Beauty In Transitions

It’s hard to think of the period between autumn color and the arrival of colder temperatures and a land covered in snow, as anything other than a time of transition. Ohio’s late November sepia-tone landscape makes one wish for somewhere else, past or future. If we find ourselves walking along a wooded trail or stream our curiosity is challenged in ways not encountered as spring unfolds into the warmth of an endless summer day. Better to be home in a favorite easy chair with the warm glow of a fireplace, a cat curled up on your lap, and a good book as the season’s birds occasionally visit the feeder just outside a nearby window. But the magic of late November is that, surrounded by muted color, the endlessly varied dance of birds not present or as easily noticed during other seasons, is hard to ignore. 

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A window into the future, wintry bare branches reflect on the surface of a small pool.

***

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A year round resident, the cheerful Carolina Wren comes into it’s own as the landscape darkens in late November.

*** (Donna)

Tufted Titmice seem more common this time of year. Some migrants from the north?

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***(Donna)

A Red-winged Blackbird confuses us by it’s presence. Shouldn’t you be further south?

***

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In perhaps it’s last “voice”, a oak leaf graces the surface of a small stream.

***

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Few leaves obscure our view as we watch the comical journey of a White-breasted Nuthatch as it forages for food.

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A tidbit (perhaps a spider’s egg sack) is found, (Donna)

Woodpeckers are noticed at almost every turn, some of which are undoubtedly also northern migrants.

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker, (Donna)

Red-belied Woodpecker, (Donna).

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Before being caught by the wind and carried away, a lone Sycamore leaf catches the morning sun.

***

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Gray Squirrels are common and always easy to spot but they’re not always so busy eating.

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Almost invisible when trees are fully adorned with leaves the nervous movement of Golden Crowned Kinglets catches our eye.

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***(Donna)

***

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On  mudflats left behind as a nearby reservoir is lowered for the season, a solitary oak leaf comes to rest.

Oak leaf

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With feeders out, other birds brighten the day with their presence.

House Finch

American Cardinal

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

But not far away, a Cooper’s Hawk waits.

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Autumn’s fading color comes to rest among stream-side rocks.

Scioto River landscape.

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In the chill of the morning, birds enjoy the river without complaint.

An American Robin takes a bath.

Cedar Waxwings stop for a drink.

Blending into the bark, unless your eye catches it’s movement, the Brown Creeper is almost impossible to spot.

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“Snowbirds”, the presence of Dark-eyed Juncos alert us of what is to come.

***(Donna)

***

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Transforming place, an ephemeral first snow blankets the ground.

***

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As a metaphor for life, the passing seasons, particularly early spring and late autumn, may have something to teach us when in the midst of life transitions we wish for somewhere else. Perhaps the key is to look closer, be open to the beauty of the present time and place, and then in that moment allow ones self to be caught in it’s embrace.

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Thanks for stopping by.

***

The Orioles Fledge

It seems like just a few days ago that the Baltimore Orioles arrived in central Ohio. But in the bird world things happen fast and now their young are ready to fledge. Spring offers up a bounty of insects and berries so whether it’s a warbler or an oriole it’s no accident that it’s a popular time to raise young. Chickadees have also fledged and we were fortunate to be able to observe the young begging for the next morsel the parents offered up. 

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Mature Baltimore Oriole at the nest in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Someone wants breakfast.

Breakfast is served.

Food keeps coming whether in the nest or out, (Donna).

Not long before the first flight.

.   .   .   and finally away from the nest.

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Two young Carolina Chickadees beg for a meal in Griggs Reservoir Park.

They’re not much smaller than the adults.

And just as cute!

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were also observed busily flying about perhaps also collecting food for their young.

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher in Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Some mom’s seemed to have a little more than they could deal with.

Female Mallard with young in Griggs Reservoir.

But that doesn’t seem to bother the males.

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While looking for fledglings we were charmed by the presence of other birds in Griggs reservoir Park.

A Catbird sings.

With the presence of berry rich trees Cedar Waxwings were everywhere.

My wife spotted this Hairy Woodpecker, a bird not often seen in the park, (Donna).

A Spotted Sandpiper forages on a log in the rain swollen reservoir.

This Great Crested Flycatcher has a nest somewhere nearby.

It won’t be long before we see this Kingbird with young.

Redwing Blackbird nests are always hard to find but this female is happy to pose for a picture, (Donna).

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Even with the departure of most warblers a couple of weeks ago, there was still plenty of bird activity to observe in the park.

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Hay, what about me!

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Thanks for stopping by.

***

 

A Spring Gift Along The Reservoir

This post covers some of the birds as well as other things that have been seen along the Scioto River corridor in central Ohio in the past few days. Many of the birds seen will continue their migratory journey further north. It’s a magical time of year as green spaces, especially those along lakes and rivers, are transformed by the sights and sounds of birds perhaps not seen other times of the year.

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Some birding days are better than others. In the spring a strong wind from the north usually means more birds. A wind from the south seems to send them on their way. All the birds may seem to be in the treetops one day while the next they’re at eye level making an impossible subject easy to photograph. While no one can guarantee what will be seen, even an inexpensive pair of binoculars will greatly increase your chances of seeing birds allowing you to enter their world and appreciate creatures with such unique beauty that it’s sometimes hard to believe.

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Everyone has their own way of appreciating nature, while we do make a point of traveling to more distant locations, we try to concentrate on a few areas close to home, observing the changes as the year progresses. A benefit of visiting a “favorite spot” often is that one is blessed with a sense of ownership, not in a possessive sense, but rather as a caring participant. A litter bag is always part of our equipment as it’s especially hard to walk by litter after one has just seen a Scarlet Tanager. The real plus is that through listening, looking (perhaps taking a picture), and allowing myself to be in the place, I’m extended beyond myself to a larger whole. Through this experience, which I once heard referred to as “a prayer”, I become richer and more grateful.

 

Griggs Park along the reservoir.

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A few days ago my wife was looking for warblers right along the river as I did likewise along a some trees a little further away from the water.  She was paying attention to the low lying brush at water’s edge when she decided to look up into the overhead tree branches and found herself confronting a much larger bird.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto River just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam, it didn’t stay long .   .   .

before it flew across the river .   .   .

to a safer perch. (Donna).

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Out of the corner of my eye I did see the eagle as it flew by but right in front of me there was a Great Crested Flycatcher. What to do, a flycatcher in the bush or a flying eagle. I chose the bird in the bush.

Great-created Flycatcher along the Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir Dam..

Take 2.

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Warblers are surprisingly small when compared to the Great Created Flycatcher but make up for their size in quantity. Many, including Cape May and Yellow-rumped, continue to be seen.

Black and White warbler, Emily Traphagen Park.

Take 2.

Male American Redstart, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Redstart with mayfly, Griggs Park.

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It’s hard to ignore the orioles which continue to be very common. Right now there are so many in Griggs Park that it’s quite possible that only a few will nest here with the remainder heading further north.

Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

Female Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

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It was a real treat to see our first Cedar waxwings of the year.

Cedar Waxwings, they handed the berry back and forth several times. Griggs Park.

Cedar Waxwings, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Red-eyed Vireos are often spotted in dense treetop leaf cover but every once in a while they come down so we can get a better look.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park.

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An Acadian Flycatcher was also seen.

Acadian Flycatcher? Griggs Park.

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We first spotted a streak of white, black, and red. Open landing the Rose Breasted Grosbeak played hide and seek as it chowed down on what were apparently very tasty seeds.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park.

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Another bird seen only during spring migration is the Scarlet Tanager.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

Just a minute.

There, that’s better.

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Morning sun and leaves, Griggs Park.

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The Swainson’s Thrush is usually only seen during migration.

Swainson’s Thrushes were everywhere in Griggs Park.

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Our first Kingbird of the year along Griggs Reservoir. Some will stick around to nest in the park.

Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We also noticed a few “non-bird” type things.

Immature male Common Whitetail, Emily Traphagen Park.

False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Female Black Swallowtail, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

The Northern Water snake orgy goes on, see previous post, (Donna).

A Woodchuck tries to blend in, Griggs Park.

Wild Columbine, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna). This photo was inspired by one of our birding friends.

A chipmunk poses, Duranceaux Park.

Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Zebulon Skipper, Emily Traphagen Park. (Donna).

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We can’t forget all the other birds seen in the past week. Many of these are year round or summer residents.

A very noisy Winter Wren, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park.

Hidden in the leaf cover an immature Eastern Phoebe waits for it’s next meal, Duranceaux Park.

Blue Jays continue to be industrious, Griggs Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker looks for a meal in Emily Traphagen Park.

The beautiful marking of a Northern Flicker are clearly seen as it briefly pauses overhead, Griggs Park.

Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park.

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Hairy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

Easy eats may be why we’ve seen so many Great Egrets along the reservoir and river this spring, (Donna).

Great Egrets, Griggs Park

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With spring in full swing, there’s almost too much is going on, but we hope everyone enjoyed this photographic celebration of spring in central Ohio.

Griggs Reservoir Cove, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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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. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

“Black Lagoon” Crayfish and Things Eating Things

Well not exactly the Black Lagoon (recalling a movie from childhood), but while I was in Michigan fishing my wife continued to explore the areas around our home in central Ohio. One morning between heavy rain storms she observed some rather interesting behavior by the local crayfish population in Griggs Reservoir as they gathered along the shore and then partially crawled out of the water. We spent some time researching crayfish (did you know there are 20 species in Ohio?), trying to understand this behavior but to no avail. Our only guess is it had something to do with the recent heavy rains.

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The Griggs Reservoir crayfish seemed to be waiting in line to peer above the water’s service, (Donna).

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One rather large specimen takes his time looking around, (Donna).

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It became a group activity.

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Upon my return we spent time paddling Griggs Reservoir as well as exploring Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for late summer dragonflies and butterflies. At Prairie Oaks we arrived about 20 seconds to late, according to our hiking companions, to witness a garden spider making quick work of a dragonfly that it had captured in it’s web. That spider was fast!

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Unfortunate dragonfly, Prairie Oaks

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Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

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.   .   .  and continuing with the same theme, just a few days earlier my wife caught this robber fly enjoying lunch at the expense of a careless bee.

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Robber Fly, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Also courtesy of my wife sharp eye, one last series of photos dealing with things eating other things.

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Double-crested Cormorant attempts to eat a Crappie on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ultimately, the Crappie being just a little too big to swallow, swam away, (Donna).

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We don’t usually consider ourselves a food source so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that if a creature is not in the process of being eaten, it is usually searching for or waiting to ambush it’s next meal, or if successful, eating it. Spending time in nature guarantees one will witness such things from time to time. In the last few days not everything seen has been in the process of eating or engaged in some unusual hard to explain behavior. Some things were just posing for the camera.

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There were butterflies, some of which like the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue are very small.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Viceroys, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Summer Azure, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Juvenal’s Duskywing (F), Griggs Reservoir.

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Dragonflies.

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Griggs Reservoir.

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Common Whitetail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Calico Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Powdered Dancer (Blue form), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ebony Jewelwing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Pondhawk, Griggs Reservoir

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Moths, they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes.

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Chickweed Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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and other things.

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Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Common Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Bumblebee on False Dragonhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Arrowroot, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Map Turtle with friend, Griggs reservoir, (Donna).

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Loaded with pollen, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Solitary Sand Wasp, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh yes, we have been seeing birds and a few posed for a picture.

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Hairy Woodpeckers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Mallards creating reflection art, Griggs Reservoir.

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Once again we find ourselves amazed at what is seen right under our nose in central Ohio. Should you be curious about such things, but not inclined to try your hand at photography, get a pair of binoculars, preferably a pair with close focus capability, and a new world will be opened to you! Thanks for stopping by.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir from the canoe, (Donna).

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****

Open To Nature’s Possibilities

Now that the spring migration is tapering off expectations need to be adjusted when visiting a local park or taking a walk in the woods. For birders it’s all about avoiding the big letdown after several weeks where each outing meant wondering what new warbler the day would bring. On a recent hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, even if one was lucky enough to catch a glimpse, many birds soon disappeared into the leaf cover.  Perhaps it’s time to diversify and look for other things, fungi, flowers, and non-warbler type birds.

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With this in mind we headed for the aforementioned park remembering that it’s a good place to see Indigo Buntings.

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Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Take 2.

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A few other Battelle Darby birds were also cooperative, if only just.

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Common Yellowthroat, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Female Yellow Warbler? Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Eastern Spotted Towhee, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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White-eyed Vireo, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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It was hard not to notice the early summer wild flowers along park trails whether at Battelle Darby or closer to home..

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Appendaged Waterleaf, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Spiderwort, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Miami Mist, look but don’t touch! Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Hawkweed, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Blackberry blooms, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Common Cinquefoil, , Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

 

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Sweet Cicely, Griggs Park, (Donna)

 

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Angelica, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

 

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Purple Rocket, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Forget Me Not, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Blue Flag Iris, Griggs Park.

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Philadelphia Fleabane, Griggs Park.

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Multiflora Rose, Griggs Park.

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Yellow Flag Iris, Griggs Park.

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English Plantain, very common but with it’s own unique beauty, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Once thought of as an alternative when we weren’t seeing birds insects have now become fascinating in their own right.

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Mating Golden-backed Snipe Flies, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Six-spotted Green Tiger beetle, , Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna).

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Eastern-tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Not a flower, insect, or bird my wife nonetheless noticed this very small but beautiful fungi.

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Scarlet Cup, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Closer to home there were also things to see, the first humming bird of the year at O’Shaugnessy Nature Preserve and a hawk with prey at Griggs Park.

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Certainly not a National Geographic quality pic but it was a FOY Ruby-throated Hummingbird, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area.

 

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Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Take 2.

 

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Nesting Prothonotary Warbler along the Scioto below Griggs dam, (Donna).

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Cowbirds, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Griggs Park.

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Female Hairy Woodpecker, Griggs Park.

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

 

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Baltimore Oriole seen while kayaking on Griggs Reservoir.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk with squirrel, Griggs Park

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And a few other creatures also caught our attention.

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Eastern Spiny Softshell seen while kayaking on Griggs Reservoir.

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Leopard Frogs, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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That’s about it for this post. We always wonder if we’re going to run out of things that fascinate and enchant. Fortunately in nature the more you look the more you see.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Quiet afternoon, Griggs Reservoir.

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XXX

 

 

 

November Dragonflies

Yesterday we thought a visit Prairie Oaks Metro Park was in order to see if the park ponds were home to any migrating waterfowl. After checking out the ponds it was hoped that the nearby woods might contain other migrating birds.

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Oak leaves provide a splash of autumn color.

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The ponds did produce a few Pie-billed Grebes   .   .   .   ,

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Pie-billed Grebes.

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and turtles,

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Red-eared Sliders enjoy the autumn sun, (Donna).

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but not much else.

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In the woods birds were heard but few would pose for a photograph.

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Hairy Woodpecker

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While I was looking up, my wife was looking down. Fortunately, recent rains made the fungi a little more cooperative.

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Bearded Tooth, a type of fungi we don’t often see.

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Oyster Mushroom, (Donna)

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Changing Pholiota, (Donna)

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Resinous Polypore, (Donna)

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Orange Jelly, (Donna).

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While I missed out on most of the fungi, I did manage to photograph a rather illusive stump.

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An old stump surrounded by fallen leaves always causes one to wonder what the area was like years ago.

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By November we’ve pretty much stopped thinking about insects. Even on a warm day one doesn’t expect to see much so we were pretty excited when dragonflies and butterflies started to appear. Apparently, even after a number of freezing nights, some just don’t give up easily.

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Eastern Comma

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A female Green Darner blends in, (Donna). These dragonflies are some of the first to appear in the spring and the last to be seen in the fall.

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Autumn Meadowhawk, (Donna), As the name implies another dragonfly that is seen late into the year.

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Another view, (Donna)

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There were spots, mostly near low lying creeks, where the water’s surface reflected autumn color as sunlight found it’s way through the few remaining leaves.

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Reflections

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But mostly it found it’s way around the many now bare branches without much trouble.

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The Big Darby

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Even at less generous times of the year, we’re almost always amazed by some unexpected discovery when in the woods. Today it was the dragonflies and butterflies. Something I need to remind myself of when I’m having one of those “hard to get off the sofa” days.

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*****

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Often, for folks fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time in nature, the “us versus everything else” paradigm starts to break down. The all, of which we are a part, begins to become one. For our survival that’s inevitably how we must think, and if we’re lucky, it will also be our experience.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Along the Scioto, a Late Winter Celebration of Birds

With Griggs Reservoir frozen over we’ve continued our efforts to identify waterfowl in the open river just below the dam. As mentioned in previous posts the frozen reservoir tends to concentrate the birds in this area. We continued to see Goldeneyes, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, as well as Bald Eagles and hawks in this area. My wife even noticed a White-winged Scoter in one of her pics but didn’t feel it was good enough to post

On the day we took most of the below pictures the birds were showing a real inclination to take flight whenever we got close. We haven’t paid much attention to the color of our clothing so we switched to drabber colors hoping to improve our success with the ducks. It didn’t seem to make much difference. We’re now thinking that they notice our movement even if it’s very slow.

Click on images for a better view.

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Goldeneyes

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The Goldeneyes scatter.

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Hey, wait for me!  (Donna)

The Common Mergansers were also flying:

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Male Common Merganser

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Taking off!  (Donna)

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Up to speed in just a few feet.

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A very fast getaway!

Some ducks seemed content not to fly.

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Ring-necked Duck

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Greater Scaup

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Bufflehead, (Donna)

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Bufflehead, study 2

In recent days we’ve noticed that a Red-tailed Hawk has initiated nesting activities high in a Sycamore along the west bank of the river.

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Red-tailed Hawk on nest, west side of the Scioto River just below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

The highlight of the day was sighting this mature Bald Eagle:

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Bald Eagle along the Scioto River just below Griggs Dam

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Taking flight!

Perhaps one of it’s offspring, cruising above the trees not far away.

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Immature Bald Eagle over the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

We’ve had fun trying to identify this immature hawk spotted in the parking lot of Hoover Park’s Frisbee Golf Course:

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Immature Red-shouldered Hawk?

My wife got a beautiful picture of a White-throated Sparrow and we obtained pics of other birds that seemed to be sitting on the side line as the eagles and ducks entertained us.

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White-throated Sparrow, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Male Hairy Woodpecker

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Male Cardinal, Donna

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Thanks for stopping by.

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