An Early Autumn Paddle

Early autumn is one of our favorite times of the year. There are usually fewer people on the trails, rivers, and lakes as many have moved on to other things; football games, school, etc. September often has a period 0f sunny windless days making time spent in the canoe a pure joy. The landscape still mostly green is accented by the brilliant reds and yellows of a few trees determined to get a head start on fall making it all the more striking.

A small fish surfaces disturbing an early autumn reflection.

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Realizing that opportunities for comfortable paddling are starting to slip away, a few days ago we decided to paddle the north end Alum Creek Reservoir into Alum Creek with the hope of seeing fall warblers as we made our way along the shore.

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At first the sun struggled to burn off an early morning fog.

The fog begins to lift not long after we start paddling.

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But when it did .   .   .

The far shore erupts in color.

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A closer look revealed that the fog and the soft sunlight was giving a jewel like quality to spider webs too numerous to count.

Spider webs and autumn leaves.

Graceful designs.

Different colors.

What could I make with my own hands that would be any more beautiful?

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As we continued on close to shore, color frames the reservoir.

Just a few feet from shore offered some unique perspectives, (Donna).

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On this particular day the flowers seen were mostly those right along the shore and seemed to be thriving in that location.

Turtlehead

Sunflower

Beggars Ticks, very small flower.

False Daisy, also very small.

Broad-leaved Arrowhead.

A closer look.

Swamp Smartweed, (Donna).

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On the quiet surface the canoe seemed to glide forever.

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Color, (Donna).

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Pullouts offer an opportunity to explore areas along the water and it usually doesn’t take my wife long to find interesting insects.

Gladiator Katydid, (Donna).

Weevil, Lixus iridis, a large weevil with a flat oval body, and a pointed shield. Completely covered in short hairs, yellow to brown, sometimes fading to grey. Thick legs and antennae. Habitat is wetland or close to water.

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Painted turtles greeted us as we paddled.

Unlike many turtles that sense our approach while we’re still quite far away resulting in a quick slide or plop into the water, Painted Turtles appear to enjoy having their picture taken, (Donna).

Do the turtles sense that the good times of summer are about to end? (Donna).

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While few warblers were seen and none were photographed, Ospreys were heard overhead, and we were fortunate to see some of the other usual suspects.

A Green Heron stalks it’s prey.

Time to straighten things up, Great Blue Heron.

We lost count of the number of Double-crested Cormorants seen, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, (Donna).

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After about four miles we arrive at a gravel bar on Alum Creek that usually marks the most northern point of our paddle unless we feel like dragging the canoe more than paddling it.

A lone rock marks the end of the paddle north and our lunch stop.

A great spot for lunch!

.   .   .   and a scenic pullout.

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Autumn reminds us, perhaps more than any other season, that nothing lasts. It reminds us to stop being passively entertained and instead to entertain and enrich ourselves, to venture out into disappointment and discovery, to experience being part of something larger, and to be alive.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

“Black Lagoon” Crayfish and Things Eating Things

Well not exactly the Black Lagoon (recalling a movie from childhood), but while I was in Michigan fishing my wife continued to explore the areas around our home in central Ohio. One morning between heavy rain storms she observed some rather interesting behavior by the local crayfish population in Griggs Reservoir as they gathered along the shore and then partially crawled out of the water. We spent some time researching crayfish (did you know there are 20 species in Ohio?), trying to understand this behavior but to no avail. Our only guess is it had something to do with the recent heavy rains.

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The Griggs Reservoir crayfish seemed to be waiting in line to peer above the water’s service, (Donna).

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One rather large specimen takes his time looking around, (Donna).

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It became a group activity.

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Upon my return we spent time paddling Griggs Reservoir as well as exploring Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for late summer dragonflies and butterflies. At Prairie Oaks we arrived about 20 seconds to late, according to our hiking companions, to witness a garden spider making quick work of a dragonfly that it had captured in it’s web. That spider was fast!

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Unfortunate dragonfly, Prairie Oaks

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Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

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.   .   .  and continuing with the same theme, just a few days earlier my wife caught this robber fly enjoying lunch at the expense of a careless bee.

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Robber Fly, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Also courtesy of my wife sharp eye, one last series of photos dealing with things eating other things.

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Double-crested Cormorant attempts to eat a Crappie on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ultimately, the Crappie being just a little too big to swallow, swam away, (Donna).

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We don’t usually consider ourselves a food source so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that if a creature is not in the process of being eaten, it is usually searching for or waiting to ambush it’s next meal, or if successful, eating it. Spending time in nature guarantees one will witness such things from time to time. In the last few days not everything seen has been in the process of eating or engaged in some unusual hard to explain behavior. Some things were just posing for the camera.

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There were butterflies, some of which like the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue are very small.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Viceroys, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Summer Azure, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Juvenal’s Duskywing (F), Griggs Reservoir.

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Dragonflies.

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Griggs Reservoir.

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Common Whitetail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Calico Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Powdered Dancer (Blue form), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ebony Jewelwing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Pondhawk, Griggs Reservoir

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Moths, they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes.

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Chickweed Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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and other things.

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Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Common Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Bumblebee on False Dragonhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Arrowroot, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Map Turtle with friend, Griggs reservoir, (Donna).

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Loaded with pollen, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Solitary Sand Wasp, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh yes, we have been seeing birds and a few posed for a picture.

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Hairy Woodpeckers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Mallards creating reflection art, Griggs Reservoir.

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Once again we find ourselves amazed at what is seen right under our nose in central Ohio. Should you be curious about such things, but not inclined to try your hand at photography, get a pair of binoculars, preferably a pair with close focus capability, and a new world will be opened to you! Thanks for stopping by.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir from the canoe, (Donna).

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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.

 

 

Dance of The Great Egrets

Recently we were in the right place at the right time at Griggs Park to witness a beautiful aerial display. It was probably a territorial dispute but ended up looking more like a dance. The following represent only a few of the shots taken but hopefully they tell the story.

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Double-crested Cormorants look on, “Do you guys really need to do that right here?”

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Doesn’t exactly look like a dance in this pic.

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The “dance” continues.

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Neither bird is giving way.

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One bird takes the offensive.

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Finally one ends up in the water and the “dance” ends.

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We are blessed to be able to spend a lot of time exploring nature. Every once and a while it becomes extra special.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Revisiting the Rookery, A Closer Look

Our previous post talked about a Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Double Crested Cormorant rookery on an island in the middle of a quarry in Columbus.

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We finally managed to get the digiscope working reasonably well and were able to get the following shots. While certainly not National Geographic quality, hopefully they give the  reader a better idea about what’s on the island.

 

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Folks may be interested in the digiscope rig used so below are a few pics. The camera is a small, light, 8mp Canon SD850 IS mounted on a universal mount which is the fussy part. The scope is a easy to transport 60mm Vanguard Endeavour XF. 20X zoom was used for the shots.

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We don’t usually do two posts back to back on the same subject but we thought further elaboration might be welcome.

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P.S: Right at my feet as I was digiscoping and too beautiful to ignore .   .   .

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

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.

Wishing for Green But . . .

Recently we visited one of our local metro parks for what turned out to be a more difficult than expected hike. The idea was to look for spring wildflowers and migrating warblers. A few days later, after recovering from the hike, we found ourselves paddling the shoreline of a local reservoir again looking for signs of spring.

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Most trees have yet to leaf out which, as the days slowly go by, leaves us wishing things would hurry up. It’s hard not to embrace the idea that nothing says spring like green translucent leaves “stain glassed” by the shadows of branches and light from a low morning sun. However, if one is a wildflower enthusiast you want those ground dwelling plants to have their time in the sun, so no leaves for awhile please. Besides, the bare branches also make migrating birds easier to spot.

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Bare branches mean that plenty of sunlight is reaching the ground. While it looks only to be covered by last year’s fallen leaves there were small green and flowering things to be seen. Clear Creek Metro Park

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We have started hearing, and sometimes seeing, warblers along with a few of the other small migrants.

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park, (Donna).

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Donna finally got her kinglet! Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

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There were also other suspects:

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Carolina Wren, Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River way Park

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Tree Swallow, Kiwanis River way Park

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Creeper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Larger birds were also in attendance.

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Red tail Hawk seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir while paddling.

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Double Crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons occupied the trees on a small island, while paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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One heron appeared to be eating something.

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Female Mallard with ducklings, , Kiwanis River way Park

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Warmer midday temperatures mean more butterflies. They are also seen earlier in the day, defying what seem like way too cool temperatures. Below are three of the many species seen in recent days.

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American Lady, Griggs Park, (Donna)

 

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Dusky wings and fly an scat, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Morning Cloak, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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While the canopy is still bare there are things to be seen on the forest floor.

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Moss, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Reindeer Lichen, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Bloodroot can still be found in shaded locations, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Trout Lily, Griggs Park

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Trout Lily couple, Griggs Park.

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A dandelion goes to seed, Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Trillium, Griggs Park west, (Donna).

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Unknown flower, perhaps an escapee, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Wintergreen, Clear Creek Metro Park

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Club moss, Clear Creek Metro Park.

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Today, a hike in Clifton Gorge treated us to more beautiful wildflowers, but they will have to wait for another post.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

 

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