Late Spring Celebration; A Warbler and Much More

Nature unfolds and reveals itself like a flower, first reluctantly and then with grace. Armed with just a little curiosity, looking with intention, and allowing yourself  to be in the moment and place, rewards one with new wonder. Seeing and appreciating more each time.

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In the past few days, still interested in finding warblers, we visited Prairie Oaks Metro Park and closer to home Griggs Reservoir Park in the hopes of seeing a few stragglers. With the exception of the Prothonotary, the warblers didn’t cooperate but fortunately other things did. Whether it’s warblers or “other things” we’re always amazed by the celebration of life this time of year and the beauty that’s often found in the ordinary. The pictures below were taken over just a few outings, typically involving walks of at least two or three miles, sometimes longer, as we search for birds, bugs, and plants. It is a source of continuous fascination that so much can be found so close to home in central Ohio.

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A shaft of light finds grass along a stream, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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It’s always nice when “the reptiles” decide to join the cast.

Next to the path a turtle acts none to happy about our presence, Prairie Oak Metro Park.

A Bullfrog shows a nice profile, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Still in “warbler mode” on a recent outing, we weren’t prepared for all the insects we would see.

Familiar Bluet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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

Inch Worm, (Donna).

Daddy Longlegs, (Donna)

Spicebush Swallowtail

Silver Spotted Skipper, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

A very common Cabbage White, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Ctenucha, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Viceroy, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Eight-spotted Forester Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Large Lace-boarder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Milkweed Beetle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Silvery Checkerspot, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Green Bee on Coneflower, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Where there are bees and butterflies there will be wildflowers or maybe it’s the other way around.

Butterfly Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In grassy areas and meadows English Plantain is everywhere, Griggs Reservoir Park is no exception.

Very small bees visit the very small flowers of the English Plantain.

Hairy Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis), Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-eyed Susans, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thimbleweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Early Meadow Rue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Day Lily, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Goatsbeard, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Moth Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chicory, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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While we were excited to see Prothonotary Warblers nesting so close to home there was no storage of other birds to fascinate.

We’d been seeing this nesting Prothonotary Warbler for a few weeks in Griggs Reservoir Park. We finally were able to get some pictures.

It must be nesting nearby because at one point it was observed taking food to it’s young.

Preening.

No spot is missed!

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is not common this time of year in Griggs reservoir Park.

A Downy Woodpecker making effective use of it’s tail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

An adult Killdeer tries to get our attention, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

It tries a little harder, something must be going on.

Sure enough!

A male Baltimore Oriole makes it’s presence known in Griggs Reservoir Park. It’s been a great year for these birds in the park.

This Northern Flicker, often seen in a fairly localized area, must have a nest nearby, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Numerous Catbirds continue to entertain in Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Mallard keeps an eye on us as we walk along the water in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A stream benefits from recent rain in Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Nature unfolds and reveals itself like a flower, first reluctantly and then with grace. May you be rewarded with new wonder, seeing and appreciating more each time.

Chipmunk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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As Summer Goes On . . .

Photos often result from our time spent in nature but they are seldom the only reason we’re out there. Truth is, we just love being outdoors. Part of the fun is looking closely to see what each new day brings. Perhaps it’s a flower, butterfly, bird, or something else that appears unexpectedly.

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Below is a pictorial ramble through things seen in the last few weeks in central Ohio that amazed or enchanted.

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The summer flowers have really been coming through for us this year.

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Swamp Rose Mallow, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Halberd-leaved Rose-Mallow along water’s edge, Griggs Reservoir

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Monkey Face along Griggs Reservoir

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Trumpet Flower along Griggs Reservoir

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Checking out the Lizard’s tail, Griggs Reservoir

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A closer look.

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While things are starting to dry out from an unusual amount of early summer rain, it continues to be a good year for fungi.

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Taking a close look at mushrooms in a neighbors lawn reveals unexpected beauty.

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White Jelly fungus, Griggs Park

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Chicken Mushroom, Griggs Park

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It’s harder to find warblers now but other birds are filling in.

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While kayak fishing on O’Shaughnessy Reservoir this immature Black-crowned Night Heron was spotted along the shore. A real treat!

 

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Adult Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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Solitary Sandpiper on mudflats, Paint Creek Reservoir

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Eastern Phoebe with a snack, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Killdeer on mud flats, Paint Creek

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Green Heron, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Great Egret, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Taking flight, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Baby mallard, Griggs Reservoir

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Double Crested Cormorants in the middle of Griggs Reservoir

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Portrait of a Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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At first we thought it might be a beaver.

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Muskrat, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Insects continue to satisfy our curiosity.

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Black Swallowtail, Paint Creek

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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A closer look, Paint Creek

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Blue-fronted Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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American Rubyspot, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Stream Bluet and American Rubyspot , Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Powdered Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir.

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Female Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir

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Stream Bluets mating, Griggs Reservoir

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Cicada, front yard.

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.   .   .   and it’s always nice to see turtles and snakes some of which were in unexpected locations due to recent high water.

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Painted Turtle, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Snapping Turtle, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Garter Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Common Water Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Sometimes it’s just the place.

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Cove, Griggs Reservoir

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Paint Creek riffles, heading further upstream would have meant more dragging than paddling.

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Cliffs along Paint Creek.

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Lunch stop, Paint Creek

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It was very quiet as we paddled along the cliffs, Paint Creek Reservoir.

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Looking north on Paint Creek Reservoir as cormorants enjoy their sunny perch.

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O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking much more isolated than it actually is.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Spring Takes Flight at Prairie Oaks

We hadn’t been to Prairie Oaks for a while so we thought we’d head over to what is one of Columbus’s nicer metro parks and see how spring was progressing.  The day was breezy and cool so we weren’t sure what we’d find. Often the birds stay put on such days making locating them a challenge. But the sun did pop through the clouds periodically, and when it did, the birds, as if on cue, became more active. On this day, as often seems to be the case, the most magical event happened near the end of our adventure just as we arriving back at the parking lot after five miles of walking, looking. and then walking some more.

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A spring creek flows through the park on it’s way to the river.

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We hadn’t gone very far when a few birds appeared to greet us.

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White-throated Sparrow

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A Tree Swallow takes a break.

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A Yellow-throated Warbler not cooperating for the photographer.

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Further on my wife noticed some Dryad’s saddle. The time of year and recent rains all had contributed to a bumper crop.

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Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna)

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Dryad’s Saddle. The one at the top is just emerging.

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In full bloom, (Donna)

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While it’s just a few miles from Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the diversity of spring wildflowers at Prairie Oaks is not as great, but the flowers are beautiful just the same.

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Golden Ragwort

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Large-flowered Bellwort

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Wild Geranium

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Spring Beauty

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Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trillium

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It was an extensive patch.

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Where there are wildflower you can count on seeing other things.

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A tiny Spring Azure, (Donna)

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As if to mimic the flower. A great shot by my wife of a butterfly that’s very difficult to get a photo of with wings open. Perhaps the warm sun and cool air helped.

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A Bumble Bee heads for Virginia Bluebells.

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On final approach

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Flaps down!

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Touchdown!

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As we continued our exploration we were fortunate to see a few of our other feathered friends.

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Eastern Towhee

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Yellow Warbler

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Take two. Okay, I couldn’t help it. The bird was so cute!

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The Big Darby flows through Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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During high water the soil is scoured from around the roots of this Sycamore tree.

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The Big Darby.

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Many of the turtles we come across seem to have a very acute awareness of their surroundings making them deceptively hard to photograph. They usually slide off the log and disappear under the water’s surface just as we get ready to click the shutter. But not this time.

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Red Eared Slider

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Painted Turtle

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The group, (Donna)

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Spring nurseries for frogs and other living things surrounded by luminescent green.

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My wife checks out one of a number of spring nurseries.

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Frog heaven.

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At the end of our walk, not a hundred yards from our car, we observed a group of Killdeer (males?)  making quite a fuss.

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A meeting of the Killdeer.

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The discussion was loud and went on for quite awhile.

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One seems to have made his point and wants to move on.

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.   .   .   but then as if tired of the their earth bound or perhaps just to celebrate the day,

.   .   .  they took flight.

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Killdeer in flight, (Donna)

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Revealing a beauty not seen until they were in the air. (Donna).

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.   .   .   as a straggler tries to catch up.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Little Southwest of Ohio, part 1 of 3

Recently we took a road trip to the American southwest, visiting places such as Tucson, Arizona, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and Goose Island State Park near Corpus Christi, also in Texas. This post is about things seen at Goose Island State Park and the adjacent Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

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Given the amount of hiking we thought we’d be doing all pictures were shot with either a Panasonic FZ200 or a Canon SX40. While the additional reach of the Canon would seem to be an advantage, in real life shooting the FZ200 more consistently produced sharper more usable images even when digitally enlarged to compensate for the shorter zoom.

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We highly recommend the Goose Island State Park area if you enjoy birding and nature. The diversity of birds, even during non-migration periods, is wonderful. Also, we had the opportunity to run into old acquaintances as will as to make a number of new friends as we pursued our passion for nature. Good stuff!

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Below are pics of just some of the things seen. Hope you enjoy glancing through them.

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Crested Caracara, many were seen along the road between Big Bend and Goose Island.

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Common Loon in the gulf in winter plumage. Flightless till “spring” when new flight feathers come in for the migration north.

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Common Loon

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Chipping Sparrows playing hide and seek, Goose Island State Park

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Carolina Wren, Goose Island State Park

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Brown Pelican’s, Goose Island State Park.

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Black-crested Titmouse, Goose Island State Park

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Black-bellied Plover, Goose Island State Park

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Below are some shots of the Wooping Cranes which have been brought back from the point of extinction. However, challenges remain. The recent dry years in Texas have caused increased salinity levels in the bays along the Gulf Coast which has resulted in a decrease in the Blue Crab one of their main food sources.

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Wooping Crane near Goose Island state Park.

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Wooping Cranes near Goose Island State Park

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Willet, Goose Island State Park

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White Pelican, Goose Island State Park.

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White Ibis, Goose Island state Park

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Tricolor Heron, Goose Island State Park.

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Snowy Egret, Goose island State park.

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Semipalmated Sandpiper, Goose island State Park.

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Savannah Sparrow, Goose Island State Park.

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Sandhill Cranes near Goose Island State Park.

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At low tide, extensive mud flats are a great place to see shorebirds.

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Sanderlings, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge

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Ruddy Turnstone, Goose Island State Park.

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Roseate Spoonbill making good it’s escape, Goose Island State Park

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Pied-billed Grebe, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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1000 year old Live Oak near goose Island State Park

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The Big Tree.

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Path through Live Oaks, Goose Island State Park.

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Northern Pintails, Goose Island State Park.

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Lincoln’s Sparrow, Goose Island State Park.

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Ladder-backed Woodpecker’s, Goose Island State Park.

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Female Ladder-backed, Goose island state Park.

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We saw a number of Killdeer, a common bird adjacent to the farm fields of Ohio.

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Killdeer, Goose Island State Park

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Kestrals were very numerous along the roads in the area. Looking for insects and small rodents.

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Kestral (male), near Goose Island state Park

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Kestral (female), Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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A very small beautiful dove common to southern Texas.

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Inca Dove, Goose Island State park.

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Pier, Goose Island State Park, great spot for birding.

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A typical area to look for shore birds.

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Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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Harris’s Sparrow (center), Goose Island State Park

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Great Egret, Aransas Natl Wildlife Refuge.

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Eurasian Collared Dove, Goose Island State Park.

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Dunlin, Goose Island State Park.

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Thanks for looking in.

An Unlikely Bird for Thanksgiving

Yesterday the wind blew at 40 – 50 miles per hour for most of the day so we occupied ourselves with indoor activities. Today the wind moderated but clouds moved in. A recent warm spell had taken care of the cover of snow from a few days earlier. All of which resulted in a rather dreary landscape. But realizing that this is the type of day interesting birds are often seen, we headed down to Griggs Park to see what we might see.

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For the first part of our walk nothing out of the ordinary presented itself so to reassure ourselves that we were seeing birds we compiled a list:

Mallard Ducks

Canada Geese

Robins

Gold Finch

Carolina Wren

Kingfisher

Dark Eyed Juncos

Song Sparrow

Cardinals

Great Blue Herons

Chickadees

Blue Birds

Pied Billed Grebe

Cedar Waxwings

.    .    .    and I may have missed a few.

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You are probably wondering why the list. That would be because, due to the amount of light available, there were few pictures.

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Before yesterday’s big wind striped the few remaining leaves off the trees, things were a little more cheerful and I was able to get a few front yard feeder shots.

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A Cardinal looks for seeds under the feeder.

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A Nuthatch enjoys the peanut butter log.

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. . . and so does a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

 

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However, during today’s walk my wife did capture a Kingfisher while attempting to photograph something else. Not a national Geographic shot by any stretch of the imagination but rather amazing considering the day.

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Kingfisher along the Scioto, (Donna)

 

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Almost back to the car we spotted a Killdeer. What was a Killdeer doing along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, especially this time of the year? While certainly not uncommon, it nevertheless was an exciting find as we couldn’t recall ever seeing one along the reservoir before.

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Killdeer (It never let us get real close), Griggs Park

 

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Sometimes it’s an ordinary bird in unordinary circumstances that fascinates. We hope you make time to enjoy nature in your neighborhood. You never know what you might find.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Up The Creek

We decided to paddle up Paint Creek with the hope of documenting some of the beautiful scenery along it’s banks. As creeks go, it’s one of the best in Ohio.

Paint Creek Reservoir is located in Paint Creek State Park. The park is located south of Columbus in the gently rolling hills that occupy that part of the state. Two rivers feed the reservoir, Rattlesnake and Paint Creek. Of the two, we feel that a paddle up Paint Creek is the better option. The bluffs and cliffs along it’s banks make you wonder if you’re really in Ohio. It is also possible to paddle quite a bit further than on Rattlesnake Creek making for a better day trip. As you head north, the shoreline with bushes and trees at waters edge, is usually good for seeing many types of birds from tanagers to eagles. Lower water at certain times of the year produces mudflats that are excellent for viewing shore birds and the many logs along the shore make it a great place to see turtles and water snakes. Once you’re up the creek far enough to be in the current a few casts will usually produces a large or smallmouth bass or maybe a nice pan fish.

Light is what photographers paint with and on the day we were out it was less than ideal. At times it was almost dreary and threatening rain while at others piercing sun light would illuminate a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in the dark. But we try to be philosophical about such things, so the pictures that follow hopefully capture some of the unique beauty of the place as it was on that day.

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Route map, Paint Creek Reservoir is quite large so this shows only a small portion.

 

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Heading north into Paint Creek

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The bluffs.

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Louisiana Water Thrush along the shore

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On a cool morning this Common Water Snake tries to warm up.

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A small island in the reservoir.

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A Killdeer on the mud flats.

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A Solitary Sandpiper near the mud flats

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Logs along the shore are a great place for Map and Spiny Soft Shell Turtles.

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Along waters edge, a Black Swallowtail on a Button Bush.

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Photographing rock formations.

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In many places the cliffs plunge straight into the reservoir.

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A Green Heron poses in a small cove.

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Take two.

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An intimate place, maybe there’s a picture.

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What she saw. (Donna)

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As far north as we could go in the canoe. Time for lunch.

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Pulled out on a sand bar, Paint Creek

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Very small moth.

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A damselfly makes friends with Donna.

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Colorful fungus along water’s edge

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Exploring.

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A few casts and Bob had a bass. (Donna)

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What to do? bird or fish! (Donna)

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Paint Creek

 

 

 

 

 

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