The Rifle River and A Mystery Bird

It’s that time of year again when we travel 6.5 hours north from our home in central Ohio to the Rifle River Recreation Area. Usually we enjoy checking out different areas for new adventures but this park’s unique beauty keeps us coming back. Whether paddling on the park lakes or hiking the trails there is always something to discover. From one week to the next different wildflowers can be seen. Spring warbler activity is complimented by the evening call of a Whippoorwill or Barred Owl and there’s always the distant call of a loon on Devoe Lake.

(click on images for a closer look)

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This year’s late June visit meant that in addition to increased warbler activity we’d also see blooming lady slippers and pitcher plants. Of course there would also be more mosquitoes to deal with and they’re always particularly pesky when one crouches down to study a flower or take a photograph.

A shaft of sunlight highlights a fern along the trail.

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My wife was nice enough to contribute the bulk of the pictures for this post as much of my time was spent fishing. However, to start the post off on a curious note I did notice something interesting one afternoon while hiking.

These rolled up birch? leaves littered the forest floor.

A closer inspection revealed a small caterpillar within the shelter of the rolled up leaf. It was in the process of eating it’s way out. Another egg sac near by? Based on an educated guess it would appear that a moth deposited it’s eggs on the underside of the leaf which then caused it to roll up and fall to the ground. Inside the leaf the caterpillar is safe from the prying eyes of birds until it escapes into the leaf litter and pupates soon to emerge as a moth and continue the cycle.

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When my wife wasn’t hiking and I wasn’t trying to catch a fish we did a fair amount of exploring by canoe.

Yours truly with a Devoe Lake Large Mouth Bass.

Exploring Grebe Lake

Common Loon, Devoe Lake.

Take two, (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, Grebe Lake.

Painted Turtle, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, (Donna).

Paddling trough the lily pads, Grebe Lake.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Mink checks us out along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

Au Sable River Walleye.

While Water Lily, (Donna).

Kingbirds entertained us as we paddled the Devoe Lake shoreline, (Donna).

Morning on Devoe Lake.

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One day as we drove back to our campsite after a morning paddle we came upon an unusual discovery in the middle of the road.

Our first thought was to move it along before it became the victim of a less observant driver.

But a closer look revealed that it was a Blanding’s Turtle something we’d expect to see in a nearby lake but not in it’s present location. Since it’s not a turtle we often see we were pretty excited, (Donna).

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However, perhaps the most unusual thing seen during our week long stay was the bird spotted while hiking along Weir Road.

The best ID we could come up with was a partially leucistic White-breasted Nuthatch but it’s beak didn’t look right. The mystery remains.

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We’d be remiss if we didn’t give special mention to the Ovenbirds and Yellowbellied Sapsuckers that entertained us each day at our campsite.

Ovenbird, (Donna).

With a white moth.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, taken while hiking but representative of the activity around our campsite, (Donna).

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While on the subject of birds, while hiking a park trail my wife was excited to see a Black Billed Cuckoo. It was a life bird for her.

Black Billed Cuco, (Donna).

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Finally, below is a summary of other things seen as we explored the park trails.

A recently emerged mushroom translucent in the sunlight.

A family of very colorful but small mushrooms.

Wild Columbine along the trail.

Hawkweed and fern.

The Rifle River

Showy Lady’s Slippers along the park road. A real treat to see.

A closer look, (Donna).

Bunch Berry Flower

Spotted Thyris Moth on fleabane.

Deep into the woods.

Red-spotted Purple

Another view, (Donna).

Yellow Lady’s Slippers were also seen, (Donna).

The flower of the Pitcher Plant. The plant gets it name by the shape of the leaves at the base of the plant which trap insects in water the leaves collect.

Overlooking Pintail Pond

Hover fly on dogwood blossoms.

This fairly large moth has yet to be identified.

Fleabane

Eastern Wood Pewee, (Donna).

Elfin (not Slaty) Skimmer.

Yellow Goats Beard, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Another view.

Sheep Laurel, (Donna).

American Redstarts were fairly common, (Donna).

Blue Flag Iris, (Donna).

Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

River Jewelwing (M), (Donna).

River Jewelwing (F), (Donna).

Cedar Waxwing, (Donna).

Four-spotted Skimmer, (Donna).

Wood Frog, (Donna).

Coral Fungus, (Donna).

Chaulk-fronted Corporal

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Little Wood Satyr.

Indian Pipe (before), (Donna).

After? (Donna).

A Green Heron stalks prey along the Devoe Lake shore, (Donna).

Black-shouldered Spinyleg, (Donna)

Another interesting plant we have yet to ID, (Donna).

Dead Mans Fingers, (Donna).

Delaware Skipper, (Donna).

Baby Robin, (Donna).

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As each day passes nature evolves. A wishful thought would be to spend one week each month in a place such as Rifle River Rec Area. Then one would truly appreciate it’s wonder. Thanks for stopping by.

Misty Day, Devoe Lake.

A Journey Through Spring

It feels like we’ve been dodging raindrops at lot lately. However, the wetter than average spring, perhaps the new normal, has been great for the area wildflowers. We’ve continued to explore Griggs Reservoir Park near our home but have also made several trips to Glen Echo Park, Kiwanis Riverway Park, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, and have traveled west to Cedar Bog as well as north to Magee Marsh, to name some of the other places explored. With a partial record in pictures of things seen, this is a celebration of all that this fleeting season has given us. Of particular note are the Yellow-billed Cuckoos that decided to make Griggs Reservoir Park their home for a few days recently. We also saw Scarlet Tanagers in the park after seeing few to none last year. What a treat!

(Should you desire, click on the image for a better view.)

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Birds:

Yellow-billed Cuckoos are one of the more entertaining birds to watch as they forage for food, Griggs Reservoir Park. They’re not a bird we see that often much less have an opportunity to photograph, (Donna).

A shot showing the distinctive markings of the underside of the tail.

This Tree Swallow was perched not far from it’s nesting cavity, Griggs Reservoir Park.

There are always a few Bluebirds to see at Griggs Reservoir Park undoubtedly due to numerous trees that provide nesting cavities.

Catching this female Wood Duck out of the very corner of my spectacled eye as it flew into a nearby tree I at first thought it was a Morning Dove.

On a sunny cool spring morning this male Mallard Duck just wanted to catch some rays.

Every year we look forward to the arrival of the Baltimore Orioles at Griggs Reservoir Park. This year was no exception.

They are another very entertaining bird to watch.

As if all the migrating warblers at Magee Marsh weren’t enough we see this guy, Great Horned Owl owlet.

A male Red-winged Blackbird in all it’s splendor. A common resident at Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cedar Waxwings in love, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Being an acrobat.

Great Crested Flycatchers are heard more often than seen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Kingbird ready to take flight, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An curious young male Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Just finishing up a snack of “warbler”, this Red-tailed Hawk stares us down, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An Eastern Wood-Pewee is caught in a cute pose at Bigelow Pioneer Cemetery, (Donna).

Oblivious to our presence, a Prothonotary warbler collects nesting material, Magee Marsh.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Scarlet Tanager at Magee Marsh.

A Warbling Vireo seems to stare us down, Magee Marsh.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magee Marsh.

Blackburnian Warbler, Glen Echo Park. This small park centered around a stream and ravine is a hotspot for observing spring migrants.

Wood Thrush. Glen Echo Park.

Red-eyed Vireo, Glen Echo Park.

A male American Redstart plays hide and seek, Glenn Echo Park.

Magnolia Warbler, Magee Marsh.

“I’m eating a bug, do you mind!” Carolina Wren, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Red-headed Woodpecker, the first ever sighting at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Nest building, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

Summer Tanager, Glen Echo Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Greenlawn Cemetery.

A busy Song Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

A Yellow-throated Warbler looks down from above, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-throated Vireo, Glen Echo Park, (Donna).

Couldn’t resist another view of this lovely bird.

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Other things:

How many turtles are on this log? Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Wildflowers:

Purple Rocket turns white with age, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Cabbage White on Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Reservoir Park.

These Toadshade Trilliums from a few weeks ago were some of the last seen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Pawpaw blossoms, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Hoverfly on Spring beauty from a few weeks back.

Solomon’s Seal, Glenn Echo Park.

May Apple blossom from a few weeks ago, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Jacobs Ladder, Amberleigh Park.

Fleabane, Cedar Bog.

We were surprised to see this Morrel mushroom emerging through the mowed grass at Griggs Reservoir Park.

Wild Rose, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Blue Flag Iris, Cedar Bog.

Wild Geranium, Glenn Echo Park.

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We hope you enjoyed this journey through spring into what now feels like early summer. We sadly leave the spring migrants behind for this year but experience tells us that there is always something new to see when exploring nature.

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Future seasons become easier to count and the present one more precious with the passing of time, but in that scarceness we become richer with the sense of their magic.  

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Thanks for stopping by.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, Cedar Bog.

 

Thieves In The Leaves

The drama shown below played out a few days ago in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

Working on it’s nest.

The work continues.

Then an uninvited visitor arrives. The pewee dive booms the invader in an futile effort to chase it away. The masked robber is helping itself to the material in the pewee nest.

The invader flies off and the pewee returns and tries to repair the damage.

With the waxwing set to return it appears to be a hopeless task.

The Cedar Waxwing returns.

It continues to disassemble the pewee nest.

The finishing touches.

There’s not much left.

The recipient of the stolen nesting material is only about 25 feet away.

Cedar Waxwings don’t appear to be real fussy about where they get nesting material or what type of nesting material (monofilament fishing line) it is.

The masked bandit.

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It wasn’t clear if the waxwing behavior was motivated by the existence of a readily available source of nesting material or if the pewee nest was just too close. Whatever the motivation nature’s drama is sometimes hard to watch. 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.

Summer Wildflowers, Butterflies, and a Few Birds

We’ve been busy documenting nature’s summer in central Ohio. If you are fascinated by insects this is your time of year but be prepared to look closely. The summer heat has done little to discourage the wildflowers which in a shout of color announce their presence. The below shots were taken along Griggs Reservoir and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. I hope they put you in a summer kind of mood.

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Milk Weed Beetle, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Lettuce, Griggs Park, Donna

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Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna

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Wild Potato Vine, Griggs Park, Donna

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Barely seen, dragonflies hover over a reflection, Griggs Reservoir

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Fallen branch and wildflowers, Griggs Park

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Gray Headed Cone Flowers, Griggs Park

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Cup Plant, Griggs Park

 

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Wild Chicory, Griggs Park

 

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Path to the water, Griggs Park

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Thistle, Griggs Park

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park

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Wasp, Griggs Park, Donna

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Eastern Pondhawk,(F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Wing Stem, Griggs Park, Donna

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fireworks in green, Griggs park, Donna

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Biennial Gaura, Griggs Park, Donna

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Widow Skimmer (F), Griggs Park, Donna

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Least Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna

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Rose Pink, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Donna

 

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Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Greek Metro Park, Donna

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Hummingbird Moth, Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park, Donna

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Phlox, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Catbird, Griggs Park, Donna

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Ducklings, Griggs Park, Donna

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Fishing, Griggs Reservoir, Donna

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Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, Donna

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Hairy Wood Mint, Griggs Park, Donna

 

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Coneflowers, Griggs Park

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Peck’s Skipper, Griggs Park

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Eastern Wood Pewee, Griggs Park

 

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Royal Catchfly, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Royal Catchfly, a closer look.

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Looking for Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bison, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bluebird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Kingbird, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Barn Swallow, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Luna Moth on our house.

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Quiet morning, Griggs Reservoir

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Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Black Crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Hope you enjoyed this summer celebration of nature in central Ohio. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

In Full Swing

Walking in Griggs Park near our home in recent days has been a real treat. We are always debating what is our favorite season but right now we’re thinking it’s spring!  The movement of migrating warblers and other birds through central Ohio seems to be in full swing but increasing in leaf cover in the last week is starting to make spotting them at little more difficult.

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A good Mom!, Mallard babies, Griggs Park.

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The Columbine bloom is also in full swing along the reservoir cliffs, Griggs Park

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Prothonotary warblers continue to entertain, Griggs Park.

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Prothonotary warbler, Griggs Park.

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We’ve seem several Scarlet Tanagers in Griggs Park in the past few days..

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Spring color across the river below Griggs Dam.

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Eastern-tailed Blue , Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Cedar Waxwing with something to say, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Wood Pewee, Griggs Park.

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Fleabane

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Yellow Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher giving us the eye, Griggs Park.

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Blue-gray being serious, Griggs Park.

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Blue-gray being cute, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Recent rainy weather means plenty of mushroom families, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Ox-eye Daisy, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Griggs Park and the reservoir.

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Immature male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

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Black and White Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Warbling Vireo, Griggs Park.

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Robin, Griggs Park.

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Much of this year birding has been done on foot. Now with the leaves coming out in force, and our field of view decreasing, it may be time to get the canoe out for a better view as we paddle the shoreline of reservoirs near home.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Festival of Fungi at Clear Creek Metro Park

With the amount of rain we’ve had recently it seemed like a great time to visit Clear Creek Metro Park to see what fungi might be making an appearance. The park is unique, located about fifty miles southeast of Columbus in an area where the last glaciers stopped their southward advance. It’s 5,300 acres of woods, sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks are home to hemlocks, oaks, and hickory. As we left Columbus we were hoping to discover some things not seen closer to home.

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It was still early when we arrived and everything was wet from a recent rain. The air was cool but the humidity was very high. Given these conditions, we were drenched in perspiration for most of our five mile hike, with glasses and viewfinders fogging up every time we attempted to take a photograph. On this particular day, it was the price of admission.

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Interestingly, the first thing seen was lichen growing on the roof  of a visitor information board not far from where we parked.

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British Soldier Lichen, red fruiting bodies are less than 1/8 inch across. It was the first we had seen in Ohio.

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Leaving the lichen, we began a rather steep assent into the woods and immediately started seeing fungi. This continued throughout our hike of the Creekside Meadows, Fern, and Cemetery Ridge trails. Seeing so many unfamiliar fungi, the challenge soon became one of trying to figure out we were looking at.

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Violet-gray Bolete

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Another example, (Donna).

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More fully developed.

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Turkey Tail on a fallen log.

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Crowded Parchment

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Small purple Bolete. Colors appear to vary among the same species.

 

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Jellied False Coral

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Red-belted Polypore

 

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Unidentified

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Spores being released from a mushroom.

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Berkeley’s Polypore. One area of the woods was dotted with these. This one was about 6 inches across.

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Very large Lepiota mushroom (@12 inches tall)

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Another view.

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Coral Mushroom

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Chanterelles

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Donna moving in for a close shot.

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Chanterelles, (Donna)

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Burnt-orange Bolete, (Donna)

Mushroom white tan  Clear Creek   cp1

Panther Mushroom, (Donna)

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Unidentified Amanita, (Donna)

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Pink Polypore, (Donna)

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Unidentified Mushrooms

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Tufted Collybia

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Another view.

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Apricot Jelly

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False Coral

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Rosy Russula Mushroom

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Powder-cap Amanita Mushroom

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As if all the fungi were not enough, wildflowers were also making their presence known.

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Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Starry Campion

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Indian Pipe, (Donna)

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Woodland Sunflower

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain

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Downey Rattlesnake-plantain leaves.

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Oswego Tea

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A little further away.

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Downey Skullcap, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and while not flowers, pretty nonetheless.

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A confused leaf!

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Ferns were everywhere.

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Given that flowers and many other plants were in abundance, butterflies and moths were easy to spot.

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Pipevine Swallowtail

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Another view.

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Great Spangled Fritillaries, (Donna)

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Hummingbird Moth Blur

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Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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While not our main objective, we did hear a lot of birds and even managed to see a few.

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Hooded Warbler

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Titmouse

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Eastern Wood-pewee

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Another view.

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A Wood Thrush? refuses to cooperate.

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At the end of our hike, we were in awe of the things seen. Many were first’s for us in Ohio. It had been a magical day.

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Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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

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Hackberry Emperor, (Donna)

 

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Foxglove Beardtongue

Eastern Forktail mature female 1 060415 Griggs south   cp1

Eastern Forktail (F), (Donna)

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Water-willow, (Donna)

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

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

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Summer Azure with wings open, (Donna)

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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.

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