plan. Most shots are hand held with maybe a convenient tree used as a brace

So there we sat on three legged collapsible stools and waited. We both had our cameras braced on lightweight tripods fitted with ball heads which allowed them to swivel easily to capture the action. The tripods weren’t heavy enough to fully support our DSLR’s with long telephotos but were light and portable and should provide additional support.

We hoped to accomplish two things; see if waiting quietly in one spot improved our ability to get more candid shots of waterfowl behavior, and secondly see if additional support (even if just a lightweight tripod) improved image sharpness and quality.

The first test shots were taken of a grebe on the other side of the river as, at that point, there was nothing else around. To be honest, since they were just “test shots”, I didn’t take a good look at the bird until writing this blog entry which was after reading Seasons Flow’s latest post. Thanks to this follow Columbus blogger we were able to correctly ID the bird as a Red-necked Grebe, rare for Ohio, and the first my wife and I had ever seen.

Click on the images for a better view.

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Red-necked Grebe, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam

It wasn’t long after we tired of photographing the grebe that a number of Goldeneyes flew in and landed right in front of us but on the other side of the river. What happened next was truly amazing. It was a mating dance of Goldeneyes with lots of movement among the birds. The following stills obviously don’t show the movement so just image a lot of movement between each pic and you’ll kind of get the idea.

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Things started out quietly enough

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But then . . .

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Maybe things are back to normal.

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Maybe not!

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Let’s try something different!

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Then again, I think she noticed me!

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Now what?

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Here we go again!

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Wow that was a lot of work but I think she likes me!

The results of our experiment seem to show that, under the right circumstances, there is an advantage to waiting for the birds to come to you. Secondly there appears to be a definite advantage to using a lightweight tripod as a brace when shooting with a long telephoto lens.

Some other shots taken that day. All at relatively long distances and cropped.


Male Mallard


Ring-necked Duck


Greater Scaup




Thanks for stopping by.

It’s Spring in Central Ohio

It’s been a long winter that has had a hard time letting go but slowly it is happening with signs of life everywhere!



Transition, Prairie Oaks


Coltsfoot, O’Shaughnessy

Mystery Bird!

Mystery Bird!, O’Shaughnessy

Spring Pond

Spring Pond, O’Shaughnessy

Frog in Pond

Frog in Pond, O’Shaughnessy

Very small minnows in pond.

Very small minnows in pond, O’Shaughnessy.

Egrets in flight.

Egrets in flight O’Shaughnessy.

Marsh Marigolds - Below Griggs Dam

Marsh Marigolds – Below Griggs Dam

Redwing Blackbird - Prairie Oaks

Redwing Blackbird – Prairie Oaks

Tufted Titmouse with spring fever.

Tufted Titmouse with spring fever.

Buffleheads - Prairie Oaks

Buffleheads – Prairie Oaks

Hooded Mergansers - Big Darby Prairie Oaks

Hooded Mergansers – Big Darby Prairie Oaks

Great Egret - O'Shaughnessy

Great Egret – O’Shaughnessy


Thanks for stopping by.

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