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.

While I Was Fishing

My wife had to carry most of the load in central Ohio over the past week or so while I was on my annual Michigan fishing trip. Based on the following pictures, many of which are hers, she had no trouble discovering things of interest.

Nature walk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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First there were the birds, a few of which when captured in unusual or even comical poses. Some just a little different than the usual “mug” shot.

Immature Robin, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Just fledged Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Mealtime.

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir Park.

 

Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Immature Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Preening Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Flicker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A juvenile Cedar Waxwing stretches it’s neck, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits Donna as she looks for caterpillars, Griggs Reservoir Park.

A Cardinal is caught spying on a young Northern Flicker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Green Heron showing it’s crest, Griggs Reservoir

Juvenile Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Take 2.

To cute to pass up, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Sometimes a bird picture was obtained as my wife happened to look up as she studyed an interesting “bug” and there were apparently no shortage of those.

Eupatorium Borer Moth , Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Milkweed Tussock Moth Catapillar, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wasp, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Monarch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.

Orchard orbweaver, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Donna spotted this Robber Fly in Griggs Reservoir Park. Robber flies prey on other flies, beetles, butterflies and moths, various bees, ants, dragon and damselflies, ichneumon wasps, grasshoppers, some spiders and even other robber flies. They do so apparently irrespective of any offensive chemicals the prey may have at its disposal. Many robber flies when attacked in turn do not hesitate to defend themselves with their proboscides and may deliver intensely painful bites if handled carelessly, (Ref: WIKI), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sand Wasp, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar , Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Robber fly, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hover fly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Green Bee, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Orange Sulphur, Griggs Reservoir Park.

My wife spotted these 2-marked Treehoppers in Griggs Reservoir Park, “Treehoppers tap into the stems of woody and herbaceous plants with their beaks and feed on the sap. Treehopper species are often closely associated with a single food source.  Some species gather in groups as adults or nymphs.  They slit the bark of their host plant to deposit eggs within, covering the eggs with a secretion called “egg froth” that provides protection from desiccation in winter, may shield the eggs from predators, and that contains an attractant pheromone that brings other ovipositing females to the spot (where, like cows, they may line up, all facing the same direction).  The eggs hatch in spring when they are re-hydrated by the rising sap of the host plant as its buds open and its shoots start to grow”.  Ref: Bug Lady, Riveredge Nature Center.

Mating Clouded Sulfurs, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Summer flowers grace areas along the reservoir.

On a cloudy morning Evening Primrose overlooks Griggs Reservoir

Coneflowers keep Cardinal Flowers company in one of the park rain gardens.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Swamp Rose Mallow.

Wingstem, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sunflowers rule this time of year.

Common Sneezeweed.

Boneset, Griggs Reservoir.

Square Stem Monkey Flower, Griggs Reservoir.

Sunflowers draw one’s gaze to the reservoir beyond.

Queen Ann’s Lace frames Griggs Reservoir.

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Finally a few pics from my fishing trip to the Rifle River Recreation Area. It always feels like a homecoming when I head north bringing back many fond childhood summer vacation memories. I always think I’ll take more pictures on this trip but it’s hard to wear two hats so I mostly just allow myself to be there and fish.

Common Loons are a real treat on Devoe Lake in the Rifle River Rec Area. Seemingly unconcerned they swim close to my canoe.

Taking a break.

One of a number of nice bass caught and released.

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Each trip into nature marks the passing of time. Summer moves along, things seen are ever changing, birds fledge and mature under parent’s attentive care, caterpillars and butterflies continue their amazing dance of life, wildflowers and bees are ever present companions, by late July the days have grown noticeably shorter.

 

Griggs reservoir Park.

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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.

The warblers are coming, the warblers are . . .

Earlier this week we did another long paddle on Griggs Reservoir with the hope of seeing a Mink. We were encouraged by the fact that on two previous paddles we had seen them. I even brought my “Bird Camera” with the hopes of getting a decent picture. There is a lot of luck involved in getting a decent picture because unless they’re munching on something like a crayfish or similar delicacy they seldom stop moving.

With a slight wind at our back we had a pleasant paddle north following the shoreline of the long narrow reservoir. We did manage to see a Mink but true to form it left us no time for a picture. A little further north an Osprey was more cooperative.

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Osprey, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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It wasn’t too long before we reached the northernmost point of our paddle, a place we affectionately call the “Wetland Areas” because of their propensity to flood during high water. Their attraction is the fact that they’re usually a great place for viewing birds, insects, and other wildlife, as well as an excellent place to see wildflowers. In a secluded area I was able to get a shot of a group of immature Wood Ducks.

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Immature Wood Ducks, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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We beached the canoe and my wife took off in search for wild flowers while I tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish. While there we had hopped to see a few more birds, perhaps migrating warblers, or maybe even a Mink, but no such luck.

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Red flowering plant, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Monkey Flower, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Arrowhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Mint, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The wind was picking up out of the south so we reluctantly decided to start back before things got too “interesting”. We do a fair amount of cycling and often compare it to paddling. One gives you a good upper body workout and the other is great of your legs and lower body. But in the “doing” there is one big difference if you stop pedaling you just stop. If you stop paddling with the wind in your face you start going the wrong way! Hugging the shoreline as much as possible to stay out of the wind we made it back to our launch area without too much trouble.

But wouldn’t you just know it, near the end of our five mile return paddle, tired as we were, hugging the the wooded shore rewarded us with the sighted of an interesting bird! We entered a cove to investigate as a Black Crowned Night Heron watched from a distance. While I controlled the canoe my wife was able to get some serviceable pictures. How exciting, it wasn’t the a Mink but instead our first fall warblers of the year!

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Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Fired up by our brief encounter with the warblers we spent the next few days exploring several areas along the Scioto River and were able to get more shots of birds, migrating or otherwise.

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Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Adult Solitary Sandpipers, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Downy Woodpecker, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Solitary Sandpiper, immature, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Wood-Pewee, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Female American Redstart, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Catbird, immature, Griggs Park

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Female and immature male Mallard Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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Coopers Hawk, immature, Griggs Park

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Cape May Warbler, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Gold Finch feeding young, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Goldfinch, study 2, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Goldfinch, study 3, (Donna)

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.   .   .   as will as pictures of a few other interesting subjects.

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Curious Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Water’s edge, Griggs Park

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Milkweed bugs, Griggs Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Buckeye, Griggs Park

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Great Spangled Fritillary, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Clouded Sulfur, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The sultry days of summer are officially over. The warblers are back!

Celebrating Beauty Closer to Home

I’m always amazed by the distance we have to travel before our brain gets reprogramed and starts to notice beauty that were it closer to home would be passed by unnoticed.

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So in celebration of that which is easy to pass by, below is a collection of photos taken in the last week while walking in Griggs Park or along the Scioto River below the dam. All very close to home and  within the city limits of Columbus. In addition a few were shots were taken while paddling the north end of Griggs Reservoir. From where we live it’s a mile and a half by land and five miles by water. In addition, a few pics were taken in our backyard.

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Since we often see the beauty of a place defined by a landscapes rather than a close-up of a flower or bug, along with the bugs and flowers a few landscapes are included. Perhaps an effort on our part to capture the place in a way that speaks to our larger sensibilities. A way one might appreciate it if you were just out for a walk enjoying the day.

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Through the trees, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Mallard at sunset, Griggs Reservoir

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Swamp Milkweed, Griggs Reservoir

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Queen Ann’s Lace at sunset, Griggs Park

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Kingbird, Griggs Park

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Swamp-Mallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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North end of Griggs Reservoir

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Flower-of-an-Hour (member of the Mallow family) ID supplied by my readers, previously unidentified, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Green Heron, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Bumble Bee, backyard

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Coneflower, backyard.

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Painted turtle, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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The reservoir, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Groundnut, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Hackberry Emperor, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Fungus along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Fungus, along the Scioto River

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Rain Garden, Griggs Park

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Wetland, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Blue Vervain, Griggs Park

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Gravel bar, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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False Dragonhead, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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North end of Griggs Reservoir

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Evening Primrose, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Rocks along the Scioto Rive below Griggs Dam.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Immature Cedar Waxwing, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Green bee on Monkey flower, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Monarch, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Tree roots, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

 

 

 

 

Photos by Donna

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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