Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Bees and Blue Jays

It started with report of sightings at other nearby locations so we thought we’d check out Griggs Park to see if we could spot any Yellow-throated Warblers. Sure enough there they were high in the tops of various Sycamore trees too far away for a photograph but visible through our binoculars.

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We waited for a while hoping one would descend from the treetops but no luck so we decided to see what wildflowers were in bloom in the wooded area below the dam as well as other areas in the park.

Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park.

Sometimes they’re pink, (Donna)

Purple Cress, Griggs Park

Emerging Bloodroot, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In full bloom, (Donna).

 

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

 

Twinleaf, (Donna)

Emerging Butterweed, Griggs Park.

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While the Yellow-throated warblers eluded the camera’s lens other birds were more cooperative. Song sparrows, never far away, entertaining us with a spring rendition of their beautiful song. Chickadees in the middle of nesting activities expressed their disapproval when we got too close.  Nuthatches chased each other about. In small shoreline trees and bushes Golden-crowned Kinglets busily looked for insects among the small branches. Meanwhile a pair of blue jays were just starting work on their new nest. The bluebirds seemed content to watch the activity unfold while enjoying the warmth of the spring sun. Further down the trail a robin looked on with disinterest appearing as though lunch had gotten the better of him.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Chickadee, Griggs Park

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

Blue-jay with nesting material, Griggs Park.

Let see, is this how it goes?

That looks about right.

 

Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Enjoying the warm spring sun.

Robin, so many worms so little time, Griggs Park.

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When out in nature one thing a careful observer can almost always count on is seeing something new. That was certainly the case a few days ago when my wife observed a large number of bees engaged in some very curious behavior.

Across a fairly large area bees were flying about going in and out of many recently dug holes.

At one point we observed a ball of bees tumbling across the ground seemingly in the process of trying to kill something.

They continued to attack what ever it was. This when on for some time and we never got a good look at what the object was.

Despite what it looks like the bees may have been trying to protect not kill what ever it is they are crowding unto. In this case it may be the queen.

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Spring with all it’s activity is definitely a favorite time of the year. In the days to come the Yellow-throated warblers will undoubtedly be more cooperative as they are joined by other migrants from the south either taking up residence or just pausing for a while as they continue their journey north. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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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.

Spring Wonder Along the Scioto

It’s mid April and changes in the plant and animal world are occurring at such a fast pace that it feels as though, were you to look away, you’d miss “it”. This is certainly the case for Hoover Park and the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Below are some recent photos as we continue our spring wildflower and warbler quest.

click on the image for a better view

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The White Trout Lilly does not seem to be as common as the Yellow:

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White Trout Lilly

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White Trout Lilly, study 2

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Yellow Trout Lilly:

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Yellow Tout Lilly

5 Yellow Trout Lily and shadow 042014 Griggs cp1

Yellow Trout Lilly, study 2 (Donna)

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Virginia Bluebells:

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Virginia Bluebells (Donna)

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Virginia Bluebells, study 2

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Be careful where you place your hand when crouching down to get a closer look:

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Common Water Snake

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Other wildflowers seen below the Griggs Reservoir Dam in the past few days:

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Toadshade Trillium

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Marsh Marigolds

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Marsh Marigolds, study 2

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Cutleaf Toothwort

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Cutleaf Toothwort, study 2

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Mystery Flower in large group, (Donna)

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At the river’s edge:

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Great Egret across the river

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Crayfish in pool (Donna)

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Hints of Green

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Great Egret and Great Blue Heron

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Map Turtle

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Redbuds

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Spring Azure, a very small butterfly. (Donna)

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers seem to be fairly common this year:

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Donna)

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, study 2

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, study 3

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Someone’s been busy:

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Robin’s Eggs (Donna)

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No walk is complete without a Downy Woodpecker or a Chickadee:

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Chickadee

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Male Downy Woodpecker

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A Yellow-throated warbler in the tree tops:

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Yellow-throated Warbler

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Yellow-throated Warbler, study 2 (Donna)

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Early spring stained glass:

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Stained Glass

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Thanks for stopping by.

The Trilliums Were Everywhere

It was a beautiful spring day so, along with some of our hiking buddies, we decided to celebrate with a hike to Yellow Springs by way of  Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park. Wildflowers were everywhere, including Virginia Bluebells, Jack in The Pulpit, Toadshade Trillium, and Dutchman’s Breeches but we were most impressed by the Large Flowered Trilliums. The area is one of Ohio’s most beautiful and a great place for spring wildflowers. If you have any interest don’t hesitate, they won’t be around long.

click on the images for a better view

As we started down the trail it was apparent that things were just starting to green up.

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Overlooking the Little Miami River

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Trail through Clifton Gorge

But the view from a distance was deceiving. The first flowers seen were Dutchman’s Breeches. On this day they were more common than the trilliums.

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Dutchman’s Breeches close-up.

Further on we noticed Virginia Bluebells. They ended up giving the trilliums a run for their money.

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Virginia Bluebells

A stream along the trail was running cold and clear.

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John Bryan State Park

 

Virginia Waterleaf and Toadshade Trillium also made a guest appearance.

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Virginia Waterleaf with Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trilium

Trout Lillys were making a good case for flower of the day.

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Trout Lilly

But who invited the Wild Ginger?

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Wild Ginger

There were also cameos by some other plants and flowers. Not all of which were identified.

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Any guesses?

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Large-flowered Bellwort, (Donna)

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Wild Leeks (Ramps)

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Jack in The Pulpit

 

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Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Another one we haven’t identified yet.

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Marsh Marigolds

But nothing compared with the Large Flowered Trillium for sheer wow!

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Large Flowered Trilliums

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Trilliums everywhere!

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Large Flowered Trillium

Finally after all the excitement it was time for a rest.

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A interesting tree along the trail.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

The Spring Flower That Started It All

It wasn’t long after I was fortunate  enough to meet and then marry my wife that she started talking about how much she liked looking for wildflowers. In particular those that appear in the early spring. The “early spring” part was undoubtedly in response to having made it through another “too long” Ohio winter.  So after the subject had come up several times, I agreed to accompany her, camera in hand, to look for wildflowers.

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It was one of those cool early spring days when everything was brown and muddy. I was not optimistic. We walked for a while and after some slipping, sliding, and being poked in the face by the bare branches of various small trees and bushes, we started to notice small islands of green springing up in isolated locations. Finally we noticed an “island” that seemed to be home to some very small white flowers. They weren’t very impressive, at least not from my 6′ 4″ inch vantage point, so I followed my wife’s lead and knelt down for a closer look. Rather funny looking, were they really flowers? What are they I asked? As if I should already know, she replied  “Dutchman’s Breeches“. I snapped a few pictures, and taking a moment longer to look at them,  started to smile.

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That was a few years ago.

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Now, no spring is complete without our annual treks into the woods looking for Dutchman’s Breeches and all the other wildflowers the appear before the forest canopy has leafed out. When the days are cool, brown and muddy.

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Dutchman's Breeches, along the Scioto at Hoover Park

Dutchman’s Breeches, along the Scioto River at Hoover Park

 

Be Quick or You’ll Miss Them

One of the rights of spring that my wife and I truly enjoy is looking for the early spring wildflowers. These are the flowers that came out before the forest canopy leafs out and blocks the light. Some appear for only a day or two so there are years that we miss them altogether. Some are very small and easy to miss unless you look very carefully. Others are fairly rare so you count your good fortune when you see them. All are beautiful in their own way. The flowers below were all seen in central Ohio above and below the dam at Griggs and Hoover Parks not far from where we live.

click on the images for a better look

Toadshade Trillium, common but only if you look in the right place!

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At this point the leaves are competing with the flowers for our attention. In a few days a purple flower should appear. (Donna)

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The purple flower is yet to come. (Donna)

 

The Snow Trillium is smaller than the more common later blooming trilliums and is rare in central Ohio.

 

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Snow Trillium, not real common in central Ohio so we were fortunate to see this one.

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Snow Trillium, (Donna)

 

Duchman’s Breeches are fairly common and a close look when the flowers are fully developed will make you smile.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, a little early the flowers are still coming out. It will be better in a couple of days.

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A closer look, (Donna)

Cutleaf Toothwort

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Cutleaf Toothwort, a few days before it blooms, (Donna)

 

 

Blood Root has a nice sized but fragile and short lived flower.

 

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Blood Root, (Donna)

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Bloodroot

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

 

Hepatica is fairly common.

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Hepatica

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Hepatica, study 2, (Donna)

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Hepatica, study 3

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Hepatica, study 4, (Donna)

 

Virginia Waterleaf

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Virginia waterleaf, the leaves are beautiful but loose this appearance as spring progresses, (Donna)

 

Harbinger of Spring, a very small, very close to the ground, flower.

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Harbinger of Spring, (Donna)

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I took a break from the wildflowers so that a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets could again show me just how difficult they can be to photograph. As they fluttered from branch to branch, never stopping for more than a fraction of a second, even on a single point focus setting the camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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Trust me! It’s a Golden-crowned Kinglet

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, take two.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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