A Red-eyed Vireo Entertains Us

For the past several weeks we’ve been hearing Northern Parula Warblers in the small wooded area along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. Hoping to get photograph before it leafs out making the bird(s) impossible to find, we’ve made several trips trying to locate them. So far we haven’t had any luck getting a photograph but have been compensated for our efforts by other things.

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Tree roots intrigue along the river running high from recent rains;

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Tree roots, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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Trying to make up for the absence of the Northern Parula a Red-eyed Vireo puts forth it’s best effort;

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Red-eyed Vireo below the dam at Griggs Reservoir

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Red-eyed Vireo, study 2

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Wildflowers continue to fascinate;

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Appendaged Waterleaf below the dam at Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf , study 2

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A male American Redstart in a nearby bush checks us out;

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American Redstart, immature male, below the dam at Griggs Reservoir

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Finally, a quick trip to Houston for our son’s graduation from Rice and a stop in Georgia to visit my aging mom resulted in a few pictures that have nothing to do with central Ohio but seemed too nice not to share.

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Violet, northeastern Georgia, (Donna)

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Nodding Thistle and leaffooted bug, probably Leptoglossus phyllopus (Linnaeus), northeast Georgia

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Nodding Thistle, northeast Georgia

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Nodding Thistle with Gulf Fritillaries, northeast Georgia (Donna)

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Nodding Thistle, invasive, northeast Georgia

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Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Herman Park, Houston

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Red-eared Slider, Herman Park, Houston

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Brown Thrasher, northeast Georgia (Donna)

Celebrating Mother’s Day on Griggs Reservoir

We decided to paddle Griggs Reservoir with the goal of hopefully seeing some unique wildflowers that populate the low shoreline cliffs. In addition, while the migrating waterfowl have long since left, we might see one of our favorite local residents, the Wood Duck. Considering the number that nest in the area, we were pretty sure we would also see a few Baltimore Orioles. Given the wind, which presented significant boats control issues, my wife was kind enough to take care of most of the photography while I took care of the boat.

click on images for a better view

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After a short paddle to the cliff area, we discovered the flowers we were looking for.

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Wild Columbine, Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Stonecrop, Griggs Reservoir

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European Bird Cherry, Griggs Reservoir

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Prior to setting up house keeping the male and female Wood Ducks always seem to stay together.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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Male Wood Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few other suspects, including a Black-crowned Night Heron, greeted us as we paddled on.

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Red-eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

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Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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But not to be outdone and as if they were celebrating Mothers Day in advance, the female Mallards decided to introduce their recently hatched ducklings. It was a real treat!

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Crossing Griggs Reservoir to safety, Female Mallard with ducklings, (Bob)

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Later we found them safe on the other side.

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One duckling decided it wanted to go exploring.

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Mom and the others followed.

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Heading for adventure.

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Mom kept an eye on the flotilla.

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This is fun!

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To swim or to climb?

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. . . or maybe eat!

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One mother Mallard seems to have an adopted duckling.

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A mother’s love!

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Very young and very cute!

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And not to be left out. The “Hey wait, what about me!”, Baltimore Oriole.

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A Baltimore Oriole at waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

Be Quick or You’ll Miss Them

One of the rights of spring that my wife and I truly enjoy is looking for the early spring wildflowers. These are the flowers that came out before the forest canopy leafs out and blocks the light. Some appear for only a day or two so there are years that we miss them altogether. Some are very small and easy to miss unless you look very carefully. Others are fairly rare so you count your good fortune when you see them. All are beautiful in their own way. The flowers below were all seen in central Ohio above and below the dam at Griggs and Hoover Parks not far from where we live.

click on the images for a better look

Toadshade Trillium, common but only if you look in the right place!

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At this point the leaves are competing with the flowers for our attention. In a few days a purple flower should appear. (Donna)

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The purple flower is yet to come. (Donna)

 

The Snow Trillium is smaller than the more common later blooming trilliums and is rare in central Ohio.

 

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Snow Trillium, not real common in central Ohio so we were fortunate to see this one.

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Snow Trillium, (Donna)

 

Duchman’s Breeches are fairly common and a close look when the flowers are fully developed will make you smile.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, a little early the flowers are still coming out. It will be better in a couple of days.

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A closer look, (Donna)

Cutleaf Toothwort

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Cutleaf Toothwort, a few days before it blooms, (Donna)

 

 

Blood Root has a nice sized but fragile and short lived flower.

 

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Blood Root, (Donna)

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Bloodroot

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

 

Hepatica is fairly common.

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Hepatica

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Hepatica, study 2, (Donna)

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Hepatica, study 3

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Hepatica, study 4, (Donna)

 

Virginia Waterleaf

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Virginia waterleaf, the leaves are beautiful but loose this appearance as spring progresses, (Donna)

 

Harbinger of Spring, a very small, very close to the ground, flower.

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Harbinger of Spring, (Donna)

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I took a break from the wildflowers so that a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets could again show me just how difficult they can be to photograph. As they fluttered from branch to branch, never stopping for more than a fraction of a second, even on a single point focus setting the camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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Trust me! It’s a Golden-crowned Kinglet

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, take two.

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Thanks for stopping by.

White-winged Scoters on Griggs Reservoir

It’s always exciting when something unexpected is discovered. Since Griggs Reservoir and the park that runs along a portion of it’s eastern shore are located within the city limits of Columbus, our expectations are not always real high when it comes to seeing unusual wildlife. Such was the case during yesterday’s walk along the reservoir.

It was a cold, windy, but sunny day and the even though the temperature was below freezing the ice was mostly off the reservoir due to recent warm weather and heavy rains. The first thing we noticed was the unusually high number of Ring-billed Gulls. Some were in large groups and others scattered about. Some were in the water and other were relaxing on the numerous ice rafts still floating in the reservoir.

It soon became obviouse what was attracting the gulls. Numerous dead, but remarkable “fresh” looking, shad were on the ice, in the water, and along the shore. Recent high water and turbidity, rapid rain induced temperature fluctuations, and lack of oxygen due to the winter’s heavy ice cover may have all led to their demise.

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Ring-billed Gull with shad, Griggs Reservoir

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir

With the reservoir mostly free of ice waterfowl had dispersed from open water areas in the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. We saw Goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers, and Ringed Necks. Unfortunately they were all swimming along the opposite shore so no National Geographic quality photos were possible and those taken fell into the category of data acquisition.

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Common Goldeneye, Griggs Reservoir

But the highlight of our day was the unexpected sighting of six White-winged Scoters.

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White-winged Scoters, Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

From The Living Room Sofa

It’s been very cold the last few days. As I write this, the thermometer is hovering around zero. Having lived many years north of here in Michigan, I don’t think of zero degrees as being terribly cold but it can be dangerous. Something as simple as a road trip may pose a serious health risk, rather than just an annoyance, if one has a breakdown. I must confess that I’ve been just a little frustrated, while one can dress for the temperature, it’s been too cold to comfortably use a camera outdoors for any length of time. So, for the last few days our outdoor photography has been very limited.

Careful to keep all exposed skin covered, we did go for a short walk yesterday. When it’s colder than @ 15 degrees F we take our small cameras because they can easily be kept warm by placing them under several layers of clothing. A combination of fresh snow, wind, the right humidity, and cold temperatures overnight, resulted in the creation of “snow rollers”. It’s been years since I’ve seen this phenomena so it was very fascinating. They seemed to be just about everywhere a little open space was available, including the frozen surface of the reservoir.

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Snow rollers

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Snow rollers, Griggs Reservoir, study 2

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Snow rollers, Griggs Reservoir, study 3

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Snow rollers, study 4

Birds were trying to stay warm in the river below the dam, and were even more huddled together than they had been a few days earlier. Despite the cold, we did manage to see Goldeneyes, Redheads, Hooded Mergansers, and Ring-necks.

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Waterfowl in the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, temp about 6 degrees F

Today, the lower temperatures resulted in increased activity around our feeders which allowed a few pics to be taken from the comfort of the living room sofa. The sparrows, cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and wrens appear to be totally adaptable to temperature as long as they have adequate food. The wrens and sparrows put a smile on my face with their feathers puffed up against the cold. Without realizing it, they will provide cheerfulness for a few more days until the severe cold releases it’s grip.

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Nuthatch, by Donna

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Song Sparrow

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Carolina Wren

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Cardinal

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, by Donna

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, study 2

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, study 3

A Japanese Garden

Several years ago we began a regular practice of walking in Griggs Reservoir Park which occupies a portion of the eastern shore of a reservoir by the same name. The park isn’t far from our home in Upper Arlington so being able to walk to a beautiful spot, without necessarily using a car, was a real plus.

Griggs Reservoir from the Park

A view of Griggs Reservoir from the park.

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At first we just walked, but it wasn’t long before we started to notice the variety of plants and wildlife and were surprised by what we sere seeing. It was made more special because it was all happening right within the city limits of Columbus. Soon a small pair of binoculars and a camera accompanied us on our outings. The rest of this story is documented in our many blog entries so I’ll move on to the “garden”.

Mink along Griggs Reservoir

Mink along Griggs Reservoir

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For the most part things seen included; flowers, insects, snakes, birds, and fossils. However, along with the good stuff there were, beverage containers, cigarette butts, fast food packaging, fishing line, and the ever present plastic shopping bags, etc. Walking along the shore litter seemed to be everywhere. On one of our first outings, we saw a Great Blue Heron with several beer cans at it’s feet. Anger was soon followed by a feeling of helplessness. I thought about picking the “stuff” up, but people would always liter. An area cleaned up would only stay that way for a few hours or maybe a day.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Blue Jay

Blue Jay in the brush at Griggs Park

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My anger may have been more about feeling helpless than anything else, so directing that energy into something positive, with trash bag in hand, I started to picking it up. At first just a little bit at a time because with camera and binoculars in hand as there were always other things to look at. Soon my wife, realizing my incurable condition, joined in. We were often encouraged by the thought that trash begets trash so maybe if it was picked it up there wouldn’t be as much next time. As time passed, it didn’t feel so much like work or an imposition largely because we were often rewarded by the sight of an Osprey or Wood Duck after liberating a beer can from a tangle of brush. And who knows, while picking up a pile of cigarette butts, the contents of someone’s ashtray, we might notice a fossil in a nearby rock. Feelings of apathy, helplessness, and anger started to gave way to a feeling of empowerment and satisfaction. We were at least leaving it better than we found it.

Stump, Griggs Park

Stump, Griggs Park

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Once I mentioned to my wife that I felt closer to “God” on these walks. Picking up the cans, bottles, and whatever else, was becoming a form of prayer, a way of giving thanks for all that is good. I’m not sure she bought into my “epiphany” at first, but several years later we’re still picking up trash. It’s always there. Recently we haven’t noticed quite as much. It might be that other’s have also started picking it up.

Griggs Park Path

Griggs Reservoir Park Path

Reflections on the reservoir

Reflections on Griggs Reservoir.

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The wonder of it all isn’t just that we are now more likely to see a bird than a bottle. It’s that through our intention and action, we experience a greater connection with the place and value it more. It has become very special, perhaps sacred, a part of us. Sharing this thought with a friend recently, he responded that our actions reminded him of a Japanese Garden. Thinking for a moment, I realized that what he said had merit and understood a little more why someone might feel led to tend a garden. Through our action we have gotten so much more than we’ve given. This place, located in the middle of the city, passed by thousands each day on their daily commute, scrunched between the road and the water, and seemingly placed there almost as an afterthought, has become our Japanese Garden.

Sycamore

Sycamore

Water's edge

Water’s edge

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Thanks for stopping by.

Winter Photo Experiments

Just a few days ago it was above freezing and while out walking we met a fella fishing below the dam on Griggs Reservoir. Today, after about 5 inches of fresh snow, we woke up with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit. We decided to spend the morning making arrangements for a birding trip to Florida.

After that task was out of the way, it seemed like a walk might be in order even though it had only warmed to around 10 degrees. We bundled up and headed out feeling a little better about the adventure because the strong winds of yesterday were gone.

I’ve always been fastened by the patterns and designs that wind makes in sand and, while not an incredibly original idea, thought it might be interesting to see what the wind had done to the recent snow. We also wondered what unusual natural phenomena may have resulted from the very cold temperatures. Also, what other types of pictures would be available given the low angle of the sun and the resultant high contrast.

So below are the results of our photo experiments:

Blades of grass defy the wind and snow.

Blades of grass defy the wind and snow.

Grass along the reservoir shore.

Grass along the reservoir shore.

Colors

Colors

Hanging on.

Hanging on.

or ice lily pads

Ice lily pads

Ice pancakes?

or ice pancakes?

Sun over the frozen reservoir about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Sun over the frozen reservoir about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Patterns and shadows.

Patterns and shadows.

The reservoir frozen smooth.

The reservoir frozen smooth, Donna.

Unusual ice formations on the reservoir.

Unusual ice formations, Donna.

Pigeons on wires.

Pigeons

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Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

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