It’s A Butterfly Time Of Year

Not that they aren’t seen earlier in the spring and summer but August does seem to be the time for butterflies. This year it’s been almost impossible to be out for any length of time without seeing a Monarch. In the late morning or afternoon small but beautiful Pearl Crescents make the shorter grass along the trail their playground. The beauty of some butterflies like the Giant Swallowtail is apparent to even a casual observer but others like the Buckeye reveal their beauty only after a closer look. Others like the hairstreaks are easy to miss altogether unless you know what to look for. The good news is that you don’t have to get up a the crack of dawn to see butterflies.

Sunlight filters through the woods along the Big Derby during a recent butterfly hike.

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So below is a celebration of butterflies that have been seen in the last few weeks. Much of the credit must go to my wife who tirelessly pursues these usually unpredictable creatures until she gets the shot she wants while I often content myself to photographing the more predictable wildflowers.

In late summer Bull Thistle is common in the prairie areas of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and seems to attract it’s share of Monarchs.

The Giant Swallowtail is Ohio’s largest butterfly and not one we see every day, Griggs Reservoir Park..

A Giant Swallowtail depositing eggs, (Donna).

Great Blue Lobelia enjoying the more shaded areas of Griggs Reservoir Park.

A very small female Eastern-tailed Blue rewards Donna by opening it’s wings.

Prairie sunflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

The beautiful but very small Gray Hairstreak, (Donna).

Hackberry Emperors are fairly common in Griggs reservoir Park and on a warm day enjoy hitching a ride on your arm to take advantage of your perspiration, (Donna).

Cardinal Flower

A small Summer Azure almost seems to blend in, (Donna).

Wingstem, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park prairie.

The not often seen Meadow Fritillary

The fairly common but lovely Orange Sulfur, (Donna).

New England Aster

Usually not seen in central Ohio until late summer or fall the medium size Buckeye is striking, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fringed Loosestrife also enjoys the more shaded areas along the Scioto River.

A small Zabulon Skipper, (Donna).

A small but lovely Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Lazard’s Tail along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Silver Spotted Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Another look, (Donna).

Gray-headed Coneflowers seem to take flight.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Another look.

A somewhat faded black form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

Black Swallowtail, (Donna).

Black Swallowtail laying eggs, (Donna).

Ironweed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

The Peck’s Skipper is a very small moth like butterfly, (Donna).

Cup Plant

Monarch, (Donna).

Monarch

Trumpet Flowers, (Donna).

Mating Pearl Crescents

Pearl Cresent

Tall Bellflower

Eastern Comma

The tiny flowers of Virginia Knotweed.

Certainly not the most aesthetic setting, a Zebra Swallowtail lands in our canoe just as we finish a paddle on Paint Creek, (Donna).

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Where there are butterflies and moths there are caterpillars and no one is better at spotting them than my wife.

Brown-hooded Owlet, (Donna).

Monarch caterpillar, (Donna).

Orange Dog (Giant Swallowtail caterpillar), (Donna).

Another look.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar showing horns. Horns extend when head is touched lightly. Donna).

Without horns protruding, (Donna).

Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar, (Donna).

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars, (Donna).

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We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge some of the birds that continue to charm us as we walk through the woods of central Ohio.

Male Goldfinch, (Donna).

This time of year False Dragonhead can be seen along the shore of Griggs Reservoir.

A Ruby throated Hummingbird checks out the Bull Thistle at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Woodland Sunflowers offer a splash of color in the woods along the Scioto River.

A Tufted Titmouse checks Donna out as she attempts to take it’s picture.

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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So what was I doing while my wife was taking so many excellent photographs in central Ohio? Fishing in Michigan of course.

This nice Largemouth Bas went swimming right after posing for this picture.

Fishing at sunset on Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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If time spent in nature speaks to the essence of your being, your soul, you have riches greater than any material procession can offer. A wealth that grows in health, spirit, and the awareness of being part of the greater mystery. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Exploring The Coves Of Alum Creek Reservoir By Canoe

It promised to be another hot day, but with the sun just rising when we launched it was still pleasant, giving only a hint of the heat to come.

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Alum Creek Reservoir at Cheshire Rd.

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Considering the forecast our goal was to be off the water by noon. The wind hardly rippled the water’s surface as quiet paddle strokes moved the canoe toward an area of Alum Creek Reservoir that we hadn’t explored in a while. Two days earlier during an early morning fishing trip I had surprised a Bald Eagle in a tall tree at waters edge. Now with my wife along to handle photography from the bow, I was hoping we would see, and perhaps photograph, some equally interesting things as we explored the coves along our route. For those new to this blog, we love to paddle and to eliminate the need to shuttle cars we usually paddle reservoirs, the more convoluted the better, to maximize time in the canoe.

No matter how one feels about damming up rivers to create reservoirs, in the case of Alum Creek Reservoir it did result a wonderful place to explore containing a rich variety of wildlife. Unlike the often cottage lined predictable shorelines of spring fed glacial lakes in northern states like Michigan, the many small ravines that followed slopes down to the creek resulting in an almost endless number of coves to explore with the coming of the reservoir. In addition, because the reservoir is surrounded by parkland there are virtually no buildings or homes along it’s shore.

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Alum Creek Reservoir Paddling Route

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With rainfall this year about six inches above normal giving rise to higher water levels, the lush shoreline vegetation reached right down to waters edge and at times gave the feeling of paddling through a jungle.

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Beautiful reflections as the reservoir narrows into a creek, (Donna).

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As nature photographers know, what one sees and what one has a chance to photograph are seldom the same. Particularly when in a canoe which has it’s own stability, speed, and mobility constraints. It turns out that at the very north end of our route we saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. The first one we’ve ever seen in Ohio. A little later a pair of very wary Great Horned Owls were seen. The surprised heron spotted us just as we rounded a tight bend in what had become a narrow snag infested creek.  It flew before we could react. The outcome was similar for the owls. They were perched high in a tree canopy partially obscured by low lying brush and saw us coming despite our best efforts, moving a little further away each time we tried to get closer.

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But there are always other things to marvel at.

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A male Eastern Amberwing perches right near the canoe as we wait quietly in a secluded cove, (Donna).

 

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A Slaty Skimmer enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

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As we paddled along the shore we were often overwhelmed by the aroma of wild roses.

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Donna looks for the best composition.

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Bingo!

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I try my hand.

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Water loving Lazard’s Tail at waters edge, (Donna).

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Entering some coves small, noisy, and mostly invisible birds were everywhere.

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Donna points to what turns out to be a White-breasted Nuthatch.

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Along one stretch of open rocky shore a group of sandpipers, always just a little ahead of us, hurried as we approached.

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Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

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On this particular day the turtles were a little more cooperative than the birds.

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Map Turtle, (Donna).

 

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Eastern Spiny Softshell, (Donna).

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If you travel north to Michigan with it’s colder clearer lakes and streams you typically don’t see as many egrets and herons but in Ohio they are very common. I could be wrong but I’ve often thought it’s because the rough fish (catfish, suckers, carp, shad, etc.) that call Ohio’s often turbid waters home are just easier to catch.

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A Great Egret gets ready to strike   .   .   .   .

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and very quickly does!

 

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To no avail.

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It heads back to it’s perch .   .   .

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to regain it’s composure and try again.

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Along the shore a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron seem to be getting along just fine, (Donna).

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Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes persistence, and yes it’s true knowledge and skill do come into play, but if you hike a trail or paddle a lake often enough you will see new and fascinating things.

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In the woods or by a meadow, stream, or lake on any given day, even if  nothing new is seen, you will at least return having allowed yourself to be there for a time, in the still freshness of the early morning with the call of the Wood Thrush, or later to the sound of  wind as it dances with leaves, breathing air with a hint of wild rose. 

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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.

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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