Late Spring Celebration; A Warbler and Much More

Nature unfolds and reveals itself like a flower, first reluctantly and then with grace. Armed with just a little curiosity, looking with intention, and allowing yourself  to be in the moment and place, rewards one with new wonder. Seeing and appreciating more each time.

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In the past few days, still interested in finding warblers, we visited Prairie Oaks Metro Park and closer to home Griggs Reservoir Park in the hopes of seeing a few stragglers. With the exception of the Prothonotary, the warblers didn’t cooperate but fortunately other things did. Whether it’s warblers or “other things” we’re always amazed by the celebration of life this time of year and the beauty that’s often found in the ordinary. The pictures below were taken over just a few outings, typically involving walks of at least two or three miles, sometimes longer, as we search for birds, bugs, and plants. It is a source of continuous fascination that so much can be found so close to home in central Ohio.

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A shaft of light finds grass along a stream, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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It’s always nice when “the reptiles” decide to join the cast.

Next to the path a turtle acts none to happy about our presence, Prairie Oak Metro Park.

A Bullfrog shows a nice profile, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Still in “warbler mode” on a recent outing, we weren’t prepared for all the insects we would see.

Familiar Bluet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Inch Worm, (Donna).

Daddy Longlegs, (Donna)

Spicebush Swallowtail

Silver Spotted Skipper, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

A very common Cabbage White, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Ctenucha, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Viceroy, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Eight-spotted Forester Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Large Lace-boarder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Milkweed Beetle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Silvery Checkerspot, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Green Bee on Coneflower, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Where there are bees and butterflies there will be wildflowers or maybe it’s the other way around.

Butterfly Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In grassy areas and meadows English Plantain is everywhere, Griggs Reservoir Park is no exception.

Very small bees visit the very small flowers of the English Plantain.

Hairy Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-eyed Susans, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thimbleweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Early Meadow Rue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Day Lily, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Goatsbeard, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Moth Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chicory, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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While we were excited to see Prothonotary Warblers nesting so close to home there was no storage of other birds to fascinate.

We’d been seeing this nesting Prothonotary Warbler for a few weeks in Griggs Reservoir Park. We finally were able to get some pictures.

It must be nesting nearby because at one point it was observed taking food to it’s young.

Preening.

No spot is missed!

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is not common this time of year in Griggs reservoir Park.

A Downy Woodpecker making effective use of it’s tail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An adult Killdeer tries to get our attention, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

It tries a little harder, something must be going on.

Sure enough!

A male Baltimore Oriole makes it’s presence known in Griggs Reservoir Park. It’s been a great year for these birds in the park.

This Northern Flicker, often seen in a fairly localized area, must have a nest nearby, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Numerous Catbirds continue to entertain in Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Mallard keeps an eye on us as we walk along the water in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A stream benefits from recent rain in Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Nature unfolds and reveals itself like a flower, first reluctantly and then with grace. May you be rewarded with new wonder, seeing and appreciating more each time.

Chipmunk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Paddling for Prothonotaries

Prothonotary Warblers have been eluding us in the park close to home so we decided to put the canoe on top of the car and head to the Howard Rd Bridge launch site at north end of Alum Creek Reservoir. If the warbler wasn’t seen during the eight mile loop north around the lake and into the creek we would at least enjoy a good paddle and besides there would undoubtedly be other things to see.

Exploring a quiet cove in Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Friends join us, (Donna).

Heading up Alum Creek

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Before any warblers were sighted we were treated to nice views of Osprey.

There are a number of Ospreys nesting at the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Taking flight, (Donna).

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Near noon we started to get hungry. Sometimes finding a pull-out for lunch can be a challenge.

Alum Creek was running high and muddy with most pull-outs under water.

 

A dry spot was finally located.

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Continuing to paddle and explore we finally found the warblers!

Prothonotary Warbler

Singing! (Donna).

Take 3 (Donna).

Take 4.

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A nice bonus were the numerous Green Herons seen along the wooded shoreline. Not as easy to spot as one might think, we were sometimes right on top of them before realizing they were there. At which point they would suddenly take flight, leaving us startled and with no picture.

Green Heron

Other times they seemed oblivious to our presence.

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3. (Donna)

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With numerous flowering bushes, some overhanging the water, butterflies were an added bonus.

Spicebush Swallowtail with Tiger Swallowtail in the background.

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And there were wildflowers.

Chickweed.

Corn Salad.

Depford Pink, (Donna).

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No trip is complete without a turtle picture. This guy was perched on a submerged log and uncharacteristically calm as we moved closer.

Red-eared Slider, (Donna).

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As though it wanted it’s picture taken, a Northern Water Snake swam right up to the canoe.

Northern Water snake, (Donna).

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With high water and a good current, the downstream leg of the trip didn’t require much paddling.

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Sometimes we have such good fortune it’s hard to imagine what the next adventure will bring that can possibly compare but nature always seems to come through. Who knows, it may be a different look at something we’ve seen before or a totally new discovery.

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Should you be interested in nature photography from a small boat we offer a few thoughts:

1. Canoes are typically more difficult to handle and are more effected by wind than kayaks.

2. Since both the object being photographed and the boat may be moving, not to mention interferences from branches etc., don’t expect your success rate to be a high as when shooting on land.

3. Although we have never submerged a camera, if you are new to small boats it may be best to start out with a relatively inexpensive camera like a Panasonic FZ200 or 300 just in case everything goes swimming. The FZ200/300’s fast lens throughout the zoom range as well as it’s reasonable amount of zoom will provide a better chance of success. More zoom is of questionable value when trying to photograph erratic fast moving objects such as warblers from a small, somewhat unstable boat.

4. The ideal situation is to have a boat handler while you shoot which is the case when my wife and I go out.

5. If you have no choice but to go it alone, make sure you have a way to quickly stow your paddle because when a subject is sighted you’ll seldom have much time for the shot.

6. As far as the boat goes, a recreational kayak like a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 or a 12-14 foot pack canoe like a Hornbeck would be a good choice for one person. A boat less than 12 feet long will be fine if you don’t plan on paddling far. A longer boat will be faster, track better, and will be better at maintaining speed through waves but typically will be a little harder to maneuver and may be effected more by the wind.

7. If you have any questions, drop us a line, we’ll be happy to provide any help we can.

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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.

 

My What A Big Baby!

When not further afield our local park continues to provide interesting things that amaze. In this case it was a Song Sparrow attentively feeding one her “babies”.

Closer to home, the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.

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With quite a mouthful, a Song Sparrow heads back to her “offspring” in Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The “little one” doesn’t appear to have missed many meals! (Donna).

Mom, watch your head, “Junior” is hungry and has a big mouth! (Donna).

After that ordeal mom needs to straighten up!” (Donna).

As you’ve probably figured out the “little one” is actually an immature Cowbird whose egg was dropped into the Song Sparrow nest by it’s freewheeling parents. Obviously not a good thing for the Song Sparrow or any other bird that falls victim.

Considering the Song Sparrow’s plight, an observant Red-eyed Vireo appeared to have a few things to say,

the whole thing seemed to have a nearby Catbird a little unraveled,  (Donna)

and the Kingbird also appeared to be beside itself, (Donna).

but did manage to regain it’s composure!

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Why have so few bird species discovered the advantage of depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds?  But if the practice were more common it is hard to imagine how it would work. At the extreme, no bird would be rising it’s own offspring. Talk about mass confusion! I guess for now we’ll be left with the mystery and thankful the practice remains the exception! 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.

Enchanted Cedar Bog

It had been a while since our last visit to Cedar Bog. Only forty four miles from our home in Columbus it’s easy to reach on some of Ohio’s lovely back roads. Blessed with perfect weather we loaded cameras into our small roadster for a delightful day of open air motoring and nature. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve  contains plants and animals not typically found in most Ohio natural areas. One of the first things you’ll find out upon arrival is that it’s not really a bog, it’s a Fen.  At the end of our exploration we agreed that the highlight had been the Showy Lady’s Slippers but we had found the whole area enchanting and well worth another visit.

You are always on a boardwalk when exploring Cedar Bog.

A wet environment means fungi.

We were probably at the tail end of the Wild Columbine.

Showy Lady’s Slipper

Another view.

Woods as well as water.

Cicada, 17 year Locust, (Donna).

American Toad.

Common Yellowthroat.

Wait, I lost my balance!

Okay.

Red Admirals were out in force, (Donna)

Another view.

We saw several Broad-Headed Skinks along the boardwalk. They grow from six to 12 inches long and are the largest of Ohio’s lizards. The young have a bright blue tail. Large males become a uniform olive-brown with red coloration on the head. They are essentially a woodland inhabitant found only in several counties in the southern half of Ohio and are rare even there. (Ref Ohio Division of Wildlife)

Another view, (Donna).

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We would highly recommend a visit to Cedar Bog. This time of year the Showy Lady’s Slippers are in bloom and greatly contribute to the magic of the place. Cedar Bog is near Urbana and when we’re in the area one of our favorite places to refuel is Grimes Field Airport Café. It’s unique and worth checking out if for no other reason than a piece of one their great pies. 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.

Thieves In The Leaves

The drama shown below played out a few days ago in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

Working on it’s nest.

The work continues.

Then an uninvited visitor arrives. The pewee dive booms the invader in an futile effort to chase it away. The masked robber is helping itself to the material in the pewee nest.

The invader flies off and the pewee returns and tries to repair the damage.

With the waxwing set to return it appears to be a hopeless task.

The Cedar Waxwing returns.

It continues to disassemble the pewee nest.

The finishing touches.

There’s not much left.

The recipient of the stolen nesting material is only about 25 feet away.

Cedar Waxwings don’t appear to be real fussy about where they get nesting material or what type of nesting material (monofilament fishing line) it is.

The masked bandit.

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It wasn’t clear if the waxwing behavior was motivated by the existence of a readily available source of nesting material or if the pewee nest was just too close. Whatever the motivation nature’s drama is sometimes hard to watch. 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.

Waterfalls, Birds, and Other Things

Outings in small boats can provide a unique opportunity to view and photograph wildlife. While we don’t pursue birds in our canoe, one will often take flight when approached. When it does, often crossing right in front of us, it offers an opportunity to get a nice “in flight” profile shot. Gliding silently without paddling often provides a chance to get very close to birds thus offering a photographic opportunity that may not be found while hiking.

Note: underlined text denotes a link which may be clicked on for additional information.

Prothonotary Warbler, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Immature Common Merganser, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A Spotted Sandpiper let us get very close, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Easter Spiny Softshell, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

As we get closer a Great Blue Heron takes flight, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Near the end of our paddle we spot a Great Blue Heron trying to figure out what to do with a just captured snake, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Male House Finch, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A few days ago Wild Columbine was still in bloom along Griggs Reservoir’s the low cliffs, from the canoe, (Donna).

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A small boat may also allow access to hard to reach points of interest for which there is limited or no access on land. In this case it was one named and one unnamed waterfall along Griggs Reservoir that were energized by the recent rain.

Entering a small creek leading to one of Griggs reservoirs waterfalls.

I’ve paddled as far as I can but fortunately it’s only a short walk to the falls.

Good flow over the falls which are about 6-8 feet high. The shot taken under cloudy conditions which controlled shadows.

Take 2. I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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Hayden Run Falls:

Paddling into the cove at Hayden Run Falls a Great Egret does a welcoming dance as two mallards look on.

Hayden Run Falls, about 35 feet high, benefitted from the recent rain. From the canoe pullout a not so easy hike up a rain swollen creek was required to get to the falls. Normally when using a digital single lens reflex I would have opted for a slower shutter speed to create a sense of motion in the water but a Canon SX40 superzoom and the lack of a tripod limited my options. Hayden Run Falls is also accessible via a boardwalk with parking provided off Hayden Run Road.

 

Take 2. Again, I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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When paddling it’s sometimes hard not to do a little cleanup. However, trying to clean up plastic, not to mention all the other stuff, after it’s already in the environment is next to impossible. While some litter is thrown directly into the reservoir, much finds it’s way in by way of storm drains. The reservoir, home to an amazing amount of biodiversity, thus becomes an aquatic “trash can” for a good percentage of the city’s litter.  This phenomena can be observed to a greater or lesser degree in all of Ohio’s lakes and streams. Paddle lakes and streams in states like Michigan or Maine and it’s obvious that a Ohio Beverage Container Deposit Law would largely eliminate this problem.

Trash canoe.

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In the past week, when not in the canoe, we’ve had opportunities explore Griggs Reservoir Park as well as a few other favorite spots.

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Birds:

Immature Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

I know it’s a very common bird, but the lovely light compelled me to take the picture, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Protonotary Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Mother Mallard with babies, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Perhaps the tail end of the warblers a female American Redstart poses for my wife, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Baltimore Orioles continue to be quite common in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Egret preening, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron with fish, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tree Swallow, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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As spring turns to summer insects are becoming much more common:

Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

Take 2, (Donna).

Grape Leaffolder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden-back Snipe Fly. Adults and larvae feed on a variety of small insects, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Making more flies, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Flowers seen are unique to late spring and early summer:

Blue-flagged Iris, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Canada Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In my humble opinion the flower of Virginia Waterleaf is not nearly as pretty as it’s early spring leaves, (Donna).

Blue-eyed Grass, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bittersweet Nightshade, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wafer Ash flowers (not always in the shape of a heart), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Other things:

A Northern Water Snake creates patterns on the otherwise still surface, Twin Lakes, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Very small Snapping Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

After quite a bit of rain the fungus is doing well in Griggs Park.

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The view down a short path leading to the reservoir shows the vegetation to be almost fully leafed out.

Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A special thanks to my wife for supplying many of the photos in this post included those from the canoe as I handled the boat. Given that spring is winding down, my guess is that future posts will contain fewer warbler pictures and probably more insect pictures but one never knows for sure. Future posts may also document new Ohio places explored or at least unique places that haven’t been visited in awhile. Until then, 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.

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