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.

An Autumn Bouquet

The image of a flower bouquet kept entering my mind as I thought about this post. Something enjoyed only briefly and then gone. Perhaps it’s the realization that today images are everywhere and the best we can hope for is a fleeting appreciation before they pass into time. So no iconic Ansel Adams images here, just glimpses of autumn in Ohio. If the reader soon forgets the images but is left with a positive feeling or inspiration the carries them into the day with a smile, we will smile.

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In no particular order, the photos were taken during the past week and are from a hike on a “new to us” trail along the western shore of Alum Creek Reservoir in Alum Creek State Park (AC), and also hikes in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park (BD), Clear Creek Metro Park (CC) and Griggs Reservoir Park (GR), an easy to over look city park just mile a from our home. The fungi pictures are a reminder that even with most wildflowers gone until next year there is always something to discovery during a walk in the woods.

Beech leaves cast subtle shadows, CC.

Eyelash Cup, GR, (Donna). As with all images click on the photo for a closer look.

Fall color along the Big Darby, BD.

Serenity, GR.

Cracked-cap Polypore, BD, (Donna).

Windfall, CC.

Lemon Drops, BD (Donna).

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

White-egg Birds Nest, AC, (Donna).

Cove, AC.

Unidentified yellow mushroom, CC, (Donna).

Dark jelly fungus, CC, (Donna).

Leaves, BD.

Unidentified fancy mushroom, BD, (Donna).

Road through Clear Creek Metro Park.

Creek, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Polypore, CC, (Donna).

Path through the woods, AC.

The beautiful underside of Common Split Gill, BD, (Donna).

The Big Darby, BD.

Bridge, AC.

Orange and yellow, BD.

Leaves and stump, AC.

Alum Creek Reservoir cove.

Tiny “parasols”, CC, (Donna).

Eastern Wahoo, BD.

Fence, BD.

Picnic table, GR.

Trees at waters edge, DB.

Leaves, AC

Shaggy Mane, BD

Leaves on fallen tree, AC

Solitary leaf, BD

Leaves along the shore of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Polypore, AC, (Donna).

Woods, AC

Path, DB.

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Walking a wooded path

with little more than

the colors of an autumn day,

the earthen scent of fallen leaves

touched by rain,

and the sound of a solitary woodpecker,

I awoke in the richness

of the moment.

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Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

****

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Cause and Effect

Recently, after several weeks of very dry weather, the rain came. One day it amounted to almost three inches. Once clear and lazy, area rivers are now swollen and turbid and flow with more purpose as though their water has somewhere to go. The precipitation came too late to have a major effect on the season’s color but the orange, yellow, and brown of oaks and hickories is now more saturated. The moist earth returns it’s recent gift to the humid early morning air, as suspended leaves, some no longer green, appear to almost come back to life.

Griggs Reservoir

The crotch of a tree provides a resting place, Emily Traphagen Park.

Stump, Emily Traphagen Park.

Fallen tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Two days ago during a walk in an area park a bench provided a place to eat lunch. In the stillness we watched an occasional leaf  from some unknown high branch in a nearby tree, like a large early winter snowflake, silently float down and land quietly at our feet. A few descended without a flourish, but most either spiraled, spun, or sashayed side to side on the last and only journey of their lives. They joined those already fallen to complete the cycle of life. One here, another there, slowly, as we sat watching, they never stopped. Today, as I write this, with wind howling past a partially open window, the scene would be much different.

Moss covered roots grace a hillside, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

Fall color, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Rotting log, Emily Traphagen Park.

Leaves of the Shagbark Hickory, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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It’s hard not to think of them as friends, the group of birds; robins, nuthatches, blue jays, etc., that are such an important part of our walks in nature near home.

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

Pigeons, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

Carolina Wren, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Mallard reflection, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Autumn color, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Others birds, such as the Bald Eagle, are only seen on occasion but that occasion is a miracle. When I was young, in the days of DDT, a trip to Alaska may have been necessary to see one. Now they can be seen just a mile and a half from our house. Ospreys are seen more frequently, but soon they will embark on their journey south following the already departed community of Black-crowned Night Herons that through early fall call Griggs Reservoir home. With each osprey sighting we wonder if it will be the last until next year.

A Bald Eagle is framed by fall color on the west side of Griggs Reservoir.

Osprey along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A pond forms the backdrop for shoreline grass, Emily Traphagen Park

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The true magic of the rain, after such a long period of dry weather, is the fungi. Many just seem to appear out of nowhere while others, having endured the dryness, regain their color. Identifying what is seen can be a challenge.

Puffballs, Emily Traphagen Park.

Non-inky Coprinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Turkey Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Some type of polypore, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Artist’s Bracket, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Crust fungi, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park,, (Donna).

Common Spilt Gill, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A jelly fungus on the left and Witches’ Butter, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

An emergent polypore, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Angel’s Wings, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wolf’s Milk Slime, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very rare sight near our home, Crown-tipped Coral, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss on what appears to be False Turkey-tail causes one to wonder just how long it’s been there. Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Luminescent Panellus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Early morning fog, also the result of the recent rain, greeted us during a walk at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park creating splendor in a spider’s web.

Banded Garden Spider, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Still standing, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Later, as we continued our walk, we noticed a few moths that apparently had gathered on the light gray wood siding of a park building during the night.

Large Maple Span Worm Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Dot-lined White Moth, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

White-marked Tussock Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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As we continued on a number of Eastern Commas where seen, usually right on the trail.

Eastern Comma, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Along the trail, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

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When the rain came, after such a long period of dryness, I stepped out onto our porch, took a deep breath, watched, and listened. The rain fell softly at first, with the sound of a mouse playing as it touched the dry places. After a while, standing there, the rain leaving fleeting patterns in driveway puddles, it’s fragrance in the wet grass, soil, and filling the air, I was taken to a different place and embraced by a feeling of newness and rebirth.

Glacial Erratic, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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“Whatever Was On That Tree They Liked It!”

Those were the words of our son when he saw our pictures of butterflies congregating on a small tree. The butterflies were noticed yesterday at water’s edge while walking along Griggs Reservoir. They were very numerous but dispersed in groups around the tree making a total count difficult. It wasn’t exactly something we had seen before. Usually it’s a butterfly here and another one there. In the past, when seen groups, there’s usually some identifiable substance attracting them and it’s not always something pleasant.

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In this case, whatever the attraction was (perhaps tree sap?), several different species could relate to it, with the Hackberry Emperors being the most numerous and aggressive in their efforts to keep the others away.

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Hackberry Emperors find something good on the bark of a tree.

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After being chased off, a Red Admiral waits it’s turn.

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Not easily bullied, a Question Mark joined in, (Donna).

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After we left the tree a very small but beautiful butterfly was noticed on a clover flower.

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Perched on clover, a very small, very beautiful, Eastern-tailed Blue, (Donna).

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There were also other insects about.

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Stream Bluet Damselflies mating, (Donna).

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More mating, Apple Bark Borer Moth, (Donna).

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There was no shortage of flowers to keep the insects busy.

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Water Willow

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Water Willow

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Emerging Coneflower, (Donna)

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Heart leafed Umbrella-wort, (Donna)

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Take 2.

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Horse Nettle, (Donna)

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Design in green, (Donna)

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Morning Glory casts it’s early morning shadow.

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Rain Garden sunflowers, (Donna)

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Tall Meadow-rue, (Donna)

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Emerging Queen Ann’s Lace, (Donna)

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Our friends the turtles were happy to make an appearance. One river rock appeared to be particularly attractive.

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Scioto River Map Turtles, (Donna)

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Recent rains had brought out some interesting fungus.

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Rhodotus Palmatus, (Donna)

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Common Split Gill, (Donna)

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From below, (Donna)

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Unlike my wife, I spent most of my time looking for birds and other creatures (perhaps a Mink?) to photograph. With the leaves providing ample cover for the larger creatures, small things carried the day.

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Thanks for stopping by.

What We Saw After We Didn’t See The Kirtlands Warbler

The report was that a Kirtlands Warbler had been seen at Highbanks Metro Park. There were even pictures on the Central Ohio Birders Facebook page.  We don’t usually chase birds but this one wasn’t far from home. Besides, if we weren’t successful in finding it, High Banks, with it’s many nice trails, would be a great place for a hike.

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Stream, High Banks Metro Park

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Well, as the title of this post indicates, we didn’t see the Kirtlands Warbler, but not wanting to waste a good day, we set off to see what else we could find.

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It was a great day to be in the woods. New green was everywhere. It was quiet except for birds calling, now harder to see with leaves almost fully out. The earth dampened by a recent rain, as well as the flowering plants, released the scent of spring.

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Not far down the trail:

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Berries will soon be on their way.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Sassafras Leaves

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Jelly Ear Fungus

Fungi, moss and lichen on log 1 051815 highbanks cp1

Common Split Gill that has aged a bit. (Based on input from a mushroom expert.)

Witches' Butter fungus 1 051815 highbanks cp1

Witches’ Butter

Sensiitive Ferns 1 best 1 051815 highbanks cp1

Sensitive Fern

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As the air started to warm more insects were about:

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Tiger Beetle and female Common Whitetail

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A closer look at the Tiger Beetle

Golden-backed Snipe Fly ~ Chrysopilus thoracicus 2 closer   1 051815 highbanks cp1

Golden-backed Snipe Fly

Duskywing 1 051815 highbanks cp1

Duskywing

Zabulon Skipper male on leaf 1 best 1  closer 1 051815   highbanks cp1

Male Zabulon Skipper

Zabulon Skipper female on leaf 1 best 1 051815 highbanks   cp1

Female Zabulon Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper 1 side view 051815 highbanks   cp1

Silver Spotted Skipper

Pearl Crescent 4 wings full out 2 051915 Griggs south   cp1

Pearl Crescent

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While not the Kirtlands Warbler, we did see a few birds.

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Summer Tanager in a treetop. Too far away for a good pic.

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A Cape May Warbler (F) checks us out.

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Female Bluebird.

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Indigo Bunting

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By hikes end, the day had given so much we’d pretty much forgotten about the warbler.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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