A Few Days Along The Rifle River

Last week we spent a few days in Michigan in the Rifle River Recreation Area not far from the town of West Branch on the northeast side of the lower peninsula. With a number of excellent hiking trails, and lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s an excellent place for nature viewing. The lack of boat generated wakes on Devoe Lake means that Loons nest there. To the best of our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting Loons can be seen. There are also Bald Eagles, Osprey as well as other birds to enjoy. When out exploring one is also treated to dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a number wildflowers not seen in central Ohio. Not far from the park is the AuSable River and the adjacent National Forest create even more opportunities for paddling and outdoor adventure.

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

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We could spend hours watching loons. A quiet paddle on Devoe Lake allows one to observe them as they go about their day.

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

In the middle of preening this adult seems to be sneaking a peek.

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

The adult comes through. How does a bird as big as a loon chase down such a small fish under water?

One more picture.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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Bald Eagles are sometimes seen flying overhead as we observe the loons with their young. If they get too close the adult loons create quite a commotion!

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

An Osprey takes a break along the shoreline of Devoe Lake, (Donna).

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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Most birds were seen from the canoe as we made our way along the shoreline of Devoe and Grebe Lakes, as well as Loud Pond on the Au Sable River.

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

A Kingbird, the dragonflies worst enemy, waits for it’s next meal along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Three Caspian Terns circled overhead, occasionally landing, as we made our way back to our launch site on wind swept Loud Pond. A few reasonable sharp images were obtained.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Kingfisher actually stays put long enough for a “usable” picture, Devoe Lake.

A Green Heron is caught preening, Devoe Lake, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

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While hiking, especially this time of year, birds usually give way to the wildflowers and interesting types of fungus.

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

Knapweed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

Just after this picture was taken this tree got a big hug!

Hawkweed.

Cardinal Flower was quiet common in the wet areas of the park.

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

Picture Plant and flower. Tough to get a good picture of.

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

An attractive flower that has eluded identification. Some type of lobelia?

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

Another example of some of the interesting fungi seen, (Donna).

Virgin’s Bower. (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

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Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were seen as we enjoyed the wildflowers included one butterfly not typically seen in central Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

The very small American Copper, not a butterfly we’ve seen in central Ohio, (Donna).

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Mating Robber Flies. Robber flies are one of the insect worlds more ferocious looking subjects. An appearance that is not unwarranted!

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

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Shall we go for a hike or paddle? The decision is often made based on the weather conditions. Wind and choppy water make canoe photography with long lenses almost impossible. However, should conditions permit we’re usually not disappointed be the flowers seen as we paddle!

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

Meadow Sweet, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”),  (Donna).

Swamp Smartweed

Water Shield, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

Burr Reed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

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Sometimes when hiking you don’t have to look real close to be overwhelmed by the beauty.

Gamble Creek, Class 1 trout stream, Rifle River Rec Area.

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No post would be complete without touching on some of the reptiles and amphibians seen. Seeing the skink was a surprise.

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

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While fishing along the Au Sable River upstream of Loud Pond, a Mink is sighted!

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

Au Sable River, catch and release, Small Mouth Bass. The river is one of the best Small Mouth Bass fisheries in the Midwest.

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We spend a lot of time looking and exploring but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for just being there.

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this very incomplete sample of things that can be seen and experienced in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

The beauty is, the more time spent in nature the more you will see, the more you see the more you will want to understand and soon you’ll be carried away by the wonder and magic of it all.

As always thanks for stopping by!

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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.

Devoe Lake’s Summer Gift

Every summer for the last number of years in the company of friends I’ve made a fishing pilgrimage to the Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. On this year’s trip, like most recently, many  fish were caught and released. Only six hours north of our home in central Ohio, it’s a special place where nesting Loons can be seen. While paddling it’s not uncommon to have one surface nearby or to see other wildlife not far away. The Loons are unique in their nesting requirements and are certainly there because no motors are allowed on any of the lakes in the park. If you want to fish, or just explore, it must be under your own power.

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Loons, Devoe Lake

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Areas of the country that are privileged to have four seasons, unfold like a flower in spring and summer only to experience a fiery death during the shorter, colder, red, and yellow days of fall. Devoe Lake is such a place, where the beauty of spring and summer is not ours for long, where for a brief time under blue skys and puffy white clouds one witnesses the sights and sounds of birds, insects, and wildflowers as life is celebrated. A place where a quiet observer may see a Loon attentively feeding her young as dragonflies, or even a Bald Eagle, fly overhead and where a Kingbird and Green Heron may be seen perched in a tree at waters edge while somewhere further down the lake the raucous call of a Kingfisher is heard.

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The strikingly beautiful flower of the Grass-of-Parnassus common along the shore of Devoe Lake

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Early morning, Devoe Lake.

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A typical catch on Devoe Lake. Many fish show evidence of having been previously caught.

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Prized for their good taste and seeming abundance a successful Devoe Lake fisherman shows of his catch of 35 Bluegill. In recent years with the rise in popularity of kayak fishing and more sophisticated boats, often equipped with fish finders and GPS, such catches are a lot easier and undoubtedly more common on Devoe. On a lake that’s less than a mile long and one half mile wide one can’t help wondering if such good times will last.

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A Red Spotted Purple visits our campsite, Devoe Lake rustic campground.

 

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Reflecting the rays of the low sun against a gray sky, a Kingbird waits for an insect to fly by, Devoe Lake.

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Just be taking a break? A juvenile Green Heron perches high in a tree at waters edge, Devoe Lake.

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Paddling under gray skies and clouds that threaten rain, Devoe Lake.

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Bald Eagles along the shoreline of Devoe Lake

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Return just a few months later and this unique beauty will be gone. No wildflowers will grace the shoreline of the lake. Rain, whether falling quietly or pounding to accompaniment of lightning and the sound of thunder, will have given way to the silence of the seasons first snow. At night the call of the Eastern Whip-poor-will will not be heard. The lake’s blue surface will not dance to the beat of an ever changing breeze and Painted Turtles will not cruise the clear depths below your canoe. It will be quiet except for the wind as it moves through now bare branches. The sky will more often be gray and the water now solid, unmoving, and partially covered in white, will reflect it’s color.

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Morning sun and mist, Devoe Lake.

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No matter the season Devoe Lake gives of it’s beauty sparingly and then takes it away leaving one to wait restlessly for another year.  The fleeting days of summer are no exception.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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