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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

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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.

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Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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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.

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Common Loon

 

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With young, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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Meal time, (Donna).

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The young are growing fast.

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Lodge Lake.

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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.

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Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

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Another look.

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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.

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

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Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another look, (Donna).

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

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

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

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

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

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

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The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

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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.

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Calico Pennant, (Donna).

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Female Ruby Meadowhawk

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Blue Dasher, (Donna).

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Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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

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Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

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Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

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Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

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Female Calico Pennant.

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Male Halloween Pennant.

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Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

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Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

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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.

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

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Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

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

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The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

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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.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

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Northern Pearly-eye

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Northern Pearly-eye another view.

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American Copper, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna).

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Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

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

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Northern Cloudywing Skipper

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Eastern Comma.

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Monarch, (Donna).

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

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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.

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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?

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St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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Yellow Water Lily

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

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

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Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

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Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

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Water Lily.

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Water Lily times two, (Donna).

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A hover fly checks out a water lily.

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Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

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

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Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

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

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Monkey Flower, (Donna).

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Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

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Indian Pipe, (Donna).

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

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Fern.

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

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The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

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

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Early morning on Grebe Lake.

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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.

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Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

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Pixie Cups, north trail.

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

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

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American Toad, (Donna).

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Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

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A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

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British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

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

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Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

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

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

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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.

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Devoe Lake.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Contemplation

Most of the time it’s nice to have a central theme. However, for the most part, this post just meanders through early autumn and celebrates the time of year in some of our central Ohio parks. I continue to enjoy shooting a portion of my photos with a Sony A7, adapter, and legacy Canon FD lenses. It’s nice to have so much control over depth of field. My wife is ever on the lookout for things small, be it insects or details that charm in the fall foliage.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Monarchs continue to work their way south while a few late summer buckeyes, having made their way to central Ohio, enchant. Painted Ladies and Viceroys also continue to be seen. Are Painted Ladies more beautiful with wings closed or open?

Viceroy, (Donna)

Take 2.

Buckeye, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Eastern-tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Leaves continue to grace a long fallen Sycamore along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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There still may be time before the first hard frost results in an abrupt end to most of the current insect activity. Katydids and crickets that so willingly provide the late summer soundtrack for our outdoor adventures will fall silent. The purpose of their time here will emerge next spring and take up the charge as the dance of death and life continues. Meanwhile as autumn moves on we continue to enjoy their life.

Widow Skimmer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Bees on Nodding Bur-marigold, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Eastern Pondhawk, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Black and Yellow Garden Spider, the bee managed to allude the spiders web, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Scarlet and Green Leaf Hopper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Long Horned Beetle, not sure which one, Griggs reservoir park, (Donna).

Grasshopper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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The Scioto River.

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Recently we were fascinated by an immature Red-tailed Hawk that posed to have it’s picture taken and then decided to fly into a nearby tree in an attempt to extract a meal from a squirrels nest. It did succeed in arousing the occupants but standing on top of the nest it was no match for them as they circled and sprang from branch to branch until they were out of harms way.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Come on out of there, I just went to play, honest!

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A hint of autumn, Griggs Reservoir.

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With the days now much shorter, other creatures seem to sense that colder weather is just around the corner as they enjoy the morning sun or in the case of the squirrels and chipmunks busy themselves collecting stores for winter.

Painted Turtle, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Chipmunk with acorn, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Red Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Groundhog, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A favorite tree.

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Asters and other late summer flowers now compete with leaves for the seasons beauty.

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Evening Primrose, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The Scioto River pays tribute to autumn.

The river peeks through windblown leaves as they struggle to hang on, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In the autumn breeze milkweed seeds prepare to take flight, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Reflections.

Virginia Creeper, Griggs Reservoir.

Sunflowers, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Color along Griggs Reservoir.

Changing leaves, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sycamore bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red, yellow, green, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Suspended color along the Scioto River.

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Rocks often washed by the river’s high water are now covered with the litter of trees.

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We often journey into nature equipped with expectations, perhaps it’s seeing a certain bird, insect, or wildflower, but the key to the magic may be to let go, allowing each day, each season, to speak in it’s own voice.

Autumn from the canoe, Griggs Reservoir.

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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.

While I Was Fishing

My wife had to carry most of the load in central Ohio over the past week or so while I was on my annual Michigan fishing trip. Based on the following pictures, many of which are hers, she had no trouble discovering things of interest.

Nature walk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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First there were the birds, a few of which when captured in unusual or even comical poses. Some just a little different than the usual “mug” shot.

Immature Robin, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

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

Just fledged Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Mealtime.

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir Park.

 

Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Immature Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Preening Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Flicker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A juvenile Cedar Waxwing stretches it’s neck, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits Donna as she looks for caterpillars, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Cardinal is caught spying on a young Northern Flicker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Green Heron showing it’s crest, Griggs Reservoir

Juvenile Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Take 2.

To cute to pass up, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Sometimes a bird picture was obtained as my wife happened to look up as she studyed an interesting “bug” and there were apparently no shortage of those.

Eupatorium Borer Moth , Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Milkweed Tussock Moth Catapillar, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wasp, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Monarch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.

Orchard orbweaver, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Donna spotted this Robber Fly in Griggs Reservoir Park. Robber flies prey on other flies, beetles, butterflies and moths, various bees, ants, dragon and damselflies, ichneumon wasps, grasshoppers, some spiders and even other robber flies. They do so apparently irrespective of any offensive chemicals the prey may have at its disposal. Many robber flies when attacked in turn do not hesitate to defend themselves with their proboscides and may deliver intensely painful bites if handled carelessly, (Ref: WIKI), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sand Wasp, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar , Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Robber fly, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hover fly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Green Bee, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Orange Sulphur, Griggs Reservoir Park.

My wife spotted these 2-marked Treehoppers in Griggs Reservoir Park, “Treehoppers tap into the stems of woody and herbaceous plants with their beaks and feed on the sap. Treehopper species are often closely associated with a single food source.  Some species gather in groups as adults or nymphs.  They slit the bark of their host plant to deposit eggs within, covering the eggs with a secretion called “egg froth” that provides protection from desiccation in winter, may shield the eggs from predators, and that contains an attractant pheromone that brings other ovipositing females to the spot (where, like cows, they may line up, all facing the same direction).  The eggs hatch in spring when they are re-hydrated by the rising sap of the host plant as its buds open and its shoots start to grow”.  Ref: Bug Lady, Riveredge Nature Center.

Mating Clouded Sulfurs, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Summer flowers grace areas along the reservoir.

On a cloudy morning Evening Primrose overlooks Griggs Reservoir

Coneflowers keep Cardinal Flowers company in one of the park rain gardens.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Swamp Rose Mallow.

Wingstem, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sunflowers rule this time of year.

Common Sneezeweed.

Boneset, Griggs Reservoir.

Square Stem Monkey Flower, Griggs Reservoir.

Sunflowers draw one’s gaze to the reservoir beyond.

Queen Ann’s Lace frames Griggs Reservoir.

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Finally a few pics from my fishing trip to the Rifle River Recreation Area. It always feels like a homecoming when I head north bringing back many fond childhood summer vacation memories. I always think I’ll take more pictures on this trip but it’s hard to wear two hats so I mostly just allow myself to be there and fish.

Common Loons are a real treat on Devoe Lake in the Rifle River Rec Area. Seemingly unconcerned they swim close to my canoe.

Taking a break.

One of a number of nice bass caught and released.

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Each trip into nature marks the passing of time. Summer moves along, things seen are ever changing, birds fledge and mature under parent’s attentive care, caterpillars and butterflies continue their amazing dance of life, wildflowers and bees are ever present companions, by late July the days have grown noticeably shorter.

 

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.

A Little East of Columbus, The Dingle Way and Killarney Natl Park, Ireland

Recently we found ourselves in exploring the Dingle Way and Killarney Natl Park with our friends Dave and Teresa. We did a lot of walking but were rewarded with much beauty both in scenery as well as the people we met along the way. The photos are what came my way as each day unfolded. At times I found myself wishing for different light or weather conditions but had to work with what I was given. In addition to the following photos, below is a Flickr link that you may glance at should you feel so inclined. It does a better job of chronicling our trip.

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Due to the length of the hikes and weather considerations all shots were taken with either a Canon SX260 or a Panasonic ZS50.

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Lady’s View Killaney Natl Park

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Yew woods, Killarney Natl Park

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Ross Castle, Killarney Natl Park

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Most westerly tip of the Dingle Peninsula near Duinquin

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View from the trail west end of the Dingle Peninsula.

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Torc Waterfall, Killarney Natl Park.

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Hiking the beach to Castlegregory, the Dingle Way

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Heading up the lakes, Killarney Natl Park.

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Hiking the Gap of Dunloe, Killarney Natl Park

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Flickr link if you’d like to see more:

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In our excitement about things seen we couldn’t help but share a glimpse of Ireland but our next post will take us back to nature in central Ohio.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Speaking With A Soft Voice


In recent days we’ve found ourselves visiting some of the usual places as well as making another trip the Clifton Gorge for a hike with friends. The gorge trip was interesting because, unlike our last visit, the day was cloudy and different light often means different photographic possibilities! Whether along the gorge or closer to home, we’re always on the lookout for things that interest us, some of which might even be worth sharing in a blog. Sometimes we’re not the only ones looking.

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A Raccoon watches as we walk along the Scioto River

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From a creative point of view this time of year, as colors start to fade, can be a challenge. Taking pictures just for the sake of taking a pictures, or trying to make a good picture of a subject that doesn’t really draw you in, has never been of much interest to me. The subject needs to speak to me in some way and in November it’s often with a very soft voice.

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Reflections on the last few leaves

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While on our recent gorge hike, it was fun to explore landscapes similar to those photographed a few weeks ago. What had changed? While exploring on cloudy days one often notices that photos taken come out of the camera “muddy”. With that in mind, contrast or saturation are often increased just a bit so the finished picture reflects what was “seen”.

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The Little Miami, similar to a shot posted a few weeks ago but this time with a cloudy sky.

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A few weeks ago

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This method of crossing the Little Miami works fine unless there’s been a big rain.

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Pillars along the Little Miami. A cloudy day means good detail in the shadows and river.

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Same spot a few weeks ago. Quite a bit of work was done in “Lightroom” to try and bring out shadow and river details as well as to address blown out highlights.

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Fallen leaves along the gorge. Notice how the shadows are well controlled. But on cloudy days just don’t have your heart set on a beautiful picture of the sky.

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Another comparison from a few weeks ago, which do you like better?

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The gang on one of the bridges over the Little Miami.

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Cliffs along the gorge. The lack of deep shadows allows one to enjoy the colors, as none are blown out, as well as textures and the underlying design.

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Through the trees.

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Trail along the Little Miami, (Donna).

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Water starts to pool as it leaves the gorge.

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In a few places color persists.

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Contrasts.

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Flowers persist long after you would think they’d be gone.

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Tall Bellflower, (Donna)

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Our friends in the world of fungi seem to like the cooler. damper, weather, bringing their color to an increasing drab landscape.

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Fungi, (Donna)

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Colorful fungi, (Donna).

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Whether we were walking or paddling, there were places where things looked pretty bleak so expectations for seeing critters aren’t real high, but .   .   .

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Male Kingfisher along Griggs Reservoir. They never seem to let us get close enough for a really good shot.

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Hunting season, not to worry we’re in the middle of the city.

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Common but beautiful. Under very dramatic but harsh light.

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The November morning sun warms Red-eared Sliders on Griggs Reservoir.

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It had been a very quiet outing but at on point during a recent walk along the Scioto River we were descended upon by a noisy group of Carolina Wrens.

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Take two.

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Always reliable this time of year, Downy Woodpeckers weren’t far away.

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This male Blue Bird seemed content to just sit and enjoy the late autumn sun, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Warm days in early November mean we’ve continued to see a few butterflies.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Along the trail near Clifton Gorge.

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Door Hinge

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Maybe the trick is to let go of expectations and allow yourself to hear the voice of each season. Even when it speaks very softly.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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A Walk In The Smoky Mountains

Recently we got together with friends for a few days hiking in the Smoky Mountains near Ashville, North Carolina. Basecamp was the Sourwood Inn located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many things of the seen are not unique to the area but put together they do paint a beautiful picture of one of the more interesting natural areas in the US. Our hikes were typically long, 6 – 10 miles, with a fair bit of climbing so camera equipment consisted of an Panasonic Fz200 and a Canon SX260.

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On the Looking Glass trail.

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Some of our group.

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The mountains of North Carolina are a great place for fungi so it always gets quite a bit of our attention. Unfortunately, based on visual characteristics alone, it can be very hard to ID so we’re always open to corrections and clarifications.

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A unidentified type of bolete.

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Turkey Tail

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Old Man of The Woods, (Donna)

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Bolete with a horizontal orientation which we had never seen before.

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Pestle-shaped Coral, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, a little older.

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Firm Russula, (Donna)

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Sharp-scaly Pholiota, (Donna)

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Crowded Parchment

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Sulfur Tuft, (Donna)

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Unidentified emergent mushrooms

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Tinder Polypore

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Fungus and moss.

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Mushroom Family

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Coral Fungus

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Rag-veil Amanita emerging.

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Rag-veil Amanita, too big to stand.

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Another type of bolete.

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Polypore on a fallen log.

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Puffball family.

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A view from the top during the Looking Glass hike.

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A great place to take a break before the trip down.

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Where there’s fungus there’s moss and lichen.

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Lichen and leaf abstract.

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Lung Lichen

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Lichen?

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Hanging garden.

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Old Man’s Beard

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Reindeer Lichen

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Parasitic plants, Beechdrops (Epifagus americana) along the Snowball Trail.

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The Mountain to Sea Trail is up and down with few long climbs.

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Mountain to Sea Trail

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Fascinating plants and flowers punctuated fungus and lichen sightings.

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Partridge Berry

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Aster

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Snakeroot and Alanthus Webworm Moth, (Donna)

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Foxglove?, (Donna)

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Coral Root, (Donna)

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Indian Pipe

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Late summer color

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Small Blue Flowers

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Butterfly Weed

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Lobelia?

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Aster

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Turtlehead

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Berries and Color

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Autumn Design

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Aster

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Some trails are easier than others.

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Just kidding.

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A few of our insect friends were also seen.

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Mating, (Donna)

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Red-spotted Purple

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It never hurts to be aware of your surroundings when your head is close to the ground looking for mushrooms .   .   .

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The first Black Bear we ever encountered on the trail, (Donna).

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We zoom in, (Donna).

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He’s curious, we’re curious.

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That’s close enough!, (Donna)

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The type of sign that most of us pay little attention to.

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When not running away from bears there are also reptiles to be seen.

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A Rat Snake checks us out.

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Then decides to wander off, (Donna).

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A skink plays hide and seek, (Donna)

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The group at the trail head after a long hike.

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Looking Glass trail head.

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The NC mountains are a wonderful place just to be.

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Sunrise from Sourwood Inn.

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The area around Ashville, NC is a hiker and nature lovers mecca. There are an almost infinite number of trails of varying degrees of difficulty to choose from. You may even get to see a bear!

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Thanks for stopping by.

Eagles and Ice

Yesterday we decided to check out the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam for ice formations. It was very cold and the reservoir had frozen over. It all seemed a little unreal because just a few days before very heavy rain had  accompanied 50F temperatures. Rain means the river level rises in proportion to the amount. Usually within a day or so the level drops leaving beautiful ice formations if it’s cold enough. The ice the only evidence of where the water had once been.

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Many waterfowl had taken up residence in the river’s open water . Amongst the Canada Geese and Mallards we did see Golden Eyes, Hooded Mergansers, Buffle Heads, Pie-billed Grebes. Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons were still making a living in the cold. However, one heron flying overhead appeared to have a least one of it’s feet encased in a small block of ice. Perhaps it stood in the wrong place to long.

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Just below the dam waterfowl escape the ice of the frozen reservoir.

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Waterfowl huddle just out of the river’s current.

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Fascinating ice shapes were everywhere.

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Scioto River looking north

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Ice cones.

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Different shapes.

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Icy landscape, Scioto River looking south.

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Very small Chandelier, (Donna)

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Shadows.

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Ice Ear Rings?, (Donna)

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Another chandelier, (Donna)

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There was evidence of birds walking in the fresh snow.

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Tracks

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Last year we noticed that when there are a lot of waterfowl concentrated in one spot it’s not uncommon to see Bald Eagles. Yesterday, with the concentration of waterfowl, we were rewarded with some great views of eagles perched near the top of tall trees along the river. In total we saw four, two appeared to be mature and two were immature. Pretty exciting for just two miles from our house!

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A Bald Eagle lands.

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Bald Eagles, study 2

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Bald Eagles, study 3, (Donna)

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Study 4, (Donna)

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Getting ready to take flight, study 5

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Immature Bald Eagle, (Donna)

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A Bluebird braving the cold. One of several that were seen.

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Bluebird, Hoover Park

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Thanks for looking in. We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy nature in our neighborhood in the coming week.

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