The Rifle River and A Mystery Bird

It’s that time of year again when we travel 6.5 hours north from our home in central Ohio to the Rifle River Recreation Area. Usually we enjoy checking out different areas for new adventures but this park’s unique beauty keeps us coming back. Whether paddling on the park lakes or hiking the trails there is always something to discover. From one week to the next different wildflowers can be seen. Spring warbler activity is complimented by the evening call of a Whippoorwill or Barred Owl and there’s always the distant call of a loon on Devoe Lake.

(click on images for a closer look)

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This year’s late June visit meant that in addition to increased warbler activity we’d also see blooming lady slippers and pitcher plants. Of course there would also be more mosquitoes to deal with and they’re always particularly pesky when one crouches down to study a flower or take a photograph.

A shaft of sunlight highlights a fern along the trail.

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My wife was nice enough to contribute the bulk of the pictures for this post as much of my time was spent fishing. However, to start the post off on a curious note I did notice something interesting one afternoon while hiking.

These rolled up birch? leaves littered the forest floor.

A closer inspection revealed a small caterpillar within the shelter of the rolled up leaf. It was in the process of eating it’s way out. Another egg sac near by? Based on an educated guess it would appear that a moth deposited it’s eggs on the underside of the leaf which then caused it to roll up and fall to the ground. Inside the leaf the caterpillar is safe from the prying eyes of birds until it escapes into the leaf litter and pupates soon to emerge as a moth and continue the cycle.

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When my wife wasn’t hiking and I wasn’t trying to catch a fish we did a fair amount of exploring by canoe.

Yours truly with a Devoe Lake Large Mouth Bass.

Exploring Grebe Lake

Common Loon, Devoe Lake.

Take two, (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, Grebe Lake.

Painted Turtle, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, (Donna).

Paddling trough the lily pads, Grebe Lake.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Mink checks us out along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

Au Sable River Walleye.

While Water Lily, (Donna).

Kingbirds entertained us as we paddled the Devoe Lake shoreline, (Donna).

Morning on Devoe Lake.

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One day as we drove back to our campsite after a morning paddle we came upon an unusual discovery in the middle of the road.

Our first thought was to move it along before it became the victim of a less observant driver.

But a closer look revealed that it was a Blanding’s Turtle something we’d expect to see in a nearby lake but not in it’s present location. Since it’s not a turtle we often see we were pretty excited, (Donna).

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However, perhaps the most unusual thing seen during our week long stay was the bird spotted while hiking along Weir Road.

The best ID we could come up with was a partially leucistic White-breasted Nuthatch but it’s beak didn’t look right. The mystery remains.

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We’d be remiss if we didn’t give special mention to the Ovenbirds and Yellowbellied Sapsuckers that entertained us each day at our campsite.

Ovenbird, (Donna).

With a white moth.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, taken while hiking but representative of the activity around our campsite, (Donna).

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While on the subject of birds, while hiking a park trail my wife was excited to see a Black Billed Cuckoo. It was a life bird for her.

Black Billed Cuco, (Donna).

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Finally, below is a summary of other things seen as we explored the park trails.

A recently emerged mushroom translucent in the sunlight.

A family of very colorful but small mushrooms.

Wild Columbine along the trail.

Hawkweed and fern.

The Rifle River

Showy Lady’s Slippers along the park road. A real treat to see.

A closer look, (Donna).

Bunch Berry Flower

Spotted Thyris Moth on fleabane.

Deep into the woods.

Red-spotted Purple

Another view, (Donna).

Yellow Lady’s Slippers were also seen, (Donna).

The flower of the Pitcher Plant. The plant gets it name by the shape of the leaves at the base of the plant which trap insects in water the leaves collect.

Overlooking Pintail Pond

Hover fly on dogwood blossoms.

This fairly large moth has yet to be identified.

Fleabane

Eastern Wood Pewee, (Donna).

Elfin (not Slaty) Skimmer.

Yellow Goats Beard, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Another view.

Sheep Laurel, (Donna).

American Redstarts were fairly common, (Donna).

Blue Flag Iris, (Donna).

Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

River Jewelwing (M), (Donna).

River Jewelwing (F), (Donna).

Cedar Waxwing, (Donna).

Four-spotted Skimmer, (Donna).

Wood Frog, (Donna).

Coral Fungus, (Donna).

Chaulk-fronted Corporal

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Little Wood Satyr.

Indian Pipe (before), (Donna).

After? (Donna).

A Green Heron stalks prey along the Devoe Lake shore, (Donna).

Black-shouldered Spinyleg, (Donna)

Another interesting plant we have yet to ID, (Donna).

Dead Mans Fingers, (Donna).

Delaware Skipper, (Donna).

Baby Robin, (Donna).

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As each day passes nature evolves. A wishful thought would be to spend one week each month in a place such as Rifle River Rec Area. Then one would truly appreciate it’s wonder. Thanks for stopping by.

Misty Day, Devoe Lake.

Devoe Lake’s Summer Gift

Every summer for the last number of years in the company of friends I’ve made a fishing pilgrimage to the Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. On this year’s trip, like most recently, many  fish were caught and released. Only six hours north of our home in central Ohio, it’s a special place where nesting Loons can be seen. While paddling it’s not uncommon to have one surface nearby or to see other wildlife not far away. The Loons are unique in their nesting requirements and are certainly there because no motors are allowed on any of the lakes in the park. If you want to fish, or just explore, it must be under your own power.

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Loons, Devoe Lake

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Areas of the country that are privileged to have four seasons, unfold like a flower in spring and summer only to experience a fiery death during the shorter, colder, red, and yellow days of fall. Devoe Lake is such a place, where the beauty of spring and summer is not ours for long, where for a brief time under blue skys and puffy white clouds one witnesses the sights and sounds of birds, insects, and wildflowers as life is celebrated. A place where a quiet observer may see a Loon attentively feeding her young as dragonflies, or even a Bald Eagle, fly overhead and where a Kingbird and Green Heron may be seen perched in a tree at waters edge while somewhere further down the lake the raucous call of a Kingfisher is heard.

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The strikingly beautiful flower of the Grass-of-Parnassus common along the shore of Devoe Lake

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Early morning, Devoe Lake.

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A typical catch on Devoe Lake. Many fish show evidence of having been previously caught.

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Prized for their good taste and seeming abundance a successful Devoe Lake fisherman shows of his catch of 35 Bluegill. In recent years with the rise in popularity of kayak fishing and more sophisticated boats, often equipped with fish finders and GPS, such catches are a lot easier and undoubtedly more common on Devoe. On a lake that’s less than a mile long and one half mile wide one can’t help wondering if such good times will last.

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A Red Spotted Purple visits our campsite, Devoe Lake rustic campground.

 

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Reflecting the rays of the low sun against a gray sky, a Kingbird waits for an insect to fly by, Devoe Lake.

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Just be taking a break? A juvenile Green Heron perches high in a tree at waters edge, Devoe Lake.

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Paddling under gray skies and clouds that threaten rain, Devoe Lake.

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Bald Eagles along the shoreline of Devoe Lake

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Return just a few months later and this unique beauty will be gone. No wildflowers will grace the shoreline of the lake. Rain, whether falling quietly or pounding to accompaniment of lightning and the sound of thunder, will have given way to the silence of the seasons first snow. At night the call of the Eastern Whip-poor-will will not be heard. The lake’s blue surface will not dance to the beat of an ever changing breeze and Painted Turtles will not cruise the clear depths below your canoe. It will be quiet except for the wind as it moves through now bare branches. The sky will more often be gray and the water now solid, unmoving, and partially covered in white, will reflect it’s color.

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Morning sun and mist, Devoe Lake.

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No matter the season Devoe Lake gives of it’s beauty sparingly and then takes it away leaving one to wait restlessly for another year.  The fleeting days of summer are no exception.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

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