Looking For The “White-throated Sparrow”

In the back of our mind during outings over the past week has been the thought that we might see the season’s first White-throated Sparrow. For us, along with the arrival of the Dark-eyed Junco, this small bird marks the passing of the season and the certain coming of winter. During breeding, they are found further north in either coniferous or deciduous forests up to tree line in the U.S. and across Canada. During migration and during the winter months central Ohio is just one location they call home.

Autumn reflection.

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Recently, walking along the Scioto River looking for White-throated Sparrows, and perhaps a stray kinglet or two, we stumbled across some slightly larger birds.

Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam are always a real treat to see.

Take 2.

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At river’s edge, almost right below the eagles, a young male White-tail deer relaxed. It was apparently not too concerned about the eagles.

White Tail Deer, (Donna).

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The next day, hoping for additional photos of the eagles that were now nowhere to be found, Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere  .   .   .

Golden-crowned Kinglet, along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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.   .   .  along with a few of their close associates with the exception of “the sparrow”.

Male Downy woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Male Bluebird, Griggs reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped warblers continue to stick around enjoying the Poison Ivy Berries, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

“Must you take the picture when my mouths full and besides, I’m not a bird!” Red Squirrel, Griggs reservoir Park.

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A tree’s few remaining leaves seemingly slide a slippery slope to the ground.

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Wanting to check out a location not previously explored, we decided on Shale Hollow Park, one of Delaware County’s preservation parks. Blustery cold conditions made birding less than optimal, so while birds eluded us we did find something quiet different and no less interesting, concretions. Probably some of the best examples we’ve seen in central Ohio. For us it was proof once again that one should always be open to the wonder of the day.

For those that are curious, “A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the surrounding strata. Concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities. Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have in the past been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs,  animal and plant fossils, extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.” (Wikipedia)

 

Concretion, Shale Hallow Park, (Donna).

Two concretions that appear to have seen better days.

A concretion that may have been spherical at on time.

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In addition to concretions, with the coming of  wetter weather, there have been other things to appreciate.

Disclaimer: Fungi identifications represent our best effort.

Turkey-tail on log, Shale Hollow Park, (Donna).

Rusty Polypore, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Witches Butter with fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Split-pore Polypore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging mushroom, Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, Shale Hollow Park.

Same as above but further along.

Pink polypore with lichen, (Donna).

Red leaf on Turkey Tail, Shale Hollow Park.

Radiating Phlebia on log, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park

Another view.

On a fallen branch a, almost too small to see, mushroom pops up through some lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Late autumn sentinels along Griggs Reservoir.

The beautiful patterns of newly emerged Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s often when least expected, near the end of a long hike, almost back to the car and too tired to care, that what we seek appears. Such was the case with the White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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Some may wonder what the big deal is. Why is seeing a sparrow so meaningful? For many who spend time in nature the answer is simple; seeing a white-throated Sparrow brings expression to a sense of connectedness to a world much bigger than ourselves. We usually first hear and then see the sparrow and for the time is sees fit are in its presence. It in turn acknowledges us in its own unique way. This small, seemingly fragile, creature has travelled perhaps a thousand miles and during this brief fleeting moment we are part of each other’s world. Next summer if we look, we will not find it. It will again be further north engaged in its own dance to the cycle of life. This wonder graces our lives with the appearance of the first spring wildflowers, the larger than life sound of spring peepers, the spring migration of the many too beautiful to imagine warblers, the sight and sound of a distant summer thunderstorm, the call of the loon on a northern lake, the color of leaves as a low autumn sun filters the branches, and the slow quiet descent of  winter’s first snowflakes.

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Concretion, Shale Hollow Park.

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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.

Cause and Effect

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

Griggs Reservoir

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

Stump, Emily Traphagen Park.

Fallen tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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

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

Fall color, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Rotting log, Emily Traphagen Park.

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

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

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

Pigeons, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

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

Carolina Wren, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Mallard reflection, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Autumn color, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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

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

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

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

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

Puffballs, Emily Traphagen Park.

Non-inky Coprinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Turkey Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

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

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

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

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

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banded Garden Spider, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Still standing, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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

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

Dot-lined White Moth, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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

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

Eastern Comma, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Along the trail, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

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

Glacial Erratic, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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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.

 

Clifton Gorge Celebrates Spring

A couple of times a year, usually in the spring and fall we get together with friends for a hike from Clifton to Yellow Springs and back. Yellow Springs turns out to be a great place for lunch with a number of excellent small restaurants and delis. The hike wanders through Clifton Gorge Nature PreserveJohn Bryan State Park, and finally Glen Helen Nature Preserve allowing us to enjoy a truly unique Ohio landscape. In the spring the quantity and diversity of wildflowers is truly amazing. The hike usually adds up to about ten miles so it necessitates compromises in the camera equipment we use. No heavy DSLR bird cameras here.  However, should you choose to bring more serious equipment or just not feel up to a long hike, there are many shorter options that still allow one to enjoy the natural beauty.

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Leaving Clifton the hike starts out overlooking a narrow stretch of the Little Miami River.

Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve

In the spring numerous small streams feed the Little Miami.

By no means the narrowest portion of the gorge it does give one an idea of what it is like.

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Continuing to follow the river it wasn’t long before we saw our first trillium.

Large-flowered Trillium with a hint of pink.

A nice group.

They covered the hillside, Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve.

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In the mix there were other trilliums to enjoy.

Toadshade Trillium

Another view, (Donna).

Drooping Trillium. Also known as Bent Trillium.

Drooping Trillium

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There were also “non-flower” things to see.

Dryad’s Saddle

This Redback salamander was crossing the road so we decided to place him in a safer location. This salamander can actually be one of two colors: “redback” or “leadback.” In its redback phase it has a reddish stripe that runs down its back from the base of its head to the tail. Found throughout Ohio, it is most often seen in early spring beneath rocks and logs, especially in floodplains. It is entirely land-dwelling and usually will not go to water even to breed. Ref: ODNR.

Morel Mushroom, (Donna).

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As we made our way downstream the river started to widen.

The Little Miami

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.   .   .  and then pool before becoming a river once again.

Blue Hole

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There was never a place where we couldn’t see a wildflower.

Virginia Bluebells

Bloodroot

Large-flowered Bellwort was everywhere.

A closer look.

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There wasn’t always a bridge when we needed one. Fortunately on this particular day the river level wasn’t too high.

In John Bryant SP.

Green was still mostly restricted to the forest floor, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

View from the bridge over the falls on Yellow Springs Creek, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

A stream feeds Yellow Springs Creek.

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Just when you thought you’ve seen all the flowers   .   .   .

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

Squirrel Corn, It’s roots are yellow tubers that somewhat resemble kernals of corn. This fact, along with squirrels digging it up for food, gave rise to the name. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio by Robert L Henn)

Squirrel Corn, a closer look, (Donna).

Wild Ginger, (Donna). The root stalks have a ginger scent and taste. American settlers boiled the root stalks with sugar to make candy. Not the same as the true Ginger spice which is derived from a tropical plant. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio -Robert L. Henn

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William, (Donna).

Wild Geranium was just coming along! Also known as Crane’s Bill. (Donna).

Golden Ragwort, (Donna).

Marsh Marigold, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies, (Donna)

Surrounded by Chickweed the trout lilies peek through, (Donna).

Getting down and dirty.

Early Meadow Rue, (Donna).

Hepatica, (Donna).

Dwarf Larkspur

Dwarf Larkspur

How many different wildflowers can you spot in this photo?

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

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Sometimes we’re left feeling as though life’s magic is slipping away and there are no longer any miracles to celebrate. That’s when we might want to consider taking a walk in the spring woods.

 

Rue Anemone stands as a lone sentinel over the Little Miami.

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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.

“Magee Marsh” Comes To Central Ohio

At least that was our experience this year. After a somewhat disappointing one day trip to Magee Marsh at the beginning of  “The Big Week” we decided to concentrate our efforts locally. Specifically Griggs Park and Kiwanis Riverway Park, with one trip to the O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area. We kept seeing birds, repeats and new ones,  at Griggs and Kiwanis so we kept going back. What made it so unbelievable was that both places are just a few minutes from our house so it wasn’t much of a leap to go from thinking about it to being out there with binoculars and camera. How much easier can it get?

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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So below is a photographic record of most of the birds we saw along with views of other things beautiful or fascinating seen along the way.

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Prothonotary Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Gray’s Sage, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

IMG_5067 Eastern Phoebe

Female Redstart, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Phoebe , Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Valerian, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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House Wren, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Wild Hyacinth, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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A closer look.

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Robin, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Where are your wings? Who let you guys in here anyway? Red-eared Sliders, Griggs Reservoir

 

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Blackpoll Warbler, Griggs Park.

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False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

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Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

 

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Dryad’s Saddle, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

IMG_5074 Warbling Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo, Griggs Park.

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Giant Swallowtail, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Goats Beard, Griggs Park.

IMG_5123 Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Bluejay, Griggs Park

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Fungi, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Gray Cheeked Trush, Griggs Park.

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Swainson’s Thrush, Griggs Park.

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Phlox, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna)

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Blackburnian Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

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Mushroom Colony, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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American Redstart (M), Griggs Park.

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American Redstart (F), Griggs Park.

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Mushroom, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Wood Ear, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park.

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Great-crested Flycatcher, Griggs Park.

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Chestnut-sided Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo, east shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Kingbird, Griggs Park.

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Insect, Griggs Park.

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Park.

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Things seem to be tapering off a bit but one never knows for sure till several days have past. In any case, even if they were all to up and leave tonight, it’s been a great spring migration.

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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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.

 

 

Turtles and Trout Lilies

I must confess that on a recent urban hike down to the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir I was so enraptured by the beauty and warmth of the spring day that I had a hard time taking pictures. I just wanted to be not do.

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Fortunately my wife wasn’t as seriously affected and managed to get some lovely shots of Trout Lilies among other things.

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Bird wise, Blue Gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen but were either uncooperative or two far away for a picture that would do them justice. Yellow Throated Warblers were heard signing their hearts out in the top of Sycamores but they weren’t moving making them hard to locate.

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Below are a few of the things seen:

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White Trout Lilies in full bloom, (Donna)

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A close up, (Donna)

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They get their name for their leaves that reminded someone of a Brown trout, (Donna)

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They weren’t everywhere but where they were it was a real celebration, (Donna)

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A Robin poses for my wife

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The Cut-leaf Toothwort was making a good showing.

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Another view showing it’s leaves.

 

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker seems to almost land on my wife’s head, (Donna)

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Looking rather strange, Dryad’s Saddle emerges

 

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Eastern Comma enjoys the spring sun, (Donna)

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Several Flickers were seen.

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It’s a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, honest!

 

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A lone Map Turtle enjoys the warm sun.

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While across the river several have found the perfect log, (Donna)

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A male Goldfinch sums up the day, (Donna).

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Walks

We walk along Griggs Reservoir almost every day. Lately, bright and sunny may give way to a day that is cloudy and overcast with just a bit of rain. This autumn we’ve been looking closer as every day brings small changes to the canvas. Each with it’s own unique light revealing extravagant color or subtle beauty. The celebration is sometimes very close, perhaps right at your feet as a colorful leaf comes to rest in a puddle, or further away as nearby bare branches turn colors on the opposite shore into stained glass.

In the last week, whether walking or paddling, Osprey can be seen overhead. Soon they will be heading south. Starlings are seen in tree tops. Were they there before and just not noticed? Wood Ducks, Coots, and Pied-billed Grebes have been more common. Passing through from points north no doubt. We’ve had to content ourselves with a few sightings of Yellow Rumped warblers to get our fall warbler fix.

Click on image for higher resolution.

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Patterns in color, Griggs Park

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Morning sun, Griggs Park

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Morning sun just reaching the opposite shore, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection on a cloudy day, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection, study 2, Griggs Park

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Cardinal with red leaves, Griggs Park

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Cardinal, study 2, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Red leaves without the Cardinal, Griggs Park

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Treetop Starlings, Griggs Park

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Autumn sun on leaves, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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A song that makes one smile, Song Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Still plenty of Great Blue Herons along the reservoir, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fall fungus, Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Recent rains have brought color to lichen, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Autumn on a stump, Griggs Park

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Leaves caught by a shaft of sunlight, Griggs Park

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Park path, Griggs Park

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From a recent rain, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fallen leaves line the park road, Griggs Park

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Reflections and fallen leaves, Griggs Park

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Oak leaves, Griggs Park

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