Posted on August 5, 2022
We remembered from past visits that Kiser Lake, about an hour and a half drive west of our home in Columbus, had a lot of lily pads. Consistent with our experience in previous years as summer moved from July into August, we found ourselves increasingly enamored with our insect friends, particularly dragonflies and butterflies. What better spot to look for dragonflies than a lake with lots of lily pads!
We had the good fortune to see numerous mating pairs of Halloween Pennant dragonflies and a new to us, Lilypad Forktail damselfly. Other dragonflies were seen, including Blue Dashers, but none felt like posing for a picture. An added treat for the day was seeing the dark morph of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Our means for getting close the subject would be a canoe. To improve the chances of spotting something of interest we would try to stay right in the middle of the lily pads as we circumnavigated the lake. If you are interested in the route, see: https://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=917604
While we were more intent on looking for dragonflies, we were impressed with how many birds were seen. In one area of the lake, we flushed out at least seven Great Blue Herons. Other than in a rookery, that’s perhaps the largest number we had ever seen in close proximity to each other.
Our three-hour paddle on Kiser Lake had definitely exceeded expectations. In that time, we had observed a world going about its day with no need of us. That’s probably not something that could be said if the tables were turned. But leaving such worrying thoughts aside, we were embraced by a feeling of gratitude for the privilege of an intimate presence in their world for what seemed a too brief moment in time.
Thanks for stopping by.
Category: Birding in Ohio, butterflies, canoeing in central ohio, Central Ohio Nature, Central Ohio Parks, waterfowl, Wildflowers Tagged: Bald Eagle, Black Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Eastern Phoebe, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Halloween Pennant, Lilypad Damselfly, Red-eyed Vireo, Spotted Sandpiper, Water Lily, Wood Duck
Posted on July 27, 2022
We almost didn’t go. The forecast for the day was perfect, no wind, temperatures in the mid-70s. Perfect that is if you left out the significant chance of rain. After a string of less-than-optimal days as motivation, we decided to chance it and explore the northern reaches of a reservoir not far from our home. We loaded the canoe up with camera equipment, rain gear, one fishing pole, and lunch as we planned to be out for a while if the rain held off. Oh yes, we didn’t forget camera dry bags just in case.
Low clouds and no wind meant it was very quiet especially since the threatening weather had kept a lot of other folks off the lake. Within 100 yards of the launch, we saw our first Green Heron, one of about seven sighting.
A further on we spotted two immature Bald Eagles and a little later, as we entered a cove, another was spotted. We ended the day with about six eagle sightings which included a pair of mature adults.
Smaller birds including a Louisiana Water Thrush (no photo), Red-headed Woodpeckers, Belted Kingfishers, and Spotted Sandpipers were also seen.
The north end of Alum creek Reservoir is well known for its community of Osprey, and we were not disappointed. They seemed to be everywhere.
It wasn’t always a bird that intrigued, along the shore my wife spotted movement in the water, so we took a closer look.
In July in mid-Ohio, one doesn’t always thank of wildflowers, but a number were doing really well at water’s edge.
While some dragonflies were seen the cloudy cool day kept the numbers down. Not so for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails which seemed to be just about everywhere.
The lesson may be to pick cloudy quiet, rain threatening, days to be in nature. That is if one wants to maximize one’s encounter with the natural world which certainly proved to be the case for us. On this particular day, as if nature weren’t enough, the lack of wind and cooler the normal temperatures made it a great day to paddle a canoe. Our graceful 30-year-old Sawyer did not disappoint. It quietly and eagerly responded, always offering up an exhilarating sensation of required speed when needed. In addition to the birds already mentioned, during our paddle we had also seen hummingbirds, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants, Turkey Vultures, and various gulls. It had been a good day.
Thanks for stopping by.
Category: Alum Creek Reservoir, Birding in Ohio, canoeing in central ohio, Central Ohio Nature, Columbus, Wildflowers Tagged: Belted Kingfisher, Button Bush, Cardinal Flower, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Evening Primrose, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Ironweed, Monkey Flower, Northern Water Snake, Osprey, Sawyer Canoe, Spotted Sandpiper
Posted on July 16, 2022
It was a perfect day, little wind and a blue sky punctuated with puffy white clouds. Our paddles entered the water almost two hours after leaving home in Columbus. We were ready to enjoy the day with a paddle up Paint Creek which would add up to about seven miles once we arrived back at our launch. Unlike the time of spring migration and spring wildflowers our expectation for seeing birds and wildflowers in the deep green embrace of mid-July were not great but the area we had decided to paddle, both enchanting and beautiful made up for it.
The below pictures are offered as encouragement for all that seek to pursue a similar quest.
We had gliding through the water to little more than the sound of the paddle, the calls of Northen Parula and Yellow Warblers, and a distant Wood Thrush. It had been a day well spent.
Posted on April 29, 2022
At a graceful 17 feet long our Sawyer Cruiser canoe left the east shore of Griggs Reservoir just above Fishinger Road like a racehorse wanting to run even though it had been several months since we wet the paddles 1000 miles south in Florida. The plan was to follow the sunlit west shore north as far as we were inclined to see what migrating birds and other wildlife we might find. The choice of the Sawyer was dictated by the trip back to our launch site which would put an increasing wind in our face. None of our other canoes does “wind in the face” better than the Sawyer.
The plus side of looking for birds from a boat is that you have a continuous wall of trees and bushes of various sizes at water’s edge in which you might find them. The disadvantage is that the action of wind and waves must be dealt with in an effort to keep the canoe in position long enough to observe or in our case also photograph a small bird flitting about. Almost all of one’s creative paddle strokes are required. So, as with most of our birding by canoe outings, I handle the boat while my wife has all the pressure of trying to get a good picture.
Our first paddle of the year in Ohio had been a little over five miles, half of which was into a sometimes brisk wind. We felt good as we hauled the boat out, but we were glad we hadn’t decided to go further. The several hours spent had been a wonderful blend of appreciating nature coupled with the satisfaction of knowing it had all been accomplished under our own power. Our whole self had been engaged in the adventure.
Thanks for stopping by.
Category: Birding in Ohio, canoeing in central ohio, Central Ohio Nature, Columbus, Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir Park, Nature Photography, Scioto River Tagged: Barn Swallow, Black-throated Green Warbler, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Painted Turtle, Pied-billed Grebe, White-eyed Vireo, White-throated Sparrow, Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler
Posted on January 9, 2022
The central Ohio winter landscape seldom beckons with snow draped conifers or the flowing design of a meandering creek through a landscape blanketed in white.
Still, if one looks closely there is beauty. “Flowers” in a season when there are none.
For several days temperatures struggled to get out of the teens.
Yesterday it finally warmed into the thirties. Even though our social schedule meant we only had time for a quick look along the river before darkness fell, given recent activity, we thought it was worth checking out. Perhaps the mergansers would still be there. After walking about a half mile along the river, we were not disappointed.
Not only did we see mergansers, but there was more than the day before, and most mature males were engaged in breeding displays. Thinking back, we couldn’t remember a time when we had seen such an extensive display. Had the increase in temperature of some twenty degrees triggered the behavior? We could only guess.
For us finding nature’s magic in the woods, on a river, or secluded lake has never been hard, but in the embrace of Ohio’s stark January landscape it’s truly something special.
Posted on January 1, 2021
Yesterday, at a park near our home on a rather nondescript winter day, we ushered out 2020 with a little help from our friends. These friends have been reliable companions through a difficult year, but on the year’s last day, or perhaps because it was the year’s last day, their importance hit home more forcefully. There is no need to reflect on the love that develops between a person and their pet as most of us have known that. However, to experience a similar connection with creatures that make a living in the environment of trees, brush, fields, and waterways that surround us, owing us nothing, is truly special. Some days, as we walk, their numbers may be less, and the cast of characters may vary, but with their often cheerful dispositions and curious antics they are always there. For just a moment in time we celebrate the shared experience of life.
Wishing everyone all the best for the coming year. One where time spent with friends and family again becomes the norm.
Posted on December 17, 2020
Opening the door this time of year and venturing out into nature isn’t something most of us feel compelled to do. The landscape certainly doesn’t perk one’s curiosity. The wildlife that may be seen, which includes birds for the most part, have often migrated further south.
However, with it’s lack of leaf cover, the landscape offers one good reason to pass through the door and see what’s still in the neighborhood or what may have moved in from further north. With their endearing behavior and colors that are often a cheerful contrast to their surroundings, birds are a welcome part of the December woods.
In recent days some really special birds have graced us with their presence.
Perhaps the most noteworthy was a immature Snowy Owl that had travelled from the north country to hang out in central Ohio. They typically eat voles, lemmings, and other small rodents as well as birds so a shortage of such goodies further north is undoubtedly the reason for the visit. Seeing one this close to Columbus is rare.
Time spent in nature seldom disappoints. The observant eye will always find something that inspires and rewards. One only needs to open the door.
Thanks for stopping by.
Category: Central Ohio Nature, Columbus, Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir Park Tagged: American Cardinal, American Kestrel, Brown Creeper, Bufflehead, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Great Blue Heron, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-tailed Hawk, Snowy Owl, Song Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Posted on October 27, 2020
By mid to late October in central Ohio, should we be blessed with a nice day, we wonder if it might be the season’s last opportunity for an enjoyable paddle.
It’s true that on days with little wind, if colder temperatures can be tolerated, one can usually paddle through December on Griggs Reservoir. But once the trees and leaves part company, the landscape takes on a stark appearance, and the experience becomes less intimate. One feels more exposed with only bare branches to separate the paddler from shoreline homes and the now much louder traffic noise from the adjacent highway.
Of the larger birds that can still be enjoyed; gulls, Great Blue Herons, and Belted Kingfishers will remain throughout the winter in areas where there is open water. There is also some compensation in the fact that, along with the Red-tailed and Coopers Hawk, the bare branches make spotting the resident pair of Bald Eagles much easier. Concerning living things other than birds, on a December paddle a few years ago we did see a few turtles enjoying the sun. However, that was a rare exception as, for the most part, by mid-November wildlife becomes scarce. Great Egrets, cormorants, vultures, and osprey have all headed south. Of the smaller birds, with the exception of a few yellow-rumped warblers that may hang around all winter, the others warblers have long since passed through.
Motivated by these thoughts a few days ago, we put the boat in the water on what could turn out to be the last really nice day.
Those of you that have followed this blog for a while may have heard us reflect that one never knows what will be discovered when paddling our local reservoirs. We often go some distance without seeing anything other than a few of the usual suspects,
. . . then just when we’re about to assign the outing “well, it was a nice paddle . . .” status, we stumble upon something that charms and amazes us. Such was the case when we happened upon three killdeer at water’s edge engaged in what seemed to be some sort of dance. They postured, positioned, and pursued each other for as long as we chose to watch. Mating behavior in autumn? We were left to wonder.
Paddling into a breeze that reminded us how long it had been since we were in the canoe, we left the killdeer behind and headed back to our launch site still excited about what we’d witnessed and telling ourselves that, even if we saw nothing else, it had been a great day.
As we “headed for the barn”, our day just about complete, we noticed commotion in a dead tree at waters edge. Moving closer, a number of Eastern Bluebirds were observed very actively checking out what had been a tree swallow nesting cavity earlier in the year. Surely they weren’t getting ready to make little bluebirds this late in the year. (It turns out the bluebirds may nest more than once a year.) We were almost as entranced as we had been by the killdeer and moved on only when our curiosity had been satisfied and maintaining the boat position, in the increasing windy conditions, started to seem like work.
A few hundred yards later, we pulled the canoe out of the water and stowed the gear in the car. It had been a good day. Would it be the year’s last nice one for a paddle?
Thanks for stopping by.
Posted on August 29, 2020
In central Ohio it’s been several weeks since we’ve had any appreciable rain. Add to that numerous days with temps greater than 90F and you have the recipe for a very dry landscape. On concrete hard ground, if it has been walked on at all, as dust rises grass seems to break apart under foot. For the grass it’s hard to believe life will return before next spring. In what seems almost a miracle, the green of most trees continues to contrast with the brown of the grass. Perhaps we should plant more trees. The water level in the reservoir near our home has held up well, and is amazingly clear with little rain to stir it up. In contrast a reservoir a little further away, that supplies water to the city, is down over six feet. Now, with it’s expanse of dry clay lake bottom between the water and shoreline trees, I tell myself it looks better if I just imagine it’s “low tide”.
It’s hard to have high expectations for seeing wildlife in these conditions. But in the middle of the day, as we cower in our air conditioned homes, life goes on. Unlike buzzards, smaller birds, that typically don’t catch thermals to the higher cooler air, are more likely to restrict their activity to the morning and evening. On the sun baked ground at noon I try to imagine what it would be like for an ant to travel any distance. I don’t see many travelers. However, as long as they have access to sources of food, the airborne insects seem unfazed by it all.
Recently, in the morning’s relative coolness, we found ourselves walking at waters edge in the park near our home, Only a couple hundred yards into our walk a very small bird or large insect was spotted hovering, flying around, then perching on the branches of a partially dead tree. It was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and a “free range” one at that, how exciting. It’s always so much more rewarding to see a creature, not all that often seen in it’s natural habitat, in it’s natural habitat.
After the hummer just disappeared into thin air, as they have a habit of doing, we wondered what the rest of our time in the park would offer up.
Actually I’ve wandered of topic a bit because I started out with the thought of highlighting the really good day we had with robber flies. They seemed to be everywhere on a recent hike of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. They’re not an insect that other members of the bug world are happy to see. From the perspective of other insects they are a very efficient killing machine usually waiting in ambush and going after just about anything no matter it’s defenses. Click here for more information. What made the day really good was not only seeing numerous robber flies, but seeing a number chasing and then with captured prey. At one point one loudly buzzed the top of my head as it unsuccessfully pursued a Zabulon skipper. The erratic flight pattern of the skipper undoubtedly contributed to it’s escape.
Robber flies weren’t the only insect on the prowl.
Other creatures were also eating other creatures.
Nature always seems to be generous as long as you hold your expectations in check. Often when looking for one thing other things will become part of the mix. It’s usually best to just see what you see.
In the summer I sometimes just like to sit in my small canoe or walk slowly with no particular focus but only to let nature speak with a more all embracing voice. Realizing at that moment just how much is going on around me that I have no knowledge of, much less understanding. Perhaps a lesson in life in these trying times as I strive not to be ignorant of my own ignorance.
Thanks for stopping by.
Category: Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, Central Ohio Nature, Columbus, Griggs Reservoir Park, Nature Photography, Ohio Nature, Wildflowers Tagged: Crimson-Eyed Rose-Mallow, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Great Blue Heron, Green-Headed Coneflower, Little Wood Satyr, Monarch Butterfly, New England Aster, Pearl Crescent, Question Mark, Robber Fly, Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Posted on August 2, 2020
Certainly not an original thought, but most would say that if you have your health, enough resources to ensure adequate food and shelter, some leisure time when you are not dealing with “resources”, and good friends with whom you enjoy sharing life’s adventure, additional wealth is probably not going to contribute to life’s meaning or happiness. It also doesn’t hurt to have a curiosity about life as It will keep you engaged and seeking until the day your number gets called.
So what does any of this have to do with nature and where is Central Ohio Nature going with this? Well to get to the punch line without further delay, it has to do with an awareness of wealth that was experienced after a recent outing in the canoe. Of course this awareness doesn’t just drop out of the sky, it is facilitated by reading and enough research to appreciate what is being seen and experienced, good health and fitness to undertake the adventure, and last but not least, the company of a willing co-conspirator (in this case my wife) never hurts.
So what exactly contributed to the awareness of wealth on this particular day?
First, there’s the aesthetic of the canoe, it’s graceful purposeful shape, and the way the paddler and the canoe become one as they quietly move through the water with only the sound of the paddle as it brakes the water’s surface, is drawn back, and then, with droplets shed from the blade playing the stroke’s final notes, it leaves the water and returns to the beginning. A meditation; paddler, canoe, and water.
Secondly, along with a good cast of supporting characters, at the north end of the reservoir in a stand of dead trees we had our first ever sighting of red-headed woodpeckers at that location.
The supporting characters, not all of which are pictured, included osprey, juvenile spotted sandpiper, great blue heron (common), green heron, great egret, black-crowned night heron, belted kingfisher, great-crested flycatcher, wood ducks, double-crested cormorants, mallard duck, map turtle, large eastern spiny soft shell turtle, and a large snapping turtle.
With the exception of the canoe all other photos are by my wife.
The well connected lawyer or successful entrepreneur measures their wealth in a different way than most equally successful individuals who love nature but may have a less demanding career. The “buy in” on a wealthy street in our area may require that one to be engaged with a community of like minded individuals who have also attended prestigious institutions of higher learning. This coupled with a family legacy, and the “cross pollination” with other like minded established families may be key stepping stones to shared values and wealth which include the necessary hard to fake accoutrements, such as a large beautiful house and luxury cars, which signal one’s membership in the tribe.
But we are all destined to travel a narrow path and are all members of a some tribe. A path taken often excludes others. There is only so much life we can live. While there are undoubtedly exceptions, one would not expect that a successful high net worth entrepreneur would consider it a worthwhile use of their limited free time to walk a wetland path learning about dragonflies. Perhaps a business ski vacation to Colorado would serve their purposes better. However, is the person with more limited resources, for whom Colorado ski vacations are a bit out of reach, but who spends their time in the company of dragonflies and thus the interconnected web of life, any less “wealthy”?
So the challenge for us all is to increase our wealth in ways that speak to our soul. The sacrifices that an entrepreneur makes to be successful in their realm are significant. From the point of view of a lover of nature they will miss out on at lot. The wealth bestowed from time spent in nature comes from a deep sense of connectedness that transcends our own self, allowing us to no longer think it terms of boundaries but instead to embrace the whole. It is something that money cannot buy and is beyond valuing. Perhaps Thoreau said it better than anyone has since:
Category: canoeing in central ohio, Central Ohio Nature, Central Ohio Parks, Columbus, Griggs Reservoir, Nature Photography Tagged: Belted Kingfisher, Black-crowned Night Heron, Eastern Spiny Soft Shell, Great Blue Heron, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret, Green Heron, Red-headed Woodpecker, Spotted Sandpiper, Wood Duck
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