A Special Place In Michigan

At least once a year for the last number of years we’ve traveled seven hours from central Ohio to the expansive 4500 acre Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. With it’s fairly extensive system of hiking and mountain bicycling trails, plus lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s a beautiful quiet nature lovers paradise. The park’s woods contain conifers, including some fairly large White Pine, as well as deciduous trees like oak and maple making it home to a great diversity of insects, plants, birds, and animals. The park has two campgrounds, one with electrical hookups, and one that is rustic. We prefer “tent” camping in the Devoe Lake rustic campground with it’s pit toilets and handpumps, whether in our small trailer or in a tent, because the sites are bigger, more secluded, and a variety of birds often come right to your campsite. In addition the rustic campground communicates with park’s best hiking trails without the need to get in your car.

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Park Map.

A south loop hiking trail cuts through meadows interspersed with stands of trees that attract numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies not mention birds such as Indigo Buntings that love that type of habitat.

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South Trail

The northern loop takes the hiker on much more rolling terrain interspersed with swamps and culminating along a ridge that provides a panoramic view of four of the parks lakes.

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Grousehaven Lake from the park loop road.

The lakes offer a variety of fish species to attract the angler including Brook and Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and panfish.

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Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

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Many of the lakes just outside the park boundary offering public access are heavily developed with boat and dock filled shorelines and large year round homes which in recent years have replaced many smaller cabins set back in the trees. Some of the larger multistory dwellings seem almost ready to topple into the lake giving these small bodies of water more the feel of a large recreational swimming pool. Even so, the lakes do offer good fishing even if with somewhat diminished natural aesthetic. However, if communing with nature is your goal, it is worth it to travel away from the park to the nearby Au Sable River and it’s chain of lakes which offer a rewarding undeveloped destination for the photographer, fisherman, and nature lover.

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Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Within the park, even without a very special species of bird, there is ample reason to  return year after year to enjoy the park’s beauty. But the very special bird that makes the park so irresistible is the Common Loon. Numbers seen vary year to year but they’re always there with their haunting cry breaking the silence of the night. To our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting loons can be found.

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Common Loon

 

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With young, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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Meal time, (Donna).

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The young are growing fast.

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Lodge Lake.

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An equally enchanting bird usually seen on Grebe Lake is the Trumpeter Swan. During one paddle the call of the adults across the lake gave ample evidence as to how they got their name.

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Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

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Another look.

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Being old enough to remember when they suffered the ravages of DDT and were very rare Bald Eagles always have a high wow factor. We had a number of sightings in the park and at least five the day we paddled Loud Pond along the Au Sable River.

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I control the canoe and my wife often takes the pictures.

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Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

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Donna get’s a picture of one of the Bald Eagles seen on Loud Pond.

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Equally fascinating were the other birds seen during our hikes and paddles.

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A Great Crested Flycatcher over looks a meadow on the south trail.

 

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An immature Great Crested Flycatcher asks to be fed, (Donna).

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A Catbird puts everything into it’s song, (Donna).

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A good day for the Cedar Waxwing, not so much for the dragonfly, (Donna).

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Along the south trail in the very top of a tree a Chestnut-sided Warbler sings it’s heart out, (Donna).

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A Green Heron makes a living along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Too far away for a good pic, perhaps an immature Rose Breasted Grosbeak?

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Ever on the lookout for flying insects, like sentry’s Kingbirds lined the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Another look, (Donna).

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Near water’s edge a Kingbird sits on it’s nest, (Donna).

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Donna catches this female Kingfisher along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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A Tree Swallow party along the shore of Devoe Lake,(Donna).

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Numerous Rose Breasted Grosbeaks were seen but they proved a challenge to photograph, (Donna).

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Spotted sandpiper along the shore of Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

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The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know we love dragonflies. While butterflies may initially catch your eye very few creatures fascinate in the air like the  dragonfly. But the relationship fraught with conflict because we also love birds and the dragonflies maneuverability is often not enough to avoid becoming a tasty high protein snack.

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Calico Pennant, (Donna).

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Female Ruby Meadowhawk

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Blue Dasher, (Donna).

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Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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This Damsel fly on flower illustrates the capability 0f the micro 4/3rds Panasonic (Leica) 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

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Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

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Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

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Female Calico Pennant.

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Male Halloween Pennant.

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Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

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Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

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Most of the time when we take a picture we have a pretty good idea what the subject is. When we don’t part of the fun is during the research to figure out what it is. So far the ID of this rather nondescript dragonfly remains a mystery.

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The Vesper Bluet is a late afternoon and evening damselfly, (Donna).

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Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

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River Jewelwing seen along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

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The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

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Butterflies live a rough life. Subject to the effects of rain, wind, sun and sometimes attempted predation they often become rather tattered with age. Like wildflowers much of their magic come from the fact that they are only here for a short time. During this most recent visit it was interesting because we didn’t see as many as expected and often the ones seen were rather tattered. However, the few that were in nice enough shape to merit a photograph took up the slack.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

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Northern Pearly-eye

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Northern Pearly-eye another view.

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American Copper, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna).

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Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

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Peck’s Skipper with a partially shaded wing explores an iris.

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Northern Cloudywing Skipper

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Eastern Comma.

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Monarch, (Donna).

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The very small and seldom seen Banded Hairstreak, (Donna).

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No matter when one visits the park in spring and summer there are some flowers that are seen and some that are not. Turtleheads and Cardinal flowers usually appear in August so we missed them this year but others were present.

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Certainly not a flower but one of a number of very large White Pines in the park. How do you capture it’s impressive size in a photograph?

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St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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Yellow Water Lily

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Black-eyed Susan’s appear to take flight, (Donna).

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This American Wintergreen was growing in a very moist area, (Donna).

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Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

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Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

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Water Lily.

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Water Lily times two, (Donna).

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A hover fly checks out a water lily.

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Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

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Small and very common in the meadow areas along the south trail this one has eluded identification.

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Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

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New Jersey Tea or Wild Snowball, interestingly it has been used for treated such things as gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, cough, fever, chills, spasms, bleeding, . . . “.

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Monkey Flower, (Donna).

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Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

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Indian Pipe, (Donna).

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

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Fern.

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At their peak these Picture Plant flowers will turn a deep burgundy. See below for the leaves.

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The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

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Daisy Fleabane, very small, very common, very beautiful.

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Early morning on Grebe Lake.

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When out on a day’s hike looking for birds, flowers, or butterflies it’s hard not to notice other things and sometimes they become the most memorable.

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Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

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Pixie Cups, north trail.

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We saw quite a bit of this colorful fungi the day we hiked the south trail.

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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle along the trail, (Donna).

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American Toad, (Donna).

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Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

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A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

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British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

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Early July is apparently not the best time for fungi. This was one of the few not very colorful examples seen.

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Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

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A Map Turtle catches a few rays, (Donna).

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A large Porcupine is spotted along the south trail, (Donna).

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So much natural diversity in one Michigan state park! This year we left the park wishing for a few more days to explore, to look more closely with intention, to breath in the fragrance of balsam, or just to gaze up into the splendor of the green canopy of trees surrounding our campsite. Perhaps that’s the best way to leave.

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Devoe Lake.

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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.

 

An Early June Paddle On Griggs Reservoir

A few days ago while fishing I was fortunate to see two Black-crowned Night Herons. Such a sighting is always a treat in Ohio as, unlike Great Blue Herons, they are only found in a few isolated locations with Griggs Reservoir being one. As you might expect most of their activity is a night so during the day they are usually found perched quietly in trees at waters edge.

 

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Fishing rig for the reservoir.

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Black-crowned Night Heron

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Given my good fortune the day before, my wife expressed the desire to do a paddle, bird camera in hand, with the express goal of seeing and perhaps photographing the herons. Of course as most birders know there is an element of uncertainty to these endeavors. After eight miles of paddling no Black-crowned Night Herons were seen much less photographed but as is often the case other things made up for it.

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As I moved the canoe closer a very young White Tail fawn at waters edge tries to remain unnoticed, (Donna).

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An also very young Map Turtle, about the size of a fifty cent piece, enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

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We catch a rare glimpse of a female wood slinking along the shore with young ones. Usually by the time we get this close they’ve scattered. An outcome we try to avoid, (Donna).

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Typical evasive “wounded” maneuver by a female with young when you get too close, (Donna).

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In a second he was gone but that was all the time my wife needed to catch this Mink. Pretty exciting as it had been a while since we’d seen one, (Donna).

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A Red-eared Slider poses for a picture. It may now be more common in the reservoir than the Map Turtle, (Donna).

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Usually several groups of mallard duckling are seen during early June paddles, (Donna).

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Like all youngsters this immature Red-tailed Hawk was making a lot of noise, demanding to be noticed.

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Given the number of nesting boxes Prothonotary Warblers are certainly not rare in central Ohio. However, whenever we find one “setting up housekeeping” in a natural tree cavity it’s particularly exciting. Such was the case with the below female at the north end of Griggs.

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Prothonotary Warbler, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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We were almost to the 161 bridge and Kiwanis Riverway Park when we saw the prothonotary and usually go just a little further before turning for the journey home. However, on this particular day it was hard to imagine what would be discovered that would top that already seen so with a fair breeze off our stern we somewhat reluctantly pointed the bow south and headed home. A wonderful way to finish the day.

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Thanks for stopping by

 

 

Cliff Swallow Close Up

We often see Cliff Swallows when paddling central Ohio’s reservoirs. While seeing them is not rare, getting a good picture of one is. During a recent outing on Griggs Reservoir we had the opportunity to use the canoe to our advantage. We positioned ourselves so that, sitting motionless, a light breeze propelled the canoe toward swallow nests located on the bridge support structure. By being very still we were able to get much closer than we had previously. Once the paddles were picked up to reposition the boat, the birds flew.

Typical Cliff Swallow nest location, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic ZS50.

Cliff Swallows, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

A closer look, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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North end of Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic FZ200.

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During our trip, which covered the length of the reservoir, there were plenty of things to see. This was a good thing because I was testing a new Sigma 18-300mm lens. The hope is that the lens, mounted on my DSLR, will do most of what my Panasonic FZ200 does, landscapes, close-ups of insects, and to some extent birds, but with more creative control and exposure latitude while still having the convenance of not having to switch lenses. In harsh light DSLR APS-C sensors tend to do better with highlights and shadows (exposure latitude) when compared to the much smaller sensor used in the FZ200. The Sigma lens is a story of compromises given that it goes from extreme wide angle to telephoto. It’s not a macro lens but will take reasonable pictures of “bugs” while at the same time doing a decent job with landscapes and birds that aren’t to far away. Overall I’m satisfied with it’s performance realizing it will never compete with fixed focal length lenses for ultimate sharpness. For those not familiar with sensor sizes see the chart below. I’ve also included the type of camera used for each picture should the reader be curious.

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It’s the insect time of the year along the reservoir ensuring that there are plenty of fascinating subjects.

Fragile Forktail, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Eastern Forktail (F), Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Familiar Bluet, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Widow Skimmer (F) not fully developed, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Eastern Pondhawk (M), Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Familiar Bluet, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Bee on Milkweed flower, Griggs Park, Panasonic Zs50.

Eastern Amberwing, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Happy Milkweed Beetles, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

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Reptiles and amphibian greeted us during our journey.

Bullfrog, Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

Hiding, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Very small Map Turtle, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Looking at the other side, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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Other things also watched our passing.

White-tailed deer along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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At the very north end of the reservoir, Kiwanis Riverway Park, we pulled the boat out for a snack break and spent some time checking out the area birds. Hopefully a few more challenging subjects for the Sigma lens would be found.

Great Egret and Cormorant north end of Griggs Reservoir, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, (cropped).

A closer look at the Great Egret, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Tree Swallows, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, cropped.

A male Red-winged Blackbird calls out, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

Northern Flicker, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, cropped, (Donna).

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The below picture is interesting because this Wood Duck duckling, along with three of it’s siblings, was reacting to the presence of our canoe. We never chase birds but these guys shot out of the shoreline brush and took off across the water. Sadly, as we watched them head for another hiding spot, one duckling suddenly disappeared not to be seen again. The victim of a Large Mouth Bass or Snapping Turtle perhaps?

Wood Duck duckling, Griggs reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Recent wildflowers seen.

Water Willow, Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D with Sigma 18-300mm lens, cropped.

Butterfly Weed continues to make it’s presence known in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Along the water’s edge the flowers of the Button Bush have just started to bloom, Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic ZS 50.

Looking into the woods, a Day Lily stands out, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Spiderwort, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Moth Mullein, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

Catnip (non-native), Panasonic ZS50.

Wild Rose along Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Trumpet-creeper along Griggs Reservoir, Panasonic G7 Leica 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

Coneflower, backyard.

Black-eyed Susan, Griggs Reservoir Park, Panasonic ZS50.

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Often we find ourselves enchanted by a new view of something seen before. Such was the case with our close up encounter with the Cliff Swallows. Their nest building and graceful flight, what amazing birds! On the same day the celebration may be interrupted by an occurrence, like the sudden disappearance of a duckling, that is hard to watch.

Paddling into Kiwanis Riverway Park, Panasonic FZ200.

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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.

 

“Black Lagoon” Crayfish and Things Eating Things

Well not exactly the Black Lagoon (recalling a movie from childhood), but while I was in Michigan fishing my wife continued to explore the areas around our home in central Ohio. One morning between heavy rain storms she observed some rather interesting behavior by the local crayfish population in Griggs Reservoir as they gathered along the shore and then partially crawled out of the water. We spent some time researching crayfish (did you know there are 20 species in Ohio?), trying to understand this behavior but to no avail. Our only guess is it had something to do with the recent heavy rains.

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The Griggs Reservoir crayfish seemed to be waiting in line to peer above the water’s service, (Donna).

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One rather large specimen takes his time looking around, (Donna).

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It became a group activity.

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Upon my return we spent time paddling Griggs Reservoir as well as exploring Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for late summer dragonflies and butterflies. At Prairie Oaks we arrived about 20 seconds to late, according to our hiking companions, to witness a garden spider making quick work of a dragonfly that it had captured in it’s web. That spider was fast!

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Unfortunate dragonfly, Prairie Oaks

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Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

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.   .   .  and continuing with the same theme, just a few days earlier my wife caught this robber fly enjoying lunch at the expense of a careless bee.

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Robber Fly, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Also courtesy of my wife sharp eye, one last series of photos dealing with things eating other things.

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Double-crested Cormorant attempts to eat a Crappie on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ultimately, the Crappie being just a little too big to swallow, swam away, (Donna).

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We don’t usually consider ourselves a food source so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that if a creature is not in the process of being eaten, it is usually searching for or waiting to ambush it’s next meal, or if successful, eating it. Spending time in nature guarantees one will witness such things from time to time. In the last few days not everything seen has been in the process of eating or engaged in some unusual hard to explain behavior. Some things were just posing for the camera.

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There were butterflies, some of which like the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue are very small.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Viceroys, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Summer Azure, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Juvenal’s Duskywing (F), Griggs Reservoir.

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Dragonflies.

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Griggs Reservoir.

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Common Whitetail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Calico Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Powdered Dancer (Blue form), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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

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Eastern Pondhawk, Griggs Reservoir

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Moths, they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes.

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Chickweed Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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and other things.

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Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Common Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Bumblebee on False Dragonhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Arrowroot, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Map Turtle with friend, Griggs reservoir, (Donna).

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Loaded with pollen, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Solitary Sand Wasp, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh yes, we have been seeing birds and a few posed for a picture.

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Hairy Woodpeckers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Mallards creating reflection art, Griggs Reservoir.

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Once again we find ourselves amazed at what is seen right under our nose in central Ohio. Should you be curious about such things, but not inclined to try your hand at photography, get a pair of binoculars, preferably a pair with close focus capability, and a new world will be opened to you! Thanks for stopping by.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir from the canoe, (Donna).

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****

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.

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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.

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Osprey, north end of Alum creek reservoir, FZ200

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Closer look, FZ200

 

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Adult Osprey, FZ200

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Taking flight, Donna, FZ200

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Flag-tailed Spinyleg, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Paddling up Alum Creek, FZ200

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Long-jawed Orbweaver, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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

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Fall Phlox, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Amberwing, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

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Very young Map turtle, alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

 

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Solitary Sandpiper, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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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.

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Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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

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

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Butterflies on scat, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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

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Eastern Amberwing (F), Donna, FZ200

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

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

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

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Spicebush Swallowtail, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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

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

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Common Arrowhead, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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

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

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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.

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Summer along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Sunflower, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

 

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Immature Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Another look.

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

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

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

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

 

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Robber fly, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Monarch, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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

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

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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.

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

 

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

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

 

 

Birding By Canoe, Alum Creek Reservoir

There may be a few birds that are easier to see from a canoe but for us the real reason for using one is that we enjoy messing around in small boats and it does offer a unique perspective on the landscape. The north end of Alum Creek reservoir in central Ohio is a beautiful place to explore. With an endless number of coves you never know what you’ll discover so there’s always anticipation. On the down side, while using binoculars to observe birds is usually not too difficult, taking acceptable pictures is another story as holding the camera steady while you and everything else is moving is almost impossible. The stronger the breeze the greater the challenge so often when we’re in the canoe my wife becomes the photographer and I handle the boat.

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The following celebrates a recent adventure on the reservoir:

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Exploring a cove.

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We often direct our gaze upward as we follow the shoreline.

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Looking for birds.

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Along the shore a Red-tailed hawk seemed to be tending a nest but no immature birds were seen.

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There was no shortage of Baltimore Orioles.

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Northern Rough-winged Swallow, (Donna)

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Double-crested Cormorants, (Donna).

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While enjoying the birds, out of the corner of our eye we noticed a flowering plant unlike anything we recalled seeing before. So often when we discover a “new to us” plant it turns out to be invasive but that was not the case with this one.

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Close-up photography of a flower is not easy when you are in a canoe.

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Limber Honeysuckle, native to Ohio, very exotic looking.

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Another view, (Donna).

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Looking up isn’t always necessary, down lower a few birds and turtles also cooperated for the camera.

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A Pileated Woodpecker liked something about this log.

 

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How many ducklings can a mother Wood Duck care for?

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A moment later they heading up into the grass, (Donna)

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Small Map Turtle, (Donna)

 

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Spotted Sandpiper along the shore.

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Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle, (Donna).

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There was no shortage of Prothonotary Warblers, (Donna).

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Singing, (Donna).

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These birds are flexible!, (Donna).

 

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Other plants also fascinated.

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Pussytoes, (Donna).

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Shoreline grass, (Donna)

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Corn Salad, (Donna).

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In addition to the birds and fascinating plants my wife spotted this small butterfly.

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Pearl Crescent, (Donna).

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Pearl Crescent from below, (Donna).

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Did I say Alum Creek Reservoir is a beautiful place? It is, but the dark side is that there’s a lot of thrash.

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Just part of the trash we collected during our paddle. The bow and stern areas of the canoe were full.

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But ending on a more upbeat note:

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Cove, Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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