Turkeys, Trout Lilies and Other Spring Things

This post is a bit of a ramble covering our adventures in central Ohio nature over the past week. A search for wildflowers and warblers in area metro parks, a visit to a local city park to see if any warblers were passing through and finally the first long kayak paddle of the year. So I hope you enjoy the ride.

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In the spring wildflowers and migrating warblers are usually what comes to mind not turkeys. For me turkeys have always been a fall bird usually associated with a big meal that includes stuffing, gravy, and all the fixins. So a few days ago at Blendon Woods Metro Park it was a bit of a surprise to see a male turkey doing it’s best to convince a female that they should get together.

Turkey (M), Blendon Woods.

A closer look. In breeding plumage the feathers are truly spectacular, (Donna).

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The purpose of the trip to Blendon was to look for warblers. We were successful in spotting a few including a Black-throated Green which without to much effort eluded the camera’s lens. While we did see a few, we soon found ourselves seduced by the many wildflowers that were in bloom.

It won’t be long till the leaves fill in, Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Standing out due to their relative scarceness leaves evoke the feeling of flowers.

Yellow Trout Lilies were doing their best at Blendon Woods.

Another view as sunlight filters through from behind.

 

Wild Geranium, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Black haw viburnum, Blendon Woods.

There were some exceptional large examples of Toadshade Trillium at Blendon Woods.

Flowers aren’t the only thing worth taking a close look at.

Jacobs Ladder, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Buttercup, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

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When not looking at wildflowers or for warblers there were other things  .   .   .

Birds are apparently not the only spring nest builders, Fox Squirrel, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

One of a least two mature albino squirrels seen. How they evade the hawks long enough to reach adulthood is a mystery to me.

Home to small darters, in the spring the small creeks in Blendon Woods flow freely.

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The day following our trip to Blendon Woods we headed to Clear Creek Metro Park for what turned out to be a rather long hike. Spring is especially fascinating at Clear Creek with a number of plants not found elsewhere in Ohio. The number of butterflies seen (Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Commas, Morning Cloaks, etc.) but not photographed, was truly amazing.

Blue Phlox, Clear creek Metro Park.

Foamflower, Clear creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Pussytoes (F), Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Fiddleheads, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Soloman’s Seal, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Duskywing, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

Violet Wood Sorrel, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Coltsfoot, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Dogwood, Clear Creek Metro Park

Wild Geranium, Clear Creek Metro Park. (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Violets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Squaw Root, a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America, when blooming resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Wikipedia), Clear Creek Metro Park.

Fire Pink, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Closer to home within the city limits of Columbus along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir spring was also in full swing.

Redbuds, Griggs Park.

“Lovebirds”, male and female American Goldfinch, Griggs Park.

Blackberry, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Redwing Blackbird (M), Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

Shooting Star, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Buckeye, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

White-throated Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Honeysuckle, (Native?), Kiwanis Riverway Park

Yellow-throated Warbler singing high in a Sycamore tree, Griggs Park.

Wild Ginger, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In week or so ago I spotted this pair of Blue jays starting work on a nest. They must have given up on that location as no nest was found on this particular day, Griggs park.,

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Out on the reservoir there was also lot’s of activity, much of which eluded the camera’s lens, but some subjects cooperated just long enough. Spotted Sandpipers, turtles, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere. As I have undoubtedly mentioned in the past, shooting from a canoe or kayak has it’s own set of challenges, camera shake and the fact that everything is moving just to name a few, so when one gets a relatively good picture it’s truly cause for celebration. When paddling the kayak certain limitations are excepted so a relatively small light superzoom is usually what is taken. It’s easy to tuck out of the way and if it happens go swimming it’s not the end of the world.

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir.

Very small Red-eared Slider getting ready to attempt a double-backflip with a twist , Griggs Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Griggs Reservoir.

Great Egret in breeding plumage with a couple of close friends, Griggs Reservoir.

Note color around eyes.

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In the last week not far from our home it seemed that no matter which way we turned there was something wonderful to see. We hope that’s been your experience also. 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.

 

 

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.

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Griggs Reservoir

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Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.

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. . . (Donna).

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Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.

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Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.

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Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.

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Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.

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Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.

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Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.

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In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.

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A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).

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Other things have also brought color to the landscape.

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Leaves on ice, (Donna)

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Sycamore branches against a blue sky.

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Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)

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We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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Molly Cat

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Turtles, Snakes, Hawks . . . , Oh My!

Recent explorations in the central Ohio natural places have been good to us. As mentioned in previous posts the warblers are becoming quieter and much harder to find but as is often the case we find other things to fascinate. Below are some discoveries from the past week.

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Early summer wildflowers and flowering trees and bushes.

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Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

 

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Squaw Root, Highbanks Metro Park. Never what one would think of as attractive this example is a bit past it’s prime

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Purple Rocket, Griggs Park.

 

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Flower of the Tulip Tree, Highbanks.

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Fire Pink, Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

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Spiderwort, Glacier Ridge.

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Hairy Hawkweed, Glacier Ridge.

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Squarrose Sedge, Glacier Ridge.

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Mystery flowering bush, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Goats beard, non-native, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Blue Flag Iris, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Virginia Waterleaf, Highbanks. It’s unusual that the leaves are still variegated. The variegated leaves are one of the beautiful things to look for on the forest floor in the early spring.

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Closer look at a waterleaf flower.

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While we’re not seeing the warblers now other birds are still cooperating.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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An easy to hear hard to see Red-eyed Vireo, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area.

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Great Blue Heron takes a momentary swim in Griggs Reservoir, Canon SX40.

 

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The Prothonotary Warblers continue their nesting activity below Griggs Dam along the Scioto River, SX40.

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In the Scioto Below Griggs Dam a Great Blue Heron waits for a lunch delivery, Canon SX40.

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Eastern Phoebe, Highbanks.

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Song Sparrow, Glacier Ridge.

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Barn Swallow, Glacier Ridge.

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Field Sparrow with a mouthful, Glacier Ridge.

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This past week it was fascinating to see Snapping Turtles laying their eggs at Griggs Park.

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Snapping Turtle, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Snapping turtle nest. This one may have already been raided by a raccoon.

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Other reptiles and amphibians also made an appearance.

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Rat Snake high off the forest floor in a tree hole, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50).

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Bullfrog tadpole, Glacier Ridge.

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Bullfrog, Glacier Ridge.

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We’re heading into the insect time of year. Confirmed by the number seen recent walks.

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Bumble Bee, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Zabulon Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Cabbage White Bouquet, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

 

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Tawny-edged Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Common Whitetail, (F), Highbanks, ZS50.

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Common Whitetail (M), Highbanks, ZS50.

 

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Female Blue Dasher, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200)

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When you’re looking for interesting insects and flowers other things magically appear.

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Bleeding Tooth, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50)

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Dead tree, the victim of “bootstrap fungus Bootstrap fungus is caused by honey mushrooms, which are parasitic on live wood and send out long root like structures called rhizomorphs between the wood of a tree and its bark”. (thanks NH Garden Solutions for the ID help!), Highbanks.

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Hope everyone enjoyed our nature menagerie.

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Fishing on the Scioto below Griggs Dam, SX40.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

xxx

 

Rocks, Tree Roots and Ice, B&W or Color?

The level of the Scioto River near our home varies quite a bit throughout the year. In the winter beautiful designs in rocks, tree roots and ice result. I can’t make up my mind which image I like best, black and white or color.

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Along the Scioto River, B&W.

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Along the Scioto River, color.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

An Owl, Eagles, and a Muskrat?

The Barred Owl at High Banks Metro Park is probably one of the photographed birds in central Ohio this winter. However, since it would be a life bird for our daughter-in-law we set out to see if we could find it. Besides, considering  all the holiday food that had been consumed in the last few days, a nice long walk in the woods was definitely in order. Finding an owl, depending on where they are in the tree, can be next to impossible. Normally I look for silhouettes, which wouldn’t have worked in this case as the bird was perched against the trunk of a tree. Fortunately, two young birders with better eyes than mine had already found it when we arrived on the scene.

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Barred Owl, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

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With our primary objective accomplished we walked on with the hope that he resident pair of Bald Eagles would be near their nest along the Olentangy River. We weren’t disappointed. For several years now the pair has successfully nested  in an area that isn’t all that remote which gives us hope the one day we may have a nesting pair even closer to home (for Bald Eagles closer to home click here).

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A Bald Eagle pair along the Olentangy River, (Donna).

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Civilization is close by.

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The next stop was the wetlands area where we hoped to see some waterfowl. Only one female mallard was in residence perhaps because recent cold weather had caused the pond to partially freeze over. But what was that brown furry thing out on the ice, a Muskrat?

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Out on the ice in plan view of soaring eagles, the Muskrat appeared to be eating something. Wetlands Area, Highbanks Metro Park.

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During the hike we also encountered other furry creatures.

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Red Squirrel, Donna.

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Take 2.

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Fox Squirrel, (Donna).

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As we made our way back we were treated to nice views of one of our favorite birds.

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Bluebird, (Donna).

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Take 2.

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Perhaps due to very wet soil due to recent rains followed by freezing weather, we noticed these ground level ice formations along the trail.

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Ice crystals along the trail.

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A closer look, (Donna).

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A traditional winter walk with a pleasant covering of snow was not in the offing but there’s alway seems to be something to see.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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January 1 flowers in our front yard??

 

A Pileated Woodpecker Graces the Subtle Beauty of a December Woods

Being outdoors in central Ohio in December doesn’t exactly snap your head around.  This is usually not a big problem as most of us are busy with the holidays. However, for those who insist on spending time in the woods, this time of year can be a challenge. Recently, a cloudy/foggy, warmer than average, morning greeted us as we started our favorite five mile loop around Highbanks Metro Park. With the exception of the, more than we could count, Gray and Fox Squirrels, the woods were quiet. The few birds that flitted around in nearby trees never stayed in one spot long enough for a picture.

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Still, as we walked, the woods shared a subtle beauty. Perhaps it was what was missing that allowed us to appreciate it. Then again maybe we were just caught up in a little wishful thinking or December optimism, “Perhaps things really are better than they seem on the surface”.

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One of a number of creeks flowing through High Banks Metro Park

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Part of the reason for the hike was that we were hoping to see at least one owl, and there was always the resident pair of bald eagles, surely we would see them. Well, we didn’t see any owls, and apparently just missed the eagles. Perhaps sensing our disappointment, a Pileated Woodpecker was nice enough to make an appearance and tried it’s best to cheer us up.

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Pileated Woodpecker

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The Pileated Woodpecker’s handiwork, 6″H x 3″W x 6″D, by no means the largest seen but impressive nonetheless.

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It worked!

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However, given the landscape, the woodpecker almost seemed out of place. It’s bigger than it should be size, and striking body shape, color and markings, were a real counter point to the early winter woods that it calls home. While seemingly more suited to someplace tropical, not central Ohio in December, we were still thankful for it’s presence, and there’s always next time for the owls and eagles.

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December Landscape, High Banks Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Bluebird of Happiness

They may be in the park all year long, probably are, but we always seem to see them more in late fall and winter. Maybe we’re just more appreciative.

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, SX40

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In recent days a fair amount of time has been spent along Griggs Reservoir and the river below the dam trying to verify  if a pair of eagles are building a nest. An occasional eagle has been spotted overhead but no additional work seems to have been done on what appeared to be the start of a nest.

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When the eagles refuse to cooperate the camera gets pointed at other things. In some of the shots below, curiosity about the performance limits of my old Canon SX40 got the best of me so I had fun playing around with it. In an effort to improve picture quality I was trying to keep the ISO as low as possible at full zoom by supporting the camera using a tree, my knee, or a hiking stick. Other shots were taken with Panasonic FZ200’s.

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Male Kingfisher along the Scioto, SX40

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Female Kingfisher along the Scioto River in low light, SX40.

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Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River in low light.

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Some subjects fascinate when everything else has turned gray/brown, like the still red leaves of what I believe to be Service Berry.

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December color.

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take 2.

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Take 3.

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A few of the Blue Bird’s closest friends also made an appearance, some in low light, again taxing the capabilities of the SX40.

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Brown Creeper, SX40

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Downy Woodpecker, (Donna)

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Chickadee, SX40

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Carolina Wren, (Donna)

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Junco in low light., SX40.

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Crow, (Donna)

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Gull reflection, SX40.

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Happy ducks, (Donna).

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Finally, a few modest shots that hopefully speak for themselves.

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Poetry in motion, SX40.

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Reflections.

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Thanks for stopping by

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