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.

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.

 

 

A Heron, Egret, and Cormorant Rookery in Columbus

If you’d like to see nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants pack up your binoculars or better yet a spotting scope, and head over to Campbell Park off McKinley Avenue and just south of Trabue Rd. The park is interesting in it’s own right because it’s one of the last ancient cone-shaped burial mounds in Columbus, but in addition, the top of the mound happens to be a great vantage point to view an island rookery located in the middle of the adjacent quarry.

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We learned about the spot by chance from a fellow birding enthusiast while looking for migrating warblers along the Scioto River in Columbus. So before we get to the rookery, below are a few shots from our adventures along the Scioto in recent days.

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Prothonotary Warbler along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker being a good parent along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Turkey Vultures along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200, (Donna).

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Robin singing, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, FZ200. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Kiwanis River Way Park

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. . . just a minute I’m not quite ready!

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park

 

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Bluebird, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Cardinal, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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When we’re not looking for birds .   .   .

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Kiwanis River Way Park

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Butterweed, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Shooting Star, Kiwanis River Way Park.

 

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???, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wood Sorrel, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Spring Beauty, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Black Swallowtail, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Fleabane, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Campbell Park and the rookery. Views through our spotting scope were much better!

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Entrance to the mound. Campbell Park.

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Historical Marker

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The best view of the island and rookery (the only view really), was from the top of the mound.

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The bird camera at full zoom, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Looking around the island, nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Another view, Black-crowned Night Herons can just be made out in the lower lift corner, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Donna’s FZ200 takes a look at a variety of nesting birds.

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Nests, , Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Nesting cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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While my wife was investigating the wildflowers and butterflies I also tried some photos with a Digi-scope rig but the results were disappointing no doubt the result of operator error. If you have such equipment I recommend giving it a try. At the very least bring your spotting scope and enjoy the view while many of the birds are still on their nests.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Spring Takes Flight at Prairie Oaks

We hadn’t been to Prairie Oaks for a while so we thought we’d head over to what is one of Columbus’s nicer metro parks and see how spring was progressing.  The day was breezy and cool so we weren’t sure what we’d find. Often the birds stay put on such days making locating them a challenge. But the sun did pop through the clouds periodically, and when it did, the birds, as if on cue, became more active. On this day, as often seems to be the case, the most magical event happened near the end of our adventure just as we arriving back at the parking lot after five miles of walking, looking. and then walking some more.

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A spring creek flows through the park on it’s way to the river.

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We hadn’t gone very far when a few birds appeared to greet us.

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White-throated Sparrow

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A Tree Swallow takes a break.

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A Yellow-throated Warbler not cooperating for the photographer.

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Further on my wife noticed some Dryad’s saddle. The time of year and recent rains all had contributed to a bumper crop.

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Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna)

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Dryad’s Saddle. The one at the top is just emerging.

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In full bloom, (Donna)

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While it’s just a few miles from Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the diversity of spring wildflowers at Prairie Oaks is not as great, but the flowers are beautiful just the same.

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Golden Ragwort

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Large-flowered Bellwort

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Wild Geranium

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Spring Beauty

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Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trillium

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It was an extensive patch.

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Where there are wildflower you can count on seeing other things.

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A tiny Spring Azure, (Donna)

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As if to mimic the flower. A great shot by my wife of a butterfly that’s very difficult to get a photo of with wings open. Perhaps the warm sun and cool air helped.

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A Bumble Bee heads for Virginia Bluebells.

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On final approach

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Flaps down!

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Touchdown!

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As we continued our exploration we were fortunate to see a few of our other feathered friends.

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Eastern Towhee

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Yellow Warbler

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Take two. Okay, I couldn’t help it. The bird was so cute!

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The Big Darby flows through Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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During high water the soil is scoured from around the roots of this Sycamore tree.

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The Big Darby.

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Many of the turtles we come across seem to have a very acute awareness of their surroundings making them deceptively hard to photograph. They usually slide off the log and disappear under the water’s surface just as we get ready to click the shutter. But not this time.

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Red Eared Slider

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Painted Turtle

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The group, (Donna)

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Spring nurseries for frogs and other living things surrounded by luminescent green.

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My wife checks out one of a number of spring nurseries.

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Frog heaven.

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At the end of our walk, not a hundred yards from our car, we observed a group of Killdeer (males?)  making quite a fuss.

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A meeting of the Killdeer.

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The discussion was loud and went on for quite awhile.

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One seems to have made his point and wants to move on.

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.   .   .   but then as if tired of the their earth bound or perhaps just to celebrate the day,

.   .   .  they took flight.

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Killdeer in flight, (Donna)

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Revealing a beauty not seen until they were in the air. (Donna).

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.   .   .   as a straggler tries to catch up.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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