An Unexpected Duck

A few days ago we found ourselves paddling the Twin Lakes area of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking for warblers. It was a good outing with Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers seen along with Tree and Bank Swallows, Great-crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, a Bald Eagle, etc.

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However, the Northern Shoveler pictured below was a bit of a surprise. Shouldn’t it be a little further north by now? Later, after we were off the water, additional investigation revealed the Northern Shoveler migration can cover a larger time period when compared to other waterfowl. So, maybe the sighting shouldn’t be a big surprise.

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Male Northern Shoveler, Twin Lakes

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Take 2, Twin Lakes

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Adding to the excitement, Bank and Tree Swallows were nice enough to pose for their portrait.

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Barn Swallow, Twin Lakes

 

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Tree Swallow, Twin Lakes

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Of course no late spring outing is complete, be it the Twin Lakes Area, Griggs Reservoir, or the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, without acknowledging some of the other participants.

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Great Blue Heron with lunch, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Fox Squirrel relaxing on a branch overhanging the water, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Canada Geese babies. Griggs Reservoir

 

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Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir

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Yellow Throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water snake, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Let’s not forget some of the flowers seen.

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Dames Rocket, Griggs Reservoir

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Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

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Yellow Flag Iris, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Chives, Griggs Reservoir

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Haven’t had a mystery photo for quite a while so any idea what the object in the below photograph is?

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What is it?, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Spring Wonder at Griggs Reservoir

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It seems that nature is in it’s most generous mood. “New” arrives everyday whether it’s in the form of a bird, flower, or other creature. Places that may seem ordinary later in the year are magically transformed by this new life. Even for those of us that spend large amounts of time walking in the woods or paddling along rivers, this time each year is no less fascinating.  This is certainly the case for a special place to us, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River just below the dam, which is not far from our home. For those of you that follow this blog you know we write about this place often. Residents of central Ohio probably know where it is, for all others, it’s located right within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. For us, this fact greatly contributes to the magic.

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In an attempt to document this magic, the photos below are a record of some things seen  over the last two weeks.

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 Common Red-breasted Mergansers along the Scioto River.

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Can’t help but think these Red-breasted Mergansers (corrected per reader comment) should be further north by now, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are gone but others have taken their place.

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Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf along the Scioto, (Donna)

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Wild Stonecrop along the reservoir, (Donna)

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Golden Alexander along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and one of the more unique late spring wildflowers has appeared on the low cliffs along the reservoir.

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Wild Columbine along the reservoir

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Wild Columbine typically grows on vertical rock faces.

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A good selection of reptiles have also been observed.

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Red Eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water Snake, Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell, Griggs Reservoir

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On one of our paddles, two deer look on as we glide by.

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Whitetail Deer along the shore, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Then there are the birds.

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Tree Swallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Prothonotary below the dam, (Donna)

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Prothonotary, below the dam.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continue to be a common sighting below the dam.

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Singing Baltimore Oriole (male) along the Scioto River below the dam, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, below the dam.

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Here till the fall Cedar Waxwings have finally made an appearance, Griggs Park.

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Cedar Waxwing

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There are mothers and fathers with babies.

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Canada Geese share the parenting responsibilities, Griggs Reservoir

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 But among the birds, the real treat is the return of mating pairs of Wood Ducks.

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Wood Ducks on the Scioto River below the dam.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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The female Wood Duck has to have good parenting skills because she’s on her own, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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Not to long after mating the Male Wood Duck will be hard to find, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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.   .   .   and it’s all happening so close to our home! What’s happening close to yours?

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One of the coves popular with Wood Ducks on Griggs Reservoir. The rock faces in the background are a typical location for Wild Columbine.

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Hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by.

Birding By Canoe, A Perfect Day, Thursday, May 7th

We were on the reservoir early, just as the sun was starting to filter through the trees. There was no wind. Resting your paddle for a quick look around, the canoe, with small ripples, continues moving quietly, just as you left it. A perfect day to see birds as we glided along the wooded shore.

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Morning, Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Our route on Alum Creek Reservoir looked something like this:

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Alum Creek Reservior

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It wasn’t long before we were hearing birds. In fact we were hearing a lot more than we were seeing. But as is often the case when canoeing on the beautiful morning, it’s tough to complain.

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But as we continued to look we managed to catch a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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Great Crested Flycatcher, (Donna)

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A little further, we pulled out to look for wildflowers.

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Sometimes getting out of the canoe to explore the shoreline presents a bit of a tripping hazard.

 

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Bluets, (Donna)

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Solomon Seal, (Donna)

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Young ferns

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Not long after, back in the canoe, we spot a sandpiper.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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Normally so common as to be a nuisance, it was hard not to admire the parenting skills of Canada Geese.

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Canada Geese, Alum Creek

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Safely ashore.

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In the middle of the lake a male Wood Duck let’s us get close enough for a photo.

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Wood Duck, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

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But one picture was enough.

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We finally reach the Osprey nesting area and noticed a least two pair were now nesting in trees along the shore rather than on the nesting platforms situated in the lake. Pretty exciting!

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Osprey perched near it’s nest, (Donna)

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Osprey nest, (Donna).

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Osprey in flight, (Donna)

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Several different types of swallows were seen. These two posed.

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

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Tree Swallow, (Donna)

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We paddled up the creek and looked for a spot to pull out for lunch. The river flowed quietly, dragonflies cruised by but didn’t land, and a House Wren announced it’s presence, as we ate.

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Lunch spot, Alum Creek.

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After lunch my wife went exploring for insects

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Tiger Beetle, (Donna)

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The very tiny White-striped Black Moth, not one we’ve seen or noticed before, (Donna)

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Others were also enjoying the river.

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Fishing on Alum Creek

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As we headed back to our launch site the warm sun had started to draw turtles out of the water.

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell

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Being a rather large reservoir with many inlets, there’s always another one to explore.

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Cove, Alum Creek Reservoir

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We arrived back at our starting point with tired bodies but rested spirits.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

An Early Spring Plant With Attitude

We’ve been working our way around the Scioto River Watershed in Columbus looking for migrating waterfowl and signs of spring. The spring part has been tough as snow continues to cover most of the ground. But today we discovered the first unambiguous sign that spring can’t be far away.

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On the road to discovery we noticed some things that weren’t that encouraging.

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Hayden Run Falls along Griggs Reservoir

 

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With winter dragging on, the birds seemed confused, some were swimming north others south, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Still, while looking for birds we took an opportunity to direct our gaze towards the ground hoping to see Skunk Cabbage a plant that generates it’s own internal heat to get the jump on lesser plants.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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A closer look, (Donna)

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After seeing the Skunk Cabbage it was hard not to notice and imagine the birds in the area celebrating our discovery.

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A Nuthatch with what appears to be the remains of an insect, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

 

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We never get tired of Cardinals, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Thank’s for looking in.

 

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.

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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.

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Red-breasted Mergansers join the Goldeneyes.

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A parade of Goldeyes.

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Safety in numbers.

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

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Lesser Scaup

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Common Mergansers almost avoiding the camera.

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Common Mergansers

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Surrounded by Canada Geese

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Great Blue Herons not wanting to have their picture taken.

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A Red-breasted Merganser tries to fit in.

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

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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 Pileated Woodpecker Teaches Persistence

It was early afternoon and clouds were finally allowing some flirtation by the sun so we decided to do a hike at Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park. It wasn’t long after we started what was to be a six mile hike that the clouds again closed in and grew heavier through the remainder of the day. Not the most inspiring weather and certainly not the best for many types of photography.

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Big Darby Creek

 

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But we were hopeful because on quiet cloudy days one often see’s wildlife that normally would be in hiding. Today wasn’t going to be such a day as other than at the feeders near the start of our walk, and a few intrepid sparrows along the way, scanning the trees and brush for birds didn’t turn up much.

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House Finch, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Tufted Titmouse

 

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Despite the lack of feathered friends we were treated to some interesting fungi made easier to spot by the scarcity of leaves this time of the year.

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Parchment Fungi, (Donna)

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Evening Primrose, (Donna)

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Some type of parchment Fungi

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Common Split Gill

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Pale Shield (Foliose) Lichen, (Donna)

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Jelly Ear Fungus, (Donna)

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Mushroom, (Donna)

 

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.   .   .   but yes I forgot, there were a few Canada Geese along the Dig Darby.

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Canada Geese along the Big Darby

 

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Now finally to the point of this post. Near the end of our walk the wind had picked up, it wasn’t getting any warmer, and I had packed my camera away when my wife, with parking lot and car in view, announced “Pileated Woodpecker!!”. With visions of a comfortable car seat and warmth I left her as she headed off into the woods in an effort to get a shot of the bird in the fading light. A few minutes later she retuned with arms raised in victory.

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Pileated Woodpecker, (Donna)

I don’t suppose there’s any need to discuss the moral of this story.

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PS: Recently I got an interesting shot of a Hooded Merganser with a fish. Not something I’d actually seen before.

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A male and female Hooded Merganser were spotted in Griggs Reservoir.

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. . . but close behind came this guy with a fish in his mouth. “Hey you guys, wait for me!”

 

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Thanks for looking in.

 

Along Griggs Reservoir a Season Moves On

Last evening we took a short walk along the reservoir and the river below the dam. The trees are now all leafed out creating dark shadowed places that not long ago were bright. The birds are not calling as much as a few weeks ago, and many that were here have moved north. Occasionally a Baltimore Oriole is seen among the leaves, now too illusive for a picture.

Other commitments take me away from CentralOhioNature for a while. Thanks to all for the many kind words, helpful hints, and information. So until the next post stay curious and celebrate that which is sacred to you!

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Lovely, but it might be a garden escapee.

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The Canada Geese goslings, cute!

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Dames Rocket

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A Crow enjoys the spring sunshine.

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Baked bread on the side of a tree?

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A Cedar Waxwing is seems curious about the camera.

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or maybe it’s just posing!

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Perfect!

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Yellow-flagged Iris at water’s edge.

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A Canada Goose family plus one.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

 

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