August Nature on Central Ohio’s Reservoirs

Recently we paddled the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir not far from our home in Columbus and then a couple of days later ventured about sixty miles due south to paddle Paint Creek. Given that it’s mid-summer we weren’t real optimistic about what we’d see. That said, one thing we observed which seemed rather counterintuitive given the summer’s midday heat was that the birds were much more active and approachable midday. This is something we’ve become accustomed to when looking for butterflies, dragon and damselflies, but necessary for other creatures. Of course, it is the insect time of year so we were not surprised to see plenty of them but in addition we were fortunate to see birds including immature Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, and hawks.

.

For those interested in Ospreys, paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir can be very rewarding this time of year. Ospreys and their recently fledged offspring seem to be everywhere.  During our paddle we also had two Bald Eagle siting’s, however, they didn’t hang around for a photograph. Many Green Herons were also seen as we explored the shoreline and numerous coves. With lake levels slightly low exposing shoreline rocks numerous solitary and spotted sandpipers were also seen.

P1120632

Osprey, north end of Alum creek reservoir, FZ200

P1120637

Closer look, FZ200

 

P1120644

Adult Osprey, FZ200

P1330574

Taking flight, Donna, FZ200

P1330758

Flag-tailed Spinyleg, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

P1120655

Paddling up Alum Creek, FZ200

P1330549

Long-jawed Orbweaver, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

P1330761

One of many Green Herons, this one was strutting it’s stuff, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

P1330585

Fall Phlox, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

P1330760

Amberwing, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

P1330633

Very young Map turtle, alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

 

P1330599

Solitary Sandpiper, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

 .

The paddle up Paint Creek is stunning, it’s hard the believe you’re in Ohio. As the day progressed it seemed easier to get close enough to Kingfishers so that the resulting photograph didn’t leave you wondering what kind of bird it was.

P1330861use (2)

Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

IMG_1394

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, dark morph, Paint Creek, Canon 3ti 18-135mm lens.

IMG_5701 (2)

Spotted Sandpiper, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

P1340026

Butterflies on scat, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

IMG_5599

Double-crested Cormorant looking rather mysterious, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

P1330502

Eastern Amberwing (F), Donna, FZ200

IMG_5614 (2)

Male Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

IMG_5668 (2)

Female Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

P1330877

Bob’s big fish (White Bass), Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

P1330663

Spicebush Swallowtail, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

IMG_5638

Green Heron tidying up, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

P1330940

Mushrooms on a log, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

P1330855

Common Arrowhead, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

IMG_5674

One member of Donna’s Hackberry Circus, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

P1340105

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

.

After spending time exploring Alum Creek Reservoir and Paint creek we returned to our own “backyard”, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River, where we also found things to fascinate.

P1120592-2

Summer along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

P1120819

Sunflower, Griggs Park, FZ200.

P1120793

Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park, FZ200.

P1330518

Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

 

P1120712

Immature Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, FZ200.

P1120480 (2)

Another look.

P1330460

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1330453

Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1120594 (2)

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam, another view, FZ200.

P1120501

One of the very few Buckeyes seen so far this summer, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

IMG_6518

Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

P1010648

Black-crowned Night Heron, very early morning, Griggs Reservoir, ZS50.

P1340129

Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1330361

Robber fly, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1120817

Monarch, Griggs Park, FZ200.

P1330367

Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1330389

One of many Hackberries seen, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

P1330392

Horace’s Duskywing, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

.

Often we find ourselves walking along residential streets on the return leg of an urban hike to Griggs Park. We usually don’t expect to discover anything special but you never know what you’re going to see.

P1120600use

Immature Red-tailed Hawk just outside our kitchen window, FZ200.

 

P1120833

Immature Cooper’s Hawk, residential street near our home, FZ200.

.

We hope you’ve been able to get out and explore and appreciate nature this summer. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Chickadee In The Woods

A beautiful sunrise can offer inspiration as well as motivation to get outside and see what’s going on. This is especially true when it may mean rain later in the day.

P1000185use

Sunrise from our front window.

.

So after a quick breakfast, off we went. By way of explanation for the following few shots let me first say that we love Chickadees, whether they’re at our feeder or in the woods they never fail to put a smile on our face. Encountering one after several miles of hiking is extra special if for no other reason than that you’ve worked hard to get to the meeting place. “Free-range” Chickadees just can’t be beat. A further preface to the pics is that they were taken with a very pocketable Panasonic ZS50 a camera purchased with a hike of the Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula in mind. While no replacement for the capability of a DSLR when it comes to creative effects, low light capability, and fast and precise focus, I’ll let you be the judge is to just how well it does. Clicking on the image will give a slightly better idea of the resolution. All images are significant crops and were taken at 30x zoom.

P1000202c

Chickadee, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

P1000203c

Trying to hide.

P1000206c

Going about it’s business.

.

The ZS50 was also pointed at a much more sedentary Red-bellied Woodpecker.

P1000190c

Red-bellied Woodpecker in the neighborhood.

P1000191c

Whatever it was on the menu it was apparently to it’s liking.

.

Finally, it’s capabilities were directed towards gulls far out on the reservoir.

P1000193c

Gulls on ice, Griggs Reservoir.

.

A day later at the same location but now with the “bird camera” I was hoping to document interesting waterfowl and perhaps see the Mute or Trumpeter Swans that were observed flying over head the day before.

merge copy

On this particular day the landscape did not cry out to be photographed, Griggs Reservoir Dam.

.

While the day was rather drab the waterfowl were cooperative even if it was at a distance.

IMG_9574cJPG

Hooded Merganser, (F)

IMG_9580fix

Despite using trees for cover and moving very slowly, I’m spotted, and the Goldeneyes take flight.

IMG_9593use

The Red-necked Ducks aren’t quite as cautious.

IMG_9615use

On the other side of the river a male Kingfisher poses.

IMG_9596use

A lone Greater Scaup is also seen.

IMG_9566use

No stranger to these parts, a Great Blue Heron waits for the river’s flow to deliver lunch.

.

All in all, the last two days were good. The Panasonic ZS50 appears quite capable of doing what’s needed in Ireland and having the “bird camera” out again reminded me why it is also in the stable. Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_6306usec

Blue sky, morning sun, and a Cardinal.

.

XXX

A Snipe Hunt

This started out as a post about things seen during a recent hike at Prairie Oaks Metro Park. With two or three inches of snow on the ground and moderating temperatures we thought we’d check out the park as it had been some time since our last visit. We were hoping to see/photograph some interesting waterfowl and perhaps a few other birds we happened to see during our four mile hike. While not much was seen in the way of birds as we worked our way along the shoreline of park ponds and then the Big Darby, we did find other things that intrigued. Then yesterday, frustrated by the lack of birds seen the day before, we decided to visit the area close to home along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River. One of our usual “hang outs” and it did not disappoint. Below is a record of the two day’s adventures.

.

Unlike many rivers in central Ohio the Big Darby in Prairie Oaks Metro Park and the streams that feed it usually run pretty clear no matter how much rain we’ve had.

P1000067fixc

Winter reflections.

.

Some ponded areas along the river freeze over resulting in interesting ice formations.

P1060040fixc

Frozen pond, Prairie Oaks

.

P1060038fix2c

Ice crystals on the pond surface.

.

Some formations are the result of water levels that rise and then fall.

P1000070fix

Water’s edge.

P1190864fix

Ice design, (Donna)

.

Interestingly enough we’ve found winter to be a good time for fungi and my wife does a great job of locating it.

P1190905use

January fungi on log, (Donna).

Wet Rot P1190873

Wet Rot, (Donna)

Jelly fungi Dried out P1190852

Dried out Jelly fungi? (Donna)

Carbon Balls P1190871

Carbon Balls, (Donna)

Oyster Mushroom P1190845fix

Oyster Mushroom, (Donna)

Wet Rot variation P1190855

Wet Rot? (Donna)

.

Fast forward one day and we find ourselves along the Scioto River. Black Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Kingfishers, and Carolina Wrens all allowed us to take a picture even if it was from some distance away.

P1000085use

Black Ducks, Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir.

 

P1000087use

Hooded Mergansers (M) (F) (IM), Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir.

P1000091use

Kingfisher (F), Scioto River just below Griggs Reservoir

P1190881use

A Carolina Wren doing what it does best! Griggs Park, (Donna)

.

What really made our day, and really got us excited about this post, was seeing a Common Snipe. Several made their presence known at river’s edge as we stumbled around trying to photograph the ducks along the opposite bank. We couldn’t remember the last time we had seen one, for sure we’d never seen one at this location, so for us it was an uncommon snipe. Excited and elated, we retraced the mile and a half distance back to our car and headed home. It had been time well spent!

P1060069use

Common Snipe, Scioto River shoreline just below Griggs Reservoir.

PS: I was tempted to photo shop the cinder block out of the picture but we are in the city after all.

.

Hopefully on one of your outings in nature in the next few days you will find reason to get as excited as we did. Thanks for stopping by.

****

 

 

 

Bluebird of Happiness

They may be in the park all year long, probably are, but we always seem to see them more in late fall and winter. Maybe we’re just more appreciative.

IMG_6034

Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, SX40

.

In recent days a fair amount of time has been spent along Griggs Reservoir and the river below the dam trying to verify  if a pair of eagles are building a nest. An occasional eagle has been spotted overhead but no additional work seems to have been done on what appeared to be the start of a nest.

.

When the eagles refuse to cooperate the camera gets pointed at other things. In some of the shots below, curiosity about the performance limits of my old Canon SX40 got the best of me so I had fun playing around with it. In an effort to improve picture quality I was trying to keep the ISO as low as possible at full zoom by supporting the camera using a tree, my knee, or a hiking stick. Other shots were taken with Panasonic FZ200’s.

P1050921use

Male Kingfisher along the Scioto, SX40

IMG_5989useuse200s

Female Kingfisher along the Scioto River in low light, SX40.

IMG_6060useuse

Great Blue Heron along the Scioto River in low light.

.

Some subjects fascinate when everything else has turned gray/brown, like the still red leaves of what I believe to be Service Berry.

P1050950

December color.

P1050952

take 2.

P1050954

Take 3.

.

A few of the Blue Bird’s closest friends also made an appearance, some in low light, again taxing the capabilities of the SX40.

IMG_6010useuse400

Brown Creeper, SX40

P1190220

Downy Woodpecker, (Donna)

P1050910c

Chickadee, SX40

P1190286

Carolina Wren, (Donna)

IMG_5939use

Junco in low light., SX40.

P1190333

Crow, (Donna)

P1050929use

Gull reflection, SX40.

P1190355fix

Happy ducks, (Donna).

.

Finally, a few modest shots that hopefully speak for themselves.

IMG_6069useuse

Poetry in motion, SX40.

P1050957

Reflections.

.

Thanks for stopping by

Speaking With A Soft Voice


In recent days we’ve found ourselves visiting some of the usual places as well as making another trip the Clifton Gorge for a hike with friends. The gorge trip was interesting because, unlike our last visit, the day was cloudy and different light often means different photographic possibilities! Whether along the gorge or closer to home, we’re always on the lookout for things that interest us, some of which might even be worth sharing in a blog. Sometimes we’re not the only ones looking.

P1050703ca

A Raccoon watches as we walk along the Scioto River

.

From a creative point of view this time of year, as colors start to fade, can be a challenge. Taking pictures just for the sake of taking a pictures, or trying to make a good picture of a subject that doesn’t really draw you in, has never been of much interest to me. The subject needs to speak to me in some way and in November it’s often with a very soft voice.

IMG_1520fix-2

Reflections on the last few leaves

.

While on our recent gorge hike, it was fun to explore landscapes similar to those photographed a few weeks ago. What had changed? While exploring on cloudy days one often notices that photos taken come out of the camera “muddy”. With that in mind, contrast or saturation are often increased just a bit so the finished picture reflects what was “seen”.

IMG_1550-2

The Little Miami, similar to a shot posted a few weeks ago but this time with a cloudy sky.

P1050373 (2)

A few weeks ago

IMG_1557

This method of crossing the Little Miami works fine unless there’s been a big rain.

IMG_1543 (2)

Pillars along the Little Miami. A cloudy day means good detail in the shadows and river.

P1050383 (2)use

Same spot a few weeks ago. Quite a bit of work was done in “Lightroom” to try and bring out shadow and river details as well as to address blown out highlights.

IMG_1529use1

Fallen leaves along the gorge. Notice how the shadows are well controlled. But on cloudy days just don’t have your heart set on a beautiful picture of the sky.

P1050361 (2)use

Another comparison from a few weeks ago, which do you like better?

IMG_1547

The gang on one of the bridges over the Little Miami.

IMG_1532 1

Cliffs along the gorge. The lack of deep shadows allows one to enjoy the colors, as none are blown out, as well as textures and the underlying design.

IMG_1533 1

Through the trees.

P1180507

Trail along the Little Miami, (Donna).

IMG_1542

Water starts to pool as it leaves the gorge.

IMG_1560

In a few places color persists.

IMG_1564

Contrasts.

.

Flowers persist long after you would think they’d be gone.

P1180521

Tall Bellflower, (Donna)

.

Our friends in the world of fungi seem to like the cooler. damper, weather, bringing their color to an increasing drab landscape.

P1180536

Fungi, (Donna)

P1180530

Colorful fungi, (Donna).

.

Whether we were walking or paddling, there were places where things looked pretty bleak so expectations for seeing critters aren’t real high, but .   .   .

IMG_9338

Male Kingfisher along Griggs Reservoir. They never seem to let us get close enough for a really good shot.

IMG_9346

Hunting season, not to worry we’re in the middle of the city.

IMG_9373use-2

Common but beautiful. Under very dramatic but harsh light.

IMG_9331

The November morning sun warms Red-eared Sliders on Griggs Reservoir.

P1050715

It had been a very quiet outing but at on point during a recent walk along the Scioto River we were descended upon by a noisy group of Carolina Wrens.

P1050728-3

Take two.

P1050741-3

Always reliable this time of year, Downy Woodpeckers weren’t far away.

P1180404

This male Blue Bird seemed content to just sit and enjoy the late autumn sun, Griggs Park, (Donna)

.

Warm days in early November mean we’ve continued to see a few butterflies.

P1180347

Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna)

.

Along the trail near Clifton Gorge.

IMG_1559

Door Hinge

.

Maybe the trick is to let go of expectations and allow yourself to hear the voice of each season. Even when it speaks very softly.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

.

IMG_1291use

.

***

First Griggs Reservoir Green Heron of The Year

We paddle the reservoir near our home for exercise, just to be outdoors, to observe nature, and hopefully to get a few pictures of what we see.

.

Green Herons have been scarce so far this year, that is. until a recent paddle, when we found them at the reservoir’s north end. I guess the ten mile round trip paddle to see our first Griggs Reservoir Green Heron of the year just contributed to the magic.

.

Distance and light contributed to a very average shot of a Osprey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osprey in flight, Griggs Reservoir

.

Kingfishers were a little more cooperative

P1150747use

Female Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir

P1150712use

Another view, (Donna)

.

One of many Great Blue Herons that observed our paddle north on the reservoir.

P1150696

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

.

A sandpiper let’s us get close enough for a shot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

.

On our return trip the warm sun brought the turtles out. This pair were an unlikely couple.

P1150754a

Eastern Spiny Soft-shell with friend, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

P1150763use

Baby Map Turtle, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

.

Flowers, wild and domesticated, graced the shoreline.

P1150699use

Some type of hosta, (Donna).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Monkey flower at the north end of the reservoir

.

North end of the reservoir.

P1020557use

A favorite spot for Green Herons

.

A marshy area, the perfect Green Heron habitat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Donna moves in for a close-up.

P1150733

Green Heron close-up, (Donna)

P1150719use

A Green Heron pose, (Donna).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A little more animated

.

It was a good day. A nice balance between all the things we look for when out in nature.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

You Never Know What You’ll Find

The July morning on Alum Creek Reservoir was warm, misty, and still when we started our paddle. In such conditions the canoe moves effortlessly across the lake’s smooth surface. The only sounds were those of our paddles as they rhythmically entered the water, the faint chatter of a few birds along the mostly oak and hickory shoreline, and the occasional thunder from a distant storm. Was the storm coming our way? We took a chance and continued on.  As the day progressed under a soft hazy sky, the wind stayed away, and the spotty thunderstorms, always lurking in the distance, never did find us.

.

The luxury of such a day is that the trip out from the launch site as well as the return are equally easy. The absence of a stiff headwind and it’s accompanying waves encouraged us to explore more of the lake than we might have otherwise.

.

Our typical route when we paddle the north end of the reservoir.

001

Alum Creek Reservoir

.

Green Herons were everywhere.

g IMG_8858 (2)use

Immature Green Heron

g IMG_8795

Mature Green Heron

g IMG_8765 (2)use

Ready to pounce.

g IMG_8864

Showing it’s crest.

.

The Kingfishers were practicing their avoidance behavior. Never allowing us close enough for a really good shot as we moved along the shoreline.

k IMG_8783 (2)

Female Kingfisher

k IMG_8768 (2)

Another look.

k IMG_8877

80% of our shots.

.

It was hard to miss the ever present Double-crested Cormorants.

IMG_8867use

Cormorant shapes.

.

Even a sandpiper stopping long enough for a photo.

IMG_8873-2use

Spotted Sandpiper

.

It was good to see the Osprey family doing well. One of several at the north end of the lake.

IMG_8854 (2)use

Osprey family.

.

A water snake struck a nice pose as we paddled up Alum Creek past the small town of Kilbourne.

IMG_8838

Common Water Snake

.

But wouldn’t you just know it, on the way back, an owl was waiting “just for us” in one the last coves we decided to explore.

IMG_8882use

Barred Owl in a cove on a tree overhanging the water.

IMG_8885use

Thinking I might want to get out of here.

IMG_8886use

Out of here.

IMG_8888use

To a more secluded spot.

.

Not something we often see from the canoe and a real thrill.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

Sharing My Passion of Birds and Wildlife

Londonsenior

The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog

Kerry Mark Leibowitz's musings on the wonderful world of nature photography

Montana Outdoors

A weblog dedicated to the world outside the cities.

Cat Tales

Mike and Lori adrift

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Exploring Nature in New Hampshire

Jessica's Nature Blog

https://natureinfocus.blog

Quiet Solo Pursuits

My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan