A Spring Wildflower Wonderland

A few days ago we thought we’d better take the hour and a half drive south from Columbus to Miller Sanctuary State Nature Preserve and Highlands Nature Sanctuary to check out the spring wildflowers before they bid us farewell for the year. Both destinations are located within an area commonly referred to as the Arc of Appalachia which is comprised of numerous beautiful undisturbed natural areas no matter what the time of year you choose to visit. 

An area map showing the location of access points for the areas we explored.

Our first stop was the Miller Sanctuary which has about three miles of trails. Even though the trails are not long one should allow plenty of time as the number of wildflowers is truly amazing and it will take time if one wants to adequately appreciate them.

Remember: you can click on the images should you desire a better view.

Golden Ragwort, common throughout Ohio, was one of the first wildflowers to greet us as we started down the trail.

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When one thinks of the Large Flowered Trillium one usually thinks of a white flower but the images below show the change in color as the bloom ages.

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In a very small area one can see a variety of wildflowers.

Blue phlox, rue-anemone, trillium.

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A closer look reveals the delicate beauty of Blue Phlox.

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William.

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The Rue-anemone blossoms were hard to ignore.

Rue-anemone, (Donna).

From another angle.

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Fiddleheads grace the bank of the Rocky Fork River.

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A little further on there was another nice grouping.

Virginia Bluebells, Large Flowered Trillium, and Miterwort.

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The Miterwort flower is so small that from a distance it doesn’t even appear to be a flower but if one takes a closer look  .   .   .

Miterwort or Bishop’s Cap.

.   .   . and closer still, (Donna).

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While certainly not uncommon throughout Ohio, Virginia Bluebells were also present in the sanctuary.

Virginia Bluebells.

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Redbuds accent the Rocky Fork landscape.

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The large boulders and rocky cliffs provided an excellent habitat for Wild Columbine.

Wild Columbine, (Donna).

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A real treat were the Shooting Stars, a flower we don’t often see closer to home.

Shooting Star, (Donna).

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May Apples carpet the forest floor but we were a bit early to see their flowers.

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We were greeted by more wildflowers as we continued along the trail.

Very tiny Bluets

Goldenseal, (Donna).

Emerging Squawroot. A native perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant that grows from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Donna).

Large-Flowered Bellwort, (Donna).

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The sanctuary contain a sizable stand of large Tulip trees.

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Canada Violets, (Donna).

Blue Cohosh, the yellowish flower clusters ripen into berries that eventually turn deep blue.

Nestled under the plant’s leaves close to the ground one really needs to look to see the flower of the Wild Ginger plant, (Donna).

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Trilliums line the bank of a small feeder stream.

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Wild Geranium.

Star Chickweed.

Moving in a little closer, (Donna).

Jack In The Pulpit, (Donna).

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The beauty of wildflowers complimented by the sight and sound of a small waterfall.

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Just on the other side of the Rocky Fork River were trails contained in Highlands Nature Sanctuary. We choose to hike the spectacular Barrett Rim Trail. While many of the wildflowers were the same, the dramatic rocky outcropping brought an additional dimension.

One section of the trail runs between the river and these cliffs.

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Certainly not the showiest the blossoms of the Pawpaw were just emerging.

Pawpaw.

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As with Miller, Large Flowered Trillium lined the trail in many places.

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The extensive groups of Celandine or Wood-Poppy were a real treat. A plant we didn’t see in the Miller Sanctuary.

We were surprised by their number.

Wood Poppy, a closer look.

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It’s easy to see how the Rocky Fork River got its name.

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Perhaps the most exciting discovery on our two-mile hike was one solitary flower that was new to us.

Wood Betony.

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After five miles of hiking and countless wildflowers we returned home excited about the possibility of a return visit. For those interested in checking things out this year there have still been reports of wildflowers, some of which are “new arrivals” that we didn’t see, as I post this a week later.

Another view along the Rocky Fork River.

There are times when a walk in the woods provides more than it’s share of encouragement to again be in nature. Thanks for stopping by.

A Special Place In Michigan

At least once a year for the last number of years we’ve traveled seven hours from central Ohio to the expansive 4500 acre Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. With it’s fairly extensive system of hiking and mountain bicycling trails, plus lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s a beautiful quiet nature lovers paradise. The park’s woods contain conifers, including some fairly large White Pine, as well as deciduous trees like oak and maple making it home to a great diversity of insects, plants, birds, and animals. The park has two campgrounds, one with electrical hookups, and one that is rustic. We prefer “tent” camping in the Devoe Lake rustic campground with it’s pit toilets and handpumps, whether in our small trailer or in a tent, because the sites are bigger, more secluded, and a variety of birds often come right to your campsite. In addition the rustic campground communicates with park’s best hiking trails without the need to get in your car.

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Park Map.

A south loop hiking trail cuts through meadows interspersed with stands of trees that attract numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies not mention birds such as Indigo Buntings that love that type of habitat.

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South Trail

The northern loop takes the hiker on much more rolling terrain interspersed with swamps and culminating along a ridge that provides a panoramic view of four of the parks lakes.

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Grousehaven Lake from the park loop road.

The lakes offer a variety of fish species to attract the angler including Brook and Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and panfish.

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Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

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Many of the lakes just outside the park boundary offering public access are heavily developed with boat and dock filled shorelines and large year round homes which in recent years have replaced many smaller cabins set back in the trees. Some of the larger multistory dwellings seem almost ready to topple into the lake giving these small bodies of water more the feel of a large recreational swimming pool. Even so, the lakes do offer good fishing even if with somewhat diminished natural aesthetic. However, if communing with nature is your goal, it is worth it to travel away from the park to the nearby Au Sable River and it’s chain of lakes which offer a rewarding undeveloped destination for the photographer, fisherman, and nature lover.

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Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Within the park, even without a very special species of bird, there is ample reason to  return year after year to enjoy the park’s beauty. But the very special bird that makes the park so irresistible is the Common Loon. Numbers seen vary year to year but they’re always there with their haunting cry breaking the silence of the night. To our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting loons can be found.

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Common Loon

 

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With young, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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Meal time, (Donna).

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The young are growing fast.

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Lodge Lake.

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An equally enchanting bird usually seen on Grebe Lake is the Trumpeter Swan. During one paddle the call of the adults across the lake gave ample evidence as to how they got their name.

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Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

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Another look.

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Being old enough to remember when they suffered the ravages of DDT and were very rare Bald Eagles always have a high wow factor. We had a number of sightings in the park and at least five the day we paddled Loud Pond along the Au Sable River.

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I control the canoe and my wife often takes the pictures.

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Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

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Donna get’s a picture of one of the Bald Eagles seen on Loud Pond.

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Equally fascinating were the other birds seen during our hikes and paddles.

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A Great Crested Flycatcher over looks a meadow on the south trail.

 

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An immature Great Crested Flycatcher asks to be fed, (Donna).

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A Catbird puts everything into it’s song, (Donna).

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A good day for the Cedar Waxwing, not so much for the dragonfly, (Donna).

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Along the south trail in the very top of a tree a Chestnut-sided Warbler sings it’s heart out, (Donna).

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A Green Heron makes a living along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Too far away for a good pic, perhaps an immature Rose Breasted Grosbeak?

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Ever on the lookout for flying insects, like sentry’s Kingbirds lined the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Another look, (Donna).

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Near water’s edge a Kingbird sits on it’s nest, (Donna).

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Donna catches this female Kingfisher along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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A Tree Swallow party along the shore of Devoe Lake,(Donna).

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Numerous Rose Breasted Grosbeaks were seen but they proved a challenge to photograph, (Donna).

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Spotted sandpiper along the shore of Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

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The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know we love dragonflies. While butterflies may initially catch your eye very few creatures fascinate in the air like the  dragonfly. But the relationship fraught with conflict because we also love birds and the dragonflies maneuverability is often not enough to avoid becoming a tasty high protein snack.

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Calico Pennant, (Donna).

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Female Ruby Meadowhawk

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Blue Dasher, (Donna).

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Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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This Damsel fly on flower illustrates the capability 0f the micro 4/3rds Panasonic (Leica) 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

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Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

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Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

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Female Calico Pennant.

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Male Halloween Pennant.

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Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

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Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

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Most of the time when we take a picture we have a pretty good idea what the subject is. When we don’t part of the fun is during the research to figure out what it is. So far the ID of this rather nondescript dragonfly remains a mystery.

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The Vesper Bluet is a late afternoon and evening damselfly, (Donna).

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Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

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River Jewelwing seen along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

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The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

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Butterflies live a rough life. Subject to the effects of rain, wind, sun and sometimes attempted predation they often become rather tattered with age. Like wildflowers much of their magic come from the fact that they are only here for a short time. During this most recent visit it was interesting because we didn’t see as many as expected and often the ones seen were rather tattered. However, the few that were in nice enough shape to merit a photograph took up the slack.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

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Northern Pearly-eye

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Northern Pearly-eye another view.

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American Copper, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna).

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Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

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Peck’s Skipper with a partially shaded wing explores an iris.

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Northern Cloudywing Skipper

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Eastern Comma.

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Monarch, (Donna).

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The very small and seldom seen Banded Hairstreak, (Donna).

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No matter when one visits the park in spring and summer there are some flowers that are seen and some that are not. Turtleheads and Cardinal flowers usually appear in August so we missed them this year but others were present.

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Certainly not a flower but one of a number of very large White Pines in the park. How do you capture it’s impressive size in a photograph?

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St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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Yellow Water Lily

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Black-eyed Susan’s appear to take flight, (Donna).

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This American Wintergreen was growing in a very moist area, (Donna).

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Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

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Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

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Water Lily.

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Water Lily times two, (Donna).

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A hover fly checks out a water lily.

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Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

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Small and very common in the meadow areas along the south trail this one has eluded identification.

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Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

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New Jersey Tea or Wild Snowball, interestingly it has been used for treated such things as gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, cough, fever, chills, spasms, bleeding, . . . “.

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Monkey Flower, (Donna).

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Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

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Indian Pipe, (Donna).

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

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Fern.

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At their peak these Picture Plant flowers will turn a deep burgundy. See below for the leaves.

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The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

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Daisy Fleabane, very small, very common, very beautiful.

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Early morning on Grebe Lake.

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When out on a day’s hike looking for birds, flowers, or butterflies it’s hard not to notice other things and sometimes they become the most memorable.

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Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

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Pixie Cups, north trail.

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We saw quite a bit of this colorful fungi the day we hiked the south trail.

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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle along the trail, (Donna).

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American Toad, (Donna).

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Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

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A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

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British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

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Early July is apparently not the best time for fungi. This was one of the few not very colorful examples seen.

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Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

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A Map Turtle catches a few rays, (Donna).

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A large Porcupine is spotted along the south trail, (Donna).

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So much natural diversity in one Michigan state park! This year we left the park wishing for a few more days to explore, to look more closely with intention, to breath in the fragrance of balsam, or just to gaze up into the splendor of the green canopy of trees surrounding our campsite. Perhaps that’s the best way to leave.

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Devoe Lake.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Central Ohio Springs Ramblings

In the last few days we’ve been on hikes with friends as well as dedicated birding trips to various parks in Columbus and central Ohio and even when we weren’t trying real hard we’ve seen some amazing things. Hope you enjoy this early May photographic journey through spring in central Ohio.

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Hobblebush, Glenn Echo Ravine, “the shrub forms large clusters of white to pink flowers in May–June. Flowers provide nectar for the Spring Azure butterfly. The large showy flowers along the edge of the cluster are sterile, while the small inner flowers have both male and female parts”.

 

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Hobblebush flowers

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Spring in Glenn Echo Ravine

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Jack-in-the-pulpit, Glenn Echo Revine

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Glenn Echo Ravine

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Fleabane, banks of the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Swamp Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

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Swamp Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Solomon Seal, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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Green Heron, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

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Green Heron, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Spring Crest along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Spring Crest, (Donna).

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on nest, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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Red-eyed Vireo, Battelle Darby Metro Park

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Blue jay, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam.,

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White-eyed Vireo, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Take 2.

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Bullfrog, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Big Darby, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Northern Parula Warbler, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Take 2.

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Swainson’s Thrush, Glen Echo Ravine.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Spiderwort, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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May Apple, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Northern Flicker, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Barred Owl, Battelle Darby Metro Park. Spotted while looking for a noisy Great Crested Flycatcher.

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Red-eyed Vireo with Yellow-rumped, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Large flowered Valerian, “habitats include floodplain woodlands along streams or rivers, shaded ravines, and bottoms of rocky canyons. This species is found in high quality habitats that are moist and shady”. Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Big Darby, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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I apologize that some of the bird pics aren’t up to “bird photography” standards, severe crops and adverse lighting, but hopefully they still tell the story.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Tree Swallow and Some Friends

In the last few days the number of migrating and non-migrating birds seen by us and other birders in central Ohio has been incredible. We are trying to remember back to last year but nothing approaching the last few days comes to mind. Were we  just not paying attention? We’ve visited our usual areas along Griggs Reservoir, but also got over to Hoover Nature Preserve and adjacent areas at the north end of Hoover Reservoir as well as Glenn Echo Ravine in Clintonville. Wherever we went there were birds. Only a few of those seen are documented below either because they were a little too far away, moving around too much, or the light just wasn’t favorable for a picture. For more info on birds in central Ohio along with some wonderful pictures visit Central Ohio Birders Facebook page.

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Some other notable birds seen but not photographed;  Hoover Nature Preserve north end of the lake: a number of Red-headed Woodpeckers, Wood Ducks, Yellow Warblers, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Hoover Nature Preserve Meadows Area: American Redstarts, Nashville Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine: Great Crested Flycatcher, Black Headed Blue Warbler, Northern Parula Warbler, Black and White Warblers, Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers.

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So here are some of the birds seen.

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Tree Swallow, boardwalk north end of Hoover Reservoir

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine, (Donna)

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine

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Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Hoover Nature Preserve, north end of Hoover Reservoir

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Yellow Warbler, Hoover Nature Preserve north end of Hoover Reservoir, (Donna).

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Great Egrets, meadows area, Hoover Nature Preserve

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Indigo Bunting, Glen Echo Ravine

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In the same tree, Glen Echo Ravine

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Scarlet Tanager, Glen Echo Ravine

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Northern Water thrush, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna)

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Baltimore Oriole, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Catbird, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Downy Woodpecker, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Pileated Woodpecker, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Prothonotary Warbler, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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If there wasn’t a bird to look at there were other things.

 

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Jack-in-the-pulpit, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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Fungi, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area, (Donna)

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Wild Geranium, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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Pearl Crescent, Hoover Nature Preserve meadows area, (Donna).

 

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Mayapple, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Marsh Marigold, Glen Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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New leaves, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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In the back of our minds we know that one day not too far in the future the spring celebration will be over. It’s a good time to be in the moment.

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Wetland landscape, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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Wetland landscape, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Bird Mural, Glen Echo Ravine

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XXX

A Spring Wildflower Hike, Clifton Gorge to Yellow Springs

It was an unbelievable celebration of wildflowers at Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park during a recent hike. Large-flowered Trillium seemed to be everywhere and Drooping Trillium were running a close second. Other flowers also charmed us with their presence.

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A patch of trilliums along the trail.

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Looking closer:

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Large-flowered Trillium, (Donna)

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Large-flowered Trilliums turning pink.

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Drooping Trillium

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Drooping Trillium, purple.

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The trail crosses a number of creeks as they find their way into the Little Miami.

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John Bryan State Park

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Some other flowers seen along the trail.

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Golden Ragwort

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Wild Geranium

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Dwarf Larkspur, (Donna)

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Jack-in-the-pulpit, (Donna)

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Wildflower bouquet.

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Yellow Trout Lilies

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Wild Ginger

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White Violet

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Toadshade Trillium

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Sharped-lobed Hepatica

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A view of the Little Miami near Yellow Springs.

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Cascade, Little Miami.

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It had been a great day for a hike. Five miles to Yellow springs for lunch and then five miles back to Clifton followed by a trip to Young’s Diary for ice cream.  Not a bad day’s work.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

A Battelle Darby Early Spring Day

After the better part of five hours and seven miles we were back at our starting point, the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park’s visitor center parking lot. Tired, but so much richer for our effort. Below is a partial record of things seen on this beautiful late April day.

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From a distance the woods were just starting to green with the colors of bare branches still prominent.

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Path near the visitor center

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The hope was to photograph some spring warblers and other spring migrants. While we did see Yellow-rumped and Northern Parula’s and Eastern Towhee’s in the tree tops or thick brush none would pose for us. However the wildflowers more than made up for our lack of success with the birds.

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Peak time for spring wildflowers.

 

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. . . with trees flowering and just starting to leaf out.

 

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Goldenseal, (Donna)

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit, (Donna)

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Buttercup

 

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Wood Poppy

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Another view.

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Large Flowered Trillium

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Another view.

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Another view, (Donna)

 

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Ragwort

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Wild Blue Phlox, (Donna)

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Hepatica, (Donna)

 

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Large-flowered Bellwort

 

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Mayapples carpet the forest floor.

 

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Spring light.

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The wildflowers encircled numerous seasonal pools and wet areas.

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Vernal pool.

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Mallard

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The Mallard’s pond.

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Not far from the visitor center Donna investigated a wetland area.

 

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Leopard Forgs, (Donna)

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A closer look, (Donna)

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We were able to photograph a few birds during the day.

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Blue-gray Gnatcather

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Tufted Titmouse working on lunch.

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Must be good!

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Must you photograph me while I’m eating?

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A male Red-winged Blackbird announces it’s presence.

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. . . as the female waits nearby.

 

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A Red Squirrel watches as we look at trilliums.

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A not real common Red Squirrel watches as we look at wildflowers, (Donna)

 

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When not looking at the wildflowers the Big Darby was there to appreciate.

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An old railroad bridge across the Big Darby.

 

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Early spring on the Big Darby

 

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The Big Darby

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Trilliums Were Everywhere

It was a beautiful spring day so, along with some of our hiking buddies, we decided to celebrate with a hike to Yellow Springs by way of  Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park. Wildflowers were everywhere, including Virginia Bluebells, Jack in The Pulpit, Toadshade Trillium, and Dutchman’s Breeches but we were most impressed by the Large Flowered Trilliums. The area is one of Ohio’s most beautiful and a great place for spring wildflowers. If you have any interest don’t hesitate, they won’t be around long.

click on the images for a better view

As we started down the trail it was apparent that things were just starting to green up.

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Overlooking the Little Miami River

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Trail through Clifton Gorge

But the view from a distance was deceiving. The first flowers seen were Dutchman’s Breeches. On this day they were more common than the trilliums.

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Dutchman’s Breeches close-up.

Further on we noticed Virginia Bluebells. They ended up giving the trilliums a run for their money.

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Virginia Bluebells

A stream along the trail was running cold and clear.

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John Bryan State Park

 

Virginia Waterleaf and Toadshade Trillium also made a guest appearance.

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Virginia Waterleaf with Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trilium

Trout Lillys were making a good case for flower of the day.

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Trout Lilly

But who invited the Wild Ginger?

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Wild Ginger

There were also cameos by some other plants and flowers. Not all of which were identified.

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Any guesses?

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Large-flowered Bellwort, (Donna)

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Wild Leeks (Ramps)

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Jack in The Pulpit

 

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Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Another one we haven’t identified yet.

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Marsh Marigolds

But nothing compared with the Large Flowered Trillium for sheer wow!

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Large Flowered Trilliums

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Trilliums everywhere!

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Large Flowered Trillium

Finally after all the excitement it was time for a rest.

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A interesting tree along the trail.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Photos by Donna

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