Harbingers Of Spring

After our extended stay in Florida to escape the north’s cold cloudy winter weather I realize we’re not going to get much sympathy when we say that waiting for spring in Ohio can try one’s patience. Walking through the woods we remind ourselves to value each day for the gift that it is, but with autumns now bleached and faded leaves covering a seemingly lifeless forest floor it’s hard not to want for more.

Many of Ohio’s woods lack the conifers that bring color to the early spring woods further north, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

The water was running clear but the landscape was no more colorful along the river, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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However, taking a closer look at last years leaf litter one just might find the tiny Harbinger of Spring one of the seasons first wildflowers.

Harbinger of Spring, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Another look.

Profile, (Donna).

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The Snow Trillium is an uncommon wildflower that occurs only in very select undisturbed locations.

A nice group of three.

A group of two, (Donna)

Head on.

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Perhaps one of the prettiest plants to pop up through leaf litter in early spring is Virginia Waterleaf.

Virginia Waterleaf, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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As is often the case while making one’s way back to the trailhead, happy with the wildflowers and the day’s hike, other unexpected and wonderful things are seen.

An Eastern Towhee hides in a thicket, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A number of Golden-crowned Kinglets showed themselves along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam, (Donna).

Walking along Griggs Reservoir we heard a faint tapping and just saw a tail protruding from a newly formed nesting cavity. The tapping stopped and this Downy Woodpecker turned and peered out at us.

We spotted this Blue-winged Teal in a pond adjacent to the parking lot as we were finishing a hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Present in smaller numbers all winter in areas where there is open water, the population of Great Blue Herons has increased as the days get longer and the weather warms.

A Great Blue Heron waits for something edible to appear.

We’ve never seen them over-winter so when Great Egrets appear along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam each spring in breeding plumage it’s a real treat.

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The Great Egrets are the grand finale to this post and our recent time outdoors and they left us with a true sense of  spring’s wonder and magic.

Stump in the early spring woods.

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For those who expectedly seek it along a stream or wooded trail, nature speaks in a language beyond words.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

The Earliest Wildflowers

Some folks may be wondering what happened to “Central Ohio Nature” during the past two months so we thought we better post something to let everyone know we’re alive and well. Actually a little over a week ago, after a winter escape to Florida where we traveled to various state parks and explored numerous natural areas, we found ourselves back in Ohio. Two days of warm weather followed us home before the snow and cold returned on what just happened to be the first official day of spring.

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With camera, canoe, and hiking boots, and a small travel trailer in tow, we feel very blessed to have been able to spend time in warmer climes for a portion of the winter. For the nature lover the beauty, romance, and magic of Florida’s wild areas continually beckons one to explore.

Sunset, Myakka River State Park

Trail, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Bobcat tracks, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Great Blue Heron, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Gator, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Lily Pads on pond, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

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But I digress, this post is about central Ohio’s earliest wildflowers even though mid-March nature in Ohio doesn’t always beckon. One has to journey out with intention and look closely for the magic. The landscape is often rather drab as the below pictures of some of the more interesting features of the early spring woods will attest.

At Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park a vernal pool creates a point of interest in the otherwise still drab landscape. “Vernal pools (often the product of snow melt and early spring rain) are nurseries for a host of species. Big black and yellow spotted salamanders crawl silently along the pool floor to find a suitable place for egg-laying. Caddisflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and other invertebrates abound in these small, still waters. All of these species evolved larvae that develop relatively quickly before the pool dries out”. Ref: Adirondack Almanack.

Unlike the clear water in the previous picture this pool, a remnant of recent high water along Big Darby Creek, is supporting green algae no doubt fortified but agricultural runoff, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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On the last warm day before the snow, armed with my wife’s encouragement, off we went to look for Snow Trillium a favorite early spring wildflower. This small flower, perhaps an inch across, is not as common as it was in the past no doubt the result of habitat destruction. While we are aware of locations where it usually blooms, it’s never certain from one year to the next that it will be seen. An additional challenge is that the flowers don’t hang around long. Once located, we walk carefully and take pictures sparingly as the flower’s small size makes it difficult to see and easy to step on. In addition the soil on the ravine slope where it was blooming was easily disturbed.

Snow Trillium, Franklin County.

Snow Trillium take 2, Franklin County, (Donna).

Snow Trillium take 3, Franklin County, (Donna).

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Now more excited about our prospects, we set off to look for another favorite early spring wildflower, Harbinger of Spring, a few days later. This very small bloom, pollinated by commensurately small bees and flies, is much more common than the trillium. However, due to it’s very small size and the fact that it’s flowers are fleeting and fade away soon after they bloom, it is often missed.

Harbinger of Spring, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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As we continued to look for additional examples of Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring in the woods of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, other just starting to emerge wildflowers revealed their presence.

Emerging Virginia Bluebell, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica take 2, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 3, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 4, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Emerging Purple Cress, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Bloodroot, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot take 2. Still not open two hours after we first saw it, this flower will almost certainly loose at least one petal shortly after blooming making it a challeng to photograph.

Emerging Toadshade Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thinking it would be good to include a few critter pics in this post we couldn’t help but notice that we were being watched as we looked for signs of new life in the forest floor leaf litter.

Fox Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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That about wraps it up for this post. It’s good to be back and we look forward to sharing more experiences as spring unfolds in central Ohio. Also, we will undoubtedly share some of the special things seen during our recent stay in Florida. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXXX

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PS: Right within the city limits along the Scioto River near downtown Columbus, and a short 5 mile bike ride from our house, a new eagle’s nest has appeared. This is truly exciting for those of us who, given the ravages of DDT, would have had to travel a considerable distance to see such a thing in our youth.

Bald Eagle on nest, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

Spring Wildflowers? Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

The whole idea was to look for early spring wildflowers at one of our favorite Columbus metro parks. As you’ve probably remember us mentioning in the past, one of the good or bad things about looking for very small flowers hiding in last years leaf litter or in amongst other much larger plants is that you find other things, usually trash, but sometimes something very special, something you’ve never seen before. Such was the case yesterday on what turned out to be a seven mile ramble around the trails of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Many folks come to the park to see the bison, once native to Ohio.

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We hadn’t gone far when my wife spotted a very curious object. Arriving back home and checking was our rather limited guide to north American fungi we were able to come up with a fairly educated guess that it was Devil’s Urn, one of the earliest fungi to emerge in the spring.

Devil’s Urn

A little further on another unusual looking fungi was also spotted but this one’s identity remains a mystery.

Some type of polypore?

Turkey Tail, an example of a commonly seen fungi.

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Of coarse the real reason for the hike was the flowers and they didn’t disappoint.

Virginia Bluebells

Purple Cress

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Pink Rue Anemone

The easily overlooked very small flowers of the Harbinger-of-spring, (Donna).

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

Yellow Corydalis, (Donna).

As pretty as any flower, Virginia Waterleaf.

Due to it’s fragile and fleeting nature the flower of the Bloodroot is one of the more difficult to capture.

Immerging Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Take 2, (Donna).

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It’s hard to simultaneously look for wildflowers and birds but a few were hard to ignore, either because of their number or their song.

 

An Eastern Towhee in full song is hard to ignore.

 

At one point a large group of Golden-crowned Kinglets flittered about overhead.

Take two.

Several White-breasted Nuthatches provided a welcome diversion as they chased each other around the tree, (Donna).

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Anytime we discover something that we’ve never seen before it makes for a very special day. 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.

Looking For Spring

Some out of town travel has resulted in fewer posts in the last couple of weeks but now we’re back searching for plants, animals, and birds that will encourage us that spring, which so far has been too slow to green, leaf, and flower, is not that far away. Based on things seen while walking along the river recently, which included Turkey Buzzards, Double Crested Cormorants, and Tree Swallows, we are encouraged.

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Below are some things seen along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River in the last week:

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Along the Scioto River some area Bluebell plants are just emerging, (Donna)

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A few days later we see progress, (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort is getting ready to bloom, (Donna)

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Virginia Waterleaf doesn’t need to bloom to be beautiful, (Donna)

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A very close look at Harbinger of Spring reveals it’s beauty, (Donna)

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A solitary Trout Lilly bloom leads the way, (Donna)

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Spring Beauty does it’s best to add some color, (Donna)

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The Toad Shade Trillium are very close to blooming, (Donna)

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An island of unidentified green, (Donna)

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A Brown Creeper doing what it does best.

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Along the Scioto an Eastern Phoebe eludes a good picture. The first one seen this year..

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Eastern Phoebe along the Scioto.

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A White breasted Nuthatch finding lunch among the still bare branches

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White breasted Nuthatch

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Bloodroot, beautiful and one of the earliest wild flowers.

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

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Coltsfoot almost seeming to smile.

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Another view, (Donna).

 

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Buds getting ready to leaf out, (Donna)

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Common Chickweed is a welcome sight as it gets ready to bloom.

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We found still green Dutchmen’s Breaches along the river, (Donna)

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The fact is, if spring progressed any faster we would surely miss a lot. That’s something that undoubtedly happens anyway but at what seems like spring’s usual snails pace it feels like we at least have a chance to see it’s wonder.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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