Central Ohio Springs Ramblings

In the last few days we’ve been on hikes with friends as well as dedicated birding trips to various parks in Columbus and central Ohio and even when we weren’t trying real hard we’ve seen some amazing things. Hope you enjoy this early May photographic journey through spring in central Ohio.

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Hobblebush, Glenn Echo Ravine, “the shrub forms large clusters of white to pink flowers in May–June. Flowers provide nectar for the Spring Azure butterfly. The large showy flowers along the edge of the cluster are sterile, while the small inner flowers have both male and female parts”.

 

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Hobblebush flowers

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Spring in Glenn Echo Ravine

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Jack-in-the-pulpit, Glenn Echo Revine

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Glenn Echo Ravine

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Fleabane, banks of the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Swamp Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

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Swamp Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Solomon Seal, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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Green Heron, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

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Green Heron, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Spring Crest along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Spring Crest, (Donna).

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on nest, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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Red-eyed Vireo, Battelle Darby Metro Park

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Blue jay, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam.,

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White-eyed Vireo, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Take 2.

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Bullfrog, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Big Darby, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Northern Parula Warbler, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Take 2.

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Glenn Echo Ravine.

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Swainson’s Thrush, Glen Echo Ravine.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Spiderwort, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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May Apple, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Northern Flicker, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Barred Owl, Battelle Darby Metro Park. Spotted while looking for a noisy Great Crested Flycatcher.

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Red-eyed Vireo with Yellow-rumped, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Large flowered Valerian, “habitats include floodplain woodlands along streams or rivers, shaded ravines, and bottoms of rocky canyons. This species is found in high quality habitats that are moist and shady”. Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Big Darby, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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I apologize that some of the bird pics aren’t up to “bird photography” standards, severe crops and adverse lighting, but hopefully they still tell the story.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Cabbage You Wouldn’t Eat

In the last week or so migrating birds have started to move through central Ohio. While there have been reports of early arriving warblers we have yet to see any. That may have more to do with our approach to nature, which at any moment in time focuses on the “low hanging fruit” rather than expending effort to see something that may or may not be there. It’s quite possible that as we were fascinating over a wildflower one of those little buggers flew right over our head. Oh, well.

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So with that in mind this post is mostly about those early spring plants and wildflowers that every year usher in the magic of spring.

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One of the first to be seen is Skunk Cabbage which due to it’s capacity to generate it’s own internal heat, often emerges by melting it’s way through the snow. It’s name comes from it’s skunk like smell. In contrast to it’s smell we’ve always thought it’s appearance to be quite attractive. It almost looks good enough to eat.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Take 2.

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Take 3, almost looks good enough to eat (not recommended!).

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Skunk Cabbage habitat, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park, (Donna).

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Not far from the skunk cabbage it was hard to miss this Eastern Towhee.

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Eastern Towhee, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Another early arriver is Dutchman’s Breeches. It continues to do well against the onslaught of Lesser Celandine in the many areas we visit. Lesser Celandine was introduced into the United States as an ornamental and is now considered invasive.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park, below the dam.

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We did manage to see Swamp Buttercup which is often confused with Lesser Celandine. Note the difference in petals and leaves. It seem less common each year which may be due to the aforementioned invasive.

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Swamp Buttercup, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Lesser Celandine, (web pic)

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We always get excited when we spot the beautiful flower of the Bloodroot. Although not uncommon, it is very fragile and doesn’t fair well against the early spring wind and rain.

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Bloodroot, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot, Griggs Park below the dam.

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With the rain not every interesting thing on the forest floor is a flower.

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Wood Ear fungus, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Seeming to defy the temperature, early moths and butterflies made an appearance on the few “warmer” days we’ve had.

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Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Grapevine Moth, Griggs Park west shore, (Donna).

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Red Admiral, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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The flowing water of early spring inspired a beaver’s creativity.

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Beaver dam, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Sometimes a sound overhead pulls us away from the wildflowers.

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Northern Flickers, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Northern Flicker, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Male Cowbird, Griggs Park.

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Fox Sparrow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Tree Swallows, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Male Downy Woodpecker, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Other flowers also fascinated.

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Twinleaf buds and leaves, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Cutleaf Toothwort, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Violet, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Spring Beauties, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A lone hepatica brings delicate color to it’s otherwise dreary early spring world.

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Round-lobbed Hepatica, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Other plants were also flowering under the still open tree canopy.

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Toad Shade Trillium, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Virginia bluebells, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Trout Lilies, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Ever feel like you’re being watched.

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Cooper’s Hawk, not far from Griggs reservoir.

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Some plants still have a way to go before their often missed flowers emerge.

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May Apple, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A little further along, (Donna).

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In the days to come we’ll be keeping track of the progress of the May apples while out of he corner of our eye watching for those sneaky migrating warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

While I Was Out Fishing

I’ve been drawn away from my pursuit of pictures in nature by an interest in wetting a line to see what fish might decide to cooperate. Actually, as those who’ve read this blog for awhile have already guessed, for me fishing is more about just being outdoors and messing around in a small boat.

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My wife has graciously offered to take up the slack. Below are some of her photos taken along Griggs Reservoir over the last few days.

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Milkweed budding, (Donna)

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Hairy Beardtongue, (Donna)

Canada Anemone 2 whole plant 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk    cp1

Canada Anemone, (Donna)

Blue-eyed Grass 2 053015 Griggs N. solo walk cp1

Blue-eyed Grass, (Donna)

Bee on clover 2 better 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk   cp1

Bumble Bee on clover, (Donna)

Wild Garlic or Onion 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk cp1

Wild Garlic, (Donna)

Spiderwort 4 close-up 1 side view 2 053015 Griggs N. solo   walk cp1

Spiderwort, (Donna)

Northern Catalpa flower 2 closer 1 053015 Griggs N. solo   walk cp1

Northern Catalpa, (Donna)

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Sometimes nature decides to come to you, as did this Northern Flicker yesterday morning just as we were getting to head out on a bike ride. It left us scrabbling for our cameras as it’s a rare visitor to our city yard.

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Northern Flicker

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Northern Flicker, (take 2)

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Northern Flicker, (take 3)

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The beautiful markings deserve a closer look.

 

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Walks

We walk along Griggs Reservoir almost every day. Lately, bright and sunny may give way to a day that is cloudy and overcast with just a bit of rain. This autumn we’ve been looking closer as every day brings small changes to the canvas. Each with it’s own unique light revealing extravagant color or subtle beauty. The celebration is sometimes very close, perhaps right at your feet as a colorful leaf comes to rest in a puddle, or further away as nearby bare branches turn colors on the opposite shore into stained glass.

In the last week, whether walking or paddling, Osprey can be seen overhead. Soon they will be heading south. Starlings are seen in tree tops. Were they there before and just not noticed? Wood Ducks, Coots, and Pied-billed Grebes have been more common. Passing through from points north no doubt. We’ve had to content ourselves with a few sightings of Yellow Rumped warblers to get our fall warbler fix.

Click on image for higher resolution.

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Patterns in color, Griggs Park

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Morning sun, Griggs Park

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Morning sun just reaching the opposite shore, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection on a cloudy day, Griggs Park

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Branches, color, reflection, study 2, Griggs Park

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Cardinal with red leaves, Griggs Park

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Cardinal, study 2, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Red leaves without the Cardinal, Griggs Park

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Treetop Starlings, Griggs Park

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Autumn sun on leaves, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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A song that makes one smile, Song Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Still plenty of Great Blue Herons along the reservoir, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fall fungus, Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Recent rains have brought color to lichen, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Autumn on a stump, Griggs Park

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Leaves caught by a shaft of sunlight, Griggs Park

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Park path, Griggs Park

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From a recent rain, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Fallen leaves line the park road, Griggs Park

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Reflections and fallen leaves, Griggs Park

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Oak leaves, Griggs Park

Contrasts and Abundance

This spring I’ve been struck by a couple of things. First, how we visually perceive some plants and animals to be very beautiful and others pretty ugly  if not repugnant. It certainly seems as though our brains are hardwired to discriminate, certainly not a new idea. In our distant past, were attractive things usually better to eat? Probably not. In many cases it may just be the subconscious association with attractive or repugnant things closer to home. Theories abound! As a result of many hours spent tromping through the woods I’ve developed an interest in lichens and fungi. However, I’d be the first to admit that most of the time their beauty doesn’t come close to that of even an average wildflower.

Secondly, along with Ohio’s biodiversity, which has always been a fascination, I’m in awe when I think about the sheer amount of life that comes into being every spring and summer in our northern latitudes. Forget about animals and insects for a moment and just think about everything else. Not too long ago while walking through some very lush spring woods, undoubtedly made more so by recent heavy rains, fresh translucent green was everywhere. We were in a completely different place than that which existed just a few weeks earlier when trees were bare and the ground largely devoid of life. What would we find if we could weigh the woods before and after? Interesting to think about. Pursuing this thought, and equally fascinating, is the amount of water that takes up residence in green living things this time of year and how that interacts with the rest of our environment.

So below are pictures taken around our yard and during recent walks along Griggs Reservoir. A celebration of that life, some beautiful and some not so much.

A Flicker keeps it’s distance:

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Northern Flicker being elusive.

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Northern Flicker a little closer in better light.

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A heron gets a mid-morning snack:

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Great Blue Heron fishing.

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Is it a hit or a miss? (Donna)

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Success! A bite size snack. Is that heron swimming? (Donna)

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Drying off. (Donna)

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Maybe they’re bigger on the other side of the reservoir. (Donna)

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Just enough energy in that snack for a flight across the lake. (Donna)

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Graceful! (Donna)

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Map Turtles and Red-eared Sliders take advantage of the morning sun.

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Red-eared Slider island.

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Map Turtles enjoying the sun.

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I’m not sure even a mother could love this little guy:

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Dead Man’s Finger’s

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Could be the flowering portion of Dead Man’s Fingers but not sure

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This common lichen is a little easier on the eyes:

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Candelaria concolor

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Fortunately we could take refuge in other sights:

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Early Meadow Rue

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Common Foxglove

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Canada Anemone

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Red Clover

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Spring Azure, a very small butterfly.

View along the shore:

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Griggs Reservoir cove, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Early Spring Mystery Plant at Prairie Oaks

Yesterday we decided to check out Prairie Oaks Metro Park wondering what migrating birds might be passing through or what wildflowers we might see. Prairie Oaks is one of our favorite parks due to three distinct areas that offer their own unique ecology; the ponds, the river, and the restored prairie areas.

click on image for a better view

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The Big Darby, early spring

Before heading out on the trail running along the river, we checked out the ponds and noticed Lesser (or Greater) Scaups, Hooded Mergansers, Pied-billed Grebes, Canada Geese, and one Common Loon in residence. All were too far away to make a picture worthwhile but a Killdeer not far away was willing to have it’s picture taken. I had never before noticed the large size of a Killdeer’s eyes.

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Killdeer, ponds at Prairie Oaks

Starting down the trail, we noticed a Northern Flicker in the tree tops.

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Northern Flicker, Prairie Oaks

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Northern Flicker, Prairie Oaks

The Eastern Towhees were elusive.

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Eastern Towhee hiding in brush, Prairie Oaks

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Eastern Towhee in tree top, Prairie Oaks

But continuing on, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was more cooperative.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Prairie Oaks

Near the river a Eastern Phoebe posed for us.

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Eastern Phoebe, Prairie Oaks

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Eastern Phoebe, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

The highlight of the trip was when, as we were heading back to the car, a Golden-crowned Kinglet appeared at eye level right next to the trail.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks

While the wildflowers were not out in any appreciable numbers, the forest floor, with some Virginia Waterleaf visible, was still interesting.

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Moss on Fallen trees, Prairie Oaks

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Patterns, Prairie Oaks

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Virginia waterleaf and log, Prairie Oaks

Small trees were leafing out

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Leafing out, Prairie Oaks

 

As we continued looking for interested signs of “new” life my wife noticed a rather unusual looking plant. After checking all of her plant books upon our return home, it’s identity remains a mystery. Plants often assume unusual appearances as they emerge in the spring. Maybe in a few days this one’s  identity will be obvious. Do you know what it is?

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Mystery plant, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch

A few days ago we had the pleasure of doing a canoe/birding trip on Alum Creek Reservoir north of  the Howard Rd. bridge with some friends. While prime spring birding has passed we were rewarded with great views of King Birds, Prothonotary Warblers, Red Eyed Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, and Great Blue as will as Green Herons. In addition we also enjoyed observing various turtles on logs along the shoreline taking advantage of the intermittent sunshine as well as a Common Water Snake. Dragonflies and damselflies were also out in force as well as some early summer wildflowers.

The day started slow but after a couple of hours a good number of birds had been seen so we decided to take an early lunch break at a nice spot on a bluff overlooking the lake. We hadn’t been there very long when a mature Bald Eagle was spotted flying in the distance and a little later we saw what appeared to be an immature eagle.

Lunch was progressing rather nicely when my wife spotted a rather large snake patrolling the perimeter of our picnic area. It climbed up into a hollow tree and came back down and continued to check things out very near to where we were sitting. It seemed not to mind as we sat there eating our chocolate chip cookies. Turns out it was a Rat Snake and is one of the largest snakes in Ohio which can reach a length of  8 feet. It was all pretty exciting!

Below are some pics of that trip as well as other recent journeys into the wilds of Ohio. If you want a better view click on the image.

1 Black Rat Snake - Alum Creek

1 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake = Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

3 Black Rat Snake - Prairie Oaks

3 Black Rat Snake – Prairie Oaks

Wildflowers from the Alum Creek Paddle:

Fire Pink - Alum Creek, Donna

Fire Pink – Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass - Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass – Alum Creek, Donna

Common Water Snake seen during our Alum Creek paddle:

Common Water Snake - Alum Creek

Common Water Snake – Alum Creek

We continue to identify central Ohio dragon and damselflies:

Widow Skimmer - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Widow Skimmer – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Variable Dancer - Prairie Oaks

Variable Dancer – Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets - Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets – Prairie Oaks

Fragile Forktail - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fragile Forktail – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Eastern Forktail - Prairie Oaks

Eastern Forktail – Prairie Oaks

A Pair of Stream Bluets - Griggs, Donna

On a recent trip to Prairie Oaks it was exciting to see Orchard Orioles feeding there young:

Immature Male Orchard Oriole - Prairie Oaks

Immature Male Orchard Oriole – Prairie Oaks

A Northern Flicker seemed as though it was watching as we looked for Damselflies at Prairie Oaks:

Northern Flicker - Prairie Oaks

Northern Flicker – Prairie Oaks

Finally some rather unexpected or unusual discoveries at Prairie Oaks:

Coyote Scat? - Prairie Oaks

Coyote Scat? – Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite - Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite – Prairie Oaks

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Thanks for stopping by.

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