As Summer Goes On . . .

Photos often result from our time spent in nature but they are seldom the only reason we’re out there. Truth is, we just love being outdoors. Part of the fun is looking closely to see what each new day brings. Perhaps it’s a flower, butterfly, bird, or something else that appears unexpectedly.

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Below is a pictorial ramble through things seen in the last few weeks in central Ohio that amazed or enchanted.

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The summer flowers have really been coming through for us this year.

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Swamp Rose Mallow, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Halberd-leaved Rose-Mallow along water’s edge, Griggs Reservoir

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Monkey Face along Griggs Reservoir

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Trumpet Flower along Griggs Reservoir

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Checking out the Lizard’s tail, Griggs Reservoir

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A closer look.

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While things are starting to dry out from an unusual amount of early summer rain, it continues to be a good year for fungi.

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Taking a close look at mushrooms in a neighbors lawn reveals unexpected beauty.

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White Jelly fungus, Griggs Park

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Chicken Mushroom, Griggs Park

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It’s harder to find warblers now but other birds are filling in.

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While kayak fishing on O’Shaughnessy Reservoir this immature Black-crowned Night Heron was spotted along the shore. A real treat!

 

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Adult Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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Solitary Sandpiper on mudflats, Paint Creek Reservoir

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Eastern Phoebe with a snack, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Killdeer on mud flats, Paint Creek

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Green Heron, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Great Egret, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Taking flight, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Baby mallard, Griggs Reservoir

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Double Crested Cormorants in the middle of Griggs Reservoir

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Portrait of a Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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At first we thought it might be a beaver.

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Muskrat, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Insects continue to satisfy our curiosity.

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Black Swallowtail, Paint Creek

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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A closer look, Paint Creek

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Blue-fronted Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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American Rubyspot, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Stream Bluet and American Rubyspot , Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Powdered Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir.

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Female Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir

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Stream Bluets mating, Griggs Reservoir

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Cicada, front yard.

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.   .   .   and it’s always nice to see turtles and snakes some of which were in unexpected locations due to recent high water.

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Painted Turtle, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Snapping Turtle, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Garter Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Common Water Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Sometimes it’s just the place.

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Cove, Griggs Reservoir

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Paint Creek riffles, heading further upstream would have meant more dragging than paddling.

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Cliffs along Paint Creek.

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Lunch stop, Paint Creek

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It was very quiet as we paddled along the cliffs, Paint Creek Reservoir.

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Looking north on Paint Creek Reservoir as cormorants enjoy their sunny perch.

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O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking much more isolated than it actually is.

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Thanks for stopping by.

You Never Know What You’ll Find

The July morning on Alum Creek Reservoir was warm, misty, and still when we started our paddle. In such conditions the canoe moves effortlessly across the lake’s smooth surface. The only sounds were those of our paddles as they rhythmically entered the water, the faint chatter of a few birds along the mostly oak and hickory shoreline, and the occasional thunder from a distant storm. Was the storm coming our way? We took a chance and continued on.  As the day progressed under a soft hazy sky, the wind stayed away, and the spotty thunderstorms, always lurking in the distance, never did find us.

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The luxury of such a day is that the trip out from the launch site as well as the return are equally easy. The absence of a stiff headwind and it’s accompanying waves encouraged us to explore more of the lake than we might have otherwise.

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Our typical route when we paddle the north end of the reservoir.

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Alum Creek Reservoir

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Green Herons were everywhere.

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Immature Green Heron

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Mature Green Heron

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Ready to pounce.

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Showing it’s crest.

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The Kingfishers were practicing their avoidance behavior. Never allowing us close enough for a really good shot as we moved along the shoreline.

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Female Kingfisher

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Another look.

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80% of our shots.

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It was hard to miss the ever present Double-crested Cormorants.

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Cormorant shapes.

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Even a sandpiper stopping long enough for a photo.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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It was good to see the Osprey family doing well. One of several at the north end of the lake.

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Osprey family.

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A water snake struck a nice pose as we paddled up Alum Creek past the small town of Kilbourne.

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Common Water Snake

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But wouldn’t you just know it, on the way back, an owl was waiting “just for us” in one the last coves we decided to explore.

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Barred Owl in a cove on a tree overhanging the water.

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Thinking I might want to get out of here.

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Out of here.

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To a more secluded spot.

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Not something we often see from the canoe and a real thrill.

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Thanks for stopping by.

An Unexpected Duck

A few days ago we found ourselves paddling the Twin Lakes area of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking for warblers. It was a good outing with Prothonotary and Yellow Warblers seen along with Tree and Bank Swallows, Great-crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings, a Bald Eagle, etc.

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However, the Northern Shoveler pictured below was a bit of a surprise. Shouldn’t it be a little further north by now? Later, after we were off the water, additional investigation revealed the Northern Shoveler migration can cover a larger time period when compared to other waterfowl. So, maybe the sighting shouldn’t be a big surprise.

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Male Northern Shoveler, Twin Lakes

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Take 2, Twin Lakes

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Adding to the excitement, Bank and Tree Swallows were nice enough to pose for their portrait.

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Barn Swallow, Twin Lakes

 

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Tree Swallow, Twin Lakes

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Of course no late spring outing is complete, be it the Twin Lakes Area, Griggs Reservoir, or the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, without acknowledging some of the other participants.

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Great Blue Heron with lunch, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Fox Squirrel relaxing on a branch overhanging the water, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Canada Geese babies. Griggs Reservoir

 

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Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir

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Yellow Throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water snake, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Let’s not forget some of the flowers seen.

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Dames Rocket, Griggs Reservoir

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Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

 

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Yellow Flag Iris, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Chives, Griggs Reservoir

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Haven’t had a mystery photo for quite a while so any idea what the object in the below photograph is?

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What is it?, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Spring Wonder at Griggs Reservoir

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It seems that nature is in it’s most generous mood. “New” arrives everyday whether it’s in the form of a bird, flower, or other creature. Places that may seem ordinary later in the year are magically transformed by this new life. Even for those of us that spend large amounts of time walking in the woods or paddling along rivers, this time each year is no less fascinating.  This is certainly the case for a special place to us, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River just below the dam, which is not far from our home. For those of you that follow this blog you know we write about this place often. Residents of central Ohio probably know where it is, for all others, it’s located right within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. For us, this fact greatly contributes to the magic.

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In an attempt to document this magic, the photos below are a record of some things seen  over the last two weeks.

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 Common Red-breasted Mergansers along the Scioto River.

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Can’t help but think these Red-breasted Mergansers (corrected per reader comment) should be further north by now, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are gone but others have taken their place.

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Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf along the Scioto, (Donna)

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Wild Stonecrop along the reservoir, (Donna)

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Golden Alexander along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and one of the more unique late spring wildflowers has appeared on the low cliffs along the reservoir.

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Wild Columbine along the reservoir

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Wild Columbine typically grows on vertical rock faces.

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A good selection of reptiles have also been observed.

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Red Eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water Snake, Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell, Griggs Reservoir

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On one of our paddles, two deer look on as we glide by.

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Whitetail Deer along the shore, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Then there are the birds.

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Tree Swallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Prothonotary below the dam, (Donna)

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Prothonotary, below the dam.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continue to be a common sighting below the dam.

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Singing Baltimore Oriole (male) along the Scioto River below the dam, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, below the dam.

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Here till the fall Cedar Waxwings have finally made an appearance, Griggs Park.

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Cedar Waxwing

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There are mothers and fathers with babies.

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Canada Geese share the parenting responsibilities, Griggs Reservoir

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 But among the birds, the real treat is the return of mating pairs of Wood Ducks.

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Wood Ducks on the Scioto River below the dam.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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The female Wood Duck has to have good parenting skills because she’s on her own, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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Not to long after mating the Male Wood Duck will be hard to find, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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.   .   .   and it’s all happening so close to our home! What’s happening close to yours?

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One of the coves popular with Wood Ducks on Griggs Reservoir. The rock faces in the background are a typical location for Wild Columbine.

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Hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by.

Vernal Pools and Spring Wildflowers

The woods at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park  are a very good place to take a long walk. This time of the year, if you love spring wildflowers, it’s a great place. Yesterday, with that in mind, we packed water and a lunch and headed out with the goal of seeing trilliums and perhaps a few spring warblers.

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The park’s spring woods contain many shallow pools that usually last a few weeks and are gone. The aesthetics of these vernal pools is primarily what attracts me but the real magic is that, due to their lack of predatory fish, they are home to a variety insects and other small creatures. The most obvious of these being various species of frogs and toads which use the pools for reproduction. Salamanders may also use them to reproduce. Depending on location fairy shrimp may also be part of the mix.

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Some pools are small.

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Others larger.

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When not being fascinated by the vernal pools it was impossible not to be enchanted by the emerging life of the forest floor most dramatically represented by the wildflowers.

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It was the striking appearance of this Toad Shade Trillium’s leaves that attracted our attention. In a few short days they will be uniformly green.

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Dutchman’s Breeches were everywhere.

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A rare pink variant. (Donna)

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Wood Anemone

 

 

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While not quite as common as the Dutchman’s Breaches, we did see a lot of Cutleaf Toothwort. (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort, another look.

 

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This Yellow Violet was one of a few we saw. (Donna)

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Beautiful but unusual Yellow Sedge. (Donna)

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The small flowers of the Yellow Corydalis. (Donna)

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The beauty of Virginia Waterleaf.

 

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Large groups of White Trout Lilies were seen.

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This one was ahead of the others. (Donna)

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Spring Beauties were well represented.

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Some were more pink in color. (Donna)

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Spicebush, (Donna)

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Fragile but beautiful Rue Anemone.

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Rue Anemone, another look.

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Purple Cress

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Spring showcases the beauty and symmetry of young leaves

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Virginia Bluebells that were slightly ahead of the rest.

 

But when your looking for wildflowers you just might see   .   .   .

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Common Water snakes enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.

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While no warblers were seen there were other birds to enjoy.

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Female Eastern Towhee

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The male was close by.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Male Downy Woodpecker. (Donna)

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With the female close by. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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The fact that the warblers and white trilliums eluded us has provided good reason for a return visit. Not that one is needed.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Up The Creek

We decided to paddle up Paint Creek with the hope of documenting some of the beautiful scenery along it’s banks. As creeks go, it’s one of the best in Ohio.

Paint Creek Reservoir is located in Paint Creek State Park. The park is located south of Columbus in the gently rolling hills that occupy that part of the state. Two rivers feed the reservoir, Rattlesnake and Paint Creek. Of the two, we feel that a paddle up Paint Creek is the better option. The bluffs and cliffs along it’s banks make you wonder if you’re really in Ohio. It is also possible to paddle quite a bit further than on Rattlesnake Creek making for a better day trip. As you head north, the shoreline with bushes and trees at waters edge, is usually good for seeing many types of birds from tanagers to eagles. Lower water at certain times of the year produces mudflats that are excellent for viewing shore birds and the many logs along the shore make it a great place to see turtles and water snakes. Once you’re up the creek far enough to be in the current a few casts will usually produces a large or smallmouth bass or maybe a nice pan fish.

Light is what photographers paint with and on the day we were out it was less than ideal. At times it was almost dreary and threatening rain while at others piercing sun light would illuminate a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in the dark. But we try to be philosophical about such things, so the pictures that follow hopefully capture some of the unique beauty of the place as it was on that day.

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Route map, Paint Creek Reservoir is quite large so this shows only a small portion.

 

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Heading north into Paint Creek

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The bluffs.

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Louisiana Water Thrush along the shore

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On a cool morning this Common Water Snake tries to warm up.

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A small island in the reservoir.

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A Killdeer on the mud flats.

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A Solitary Sandpiper near the mud flats

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Logs along the shore are a great place for Map and Spiny Soft Shell Turtles.

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Along waters edge, a Black Swallowtail on a Button Bush.

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Photographing rock formations.

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In many places the cliffs plunge straight into the reservoir.

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A Green Heron poses in a small cove.

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Take two.

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An intimate place, maybe there’s a picture.

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What she saw. (Donna)

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As far north as we could go in the canoe. Time for lunch.

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Pulled out on a sand bar, Paint Creek

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Very small moth.

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A damselfly makes friends with Donna.

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Colorful fungus along water’s edge

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Exploring.

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A few casts and Bob had a bass. (Donna)

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What to do? bird or fish! (Donna)

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Paint Creek

 

 

 

 

 

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Enchants

We’re in the process of preparing for a hiking trip in Scotland and what better park than Battelle Darby to go for a long walk. Besides, who knows what flowers, birds, or other wildlife might make an appearance, or what follow bloggers we might meet along the way. My wife cautioned that we shouldn’t stop too often to look at “things” or the walk would lose it’s training effect. As you can see from the photos we weren’t entirely successful in meeting that goal.

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Trail at the south end of the park

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Our route:

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The route

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The first thing we noticed was an Eastern Meadowlark:

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Eastern Meadowlark no far from the Nature Center

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Eastern Meadowlark

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Not long after that wildflowers started to appear:

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Log and Appendaged Waterleaf

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Ox-eye Daisies, (Donna)

Miami Mist - J Petranka's Flickr Site

Miami Mist, new to us, seen but not photographed due to technical difficulties – picture is from J Petranka’s Flickr Site. This flower is interesting for reasons other than it’s beauty. As my wife found out, if touched it can produce a fairly severe burning itching sensation in the area that comes in contact!

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Yellow Flag Iris

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White or Red Baneberry, new to us.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Virginia Waterleaf

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Wild Geranium

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Violet Wood Sorrel, new to us, perennial plant is up to 6″ tall. It consists of a small cluster of trifoliate basal leaves on long petioles that emerge directly from the ground. Individual trifoliate leaves are about 1″ across and they open up during the day. The leaves may turn purplish in response to cold weather or strong sunlight, otherwise, they tend to be greyish green. (from the web)

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Black Cherry

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Foam Flower

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Goats Beard

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White Violet

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Appendaged Waterleaf, (Donna)

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Spiderwort

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Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Wild Cucumber

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Where there are flowers:

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Northern Pearly-eye (Donna)

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Pearl Crescent , (Donna)

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Not to be outdone the birds started to show up.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

 

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Femal Eastern Bluebird, (Donna)

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Red-winged Blackbird, (Donna)

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, (Donna)

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In a tree along a meadow a Indigo Bunting sings.

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At one point along the trail we heard a fairly loud buzzing/whirring sound coming from the nearby woods, like a sound that might be made by many small wings. We headed over to investigate and found a swarm of bees! Have you ever seen such a thing? Neither had we. After pictures were taken we didn’t stick around.

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Bee Swarm!!!!

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As the trail returned to the river’s edge we collected ourselves and noticed a Common Water Snake relaxing on a rock. A  little later a Rat snake was seen but not photographed until another one was seen at the nature center.

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Common Water Snake on a rock in the Big Darby

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Back at the nature center Tim shows us a Rat Snake

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A immature Gray Squirrel seems curious as is watches from a trailside tree.

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Young Gray Squirrel

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From what we could see on the trees, the park isn’t home to a rich variety of lichens but we did see a very nice shelf fungus.

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Polypore fungi, (Donna)

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Our walk was made all the more special because we had the opportunity to meet and take a few minutes to chat with Tracy of Season’s Flow. We left the park tired from the long walk and the many investigative side trips but so much richer for our experience.

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The Big Darby in spring.

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***

 

Photos by Donna

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