It’s Spring!

While working on a blog post pertaining to time spent in Florida earlier this year I was interrupted. However, unlike many interruptions this one was good. Spring wasn’t just knocking, it was banging on the door, calling us to come out and play. In just the last few days nature has exploded in central Ohio making it hard for my wife and I to contain our enthusiasm. Hopefully this post will convey just a little bit of the excitement.

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One of the first clues that things were changing more rapidly were the wildflowers.

Redbuds.

Virginia Bluebells, (Donna).

Another look.

White Trout Lily

Dutchman’s Breeches.

Yellow Trout Lilies, (Donna).

A closer look. (Donna).

Emerging Buckeye leaves, not a flower but beautiful in their own way.

Spring Beauties, (Donna).

Newly emerged spring fungi, Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna).

Translucent green.

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Then there were the birds, all of which seemed very busy.

From it’s nesting cavity a Red-bellied Woodpecker checks us out.

A Canada Goose on it’s nest at water’s edge. Hopefully there will be no heavy rains in the near future.

An argumentative pair of Blue Jays announce their presence. Could they be discussing nest location?

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Some behavior seemed odd.

This Canada Goose was trying a different menu item. Something we’ve never seen before.

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Other birds were just enjoying the warmer weather.

A Tufted-titmouse makes itself know with a voice much bigger than the bird.

A common but hard to photograph Carolina Chickadee is nice enough to pose.

Sunlight warms a male Mallard in breeding plumage.

Redbuds surround a female Cardinal.

A Great Blue Heron soars overhead along the Scioto River, (Donna).

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The Great Egrets in their breeding plumage continued to enchant us.

Preening.

Another look.

Striking a beautiful pose.

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But the days real excitement was generated when we spotted a newly arrived spring migrant.

This curious Yellow-throated Warbler flew down to see what I was up to.

Too cute for just one pic.

And perhaps one more.

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As if the wildflowers and birds weren’t enough, more turtles than we’ve ever seen on one log decided to get into the act.

Turtles along the Scioto River, How many do you see?

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We hope our enthusiasm rubs off on our readers and everyone gets out to witness springs transformation in their neighborhood.

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Walking in the freshness of an early spring morning

along a path lined with trees just clothed in translucent green

with the sights, sounds, and smells of nature

I am reborn.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Enchanted November Woods

A half an hour before, we were standing in a cold wind just below a dam that has created one of central Ohio’s larger reservoirs trying our best to spot, and perhaps photograph, the Black-legged Kittiwake that was reported in the area. A unique opportunity because it’s a gull not usually seen in these parts. We finally did get a very average binocular view of the bird, another one for my “life list”, but in the process managed to journey pretty far down the road to hypothermia. Now we were looking forward to a hike in the woods with the thought that it wouldn’t be windy and the modest exertion might be enough to warm us up.

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Char-Mar Ridge Park, is not far from the dam so it seemed like a good choice. The park is home to numerous species of large trees as well as a pond that usually contains waterfowl. A plus is that next to the pond is a nicely situated observation blind for undetected viewing. This time of the year finds most leaves, a significant portion of which are oak, on the forest floor as the bare branched sentinels, once their home, tower overhead. The lack of leaves on branches promotes a rather barren landscape but made it easy to spot a Pileated woodpecker just minutes into our walk. It insisted on maintaining its position between us and the sun foiling efforts to obtain a really good photo.

Pileated Woodpecker, all photos may be clicked on for a better view.

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Once in the park it was hard not to notice the uniform blanket of leaves. They accentuated the park’s large rocks and fallen trees giving the sense that one was walking through a sculptor garden.

Oak leaves on log.

Large glacial erratic.

Recent rains darkened fallen trees, further contrasting them with the leaves.

Fallen leaves and branches.

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While I was amusing myself with stumps and fallen trees my wife was doing her best to locate fascinating fungi.

A study of leaves, tree bark, and fungi.

Resinous Polypore, (Donna).

A type of spreading fungi, (Donna).

Lichen and jelly fungi, (Donna).

Common Split Gill just starting out, (Donna).

Colorful Turkeytail.

Perhaps young Cinnabar-red Polypore.

Another look, (Donna).

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It was just a short distance to the blind overlooking the pond and despite the fact that the resident Red Headed Woodpecker was not seen the time spent there did not disappoint. A neighborhood of usual suspects was more than happy to entertain us.

White Breasted Nuthatch, (Donna).

Another look.

Male Cardinal.

White-throated sparrow, (Donna).

Another look.

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

What are you looking at?

Downy Woodpecker

Take 2.

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There was also activity on the pond.

Male Hooded Merganser.

Male and female Gadwalls

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It is hard not to be enchanted when one finds color suspended in an otherwise drab gray landscape. Most leaves were down but those on the smaller beech trees hang on and even though their color is no match for the brilliant reds of a maple they did their best to supply color.

Color suspended among slender trees.

A closer look.

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Recent rains meant that some areas still contained “ponds” of standing water on and along the path creating a challenge for dry feet but also provided a unique “looking-glass” into the late autumn woods.

November reflection.

November reflection, black and white.

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November reflection 2.

November reflection 2, black and white .

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In the cold November woods there always is more going on than we know. We move too fast and miss much, wishing for warmer days.

Char-Mar Ridge Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Then One Morning They Were There

Just a few days ago, during a spring migration walk along Griggs Reservoir, it was quiet. Sure there were a noticeable number of Yellow-rumps, one or two Yellow-throated were heard so high in the Sycamores that they threatened to go into earth orbit, and even some Palms were flitting about with tails bobbing, but most of the kinglets had moved on with nothing else within easy binocular reach taking their place. An unwelcome reminder that spring migration can be that way, one day the land of plenty the next not so much.

Yellow-throated Warbler (trust me) high in a Sycamore.

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Over the past few years we’ve enjoyed monitoring a few locations close to home. While we do go further afield we’ve noticed that for us by concentrating on a few locations, the place, as will as the creatures that call it home, seemed to be valued more. We acknowledge that by not hopping in the car in response to an E-bird post there are birds that will not see. With that in mind, the next day we found ourselves back at Griggs Reservoir Park to see if things had changed. Amazingly, as if by magic, brightly colored orange birds that were no where to be seen the day before were now streaking through the air to perches high in trees or low in bushes, they seemed to be everywhere. The park was transformed. Did they arrive quietly during the night on the “red eye”? Your guess is as good as ours. Many were undoubtedly just passing through while others, based on observations from years past, will make the park and it’s environs home for the summer decorating the trees with their hanging nests. As you have probably already guessed these brightly colored birds were Baltimore Orioles.

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Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2, (Donna).

3, (Donna).

4, (Donna).

5, (Donna).

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A female sneaks in.

xxxx

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Even with the arrival of the orioles, other birds including some that are migrants continued to compete for our attention.

A White-breasted Nuthatch strikes a classic nuthatch pose.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen snacking on ants

.   .   .  while another is engaged in a little home construction.

A very vocal Catbird announces his arrival from points south

.   .   .   while another looks on, (Donna).

Cliff Swallows, a species that in this case builds their communal grouping of nests under a bridge crossing the reservoir, were in the process of gathering nest building material (mud) resulting in a frenzy of activity around a small puddle not far from their nest site, (Donna).

A House Wren pauses momentarily .   .   .

then continues it’s song, (Donna).

The Cardinal is a beautiful but very common bird in Ohio. We have to remind ourselves not to take it for granted.

A male Bluebird bathed in a sea of green waits for lunch to fly by.

Right now Palm Warblers may be even more common than Yellow-rumps, (Donna).

A Cape May Warbler gets close enough for a photo with my Panasonic FZ200.

Based on the fact that that is where we often saw them, Red-eyed Vireos seemed to really enjoy the Sycamore trees, (Donna).

An almost always vocal Tufted Titmouse entertains us, (Donna).

If you hear a melodic and louder than it should be song, it could be a Tufted Titmouse.

The Spotted Sandpipers are also back in the neighborhood.

From a distance, without the aid of binoculars, we first mistake the movement of a Swainson’s Thrush for that of a robin. Many have been seen in the last few days and most are probably just passing through.

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Donna captures an amazing well camouflaged Brown Creeper

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With the leaves just emerging the orioles were easy to spot but that’s changing fast. In a few days, as green continues to embrace trees and bushes, they will be heard but even with their brilliant color they will be much harder to see. Many will move on with other species taking their place as the march of spring migration continues through central Ohio. We will wait expectantly for our next “new for the year” sighting and there undoubtedly will even be another post to celebrate it. Will it be an American Redstart, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or something else?

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Until then thanks for stopping by.

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Redbuds in bloom.

 

Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Griggs Park Celebrates Autumn’s Color

It’s the first part of November and the autumn colors have hung around a lot longer than usual. We thought about taking a drive down to the Hocking Hills in SE Ohio, a hilly part of the state that’s especially beautiful this time of year, but opted for a few long walks in Griggs Park instead. Can’t say that I feel like we missed anything by not taking the drive.

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Landscape photography in Griggs Park can be a challenge due to the amount of extraneous subjects that can distract so taking time to study vantage points and light is essential to capturing what one wants.

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I’ve been fascinated by the park’s picnic tables for a number of years particular when they are in an isolated setting. Now mostly deserted it’s as if they are still waiting patiently without a complaint for someone to sit down. Fall color adds to the visual interest. Perhaps B&W would also say what I wanted.

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Griggs Park picnic table.

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Black and White

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Picnic Table 2.

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Picnic Table 3.

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The paths and roads in the park can be delightful and almost magical this time of year. Capturing that feeling is always rewarding.

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Along Griggs Reservoir.

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Path at waters edge, Griggs Park.

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Park path, Griggs Park.

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Park road, Griggs Park.

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Sometimes it’s just a tree that enchants.

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Afternoon sun, Griggs Park.

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Sycamore, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Tree trunks, Griggs Park.

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At first one notices the big things but before long smaller things, leaves and flowers start to tell their story.

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Maple leaves, Griggs Park.

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Leaves along the Scioto.

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Reflections, Griggs Reservoir.

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Teasel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Reservoir.

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Fleabane, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Milkweed, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chicory, Griggs Park.

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Don’t tell the insects it’s the first of November. However, for the squirrels and chipmunks that are getting ready for winter, it’s just that busy time of year.

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A bumblebee makes due with a flower past it’s prime, (Donna).

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Gray Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Sharp-stigma Looper, (Donna).

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Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipmunk, Griggs Park.

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Common Checkered Skipper spending time with a Clouded Sulphur, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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The birds, local residents as well as migrants from the north,  also seemed to be celebrating the color of the season.

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We were surprised to see this immature male Red Winged Blackbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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As if the leaves weren’t pretty enough, a Goldfinch completes the picture, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Along the Scioto River autumn color creates a beautiful backdrop for this female Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Dark-eyed Junco, a migrant from the north, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A Great Blue Heron looking for lunch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Male Mallard Duck, Griggs Reservoir.

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White-throated Sparrow, another migrant from the north, Griggs Park.

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Tufted Titmouse, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Take 2, (Donna).

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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A male Cardinal seems to blend right in, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh, I almost forgot, for those that are on the edge of their seat wondering how my autumn Smallmouth Bass quest is coming , here’s an update:

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Channel cats have been more cooperative. They are fun to catch but not what I’m looking for, Griggs Reservoir.

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. . . and then a few days later a measure of success! Since I’m a firm believer that the work begins when you put the fish on the stringer they are all released. The fish seem to be happy about that decision.

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When writing this blog at often occurs to me that it’s largely for internal consumption, a way of marking time, documenting life, and making it sacred. On that note we hope readers have found natural areas close to home that enchant and have enjoyed autumn in those special places as much as we have in ours. Thanks for stopped by.

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xxx

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.

The Magic World Of The Very Small

The last few days found us paddling Griggs Reservoir. This time of year we always hope that staying close to the shoreline will result in warbler sightings and perhaps a few pictures. With warblers and other migrants moving through it’s a good time of year. In recent days on the reservoir we’ve even seen Mink along the banks and while walking just south of the dam my wife caught the tail end of a Bald Eagle as it flew overhead.

 

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Bald Eagle over the Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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A number of immature Black-crowned Night Herons have also been seen, encouraging because of our recent discovery of one that had met it’s demise at the business end of a abandoned fishing line.

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Immature Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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Other things were also seen as we made our way along the shore.

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A Great Blue Heron takes flight, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Two Wood Ducks seemingly amused by a Painted Turtle or is it the other way around, Griggs reservoir.

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A Red-tailed Hawk looks on as we head north along the west shore of the reservoir.

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Painted Turtles enjoy posing for the camera much more than some of the other species we encounter, (Donna)

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A female Kingfisher actually poses for the camera, Griggs Reservoir.

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Walking Griggs Park has been more productive for seeing as well as photographing warblers and other small birds mostly because of the difficulty in controlling and positioning the canoe in the pursuit of small active birds.

 

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A male Bluebird doing what bluebirds do best, Griggs Park.

 

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A male Cardinal, beautiful in the morning sun, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park.

 

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Griggs Park.

 

 

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Another view, (Donna)

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Carolina Wren sings it’s heart out.

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park.

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If the warblers aren’t cooperating there may be a butterfly, not always rare, but one we’ve not noticed before.

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Checkered Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fishing is also getting better as the weather cools with time taken off between casts to do a little house keeping along the shore. What can I say, it’s always there, but as those who read this blog already know, it makes me feel better to pick it up.

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Another nice Smallmouth Bass, Griggs Reservoir

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Unlike fish that are always returned to the water, the trash covering the bottom of the canoe is not “Catch and Release”!

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But recently real magic was discovered within the world of the very small when we spotted countless damselflies mating on fallen autumn leaves floating on the reservoir’s calm surface as we paddled back to our launch site during the warmth of the day. We’d never seen anything like that before.

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In the warming late morning sun Dusky Dancer were on every leaf, (Donna)

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The bigger the leaf the more damselflies. Sometimes, as we got close, they would swarm over the  canoe.

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That’s about it for this post. For us living in northern regions autumn is a great time to be out in nature. A feeling borne from the knowledge that this fleeting time will not last. Thanks for stopping by.

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Dew Drop

xxx

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.

 

A Heron, Egret, and Cormorant Rookery in Columbus

If you’d like to see nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants pack up your binoculars or better yet a spotting scope, and head over to Campbell Park off McKinley Avenue and just south of Trabue Rd. The park is interesting in it’s own right because it’s one of the last ancient cone-shaped burial mounds in Columbus, but in addition, the top of the mound happens to be a great vantage point to view an island rookery located in the middle of the adjacent quarry.

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We learned about the spot by chance from a fellow birding enthusiast while looking for migrating warblers along the Scioto River in Columbus. So before we get to the rookery, below are a few shots from our adventures along the Scioto in recent days.

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Prothonotary Warbler along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker being a good parent along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Turkey Vultures along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200, (Donna).

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Robin singing, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, FZ200. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Kiwanis River Way Park

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. . . just a minute I’m not quite ready!

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park

 

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Bluebird, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Cardinal, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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When we’re not looking for birds .   .   .

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Kiwanis River Way Park

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Butterweed, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Shooting Star, Kiwanis River Way Park.

 

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???, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wood Sorrel, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Spring Beauty, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Black Swallowtail, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Fleabane, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Campbell Park and the rookery. Views through our spotting scope were much better!

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Entrance to the mound. Campbell Park.

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Historical Marker

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The best view of the island and rookery (the only view really), was from the top of the mound.

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The bird camera at full zoom, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Looking around the island, nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Another view, Black-crowned Night Herons can just be made out in the lower lift corner, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Donna’s FZ200 takes a look at a variety of nesting birds.

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Nests, , Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Nesting cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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While my wife was investigating the wildflowers and butterflies I also tried some photos with a Digi-scope rig but the results were disappointing no doubt the result of operator error. If you have such equipment I recommend giving it a try. At the very least bring your spotting scope and enjoy the view while many of the birds are still on their nests.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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