It’s Spring and Love Is In The Air

In recent days we’ve made a number of trips to areas along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River not far from our home. It’s spring migration and the challenge is to see how many migrating birds we can spot right in our “neighborhood”. At some point we may change our emphasis and increase the number of trips we take to more distant birding locations, but for now we’re having fun concentrating on places close to home.

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To date the most numerous warblers seen are the Palm and Yellow-rumped. While the Yellow-rumped is very common, with more subtle markings than many of it’s peers, I never tire of finding new beauty when I look at one. At Griggs Park the Baltimore Oriole is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Connecting trees with bright sunlit streaks of orange the males seem to be everywhere.  Should an oriole or other bird not be close by, it’s easy to find other things to appreciate this time of year.

The boardwalk at Kiwanis Riverway Park. One of our favorite birding spots. The water level was very high when this shot was taken.

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When we arrive to photograph birds we sometimes find them “still getting ready”,

Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

“Okay, I’m ready!”

“There’s just this one pesky feather that won’t stay in place,” Palm Warbler, Griggs Park.

“Okay, how do I look?”

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some may be busy doing other things,

A female Baltimore Oriole appears to be trying to build a nest out of monofilament fishing line in Griggs Park. We try to pick up lost or discarded fishing line and tackle whenever we see it.

Robin on nest, Griggs Park.

Mother Mallard tries to keep track of her charges, Griggs Park.

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while most are usually ready when we get there,

American Robin, Griggs Park.

 

Severely back lit, an illusive Black and White Warbler taxes the capabilities of the camera.

Take 2.

The Yellow Warbler is cute from any angle, Griggs Park.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park.

A better look at the unique crest on the Yellow-rumps head.

Male Bluebird, Griggs Park.

Female Bluebird, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park.

Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

House Wren, Griggs Park.

Tree Swallow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

A Red-eyed Vireo ducts behind a small tree, Griggs Park.

Yellow-throated Warblers are often heard. Finding them is more difficult. Griggs Park.

It appears that this Chickadee has been spending entirely too much time with it’s Tufted Titmouse friends, Griggs Park.

Seeing this White-crowned Sparrow was a real treat, Griggs Park. “White-crowned Sparrows typically breed in the far north in open or shrubby habitats, including tundra, high alpine meadows, and forest edges. Patches of bare ground and grasses are important characteristics. During winter and on migration these birds frequent thickets, .   .   . “, from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Black-throated blue Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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but a few are just trying to get away.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Other birds were engaged in finding a find a dry perch, made all the more challenging by recent heavy rains.

In the company of friends a Great Blue Heron looks on as the very high Scioto River races by.

In recent days Great Egrets seem to be everywhere along both the reservoir and river, Griggs Park.

Out on the reservoir a Great Blue Heron floats by on a tree branch.

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Many flowers have undoubtedly benefitting from the recent rain.

Stumped again, the flower of a small unidentified flowering tree or bush. Is it a garden escapee?

Fleabane, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

The flower of the Tulip Tree. Native to eastern North America from southern Ontario and Illinois eastward to Massachusetts and Rhode Island and south to central Florida and Louisiana, Tulip Trees can grow to more than 160 ft in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains. (Wikipedia)

Non-native Butterweed, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Large flowered Valerian, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Hobblebush, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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You never know what might be hiding next to a flower.

A large female Fishing Spider, Griggs Park.

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Heading back to the car at the end of one outing, my sharp eyed wife spotted three Northern Water Snakes celebrating the season. The males are quite a bit smaller than the female. These snakes are fairly common along the river and reservoir. However, unlike the various species of turtles which always seem to be around, they aren’t often seen so it was a real treat to see them!

Large female with two smaller male Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Park. They mate from April through June and do not lay eggs like many other snakes. Instead, the mother carries the eggs inside her body and gives birth to free living young and may have as many as thirty at a time, but the average is eight. They are born between August and October. Mothers do not care for their young; as soon as they are born, they are on their own. (Wikipedia)

The males were in competition for the female’s affection.

The larger male seems to have won, at least momentarily.

A tangle of tails.

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After missing shots of numerous fast moving warblers and the recent challenge when I tried to capture the Black and White, I’ve decided to upgrade my otherwise excellent Canon 60D camera body to a Canon 80D. For the time being the bird camera lens will continue be a Sigma 150-500mm. Future posts will reveal how well it all works out. Thanks for stopping by.

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PS: As is often the case, Molly Cat sat watching intently as I finished this blog. I’m glad I’m not a mouse!

Molly Cat

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.

 

 

Dazzled By Dragonflies at Prairie Oaks

So far it’s been one of the wettest summers in recent memory but finally a day with morning sunshine and no threat of rain until things warmed up in the afternoon. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, off we went to Prairie Oaks Metro Park, one of our favorite places to look for dragonflies, damselflies as well as butterflies and moths in central Ohio.

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We were not disappointed. For a day’s outing, this one probably holds the record for the number of species seen and photographed. Some of the cruisers alluded us but anything that would perch, even if only for a second, was fair game.

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However, not long after arriving we saw this guy and depending on your point of view, it may or may not have been the encouragement needed as we started our quest.

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Red-winged Blackbird, Beaver Lake Area

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Are you really going to eat all that?

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But not long after, our faith in the balance of nature returned as continuing to explore we checked out the Darby Bend Lakes area.

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Ebony Jewelwing, female

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Blue-fronted Dancer, female

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Blue-ringed Dancer, male

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Blue-fronted Dancer, male

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Teneral (just metamorphosed), damselfly.

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Teneral (just metamorphosed), damselfly.

 

Common Whitetail 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Common Whitetail, (Donna)

Calico Pennant 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Calico Pennant, (Donna)

Blue Dasher female 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Blue Dasher, female, (Donna)

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Eastern Amberwing

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Great Blue Skimmer, male

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Widow Skimmer, male

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Ruby Meadowhawk, male

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Halloween Pennant, female

Halloween Pennant 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Halloween Pennant, male, note red spots near leading edge of wing tips, (Donna).

Wider Skimmer female 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks cp1

Widow Skimmer, female, (Donna)

Eastern Pondhawk male 1 best 1 071915 Prairie Oaks   cp1004

Eastern Pondhawk, male, (Donna)

Eastern Pondhawk female 3 best ever 1 071915 Prairie Oaks   cp1

Eastern Pondhawk, female, (Donna)

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.   .   .  and there were wildflowers.

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Phlox

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Catnip

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Blazing Star

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Teasel

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Different strokes . . .

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White Phlox

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Jewelweed

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A few butterflies were also seen.

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Sliver Spotted Skipper

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Another view.

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Red-spotted Purple

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.   .   .   and even a spider.

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Fishing Spider

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Each time we go out there always seems to be something new to see.

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Beaver lodge, Darby Bend Lakes.

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While hardly an original thought, it’s worth being mindful that every day can be an adventure if we choose to make it so.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Paddling The Licking River

It had been several years since we paddled north on Dillon Lake which is part of Dillon State Park and headed up the Licking River. It’s a typical paddle for us where we start in a reservoir and paddle up a feeder river for as far as we can or feel like going. Since we enjoy a good paddle and are usually on the lookout for birds and other wildlife, paddling the same stretch of river twice is seldom seen as a problem. The north end of the lake and the Licking River seem very remote during the middle of the week. We had the place to ourselves.

On the day of our paddle the river was running fairly clear as it had been several days sense the last rain of any consequence. On past trips we’ve seen Bald Eagles, beaver, deer, herons, and various types of warblers and flycatchers depending on the time of year. I usually make an effort to fish a little but on this trip, as on previous trips up the Licking, the fish did not cooperate. We were fortunate to see a pair of Snowy Egrets and a juvenile Bald Eagle as we paddled. A young deer even came down to the water’s edge as we drifted by.

The river is definitely one of the most beautiful in Ohio with many bends and sandbars as it winds through a woods that contains many mature trees. On the downside are the many cans and plastic bottles that get caught up along the banks and in log jams on the outside of the bends. Such debris is always a problem in rivers that see a lot of paddling traffic because of capsizes but in this case, given that the Licking is not heavily paddled, they seem to be more the result of Ohio’s lack of a deposit law for cans and bottles.

Below are some pics from the trip:

 

Licking River Map

Licking River Paddle

Bob paddling 080714 Licking river cp1

Always on the lookout for wildlife. (Donna)

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It’s not long before we spot an immature Bald Eagle.

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The Green Herons are always entertaining  .  .  .

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. . . as they look or their next meal!

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This lovely sandbar told us we didn’t need to paddle any further.

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Looking down river.

Bob fishing at sandbar 080714 Licking river cp1

During a snack stop I tried my hand at fishing. No luck. (Donna)

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We try to paddle as close to the bank as possible because you never know what you’re going to see. In this case a very large Fishing Spider! (Donna)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail duet best 1 080714 Licking river cp1

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on a sandbar near the river’s edge, (Donna)

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Liverwort on a rock at river’s edge. Something we’ve been looking for but not always easy to find in Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk 080714 Licking river cp1

A Ruby Meadowhawk posed for my wife. (Donna)

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Spotted Sandpiper at river’s edge.

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Due to low water it was a shallow mucky affair launching and retrieving the canoe.

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The beauty of the Licking River.

 

 

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