It’s A Butterfly Time Of Year

Not that they aren’t seen earlier in the spring and summer but August does seem to be the time for butterflies. This year it’s been almost impossible to be out for any length of time without seeing a Monarch. In the late morning or afternoon small but beautiful Pearl Crescents make the shorter grass along the trail their playground. The beauty of some butterflies like the Giant Swallowtail is apparent to even a casual observer but others like the Buckeye reveal their beauty only after a closer look. Others like the hairstreaks are easy to miss altogether unless you know what to look for. The good news is that you don’t have to get up a the crack of dawn to see butterflies.

Sunlight filters through the woods along the Big Derby during a recent butterfly hike.

.

So below is a celebration of butterflies that have been seen in the last few weeks. Much of the credit must go to my wife who tirelessly pursues these usually unpredictable creatures until she gets the shot she wants while I often content myself to photographing the more predictable wildflowers.

In late summer Bull Thistle is common in the prairie areas of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and seems to attract it’s share of Monarchs.

The Giant Swallowtail is Ohio’s largest butterfly and not one we see every day, Griggs Reservoir Park..

A Giant Swallowtail depositing eggs, (Donna).

Great Blue Lobelia enjoying the more shaded areas of Griggs Reservoir Park.

A very small female Eastern-tailed Blue rewards Donna by opening it’s wings.

Prairie sunflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

The beautiful but very small Gray Hairstreak, (Donna).

Hackberry Emperors are fairly common in Griggs reservoir Park and on a warm day enjoy hitching a ride on your arm to take advantage of your perspiration, (Donna).

Cardinal Flower

A small Summer Azure almost seems to blend in, (Donna).

Wingstem, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park prairie.

The not often seen Meadow Fritillary

The fairly common but lovely Orange Sulfur, (Donna).

New England Aster

Usually not seen in central Ohio until late summer or fall the medium size Buckeye is striking, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fringed Loosestrife also enjoys the more shaded areas along the Scioto River.

A small Zabulon Skipper, (Donna).

A small but lovely Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Lazard’s Tail along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Silver Spotted Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Another look, (Donna).

Gray-headed Coneflowers seem to take flight.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Another look.

A somewhat faded black form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

Black Swallowtail, (Donna).

Black Swallowtail laying eggs, (Donna).

Ironweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

The Peck’s Skipper is a very small moth like butterfly, (Donna).

Cup Plant

Monarch, (Donna).

Monarch

Trumpet Flowers, (Donna).

Mating Pearl Crescents

Pearl Cresent

Tall Bellflower

Eastern Comma

The tiny flowers of Virginia Knotweed.

Certainly not the most aesthetic setting, a Zebra Swallowtail lands in our canoe just as we finish a paddle on Paint Creek, (Donna).

.

Where there are butterflies and moths there are caterpillars and no one is better at spotting them than my wife.

Brown-hooded Owlet, (Donna).

Monarch caterpillar, (Donna).

Orange Dog (Giant Swallowtail caterpillar), (Donna).

Another look.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar showing horns. Horns extend when head is touched lightly. Donna).

Without horns protruding, (Donna).

Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar, (Donna).

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars, (Donna).

.

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge some of the birds that continue to charm us as we walk through the woods of central Ohio.

Male Goldfinch, (Donna).

This time of year False Dragonhead can be seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir.

A Ruby throated Hummingbird checks out the Bull Thistle at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Woodland Sunflowers offer a splash of color in the woods along the Scioto River.

A Tufted Titmouse checks Donna out as she attempts to take it’s picture.

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

So what was I doing while my wife was taking so many excellent photographs in central Ohio? Fishing in Michigan of course.

This nice Largemouth Bas went swimming right after posing for this picture.

Fishing at sunset on Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

.

If time spent in nature speaks to the essence of your being, your soul, you have riches greater than any material procession can offer. A wealth that grows in health, spirit, and the awareness of being part of the greater mystery. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Special Place In Michigan

At least once a year for the last number of years we’ve traveled seven hours from central Ohio to the expansive 4500 acre Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. With it’s fairly extensive system of hiking and mountain bicycling trails, plus lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s a beautiful quiet nature lovers paradise. The park’s woods contain conifers, including some fairly large White Pine, as well as deciduous trees like oak and maple making it home to a great diversity of insects, plants, birds, and animals. The park has two campgrounds, one with electrical hookups, and one that is rustic. We prefer “tent” camping in the Devoe Lake rustic campground with it’s pit toilets and handpumps, whether in our small trailer or in a tent, because the sites are bigger, more secluded, and a variety of birds often come right to your campsite. In addition the rustic campground communicates with park’s best hiking trails without the need to get in your car.

rifle_river_map

Park Map.

A south loop hiking trail cuts through meadows interspersed with stands of trees that attract numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies not mention birds such as Indigo Buntings that love that type of habitat.

Bob looking out to meadow1 071618 Mi trip fz200 fix

South Trail

The northern loop takes the hiker on much more rolling terrain interspersed with swamps and culminating along a ridge that provides a panoramic view of four of the parks lakes.

IMG_8230fixd

Grousehaven Lake from the park loop road.

The lakes offer a variety of fish species to attract the angler including Brook and Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and panfish.

IMGP0252fix

Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

.

***

Many of the lakes just outside the park boundary offering public access are heavily developed with boat and dock filled shorelines and large year round homes which in recent years have replaced many smaller cabins set back in the trees. Some of the larger multistory dwellings seem almost ready to topple into the lake giving these small bodies of water more the feel of a large recreational swimming pool. Even so, the lakes do offer good fishing even if with somewhat diminished natural aesthetic. However, if communing with nature is your goal, it is worth it to travel away from the park to the nearby Au Sable River and it’s chain of lakes which offer a rewarding undeveloped destination for the photographer, fisherman, and nature lover.

IMG_2339

Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

IMG_2341fix

Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

IMG_2361fix

Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

.

***

Within the park, even without a very special species of bird, there is ample reason to  return year after year to enjoy the park’s beauty. But the very special bird that makes the park so irresistible is the Common Loon. Numbers seen vary year to year but they’re always there with their haunting cry breaking the silence of the night. To our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting loons can be found.

IMG_5147fix

Common Loon

 

IMG_5158fix

With young, (Donna).

Loon1 LR1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

Another view, (Donna).

Loon group1 070918 MI trip birdcam fix

Meal time, (Donna).

IMG_5163fix

The young are growing fast.

.

IMG_8227

Lodge Lake.

.

***

An equally enchanting bird usually seen on Grebe Lake is the Trumpeter Swan. During one paddle the call of the adults across the lake gave ample evidence as to how they got their name.

Trumpeter Swan grp4 best1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

IMG_7955

Another look.

.

***

Being old enough to remember when they suffered the ravages of DDT and were very rare Bald Eagles always have a high wow factor. We had a number of sightings in the park and at least five the day we paddled Loud Pond along the Au Sable River.

IMG_7854

I control the canoe and my wife often takes the pictures.

IMG_8254

Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

Eagle1 LR beak open1 071218 MI trip birdcam 1

Donna get’s a picture of one of the Bald Eagles seen on Loud Pond.

.

***

Equally fascinating were the other birds seen during our hikes and paddles.

P1210600fix

A Great Crested Flycatcher over looks a meadow on the south trail.

 

Great Crested Flycatcher baby2 beak open1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

An immature Great Crested Flycatcher asks to be fed, (Donna).

Catbird1 LR1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

A Catbird puts everything into it’s song, (Donna).

Cedar Waxwing2 LL wbug1 070918 Michigan trip fix

A good day for the Cedar Waxwing, not so much for the dragonfly, (Donna).

Chestnut-sided Warbler1 LL1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Along the south trail in the very top of a tree a Chestnut-sided Warbler sings it’s heart out, (Donna).

IMG_5186

A Green Heron makes a living along the shore of Devoe Lake.

IMG_7879fix

Too far away for a good pic, perhaps an immature Rose Breasted Grosbeak?

IMG_8171

Ever on the lookout for flying insects, like sentry’s Kingbirds lined the shore of Devoe Lake.

Kingbird3 LL1 best1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

Another look, (Donna).

Kingbird in nest2 LR2 best1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

Near water’s edge a Kingbird sits on it’s nest, (Donna).

Kingfisher1 femaleLR1 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Donna catches this female Kingfisher along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Kingbird party2 flying1 also1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

A Tree Swallow party along the shore of Devoe Lake,(Donna).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak2 LL1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

Numerous Rose Breasted Grosbeaks were seen but they proved a challenge to photograph, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper3 LR2 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Spotted sandpiper along the shore of Loud Pond, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper5 juvLR2 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

IMG_8253fix

Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

.

IMG_8324

The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

.

***

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know we love dragonflies. While butterflies may initially catch your eye very few creatures fascinate in the air like the  dragonfly. But the relationship fraught with conflict because we also love birds and the dragonflies maneuverability is often not enough to avoid becoming a tasty high protein snack.

Calico Pennant3 headon3 wiping mouth1 071518 MI trip fz200 fix

Calico Pennant, (Donna).

P1210571

Female Ruby Meadowhawk

Blue Dasher1 LR1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Blue Dasher, (Donna).

IMG_8065

Chalk-fronted Corporal.

damselfly on flower1 LR1 070918 MIchigan trip birdcam fix

This Damsel fly on flower illustrates the capability 0f the micro 4/3rds Panasonic (Leica) 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Dot-tailed Whiteface3 headon1 071018 MI trip bridcam fix

Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

Ebony Jewelwing mating1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

IMG_2368fix

Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Lancet-Clubtail female2 LR best1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

P1210595fix

Female Calico Pennant.

IMG_7966fix

Male Halloween Pennant.

Halloween Pennant mating1 LL1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

img_7973fix.jpg

Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

IMG_7999

Most of the time when we take a picture we have a pretty good idea what the subject is. When we don’t part of the fun is during the research to figure out what it is. So far the ID of this rather nondescript dragonfly remains a mystery.

Vesper Bluet3 LR1 best1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

The Vesper Bluet is a late afternoon and evening damselfly, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet1 mating pair1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

River Jewelwing4 LL2 best2 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

River Jewelwing seen along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

***

IMG_7852

The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

.

***

Butterflies live a rough life. Subject to the effects of rain, wind, sun and sometimes attempted predation they often become rather tattered with age. Like wildflowers much of their magic come from the fact that they are only here for a short time. During this most recent visit it was interesting because we didn’t see as many as expected and often the ones seen were rather tattered. However, the few that were in nice enough shape to merit a photograph took up the slack.

Common Wood-NYmph2 LR2 closer1 071518 MI trip fz200 fix

Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

P1210579

Northern Pearly-eye

IMG_8048

Northern Pearly-eye another view.

American Copper1 LL1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

American Copper, (Donna)

American Copper4 WPO1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Another view, (Donna).

IMG_5076

Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

IMG_8013

Peck’s Skipper with a partially shaded wing explores an iris.

IMG_8035

Northern Cloudywing Skipper

IMG_8337

Eastern Comma.

Monarch1 WFO male1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

Monarch, (Donna).

Banded Hairstreak1 LL1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

The very small and seldom seen Banded Hairstreak, (Donna).

.

***

No matter when one visits the park in spring and summer there are some flowers that are seen and some that are not. Turtleheads and Cardinal flowers usually appear in August so we missed them this year but others were present.

IMG_8261

Certainly not a flower but one of a number of very large White Pines in the park. How do you capture it’s impressive size in a photograph?

St. John's wort1 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

IMG_8125fix

Yellow Water Lily

Black-eyed Susan1 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

Black-eyed Susan’s appear to take flight, (Donna).

cluster white flowers1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

This American Wintergreen was growing in a very moist area, (Donna).

IMG_2320fix

Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

IMG_7885

Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

IMG_7984fix

Water Lily.

Water LIly2 duo1 071018 MI trip fz200 fix

Water Lily times two, (Donna).

IMG_8215fix

A hover fly checks out a water lily.

P1210552

Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

P1210634fix

Small and very common in the meadow areas along the south trail this one has eluded identification.

Yellow Aquatic flowr1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

IMG_8234fix

New Jersey Tea or Wild Snowball, interestingly it has been used for treated such things as gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, cough, fever, chills, spasms, bleeding, . . . “.

Monkey flower2 side view1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Monkey Flower, (Donna).

Milkweed2 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

Indian Pipe1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Indian Pipe, (Donna).

IMG_8085

Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

P1210557fix

Fern.

IMG_8092

At their peak these Picture Plant flowers will turn a deep burgundy. See below for the leaves.

IMG_8097

The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

IMG_8224

Daisy Fleabane, very small, very common, very beautiful.

.

IMG_7860fix

Early morning on Grebe Lake.

.

***

When out on a day’s hike looking for birds, flowers, or butterflies it’s hard not to notice other things and sometimes they become the most memorable.

IMG_8143fixs

Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

P1210566fix

Pixie Cups, north trail.

P1210612

We saw quite a bit of this colorful fungi the day we hiked the south trail.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle1 LL1 071118 MI trip birdcam fix

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle along the trail, (Donna).

Toad1 LR1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

American Toad, (Donna).

IMG_8135fix

Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

IMG_7857

A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

IMG_2326fix

British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

P1210623

Early July is apparently not the best time for fungi. This was one of the few not very colorful examples seen.

P1210628

Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

Turtle on log2 Map LR1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

A Map Turtle catches a few rays, (Donna).

Porkupine1 LL1 07518 MI trip birdcam fix

A large Porcupine is spotted along the south trail, (Donna).

.

***

So much natural diversity in one Michigan state park! This year we left the park wishing for a few more days to explore, to look more closely with intention, to breath in the fragrance of balsam, or just to gaze up into the splendor of the green canopy of trees surrounding our campsite. Perhaps that’s the best way to leave.

IMG_8116fixc

Devoe Lake.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Exploring The Coves Of Alum Creek Reservoir By Canoe

It promised to be another hot day, but with the sun just rising when we launched it was still pleasant, giving only a hint of the heat to come.

IMG_7681fix

Alum Creek Reservoir at Cheshire Rd.

.

Considering the forecast our goal was to be off the water by noon. The wind hardly rippled the water’s surface as quiet paddle strokes moved the canoe toward an area of Alum Creek Reservoir that we hadn’t explored in a while. Two days earlier during an early morning fishing trip I had surprised a Bald Eagle in a tall tree at waters edge. Now with my wife along to handle photography from the bow, I was hoping we would see, and perhaps photograph, some equally interesting things as we explored the coves along our route. For those new to this blog, we love to paddle and to eliminate the need to shuttle cars we usually paddle reservoirs, the more convoluted the better, to maximize time in the canoe.

No matter how one feels about damming up rivers to create reservoirs, in the case of Alum Creek Reservoir it did result a wonderful place to explore containing a rich variety of wildlife. Unlike the often cottage lined predictable shorelines of spring fed glacial lakes in northern states like Michigan, the many small ravines that followed slopes down to the creek resulting in an almost endless number of coves to explore with the coming of the reservoir. In addition, because the reservoir is surrounded by parkland there are virtually no buildings or homes along it’s shore.

alum-creek.jpg

Alum Creek Reservoir Paddling Route

.

With rainfall this year about six inches above normal giving rise to higher water levels, the lush shoreline vegetation reached right down to waters edge and at times gave the feeling of paddling through a jungle.

Water reflections w canoe1 062918 Alum Creek paddle fz200 fix

Beautiful reflections as the reservoir narrows into a creek, (Donna).

.

As nature photographers know, what one sees and what one has a chance to photograph are seldom the same. Particularly when in a canoe which has it’s own stability, speed, and mobility constraints. It turns out that at the very north end of our route we saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. The first one we’ve ever seen in Ohio. A little later a pair of very wary Great Horned Owls were seen. The surprised heron spotted us just as we rounded a tight bend in what had become a narrow snag infested creek.  It flew before we could react. The outcome was similar for the owls. They were perched high in a tree canopy partially obscured by low lying brush and saw us coming despite our best efforts, moving a little further away each time we tried to get closer.

.

But there are always other things to marvel at.

Eastern Amberwing1 headon1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

A male Eastern Amberwing perches right near the canoe as we wait quietly in a secluded cove, (Donna).

 

Slaty Skimmer2 headon2 best1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

A Slaty Skimmer enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

.

As we paddled along the shore we were often overwhelmed by the aroma of wild roses.

IMG_7711fix

Donna looks for the best composition.

Rose display3 duo2 062918 Alum Creek fz200 fix

Bingo!

IMG_7700fix

I try my hand.

.

Lizard's Tail Landscape2 062918 Alum Creek paddle fz200 fix

Water loving Lazard’s Tail at waters edge, (Donna).

.

Entering some coves small, noisy, and mostly invisible birds were everywhere.

IMG_7718fix

Donna points to what turns out to be a White-breasted Nuthatch.

.

Along one stretch of open rocky shore a group of sandpipers, always just a little ahead of us, hurried as we approached.

Spotted Sandpiper2 LL1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

Sandpiper1 LL1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

Immature Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

.

On this particular day the turtles were a little more cooperative than the birds.

Map Turtle 1 LR1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

Map Turtle, (Donna).

 

Spiny Softshell1 LR1 062918 Alum Creek paddle birdcam fix

Eastern Spiny Softshell, (Donna).

****

If you travel north to Michigan with it’s colder clearer lakes and streams you typically don’t see as many egrets and herons but in Ohio they are very common. I could be wrong but I’ve often thought it’s because the rough fish (catfish, suckers, carp, shad, etc.) that call Ohio’s often turbid waters home are just easier to catch.

IMG_7806fix

A Great Egret gets ready to strike   .   .   .   .

IMG_7807fix

and very quickly does!

 

IMG_7809fix

To no avail.

IMG_7810fix

It heads back to it’s perch .   .   .

IMG_7811fixcc

to regain it’s composure and try again.

.

P1160843fix

Along the shore a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron seem to be getting along just fine, (Donna).

.

Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes persistence, and yes it’s true knowledge and skill do come into play, but if you hike a trail or paddle a lake often enough you will see new and fascinating things.

.

In the woods or by a meadow, stream, or lake on any given day, even if  nothing new is seen, you will at least return having allowed yourself to be there for a time, in the still freshness of the early morning with the call of the Wood Thrush, or later to the sound of  wind as it dances with leaves, breathing air with a hint of wild rose. 

.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Tom's Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

Mindfulness, Philosophy, Spirituality, Meditation, Awareness, Religion, Nature Photography

Londonsenior

The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Nature Is My Therapy

Trees help me breathe.

The Eye of a Thieving Magpie

My view of this wonderful and crazy life - as I travel and explore.

Diary of an Aesthete

Follow the Journey...

quercuscommunity

Life after the Care Farm

Out For 30

Exploring the world, 30 days at a time.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Photos by Donna

Birds and Wildlife Photography

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography