Cliff Swallow Close Up

We often see Cliff Swallows when paddling central Ohio’s reservoirs. While seeing them is not rare, getting a good picture of one is. During a recent outing on Griggs Reservoir we had the opportunity to use the canoe to our advantage. We positioned ourselves so that, sitting motionless, a light breeze propelled the canoe toward swallow nests located on the bridge support structure. By being very still we were able to get much closer than we had previously. Once the paddles were picked up to reposition the boat, the birds flew.

Typical Cliff Swallow nest location, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic ZS50.

Cliff Swallows, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

A closer look, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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North end of Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic FZ200.

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During our trip, which covered the length of the reservoir, there were plenty of things to see. This was a good thing because I was testing a new Sigma 18-300mm lens. The hope is that the lens, mounted on my DSLR, will do most of what my Panasonic FZ200 does, landscapes, close-ups of insects, and to some extent birds, but with more creative control and exposure latitude while still having the convenance of not having to switch lenses. In harsh light DSLR APS-C sensors tend to do better with highlights and shadows (exposure latitude) when compared to the much smaller sensor used in the FZ200. The Sigma lens is a story of compromises given that it goes from extreme wide angle to telephoto. It’s not a macro lens but will take reasonable pictures of “bugs” while at the same time doing a decent job with landscapes and birds that aren’t to far away. Overall I’m satisfied with it’s performance realizing it will never compete with fixed focal length lenses for ultimate sharpness. For those not familiar with sensor sizes see the chart below. I’ve also included the type of camera used for each picture should the reader be curious.

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It’s the insect time of the year along the reservoir ensuring that there are plenty of fascinating subjects.

Fragile Forktail, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Eastern Forktail (F), Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Familiar Bluet, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Widow Skimmer (F) not fully developed, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Eastern Pondhawk (M), Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Familiar Bluet, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Bee on Milkweed flower, Griggs Park, Panasonic Zs50.

Eastern Amberwing, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Happy Milkweed Beetles, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

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Reptiles and amphibian greeted us during our journey.

Bullfrog, Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Hiding, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Very small Map Turtle, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Looking at the other side, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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Other things also watched our passing.

White-tailed deer along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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At the very north end of the reservoir, Kiwanis Riverway Park, we pulled the boat out for a snack break and spent some time checking out the area birds. Hopefully a few more challenging subjects for the Sigma lens would be found.

Great Egret and Cormorant north end of Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

A closer look at the Great Egret, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Tree Swallows, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, cropped.

A male Red-winged Blackbird calls out, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Northern Flicker, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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The below picture is interesting because this Wood Duck duckling, along with three of it’s siblings, was reacting to the presence of our canoe. We never chase birds but these guys shot out of the shoreline brush and took off across the water. Sadly, as we watched them head for another hiding spot, one duckling suddenly disappeared not to be seen again. The victim of a Large Mouth Bass or Snapping Turtle perhaps?

Wood Duck duckling, Griggs reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Recent wildflowers seen.

Water Willow, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, cropped.

Butterfly Weed continues to make it’s presence known in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Along the water’s edge the flowers of the Button Bush have just started to bloom, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic ZS 50.

Looking into the woods, a Day Lily stands out, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Spiderwort, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Moth Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Catnip (non-native), Panasonic ZS50.

Wild Rose along Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Trumpet-creeper along Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Coneflower, backyard.

Black-eyed Susan, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

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Often we find ourselves enchanted by a new view of something seen before. Such was the case with our close up encounter with the Cliff Swallows. Their nest building and graceful flight, what amazing birds! On the same day the celebration may be interrupted by an occurrence, like the sudden disappearance of a duckling, that is hard to watch.

Paddling into Kiwanis Riverway Park, Panasonic FZ200.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Small Things and . . .

A recent walk along Griggs Reservoir was a study in small things. At times sunlight worked it’s way though the clouds, but mostly it was an early morning hazy sky. A lush new growth of green embraced the landscape threatening to squeeze out it’s air, creating close shadowy places among the leaves, and at times, under thickening clouds, a sense of foreboding.

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Wooded shore along the Scioto River

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Heard but not seen, the same growth now hides many of the birds. Others, those that don’t make their living in the leafed canopy, but on the ground or in open places, are still easy to spot.

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Chipping Sparrow, one of our smallest sparrows.

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Eastern Wood Peewee

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Song Sparrow

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

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Flowers also find their place, in the shade if they can, but often in the few patches that are open to sunlight for at least a few hour each day.

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Crown Vetch, (non-native)

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Flower to seed

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Not yet green.

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English or Buckhorn Plantain

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Yellow Stone Crop (non-native)

 

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Moth Mullein

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.   .   .  and as if to challenge our sensibilities, Ravenel’s Stinkhorn

Hackberry Emperor 3  best 1 060415 Griggs s. cp1

Hackberry Emperor, (Donna)

 

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Foxglove Beardtongue

Eastern Forktail mature female 1 060415 Griggs south   cp1

Eastern Forktail (F), (Donna)

Water-willow 2 close-up flower 1 060415 Griggs s. cp1

Water-willow, (Donna)

Summer Azure 6 super close-up 1 060415 Griggs s. cp1

A very small Summer Azure with wings closed, (Donna)

Summer Azure 5 wings further open 1 060415 Griggs s.   cp1

Summer Azure with wings open, (Donna)

Smooth Ruella 3 close-up cluster 1 060415 Griggs s.   cp1

Smooth Ruella, (Donna)

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Time spent in nature often contains a counterpoint. On this particular day it was a Mute Swan an infrequent visitor. They are large birds even when compared to Canada Geese.

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Mute Swan, Griggs Reservoir

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A closer look.

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Then, looking away from the swan for a moment,

sunlight is seen playing in the grass.

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Sun light graces the grass, but just for a moment.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch

A few days ago we had the pleasure of doing a canoe/birding trip on Alum Creek Reservoir north of  the Howard Rd. bridge with some friends. While prime spring birding has passed we were rewarded with great views of King Birds, Prothonotary Warblers, Red Eyed Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, and Great Blue as will as Green Herons. In addition we also enjoyed observing various turtles on logs along the shoreline taking advantage of the intermittent sunshine as well as a Common Water Snake. Dragonflies and damselflies were also out in force as well as some early summer wildflowers.

The day started slow but after a couple of hours a good number of birds had been seen so we decided to take an early lunch break at a nice spot on a bluff overlooking the lake. We hadn’t been there very long when a mature Bald Eagle was spotted flying in the distance and a little later we saw what appeared to be an immature eagle.

Lunch was progressing rather nicely when my wife spotted a rather large snake patrolling the perimeter of our picnic area. It climbed up into a hollow tree and came back down and continued to check things out very near to where we were sitting. It seemed not to mind as we sat there eating our chocolate chip cookies. Turns out it was a Rat Snake and is one of the largest snakes in Ohio which can reach a length of  8 feet. It was all pretty exciting!

Below are some pics of that trip as well as other recent journeys into the wilds of Ohio. If you want a better view click on the image.

1 Black Rat Snake - Alum Creek

1 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake = Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

3 Black Rat Snake - Prairie Oaks

3 Black Rat Snake – Prairie Oaks

Wildflowers from the Alum Creek Paddle:

Fire Pink - Alum Creek, Donna

Fire Pink – Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass - Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass – Alum Creek, Donna

Common Water Snake seen during our Alum Creek paddle:

Common Water Snake - Alum Creek

Common Water Snake – Alum Creek

We continue to identify central Ohio dragon and damselflies:

Widow Skimmer - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Widow Skimmer – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Variable Dancer - Prairie Oaks

Variable Dancer – Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets - Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets – Prairie Oaks

Fragile Forktail - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fragile Forktail – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Eastern Forktail - Prairie Oaks

Eastern Forktail – Prairie Oaks

A Pair of Stream Bluets - Griggs, Donna

On a recent trip to Prairie Oaks it was exciting to see Orchard Orioles feeding there young:

Immature Male Orchard Oriole - Prairie Oaks

Immature Male Orchard Oriole – Prairie Oaks

A Northern Flicker seemed as though it was watching as we looked for Damselflies at Prairie Oaks:

Northern Flicker - Prairie Oaks

Northern Flicker – Prairie Oaks

Finally some rather unexpected or unusual discoveries at Prairie Oaks:

Coyote Scat? - Prairie Oaks

Coyote Scat? – Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite - Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite – Prairie Oaks

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Thanks for stopping by.

Contemplating Spring to Summer

This spring I’ve been busy looking for pictures of Baltimore Orioles that would improve on what I’ve taken in the past. Not as easy as you might think as they spent a lot of time in the tops of trees.

While pursuing Orioles, sometimes you just get lucky and stumble upon a male and female Wood Duck as you paddle the shoreline of Griggs. Or maybe it’s a female Mallard with babies. Then there are the unbelievable things that you can’t or don’t get a picture of, like a Kingbird actually riding on the back of a Red Tailed Hawk as they fly over the reservoir.

The warblers slowly give way to dragonflies and damselflies as we head into June. Young plants, still perfect, create beautiful patterns as sunlight  plays on their leaves.

On the Scioto small mouth bass provide a welcome break from my Oriole quest.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Beaver Lodge - Griggs

Beaver Lodge – Griggs

Baltimore Oriole - Griggs

Baltimore Oriole – Griggs

Baby Mallards - Griggs

Baby Mallards – Griggs

Wood Ducks - Griggs

Wood Ducks – Griggs

Song Sparrow - Prairie Oaks

Song Sparrow – Prairie Oaks

Smallmouth Bass - Below Griggs Dam

Smallmouth Bass – Scioto River

Rusty Snaketail - Prairie Oaks

Rusty Snaketail – Prairie Oaks

Rose Breasted Grosbeaks - Front Yard Feeder

Rose Breasted Grosbeaks – Front Yard Feeder

Landscape - Griggs

Landscape – Griggs

Lancet Clubtail (F) - Battelle Darby, Donna

Lancet Clubtail (F) – Battelle Darby, Donna

Eastern Forktail (F)

Eastern Forktail (F)

Ebony Jewelwing (M) Battelle Darby - Donna

Ebony Jewelwing (M) Battelle Darby – Donna

Designs 2 - Griggs

Designs 2 – Griggs

Designs 1 - Prairie Oaks

Designs 1 – Battelle Darby

Common Yellowthroat - Prairie Oaks

Common Yellowthroat – Prairie Oaks

Common Whitetail (M) Battelle Darby, Donna

Common Whitetail (M) Battelle Darby, Donna

Common Whitetail (F) Battelle Darby, Donna

Common Whitetail (F) Battelle Darby, Donna

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Thanks for stopping by.

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