August Nature on Central Ohio’s Reservoirs

Recently we paddled the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir not far from our home in Columbus and then a couple of days later ventured about sixty miles due south to paddle Paint Creek. Given that it’s mid-summer we weren’t real optimistic about what we’d see. That said, one thing we observed which seemed rather counterintuitive given the summer’s midday heat was that the birds were much more active and approachable midday. This is something we’ve become accustomed to when looking for butterflies, dragon and damselflies, but necessary for other creatures. Of course, it is the insect time of year so we were not surprised to see plenty of them but in addition we were fortunate to see birds including immature Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, and hawks.

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For those interested in Ospreys, paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir can be very rewarding this time of year. Ospreys and their recently fledged offspring seem to be everywhere.  During our paddle we also had two Bald Eagle siting’s, however, they didn’t hang around for a photograph. Many Green Herons were also seen as we explored the shoreline and numerous coves. With lake levels slightly low exposing shoreline rocks numerous solitary and spotted sandpipers were also seen.

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Osprey, north end of Alum creek reservoir, FZ200

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Closer look, FZ200

 

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Adult Osprey, FZ200

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Taking flight, Donna, FZ200

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Flag-tailed Spinyleg, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Paddling up Alum Creek, FZ200

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Long-jawed Orbweaver, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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One of many Green Herons, this one was strutting it’s stuff, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

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Fall Phlox, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Amberwing, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

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Very young Map turtle, alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

 

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Solitary Sandpiper, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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The paddle up Paint Creek is stunning, it’s hard the believe you’re in Ohio. As the day progressed it seemed easier to get close enough to Kingfishers so that the resulting photograph didn’t leave you wondering what kind of bird it was.

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Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, dark morph, Paint Creek, Canon 3ti 18-135mm lens.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Butterflies on scat, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Double-crested Cormorant looking rather mysterious, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Eastern Amberwing (F), Donna, FZ200

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Male Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Female Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Bob’s big fish (White Bass), Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Spicebush Swallowtail, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Green Heron tidying up, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Mushrooms on a log, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Common Arrowhead, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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One member of Donna’s Hackberry Circus, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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After spending time exploring Alum Creek Reservoir and Paint creek we returned to our own “backyard”, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River, where we also found things to fascinate.

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Summer along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Sunflower, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

 

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Immature Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Another look.

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Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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The Scioto River below Griggs Dam, another view, FZ200.

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One of the very few Buckeyes seen so far this summer, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Black-crowned Night Heron, very early morning, Griggs Reservoir, ZS50.

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Robber fly, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Monarch, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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One of many Hackberries seen, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Horace’s Duskywing, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Often we find ourselves walking along residential streets on the return leg of an urban hike to Griggs Park. We usually don’t expect to discover anything special but you never know what you’re going to see.

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Immature Red-tailed Hawk just outside our kitchen window, FZ200.

 

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Immature Cooper’s Hawk, residential street near our home, FZ200.

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We hope you’ve been able to get out and explore and appreciate nature this summer. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

In Full Bloom

Recently I decided a paddle on our local reservoir was in order and needing some exercise why not make it a lengthy one covering several miles. When on such an adventure it’s best to stay fairly close to shore because that’s where all the interesting stuff seems to be.

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I had the place to pretty much to myself. Of course in the city there is always a few floating plastic bottles to pick up.

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On a quiet morning or afternoon it doesn’t take long for things to appear:

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Whitetail deer look out from the shore.

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Turtles (Red-eared Sliders) try to warm up in the meager morning sun.

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A Spotted Sandpiper, beautiful from any angle.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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The reservoir has some unique features which are home to one of Ohio’s most beautiful flowers.

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Several areas in the reservoir have small cliffs which are home to Columbine.

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Columbine

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A closer look.

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Seeing the Columbine always puts the exclamation mark on spring but in recent days walks along the reservoir shore have also been rewording.

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Redbud

 

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Dryad’s Saddle

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False Solomon’s Seal

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Flowering Buckeye

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A beautiful cluster of Golden Ragwort

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Revisiting a favorite scene at the very north end of the reservoir.

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A few birds have also posed for photographs, some while in the middle of a meal.

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Palm Warbler

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Green Heron

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Tree Swallow

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Wait, I’m not quite ready!

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Baltimore Oriole

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on nest.

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Cooper’s Hawk with lunch.

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No sharing here.

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Along residential streets near home spring was in evidence everywhere.

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Buckeye flowering

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Dandelion’s gone to seed beautiful in their own way. Probably doesn’t make much difference but I’m glad this guy doesn’t live next door!

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Dogwood.

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Spring in full bloom, at the peak of it’s celebration, is sometimes a bit overwhelming but that’s probably a good problem to have.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Cabbage You Wouldn’t Eat

In the last week or so migrating birds have started to move through central Ohio. While there have been reports of early arriving warblers we have yet to see any. That may have more to do with our approach to nature, which at any moment in time focuses on the “low hanging fruit” rather than expending effort to see something that may or may not be there. It’s quite possible that as we were fascinating over a wildflower one of those little buggers flew right over our head. Oh, well.

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So with that in mind this post is mostly about those early spring plants and wildflowers that every year usher in the magic of spring.

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One of the first to be seen is Skunk Cabbage which due to it’s capacity to generate it’s own internal heat, often emerges by melting it’s way through the snow. It’s name comes from it’s skunk like smell. In contrast to it’s smell we’ve always thought it’s appearance to be quite attractive. It almost looks good enough to eat.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Take 2.

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Take 3, almost looks good enough to eat (not recommended!).

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Skunk Cabbage habitat, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park, (Donna).

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Not far from the skunk cabbage it was hard to miss this Eastern Towhee.

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Eastern Towhee, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Another early arriver is Dutchman’s Breeches. It continues to do well against the onslaught of Lesser Celandine in the many areas we visit. Lesser Celandine was introduced into the United States as an ornamental and is now considered invasive.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park, below the dam.

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We did manage to see Swamp Buttercup which is often confused with Lesser Celandine. Note the difference in petals and leaves. It seem less common each year which may be due to the aforementioned invasive.

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Swamp Buttercup, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Lesser Celandine, (web pic)

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We always get excited when we spot the beautiful flower of the Bloodroot. Although not uncommon, it is very fragile and doesn’t fair well against the early spring wind and rain.

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Bloodroot, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot, Griggs Park below the dam.

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With the rain not every interesting thing on the forest floor is a flower.

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Wood Ear fungus, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Seeming to defy the temperature, early moths and butterflies made an appearance on the few “warmer” days we’ve had.

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Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Grapevine Moth, Griggs Park west shore, (Donna).

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Red Admiral, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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The flowing water of early spring inspired a beaver’s creativity.

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Beaver dam, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Sometimes a sound overhead pulls us away from the wildflowers.

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Northern Flickers, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Northern Flicker, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Male Cowbird, Griggs Park.

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Fox Sparrow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Tree Swallows, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Male Downy Woodpecker, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Other flowers also fascinated.

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Twinleaf buds and leaves, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Cutleaf Toothwort, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Violet, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Spring Beauties, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A lone hepatica brings delicate color to it’s otherwise dreary early spring world.

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Round-lobbed Hepatica, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Other plants were also flowering under the still open tree canopy.

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Toad Shade Trillium, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Virginia bluebells, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Trout Lilies, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Ever feel like you’re being watched.

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Cooper’s Hawk, not far from Griggs reservoir.

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Some plants still have a way to go before their often missed flowers emerge.

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May Apple, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A little further along, (Donna).

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In the days to come we’ll be keeping track of the progress of the May apples while out of he corner of our eye watching for those sneaky migrating warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Sometimes It Takes A Knock On The Head

In central Ohio it’s the time of the year when finding subjects that inspire a photograph can be a bit of a challenge. Contemplating a paddle in November, given a suitable day, usually means we’re thinking more about getting exercise than about the birds or other wildlife we might see. But if we happen upon something interesting, such as migrating waterfowl, so much the better. Such was the case a few days ago on Griggs Reservoir.

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The sun low in the south, water dark, reflections of naked branches.

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One of our favorite coves looks quite different now.

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As we paddled, it wasn’t long before we did spot waterfowl.

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Still pretty far away, as I continue to paddle my wife catches a pair of Wood Ducks.

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As we get closer they don’t hang around, (Donna).

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In a second they were gone, (Donna).

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A solitary Pie-billed Grebe also makes an appearance

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Pie-billed Grebe, not as timid as the Wood Ducks

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Not to be completely upstaged by the “ducks”, two hawks watch as we glide by.

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Red-tailed Hawk, (Donna)

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Coopers Hawk, (Donna)

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xxx

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A few days after our paddle, we wanted to get out of the house and enjoy a little nature before a prediction for cold and rainy weather went into effect. Since we weren’t sure when the rain would arrive we decided to travel the short distance to Griggs Park which borders the reservoir and the Scioto River. It was a cloudy/partly sunny day starting out, but the wind, warning of weather soon to change, was strong. Given the conditions, expectations weren’t high.

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Along the top of the Griggs Reservoir Dam gulls enjoy a warm but windy November day.

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Perhaps a little too windy.

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The good news; even on a windy day there’s something to see.

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Mushroom community, (Donna)

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Oyster Mushrooms, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, (Donna)

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Recent rains brought out finger-like fungi, (Donna)

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Shelf fungi, (Donna)

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Eastern Wahoo, perhaps the most colorful thing around.

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But we had a slightly different priority for this particular day’s walk. During a recent trip we had noticed that along the river below the dam a secluded area in the woods had been commandeered for drinking and perhaps other things. A “hideout” had been fashioned out of available limbs and branches. Based on the accumulation of beer cans, other trash, and the existence of old wood furniture, it appeared that the area was being used on a regular basis. Since the surrounding area, while not a formal park space, is used by numerous people, along with their kids, for walking, exploring, birding, fishing, etc., the hideout had the potential to grow into a real problem. So, with the necessary tools and determination, the area was dismantled and the trash removed. Being a natural area in the middle of the city there is no illusion of permanency but at least for a while the “hideout” is gone.

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Reflections along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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But the task was not accomplished before an overhanging branch came into contact with the top of my head. Ouch!!! So the real point to this story is not the remediation of the area but the fact that I’m a bit superstitious. You see, normally when I do a good deed, picking up a discarded soda can here or a fast food wrapper there, I imagine good luck will follow. Perhaps we’ll see an unusual bird or something. With that in mind, after my painful encounter with the branch, and with my head still throbbing, I was hoping for something really spectacular.

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Amazingly enough as we continued south along the river, it wasn’t long before we heard two birds carrying on quite a conversation  .   .   .

a pair of Bald Eagles!

.   .   .   and they appeared to be working on a nest!

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Okay, who’s going to get the next stick?

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I got the last one!

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Are you sure? Seems like I’m doing most of the work!

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So as I finish this post, I’m still excited about the eagles and my head has actually stopped throbbing. It remains to be seen if their efforts at nesting will be successful. While the area around the nest tree isn’t easily accessible, it also isn’t the quietist, and is certainly not remote. But what a treat, and as we often like to say when something of wonder is seen near home, “right within the city limits of Columbus”!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Taking a break during one of our paddles on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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xxx

Bobbing For “Hedge Apples”

A few weeks back we were walking along Griggs Reservoir looking for migrating waterfowl and we witnessed some unusual behavior by our resident population of Mallard ducks. At first it looked like a game, perhaps a Mallard version of water polo, but then we realized they were attempting to eat an object that keep scooting away , diving below the surface, and then bobbing up only to be nibbled on again.

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They went this way   .   .   .

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then that   .   .   .

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then around   .   .   .

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and back again

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It turned out to be the bright green barely floating fruit of an Osage Orange tree or what is sometimes referred to as a “hedge apple”. Apparently a somewhat tasty morsel to the ducks because they keep up their efforts as long as we watched.

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Meanwhile one of the objects of our quest looked on.

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“What are those Mallards doing anyway?”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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“Perhaps the other side of the lake will be quieter”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few days later on another outing along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, as I looked for Bald Eagles, my wife was able to get some interesting shots of fungi.

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“Furry Fungi”, Donna

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Patterns in wood, (Donna)

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Mushroom Cluster, (Donna)

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Mushrooms on a log, (Donna)

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Another group, (Donna)

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Contrasting colors, (Donna)

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Finally, yesterday, after several rainy cloudy days, sunshine meant a hike at Battelle Darby Metro Park in the hopes of observing some bird activity. Perhaps we would even see a Northern Harrier.  While no harriers presented themselves, we did see a Kestrel, and a Bald Eagle both of which eluded the cameras lens. However, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk did pose for us.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, study 1, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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study 2

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study 3

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study 4

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study 5

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A Coopers Hawk wasen’t quite as cooperative.

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Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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.    .    .    and no trip into the central Ohio woods this time of the year is complete unless we see our friends the Golden Crowned Kinglets who often when seen are in the company of Chickadees, Titmouse and Nuthatches.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet

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That’s about it for this post. Hope you all have a chance to get out and enjoy nature in the coming days. Thanks for looking in.

Clear Water along the Scioto

Encouraged by early success we continue us search for migrating warblers along Griggs Reservoir without much luck. But time spent in nature is probably much like life in general. A key to enjoying the experience is to appreciate what each day gives.

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The fall colors continue to embrace the landscape often spontaneously appearing in just one localized part of a tree and then slowly continuing on from there.

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Perhaps the victim of a sneak attack during the night but the perpetrator didn’t bring enough red paint to finish the job.

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The lack of rain in recent days has left the Scioto River running low but clear. In the early morning, the clearness provides the river landscape with a sense of  freshness not usually there. The clear water does a much better job of reflecting the color of the trees along the shore and gives a sense of depth to the water by revealing rocks along the river bottom. Fish that are usually hidden by the turbidity are now in full view including one very large goldfish seen swimming lazily along during a recent walk.

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Looking south along the Scioto River just below Griggs Dam with just a hint of autumn in the sun lit trees.

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Yesterday we noticed a number of immature birds during our walk.

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A Green Heron looking among the rocks for is next meal. Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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It let my wife get pretty close which caused us to think it was fairly young. (Donna)

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More young birds along the Scioto. In this case male Wood Ducks.

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Young Mallards posing, (Donna)

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Attracted by the screeching, we focused our cameras on a Coopers Hawk. Shortly after this picture, it flew away with something in it’s talons.

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Coopers Hawk, Griggs Park.

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A stop by any berry bush revealed Catbirds and Cardinals taking advantage of the bounty.

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An immature Cardinal enjoys the berries, (Donna)

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Continuing to test out “Kayak Cam” I though you’d like to see what I usually catch when fishing in Griggs Reservoir. Actually the picture I was hoping for was of the fish that was on the line before this one. It towed me around the reservoir for about two or three minutes before it got off.

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A big catch!

Early Autumn Notebook

The last several days have been beautiful. Clear skies, cool nights and comfortable days with very little wind. Certainly something to remember, especially three months from now.

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When the weather is this nice you certainly want to put it to good use. With that in mind we’ve enjoyed paddling with friends on Griggs Reservoir and have also spent some time in Griggs Park as well as Prairie Oaks and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park looking for migrating birds. We haven’t seen as many warblers as we were expecting but other birds and the hint of fall colors have made up for it.

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When you’re paddling the shoreline of a lake or walking in the woods on a trail that for a time may follow a quiet a stream, there’s always the possibility that you’ll see something totally unexpected and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

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A quiet morning, Griggs Reservoir

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A Painted Turtle enjoys the autumn sun, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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A Mallard on Griggs Reservoir

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Autumn colors on Griggs Reservoir

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Reflections, Griggs Reservoir

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Paddling, Griggs Reservoir

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A Blue Bird enjoys the autumn sun, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Just a hint of fall color on the opposite shore, Griggs Reservoir

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Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Griggs Reservoir, looking south.

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Along the park road, Griggs Park

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Mallards, Griggs Reservoir.

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Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Fall colors, Griggs Park

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My favorite stump, Griggs Park

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The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Dryad’s Saddle, Prairie Oaks

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Early autumn sky, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Least Flycatcher, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Mushroom Family, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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A Great Blue Heron watches during a paddle on Griggs Reservoir

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park

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Eastern Wahoo, Griggs Park

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Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Asters in early morning light, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Female Magnolia warber, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Park

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park

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American Toad, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna)

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Walking by a pond, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog

Kerry Mark Leibowitz's musings on the wonderful world of nature photography

Montana Outdoors

A weblog dedicated to the world outside the cities.

Cat Tales

Mike and Lori adrift

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Exploring Nature in New Hampshire

Jessica's Nature Blog

https://natureinfocus.blog

Quiet Solo Pursuits

My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Seasons Flow

Everything flows, nothing stands still. (Heraclitus)

Central Ohio Nature

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!