A Few Days Along The Rifle River

Last week we spent a few days in Michigan in the Rifle River Recreation Area not far from the town of West Branch on the northeast side of the lower peninsula. With a number of excellent hiking trails, and lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s an excellent place for nature viewing. The lack of boat generated wakes on Devoe Lake means that Loons nest there. To the best of our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting Loons can be seen. There are also Bald Eagles, Osprey as well as other birds to enjoy. When out exploring one is also treated to dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a number wildflowers not seen in central Ohio. Not far from the park is the AuSable River and the adjacent National Forest create even more opportunities for paddling and outdoor adventure.

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

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We could spend hours watching loons. A quiet paddle on Devoe Lake allows one to observe them as they go about their day.

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

In the middle of preening this adult seems to be sneaking a peek.

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

The adult comes through. How does a bird as big as a loon chase down such a small fish under water?

One more picture.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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Bald Eagles are sometimes seen flying overhead as we observe the loons with their young. If they get too close the adult loons create quite a commotion!

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

An Osprey takes a break along the shoreline of Devoe Lake, (Donna).

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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Most birds were seen from the canoe as we made our way along the shoreline of Devoe and Grebe Lakes, as well as Loud Pond on the Au Sable River.

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

A Kingbird, the dragonflies worst enemy, waits for it’s next meal along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Three Caspian Terns circled overhead, occasionally landing, as we made our way back to our launch site on wind swept Loud Pond. A few reasonable sharp images were obtained.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Kingfisher actually stays put long enough for a “usable” picture, Devoe Lake.

A Green Heron is caught preening, Devoe Lake, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

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While hiking, especially this time of year, birds usually give way to the wildflowers and interesting types of fungus.

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

Knapweed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

Just after this picture was taken this tree got a big hug!

Hawkweed.

Cardinal Flower was quiet common in the wet areas of the park.

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

Picture Plant and flower. Tough to get a good picture of.

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

An attractive flower that has eluded identification. Some type of lobelia?

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

Another example of some of the interesting fungi seen, (Donna).

Virgin’s Bower. (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

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Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were seen as we enjoyed the wildflowers included one butterfly not typically seen in central Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

The very small American Copper, not a butterfly we’ve seen in central Ohio, (Donna).

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Mating Robber Flies. Robber flies are one of the insect worlds more ferocious looking subjects. An appearance that is not unwarranted!

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

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Shall we go for a hike or paddle? The decision is often made based on the weather conditions. Wind and choppy water make canoe photography with long lenses almost impossible. However, should conditions permit we’re usually not disappointed be the flowers seen as we paddle!

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

Meadow Sweet, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”),  (Donna).

Swamp Smartweed

Water Shield, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

Burr Reed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

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Sometimes when hiking you don’t have to look real close to be overwhelmed by the beauty.

Gamble Creek, Class 1 trout stream, Rifle River Rec Area.

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No post would be complete without touching on some of the reptiles and amphibians seen. Seeing the skink was a surprise.

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

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While fishing along the Au Sable River upstream of Loud Pond, a Mink is sighted!

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

Au Sable River, catch and release, Small Mouth Bass. The river is one of the best Small Mouth Bass fisheries in the Midwest.

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We spend a lot of time looking and exploring but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for just being there.

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this very incomplete sample of things that can be seen and experienced in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

The beauty is, the more time spent in nature the more you will see, the more you see the more you will want to understand and soon you’ll be carried away by the wonder and magic of it all.

As always thanks for stopping by!

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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.

On The Shoulder of Very Small Giants!

Recently we were thinking about all the birds that nest in Griggs Reservoir Park or in the immediate environs. A list of some of the more interesting ones would go something like this:

White-breasted Nuthatch,

Cardinal, Northern Flicker,

Kingbird,

Red-bellied Woodpecker,

Rose-breasted Grosbeak,

Blue Jay,

Yellow-throated Warbler,

Black-crowned Night Heron,

Northern Parula Warbler,

Protonotary Warbler,

Kingfisher, Wood Duck,

Baltimore Oriole,

Cedar Waxwing,

Mallard Duck,

Great Egret,

Great Blue Heron

.   .   .   ,

well I think you get the idea. It’s amazing that  just a few years ago we were ignorant of much of this. To become more aware has taken time coupled with repeated outings to the park and reservoir. While some visits have been pretty quiet, in general learning about the birds has been a rewarding activity.

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Too further this point, recently we’ve been fortunate to photograph a few of the “youngsters”. The always active Kingbirds have been hard to miss.

Two Kingbird chicks see the parent approaching, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna, pics 1-4).

The parent arrives but apparently with no food.

But the other parent did have something to offer.

Open mouths, hard for a parent to miss!

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While we’ve heard them calling from time to time over the past few weeks, Yellow-throated Warblers have been illusive so the one below was a pretty exciting find!

Juvenile Yellow-throated warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

 

Take 3, with an ant.

Take 4.

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Always cute, a few Mallard ducklings were present along the reservoir. Interesting because we’ve seen a stream of ducklings over the last two months indicating there is no fixed time to mate.

Mallard Ducklings, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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While not youngsters, a few other birds also allowed us to take their picture. For those of you that have tried to photograph a Kingfisher you know they don’t usually cooperate so even an average picture is an accomplishment.

Female Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Black-crowned Night Heron, one of two seen as we paddled the reservoir. We haven’t seen as many this year perhaps due to the larger than normal number of Great Egrets.

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As mentioned above the birds have been rewarding but we never imaged we would discover a new snake right within the city limits of Columbus! It was seen while canoeing Griggs Reservoir and was located in a low lying bush overhanging the water. While looking at the one below another one splashed into the water. Needless to say we were very excited by this discovery!

Queen Snake, frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along fresh water streams. Some will try to bite which due to their small teeth is not a treat to humans. However, all use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. (ODNR) Their habitat is very specific, and this snake is never found in areas that lack clean running streams and watersheds with stony and rocky bottoms. The water temperature must be a minimum of 50 °F (10 °C) during it’s active months due to  dietary requirements that consist all most exclusively of newly molted crayfish. (WIKI)

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Summer wildflowers have benefited from the recent rain.

Rain garden, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Vervain, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Joe Pye Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Lizards Tail and Swamp Milkweed at the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that in the summer we tend to focus more on insects. This year is no exception, except I’ve finally really caught the “bug” from my wife. Having made that declaration, as hard as I look I will never match her ability to see these little guys!

Soldier Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Female Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Giant Spreadwing, not one we see often, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Amber and Black Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Pelecinid Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Silvery Checkerspot, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Take 2, Donna)

Metallic Gold Fly, very small, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Robber Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Duke’s Skipper, Griggs Reservoir.

Dukes Skipper (M), Griggs Reservoir.

Blue Dasher (F), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Common Dogbane Beetles, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Question Mark, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Orange Sulfur (F), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The photo of the below dragonfly was an especially exciting because it very seldom lands.

Wandering Glider, the common name of this species may be the most appropriate of any of species. It is a strong flier, with a circumtropical distribution. It is found in nearly every contiguous state, extreme southern Canada, southward throughout Central and South America, the Bahamas, West Indies, Hawaii and throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, except for Europe. It is regularly encountered by ocean freighters and is a well-known migratory species. Because of its ability to drift with the wind, feeding on aerial plankton, until it finally encounters a rain pool in which it breeds, it has been called “…the world’s most evolved dragonfly.” (Odonata Central) , Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

After much searching Donna finally found a few Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Spicebush Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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There was a time when I wasn’t all that excited about “insects”, pointing my camera at butterflies, dragonflies, and the like only when the birds weren’t cooperating. Arriving home after one such an outing I took a close look at the images obtained and was amazed at the beauty of many of these creatures that are so easy for us to disregard. It’s hardly breaking news but some time ago I heard that if we compared the weight of all humans with that of all insects we would make up a very small piece of the pie. The below chart illustrates that point. For life to exist on this small sphere we stand on the shoulders of giants but in our case they are very small giants. Something to think about!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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There has been quite a bit of rain recently so we paddled to one of the local waterfalls. It did not disappoint, Griggs Reservoir.

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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.

 

 

 

 

My What A Big Baby!

When not further afield our local park continues to provide interesting things that amaze. In this case it was a Song Sparrow attentively feeding one her “babies”.

Closer to home, the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.

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With quite a mouthful, a Song Sparrow heads back to her “offspring” in Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The “little one” doesn’t appear to have missed many meals! (Donna).

Mom, watch your head, “Junior” is hungry and has a big mouth! (Donna).

After that ordeal mom needs to straighten up!” (Donna).

As you’ve probably figured out the “little one” is actually an immature Cowbird whose egg was dropped into the Song Sparrow nest by it’s freewheeling parents. Obviously not a good thing for the Song Sparrow or any other bird that falls victim.

Considering the Song Sparrow’s plight, an observant Red-eyed Vireo appeared to have a few things to say,

the whole thing seemed to have a nearby Catbird a little unraveled,  (Donna)

and the Kingbird also appeared to be beside itself, (Donna).

but did manage to regain it’s composure!

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Why have so few bird species discovered the advantage of depositing their eggs in the nests of other birds?  But if the practice were more common it is hard to imagine how it would work. At the extreme, no bird would be rising it’s own offspring. Talk about mass confusion! I guess for now we’ll be left with the mystery and thankful the practice remains the exception! 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.

Griggs Reservoir, a Haven for Herons

Since Griggs Reservoir is close to home we often use it for our “workout” paddles during the week when things are quiet. On those paddles we hope to see a few things worth a closer look or maybe even a picture. On a typical ten mile paddle we’ll have fifteen to twenty Great Blue Heron sightings. On some days one or two Black Crowned Night Herons will be seen and on most days two or three Green Herons. The Green Herons are one of our favorites because, as well as being less common, their behavior is often curious or even comical.

On a recent paddle a young Green Heron decided to pose for a few pictures while either hunting for food or preening. It was quite a show. Of course before we encountered the heron there were other things to see.

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Near our launch on Griggs Reservoir

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No shortage of Cedar Waxwings and Kingbirds near our launch in Griggs Park.

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A tree full of Cedar Waxwings, Griggs Park

Cedar Waxwing on fire 2 081314 Griggs evening walk cp1-3

Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, (Donna)

Kingbird head on 081314 Griggs evening walk cp1

Kingbird, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Across the reservoir as we head north a Kingfisher tries to hide.

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Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir

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One of many Great Blue Herons seen.

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A heron for every dock (almost)! (Donna)

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A little further north we even see a Great Egret. They never let us get very close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret high in a tree, Griggs Reservoir

Great Egret wings out 0814141 Griggs cp1

Great Egret, a graceful acrobat, (Donna)

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Still further north heading into the “wetlands” area.

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Paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Griggs Reservoir “Wetlands” landscape.

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Landing, “wetlands” area, Griggs Reservoir.

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But it was an immature Green Heron won the day.

Whether it was hunting:

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Green Heron, study 1, hunting.

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Green Heron, study 2, hunting.

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Green Heron, study 3, hunting

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Green Heron, study 4, hunting.

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.   .   .   or preening:

IMG_3715c

During lunch a Green Heron lands near by.

Green Heron 14

Green Heron, study 1, preening, (Donna)

Green Heron 13

Green Heron, study 2, preening, (Donna)

Green Heron 12

Green Heron, study 3, preening, (Donna)

Green Heron 9-2

Green Heron, study 4, preening, (Donna)

Green heron 7

Green Heron, study 5, preening, (Donna)

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When the heron was through entertaining us there was plenty of other things to see.

Water Willow IMG_3682

Water Willow

Wasp on Boneset IMG_3646

Wasp on Boneset

Asiatic Dayflower IMG_3691

Asiatic Dayflower (invasive)

Wingstem IMG_3617

Wingstem with beetle and Bumblebee

Virginia white moth 1 081414 Griggs cp1

Virginia White Moth, (Donna)

Bagel fungi 081414 Griggs cp1

Mushroom emerging, (Donna)

False Dragonhead IMG_3709

False Dragonhead

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Bee on False Dagonhead

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Silver Spotted Skipper on False Dragonhead

Ironweed IMG_3690

Ironweed

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Ironweed with bee, a closer look.

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A day to remember as a fresh wind out of the north made for a easy paddle home.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Searching for Warblers by Canoe

This morning we decided to canoe the shoreline of Alum Creek Reservoir and look for warblers. After it leafs out, we’ve found this to be a great way to see birds while enjoying a day on the water.. When hiking a trail through the woods your line of sight can become very limited as the season progresses but paddling a shoreline can provide an unobstructed view of  the trees and brush as the birds move in and out of view.

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It was a beautiful cool clear day, a little windy but the blue sky was dotted with puffy white clouds. The excitement started before we even got into the canoe with the unusual sighting of two deer swimming across a rather wide part of the reservoir.

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Below is a map of our route of about six and one half miles:

001

Alum Creek Reservoir Paddling Route

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Exploring the many coves is a big part of the draw. Sometimes we’re able to beach the boat and explore on foot:

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Pullout, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Exploring on foot, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Pond, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Is wasn’t long before we spotted Yellow Warblers which nest in the area and are fairly common this time of the year:

4 Yellow Warbler 2 052314

Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 1, (Donna)

2 IMG_6410

Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 2

1 IMG_6405

Yellow Warbler, Alum Creek Reservoir, study 3

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Sometimes it’s just about enjoying a beautiful secluded cove:

IMG_6696

Cove, Alum Creek Reservoir

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There were other birds, including Red-eyed Vireos, Wood Ducks, Green and Great Blue Herons, and Osprey, but only the following wanted their picture taken:

female Red-winged Blackbird 052314 Alum Creek Pond CP1

Female Red-winged Blackbird, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Eastern Pewee 1 052314 Alum Creek CP1

Eastern Wood Pewee, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Kingbird 2 looking left 052314 Alum Creek cp1

Kingbird, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Indigo Bunting 052314 Alum Creek CP1

Indigo Bunting, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and turtles, including Painted and Spiny Soft Shells, but only this one sat still long enough for a photo:

Painted Turtle 2 052314 Alum Creek cp1 fix

Painted Turtle, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are giving way those found in late spring and summer:

Dame's Rocket 052314 Alum Creek Pond cp1

Dames Rocket, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

Daisy Fleabane 052314 Alum Creek cp1

Daisy Fleabane, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

IMG_6423

Honey Locust, Alum Creek Reservoir

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A wonderful day enjoying nature:

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Alum Creek Reservoir

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Celebrating Spring at Prairie Oaks

Recently we spent several hours at Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for migrating warblers and other signs of spring. We were completely drawn into the moment with butterflies, wildflowers, warblers and other migrating birds surrounding us as we walked along the river. Sunlight filtering through the emerging translucent leaves creating the effect of green stained glass further setting the mood.

In addition to the pictures below a number of birds and butterflies were seen where no photograph was possible. So below is just a glimpse of what you might have seen had you walked the trails in the last few days. Some pictures turned out amazingly well and others fall into the category of “data acquisition” but they all, in their own small way, celebrate spring at Prairie Oaks.

as always you can click on and image for a better view

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At Prairie Oaks many forms of life are attracted to the river.

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The Big Darby, study 1

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Like warblers, flycatchers and other birds.

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A Baltimore Oriole watches as we head down the trail.

Black-and-White Warbler best 050614 Prairie Oaks cp1

Black and White Warbler, (Donna)

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A Tufted Titmouse looks for insects

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A Great Crested Flycatcher announces it’s presence with a unmistakable call.

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A Eastern Towhee peeks from behind the leaves.

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A Kingbird surveys it’s realm from a tree top.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers like to be around water.

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Yellow-throated Vireo

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Palm Warbler

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Yellow-throated Warbler

Catbird best 050614 Prairie Oaks cp1

Catbird, (Donna)

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Magnolia Warbler

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Warbling Vireo, study 1

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Warbling Vireo, study 2

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Nashville Warbler

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Nashville Warbler

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Constantly in motion, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet plays hide and seek.

IMG_6058a IMG_6057a IMG_6052a

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The smaller creeks that feed into the river are often dry by mid summer.

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Spring flow.

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Butterflies were enjoying the spring sun.

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Eastern Comma

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Painted Lady

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A pond that may also be dried up by July.

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Spring Pond

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But right now the pond is home.

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Leopard Frog in hiding.

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Water Strider

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Fungi run a very close second to wildflowers in natures beauty contest.

Pancake stack fungi 050614 Prairie Oaks fix

Shelf Fungi, (Donna)

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Wildflowers compete for our attention.

Wild Geranium with bee 050614 Prairie Oaks fix

Wild Geraniums, (Donna)

Phlox and tree 050614 Prairie Oaks fix

Phlox, (Donna)

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Dandelion along the trail.

buckeye flower fix 050614 Prairie Oaks

Buckeye leafing out, (Donna)

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The Big Darby was flowing clear.

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The Big Darby, study 2

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Translucent leaves contribute to the magic of spring.

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The springs woods at Prairie Oaks

The Waterfalls and Rain Gardens of Griggs Reservoir

When asked about waterfalls around Griggs Reservoir most people  mention Haden Run Falls, but after a rainy spell like we’ve had recently, there are several others that are beautiful to see. These waterfalls are found by exploring the small coves on the west side of the reservoir by canoe or kayak. To find them the reservoir level needs to be high as a result of recent heavy rains. The waterfalls were a real treat but we also saw numerous small turtles, a Spotted Sandpiper, and Prothonotary Warbler as we paddled the reservoir and entered the coves.

1st waterfall

1st waterfall

Approaching 2nd falls

Approaching 2nd falls – DMP

2nd waterfall

2nd waterfall – DMP

Lizards Tail

Lizards Tail in cove

Cove

Cove

Haden Run Falls

Haden Run Falls

Baby Snapping Turtle

Baby Snapping Turtle in cove – DMP

Baby Map Turtle

Baby Map Turtle

Ebony Jewelwing

Ebony Jewelwing in cove – DMP

Spotted Sandpiper - DMP

Spotted Sandpiper in cove – DMP

Prothonotary Warbler East Shore of Griggs

Prothonotary Warbler East Shore of Griggs – DMP

In an effort to control storm drainage flowing into the reservoir a number of rain gardens have been constructed  on the east side of the reservoir and planted with various types of wildflowers. The gardens are delightful and provide a home for many types of interesting insects as Kingbirds and Robins perch in the nearby trees..

Rain Garden Yellow Cone Flowers

Rain Garden Yellow Cone Flowers – DMP

Rain Garden Cone Flowers

Rain Garden Cone Flowers

Rain Garden Wildflowers

Rain Garden Wildflowers

Rain Garden

Rain Garden

Rain Garden

Rain Garden

Cup Plant along Griggs shoreline.

Cup Plant along Griggs shoreline – DMP

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Kingbird east side of Griggs reservoir

Kingbird east side of Griggs reservoir

Immature Robin east side of Griggs Reservoir

Immature Robin east side of Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

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