So Close To Home

Usually when one thinks about life in Columbus, shopping malls, the local college football team, and rapid urban development come to mind. Columbus, with its multifaceted economy has escaped the malaise of many midwestern cities that relied on manufacturing and heavy industry for their prosperity so outlying farm fields continue to give way the strip malls and housing developments.

.

Still, embedded right in the center of the metropolitan area, there is nature.  During outings along the Scioto River or on Griggs Reservoir I can’t help but feel blessed. Recently while fishing (catch, photograph, release) the surprisingly productive waters for Small Mouth Bass and otherwise being on or near the river and reservoir I’ve been treated the sights and sounds of Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, Great Egrets, Osprey, Spotted Sandpipers and even an occasional Bald Eagle.  After time spent in these places I can only hope that the treasure I get to enjoy endures and is here for those that come after me.

.

Black-crowned Night Heron taken while fishing in the reservoir. A not real common bird!

Another look.

.

The river:

The Scioto River.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam is a favorite spot for fishermen.

.

.   .   .  and for good reason.

A beautiful Scioto River Small Mouth Bass.

.

The reservoir:

An Osprey looks on as I fish in the reservoir.

.

Fishing in the reservoir is very good also.

Okay bear with my enthusiasm but just wanted to show the above fish wasn’t an accident.

.

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron along the reservoir.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron? If I’m right it’s our first sighting ever along Griggs Reservoir, exciting to say the least!

While paddling Spotted Sandpipers often frequent the water’s edge.

In late August Green Herons seem to be more common along the river and reservoir.

.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my enthusiasm. I hope that where ever you live you are blessed to have a special place so close to home.

Taking a break along Griggs reservoir at Hayden Run Falls.

My Florida Photo Favorites

It’s been several weeks since our return from Florida. For the last few years we’ve been blessed to travel to various state parks exploring nature and the area’s natural beauty. I’ve chosen to post a few of my favorite photos from this years trip. A following post will include some of my wife’s favorite photos. Photos are favorites, when they capture the unique beauty of a creature, are of something not seen before, or contribute in some way to the story. Favorites need not always be great photographs.

.

The parks visited over a period of eight weeks were: Myakka River State Park, Kissimmee Prairie State Park, Lake Kissimmee State Park, Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park,  Ochlocknee River State Park, and Three Rivers State Park. The idea was to start south and work our way north as the weather warmed going into early spring.

.

This year we used bikes for the first time to initially explore trails which we could then hike if they looked promising. This coupled with the use of a canoe allowed us to spend time in a number of different Florida environments. On long hikes or bike rides our “go to” camera was the Panasonic FZ200. In the canoe or on shorter hikes we used DSLRs with telephoto zooms.

.

Along the trail, typical of many of the parks visited.

.

****

Myakka River State Park has been a favorite for the past two years primarily because of the potential for nature/bird photography. Paddling can be enjoyable if you and your partner(s) don’t mind being in close proximity to some rather large gators. The distance one can paddle within the park may be limited depending on water conditions and your determination. Hiking is good with some trails traversing more diverse habitat than others.

This Glossy Ibis gives ample reason for the name, Myakka River SP.

A Little Blue Heron strikes a rather exotic pose, Myakka River SP.

These Roseate Spoonbills were taking full advantage of the concentrated but temporary food source caused by a recent hurricane that flooded a substantial portion of the park trapping fish and other edibles in depression pools left as the water receded, Myakka River SP.

Wood Storks and Whistling Ducks seem to get along just fine, Myakka River SP.

A Wood Stork shows off it’s catch, Myakka River SP.

Momentarily startled, birds take a break from the depression pool feeding frenzy, Myakka River SP.

The Whistling Ducks in a better light, Myakka River SP.

Red Shouldered Hawks (FL morph) are very common, Myakka River SP.

This Snowy Egret provides ample proof as to why these birds were almost driven the extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s all for the sake of fashion, Myakka River SP.

White Pelicans over Myakka River SP. Something that must be witnessed in person as a photograph does not capture their graceful flight.

Florida Tassel Flower, Myakka River SP.

Peaceful coexistence in Myakka River SP. At least until the gator grows up!

If you love gators take the hike (permit required) to the Deep Hole in Myakka River SP. A hiking partners count indicated that there were 151 along the shore and 18 in the water the day we were there.

An Anhinga dries out and in the process makes a beautiful picture, Myakka River SP.

.

****

Kissimmee Prairie State Park was a new park for us this year. The main draw was the chance to see Crested Caracara as well as Burrowing Owls. The trails, while extensive, were often under water. A trail capable bicycle is almost essential if you really want to explore the park. While no Burrowing Owls were seen, a Black-crowned Night Heron rockery as well as other bird species made the stay worthwhile.

Numerous creatures call the park home.

While looking for the Crested Caracara we were delighted to see this Loggerhead Shrike, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Take 2.

Eastern Meadowlarks were quite common in the park. Getting close enough for a really great photo was always a challenge.

A beautiful White-eyed Vireo.

Trail in Kissimmee Prairie SP.

A side by side comparison of a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Black Swallowtails almost never seem to land but then one afternoon, as I looked at some distant birds, there it was right at my feet..

A Black-crowned Night Heron rookery of perhaps 30 or 40 birds was discovered along one of the trails. They scattered as soon as we got close.

Exploring the trail near the rookery, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

While reconnoitering a new trail we found this Florida banded water snake, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Probably the most interesting bird seen during our stay was the Crested Caracara. Common in SW Texas it’s range is very limited in Florida, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Take 2.

 

Can you find the insect? Kissimmee Prairie SP.

An immature Little Blue Heron casts a lovely reflection, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

Sometimes we only saw evidence of wildlife, a Bobcat, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

One wonders how many birds fall prey to alligators, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

A lone sentinel, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

While many miles of hiking trails were advertised not all were suitable for that purpose.

Numerous White Peacock butterflies graced the trail edge as we hiked, Kissimmee Prairie SP.

.

****

Lake Kissimmee State Park is a favorite offering fairly extensive paddling and hiking opportunities. Nature viewing, while not as concentrated an experience as Myakka River, is very good. Campsites are some of the best in Florida. The only downside is airboat noise on the weekend and make no mistake they are load.

There are many lovely trails in the park.

A Tricolored Heron poses as we paddle Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP

Not many Green Herons are seen in Florida, perhaps due to their excellent camouflage, but his one was spotted along Tiger Creek.

Take 2.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP.

A Snowy Egret along Tiger Creek.

While bicycling on one of the park trails this Eastern Towhee posed for a picture.

Along the lake shore this Red-shouldered Hawk almost eluded the camera’s lens.

One of the most beautiful birds in Florida, the Purple Gallinule seen along the shore of Lake Kissimmee. Supposedly not all that uncommon but we haven’t seen many over the three years we’ve been going to Florida.

A Pine Warbler seems to be checking something out.

Sure enough!

Some distance away, a solitary Bald Eagle watches as we paddle by.

In a quest to get a dramatic picture of this rather large gator we paddled a little too close. It wasn’t happy and neither was my wife!

A Northern Parula Warbler proves difficult to photograph.

Along the trail in Lake Kissimmee SP a rather large Yellow Rat Snake makes itself comfortable in the morning sun.

A closer look.

A Gopher Tortoise ambles along a park road. They can live for almost 60 years and their borrows provide habitat for numerous cretures including Burrowing Owls. Days will go by and we won’t see one and then .   .   .

.

xxxx

Payne’s Prairie Preserve State park was a new park for us this year. With it’s extensive area we hoped to see a variety of wildlife. Of interest is the fact that the park maintains herds of Spanish Horses as well as Bison. Many waterfowl had already departed on their journey north when we were there.

I had been trying for several days to get a good picture of a Northern Parula Warbler as they seemed to be everywhere. Then one morning sitting outside while visiting a local bakery for breakfast one just about landed on my nose, thankfully I had my FZ200.

Blue Winged Teal, Sweetwater Wetlands Park near Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

Green Winged Teal???  Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

A mother’s love! Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Osprey, Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Palmetto reflections, Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

The Spanish horse is considerably smaller than a typical quarter horse. All have the same coat.

A Song Sparrow catches a spider, Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

A very small anole, Payne’s Prairie Preserve SP.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

.

xxxx

For a number of years Ochlocknee River SP has been one of our favorite parks due to it’s potential for paddling as will as the close proximity of other areas of interest for the birder and nature lover; Bald Point SP and St Marks NWR. Hiking in the park itself, while not extensive, does provide the opportunity to see the threatened Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

The white morph of the Gray Squirrel comprises a charming part of the park’s welcoming committee.

A small active bird, the Brown Headed Nuthatch is a challenge to photograph.

Oystercatcher, Bald Point SP near Ochlocknee River SP.

Royal Terns, Bald Point SP.

A juvenile Bald Eagle flexes it’s wings, St. Marks NWR.

Brown Pelicans, Bald Point SP.

Least Terns, Bald Point SP.

Taking a break during an eight mile paddle exploring a side creek to the Ochlocknee River, Ochlocknee River SP.

A group of Sanderlings take a great interest in something, Bald Point SP.

A Ruddy Turnstone checks out what’s left of a Horseshoe Crab, Bald Point SP.

This Brown Thrasher was a regular visitor at our campsite.

The Ruddy Turnstone is thinking; “Let someone else do the work and just as they retrieve the morsel, steal it!”

Rain Lilies along the road, Ochlocknee River SP.

Snowy Plover, St Marks NWR.

Marbled Godwit, St Marks NWR. A life bird for us!

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Ochlocknee River SP.

.

xxxx

Three Rivers SP was a new park for us this year and was selected primarily for it’s paddling potential. The lake was fairly open and much of the shoreline was shallow and weed choked making it less than ideal for paddling. Due to the lakes huge area wildlife was well dispersed making viewing a bit of a challenge. It was an excellent area for butterflies with some good, if not extensive, hiking trails.

Red Buckeye was in bloom at Three Rivers SP.

Taking a break during a long paddle on Lake Seminole, Three Rivers SP.

Immature Common Loon, Three Rivers SP.

A closer look.

Rain Lilies, Three Rivers SP.

Black Swallowtails on Bull Thistle.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Zebra Swallowtail, Three Rivers SP.

Black Swallowtail.

An almost constantly in motion Pipevine Swallowtail

Osprey on nest, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

Crimson clover, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

Lily pads, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

.

xxxx

That’s it for this post. Many other pictures could have been posted but if you made it this far I’m impressed with your forbearance. Looking back on our experience, we’re reminded what an unbelievably beautiful but fragile resource Florida’s natural areas are. As one drives the highways of the state signs of new or proposed development are not uncommon so pressure on limited resources continues.

Sunset, Myakka river SP.

.

When I started out taking pictures years ago I was fascinated with light and composition as subjects of interest were photographed. It was rewarding to make the effort to capture what was being experienced when looking at a scene. A big fringe benefit, and true blessing, has been a heightened curiosity about the world around me. What is that bird or bug that was just photographed, what is significant about it, and why does it matter. The world is much bigger now.

.

Thanks for stopped by

Cause and Effect

Recently, after several weeks of very dry weather, the rain came. One day it amounted to almost three inches. Once clear and lazy, area rivers are now swollen and turbid and flow with more purpose as though their water has somewhere to go. The precipitation came too late to have a major effect on the season’s color but the orange, yellow, and brown of oaks and hickories is now more saturated. The moist earth returns it’s recent gift to the humid early morning air, as suspended leaves, some no longer green, appear to almost come back to life.

Griggs Reservoir

The crotch of a tree provides a resting place, Emily Traphagen Park.

Stump, Emily Traphagen Park.

Fallen tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

Two days ago during a walk in an area park a bench provided a place to eat lunch. In the stillness we watched an occasional leaf  from some unknown high branch in a nearby tree, like a large early winter snowflake, silently float down and land quietly at our feet. A few descended without a flourish, but most either spiraled, spun, or sashayed side to side on the last and only journey of their lives. They joined those already fallen to complete the cycle of life. One here, another there, slowly, as we sat watching, they never stopped. Today, as I write this, with wind howling past a partially open window, the scene would be much different.

Moss covered roots grace a hillside, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

Fall color, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Rotting log, Emily Traphagen Park.

Leaves of the Shagbark Hickory, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

It’s hard not to think of them as friends, the group of birds; robins, nuthatches, blue jays, etc., that are such an important part of our walks in nature near home.

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

Pigeons, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Carolina Wren, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Mallard reflection, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

.

Autumn color, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

.

Others birds, such as the Bald Eagle, are only seen on occasion but that occasion is a miracle. When I was young, in the days of DDT, a trip to Alaska may have been necessary to see one. Now they can be seen just a mile and a half from our house. Ospreys are seen more frequently, but soon they will embark on their journey south following the already departed community of Black-crowned Night Herons that through early fall call Griggs Reservoir home. With each osprey sighting we wonder if it will be the last until next year.

A Bald Eagle is framed by fall color on the west side of Griggs Reservoir.

Osprey along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

.

A pond forms the backdrop for shoreline grass, Emily Traphagen Park

.

The true magic of the rain, after such a long period of dry weather, is the fungi. Many just seem to appear out of nowhere while others, having endured the dryness, regain their color. Identifying what is seen can be a challenge.

Puffballs, Emily Traphagen Park.

Non-inky Coprinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Turkey Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Some type of polypore, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Artist’s Bracket, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Crust fungi, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park,, (Donna).

Common Spilt Gill, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A jelly fungus on the left and Witches’ Butter, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

An emergent polypore, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Angel’s Wings, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wolf’s Milk Slime, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very rare sight near our home, Crown-tipped Coral, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss on what appears to be False Turkey-tail causes one to wonder just how long it’s been there. Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Luminescent Panellus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

.

Early morning fog, also the result of the recent rain, greeted us during a walk at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park creating splendor in a spider’s web.

Banded Garden Spider, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

.

Still standing, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

Later, as we continued our walk, we noticed a few moths that apparently had gathered on the light gray wood siding of a park building during the night.

Large Maple Span Worm Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Dot-lined White Moth, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

White-marked Tussock Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

As we continued on a number of Eastern Commas where seen, usually right on the trail.

Eastern Comma, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

Along the trail, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

.

When the rain came, after such a long period of dryness, I stepped out onto our porch, took a deep breath, watched, and listened. The rain fell softly at first, with the sound of a mouse playing as it touched the dry places. After a while, standing there, the rain leaving fleeting patterns in driveway puddles, it’s fragrance in the wet grass, soil, and filling the air, I was taken to a different place and embraced by a feeling of newness and rebirth.

Glacial Erratic, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

.

XXX

.

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.

 

A Few Days Along The Rifle River

Last week we spent a few days in Michigan in the Rifle River Recreation Area not far from the town of West Branch on the northeast side of the lower peninsula. With a number of excellent hiking trails, and lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s an excellent place for nature viewing. The lack of boat generated wakes on Devoe Lake means that Loons nest there. To the best of our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting Loons can be seen. There are also Bald Eagles, Osprey as well as other birds to enjoy. When out exploring one is also treated to dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a number wildflowers not seen in central Ohio. Not far from the park is the AuSable River and the adjacent National Forest create even more opportunities for paddling and outdoor adventure.

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

<<<>>>

We could spend hours watching loons. A quiet paddle on Devoe Lake allows one to observe them as they go about their day.

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

In the middle of preening this adult seems to be sneaking a peek.

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

The adult comes through. How does a bird as big as a loon chase down such a small fish under water?

One more picture.

<<<>>>

A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

<<<>>>

Bald Eagles are sometimes seen flying overhead as we observe the loons with their young. If they get too close the adult loons create quite a commotion!

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

An Osprey takes a break along the shoreline of Devoe Lake, (Donna).

<<<>>>

Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

<<<>>>

Most birds were seen from the canoe as we made our way along the shoreline of Devoe and Grebe Lakes, as well as Loud Pond on the Au Sable River.

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

A Kingbird, the dragonflies worst enemy, waits for it’s next meal along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Three Caspian Terns circled overhead, occasionally landing, as we made our way back to our launch site on wind swept Loud Pond. A few reasonable sharp images were obtained.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Kingfisher actually stays put long enough for a “usable” picture, Devoe Lake.

A Green Heron is caught preening, Devoe Lake, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

<<<>>>

While hiking, especially this time of year, birds usually give way to the wildflowers and interesting types of fungus.

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

Knapweed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

Just after this picture was taken this tree got a big hug!

Hawkweed.

Cardinal Flower was quiet common in the wet areas of the park.

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

Picture Plant and flower. Tough to get a good picture of.

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

An attractive flower that has eluded identification. Some type of lobelia?

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

Another example of some of the interesting fungi seen, (Donna).

Virgin’s Bower. (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

<<<>>>

Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were seen as we enjoyed the wildflowers included one butterfly not typically seen in central Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

The very small American Copper, not a butterfly we’ve seen in central Ohio, (Donna).

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Mating Robber Flies. Robber flies are one of the insect worlds more ferocious looking subjects. An appearance that is not unwarranted!

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

<<<>>>

A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

<<<>>>

Shall we go for a hike or paddle? The decision is often made based on the weather conditions. Wind and choppy water make canoe photography with long lenses almost impossible. However, should conditions permit we’re usually not disappointed be the flowers seen as we paddle!

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

Meadow Sweet, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”),  (Donna).

Swamp Smartweed

Water Shield, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

Burr Reed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

<<<>>>

Sometimes when hiking you don’t have to look real close to be overwhelmed by the beauty.

Gamble Creek, Class 1 trout stream, Rifle River Rec Area.

<<<>>>

No post would be complete without touching on some of the reptiles and amphibians seen. Seeing the skink was a surprise.

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

<<<>>>

While fishing along the Au Sable River upstream of Loud Pond, a Mink is sighted!

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

Au Sable River, catch and release, Small Mouth Bass. The river is one of the best Small Mouth Bass fisheries in the Midwest.

<<<>>>

We spend a lot of time looking and exploring but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for just being there.

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this very incomplete sample of things that can be seen and experienced in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

The beauty is, the more time spent in nature the more you will see, the more you see the more you will want to understand and soon you’ll be carried away by the wonder and magic of it all.

As always thanks for stopping by!

.

<<<>>>

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.

Paddling for Prothonotaries

Prothonotary Warblers have been eluding us in the park close to home so we decided to put the canoe on top of the car and head to the Howard Rd Bridge launch site at north end of Alum Creek Reservoir. If the warbler wasn’t seen during the eight mile loop north around the lake and into the creek we would at least enjoy a good paddle and besides there would undoubtedly be other things to see.

Exploring a quiet cove in Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Friends join us, (Donna).

Heading up Alum Creek

.

Before any warblers were sighted we were treated to nice views of Osprey.

There are a number of Ospreys nesting at the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Taking flight, (Donna).

.

Near noon we started to get hungry. Sometimes finding a pull-out for lunch can be a challenge.

Alum Creek was running high and muddy with most pull-outs under water.

 

A dry spot was finally located.

.

Continuing to paddle and explore we finally found the warblers!

Prothonotary Warbler

Singing! (Donna).

Take 3 (Donna).

Take 4.

.

A nice bonus were the numerous Green Herons seen along the wooded shoreline. Not as easy to spot as one might think, we were sometimes right on top of them before realizing they were there. At which point they would suddenly take flight, leaving us startled and with no picture.

Green Heron

Other times they seemed oblivious to our presence.

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3. (Donna)

.

With numerous flowering bushes, some overhanging the water, butterflies were an added bonus.

Spicebush Swallowtail with Tiger Swallowtail in the background.

.

And there were wildflowers.

Chickweed.

Corn Salad.

Depford Pink, (Donna).

.

No trip is complete without a turtle picture. This guy was perched on a submerged log and uncharacteristically calm as we moved closer.

Red-eared Slider, (Donna).

.

As though it wanted it’s picture taken, a Northern Water Snake swam right up to the canoe.

Northern Water snake, (Donna).

.

With high water and a good current, the downstream leg of the trip didn’t require much paddling.

.

Sometimes we have such good fortune it’s hard to imagine what the next adventure will bring that can possibly compare but nature always seems to come through. Who knows, it may be a different look at something we’ve seen before or a totally new discovery.

<<<>>>

Should you be interested in nature photography from a small boat we offer a few thoughts:

1. Canoes are typically more difficult to handle and are more effected by wind than kayaks.

2. Since both the object being photographed and the boat may be moving, not to mention interferences from branches etc., don’t expect your success rate to be a high as when shooting on land.

3. Although we have never submerged a camera, if you are new to small boats it may be best to start out with a relatively inexpensive camera like a Panasonic FZ200 or 300 just in case everything goes swimming. The FZ200/300’s fast lens throughout the zoom range as well as it’s reasonable amount of zoom will provide a better chance of success. More zoom is of questionable value when trying to photograph erratic fast moving objects such as warblers from a small, somewhat unstable boat.

4. The ideal situation is to have a boat handler while you shoot which is the case when my wife and I go out.

5. If you have no choice but to go it alone, make sure you have a way to quickly stow your paddle because when a subject is sighted you’ll seldom have much time for the shot.

6. As far as the boat goes, a recreational kayak like a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 or a 12-14 foot pack canoe like a Hornbeck would be a good choice for one person. A boat less than 12 feet long will be fine if you don’t plan on paddling far. A longer boat will be faster, track better, and will be better at maintaining speed through waves but typically will be a little harder to maneuver and may be effected more by the wind.

7. If you have any questions, drop us a line, we’ll be happy to provide any help we can.

<<<>>>

Thanks for stopping by.

.

XXX

.

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.

 

Florida, Paddling, Hiking, and Other Things Seen

Most of our photographic energy when paddling or hiking in Florida is directed at the birds, however it’s hard not to see other things when you’re out exploring. For any of you that have travelled to Miami or Naples or any of the other developed areas these pictures will not remind you of that Florida. In our quest to explore ad be in nature we try to avoid such places and look for the natural beauty. While it is still a place of much beauty, when driving through the many developed areas one cannot help but feel Florida is being “loved” to death.

.

For those that are curious, our stay in Florida consisted of time spent at Myakka River SP; great hiking, big gators, and great wildlife photography, Lake Kissimmee SP; great hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife, the Chassahowzitka River Campground;  great paddling, fishing, and wildlife, and Ochlockonee River SP; great hiking, paddling, and wildlife.

 Click on images for a better view.

.

The first place we visited was Myakka River State Park. In addition to many species of birds it’s home a lot of very large Alligators!

Hammock, Myakka River SP.

 

Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Living dangerously, Myakka River SP.

Alligator heaven, Myakka River SP.

Almost everything’s cute when it’s little, Myakka River SP.

Cooling off, Myakka River SP.

Lots of babies, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Bellowing, Myakka River SP.

.

Sunset, Myakka River SP.

.

Rumor has it that the alligators enjoy a turtle now and then. Hopefully this fella will live to a ripe old age.

Florida Redbelly Cooter, Myakka River SP

.

Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Air plants, Myakka River SP.

.

Whether in Myakka or otherwise there were always butterflies and other insects to facinate.

White Peacock Butterfly, Myakka River SP

Black Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, central Florida, (Donna).

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, (Donna).

Pondhawk, Ochlockonee River SP.

Long-tailed Skipper, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Zebra Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Palamedes Swallowtail, Chassahowitzka River.

Red-banded Hairstreak, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Jumping Spider, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Roseate Skimmer, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Ornate Pennant, Lake Kissimmee SP. (Donna)

Fiddler Crabs, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

Fiddler Crabs in combat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

.

One of the more interesting places in Myakka River SP  is the Deep Hole.

Heading towards the Deep Hole.

Alligators were everywhere!

The Deep Hole, Myakka River SP.

.

After Myakka we made our way about 90 miles tp Lake Kissimmee SP in the center of the state and then on to the Chassahowitzka River area and then Chassahowitzka River SP in the panhandle.

Live Oak, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Lake Kissimmee SP

Exploring Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Along the trail, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

St Mark’s Lighthouse, St Mark’s NWR.

Sopchoppy River, St Marks NWR.

.

My wife was better about documenting the flowers.

Thistle, Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, (Donna)

Golden Club, Sopchoppy River, (Donna).

Florida Scrub Roseling, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

British Soldier Lichen, Lake Kissimmee SP

Sundew, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Rain Lilies, Wakulla River

Checking out the Spider Lilies, Wakulla River.

Spider Lilies, Wakulla River

Southern Blackberry, Ochlockonee River SP.

 

St John’s Wort, Ochlockonee River SP.

.

We also ran across a number of snakes and other reptiles during our adventures.

Banded Water Snake, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Eastern Racer, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Brown Anole, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Green Anole, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna)

.

.   .   .  and then some other creatures.

Armadillo, Chassihowitzka River area, (Donna).

Bobcat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

White Squirrel, Ochlockonee SP.

.

Central Florida landscape, (Donna).

.

Below are some birds pics that missed the previous Florida post.

Osprey trying a new fishing technique, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

White Pelican trying not to get it’s feet wet, Upper Myakka Lake, (Donna).

Limpkins, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Red Shouldered Hawk (FL variant), Lake Kissimmee SP, (Donna).

.

This year proved to be especially good for seeing River Otters while we paddled various rivers.

River Otter, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

River Otter, Sopchoppy River, (Donna)

River Otter, Sopchoppy River

.

Views from the canoe, an incomplete photo record of places paddled.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP.

St Marks River, (Donna).

Tiger Creek into Tiger Lake, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Crawford Creek, Chassahowitzka River

Fish Camp, Crawford Creek.

St Marks River

Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Canoe wake reflection, Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Yes there is someone in the stern of the canoe.

.

Those of you that follow this blog know I like to occasionally like to put a line in the water. Florida didn’t disappoint.

Largemouth Bass Sopchoppy River

Largemouth Bass, Lake Kissimmee, (Donna).

.

That about wraps up Florida for this year. Whether on foot, in a canoe or kayak it’s a great place to enjoy nature. Thanks for stopping by.

.

Sand and Water, Bald Point SP, (Donna).

 

.

XXX

.

 Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

A Celebration of Florida Birds

It’s been a while since our last post so after almost two months bumming around some of Florida’s most beautiful natural areas in sunny 70 degree weather we now find ourselves back in central Ohio looking out the window as a 25 F wind blows snow around our front yard. One way to celebrate the trip, and perhaps to feel a little warmer, is to post pictures of a few of birds seen while while hiking and paddling. Perhaps no one species expresses the diversity and beauty of nature like birds, each with their own unique appearance and behavior. Florida gives one an excellent opportunity to witness and perhaps photograph that diversity and beauty.

.

For those that are curious, our stay in Florida consisted of time spent at Myakka River SP; great hiking, big gators, and great wildlife photography, Lake Kissimmee SP; great hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife, the Chassahowzitka River Campground;  great paddling, fishing, and wildlife, and Ochlockonee River SP; great hiking, paddling, and wildlife.

 Click on images for a better view.

.

Salt Creek, Chassahowitzka River

.

Great Blue Heron, Myakka River SP.

Limpkins, very common in Myakka River SP.

Cardinal, Myakka River SP.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

A Brown Thrasher serenaded us early every morning, Ochlockonee River SP.

Green Heron, seldom seen, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

Common Moorhen, Myakka River SP.

Pileated Woodpecker, Myakka River SP.

Greater Yellowlegs, Myakka River SP.

Little Blue Heron, Myakka River SP

Sand Hill Crane, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilts, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilt, a closer view showing eye color, Myakka River SP.

Least Sandpiper, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, breeding plumage, Myakka River SP.

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

American Avocet, Myakka River SP.

Glossy Ibis, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagle, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Eastern Phoebe, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Wood Thrush, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Carolina Wren, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagles were almost always overhead, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Chassahowitzka River.

Pied-billed Grebe, Chassahowitzka River

Brown Pelican, Chassahowitzka River

Blue-winged Teal, St Marks NWR.

Vermilion Flycatcher, St Marks NWR.

Female Kingfisher, Wakulla River.

Mockingbird, Ochlockonee River State Park

Black Skimmers, Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP.

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Pine Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Red-cockaded woodpeckers, endangered, Ochlockonee River State Park

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ochlockonee River State Park

White Ibis, Myakka River SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-headed Woodpecker, one of eleven sightings that day, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Anhinga, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, not as common as The Black-crowned, Chassahowitzka River.

Eastern Towhee, common, Ochlockonee River State Park

Laughing Gull with Least Tern, Bald Point SP.

.

Along the trail, Myakka River SP.

.

Given the weather we came back to we may decide to stay longer next year. There’s always something new to discover. Thanks for stopping by.

Tom's Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

Mindfulness, Philosophy, Spirituality, Meditation, Awareness, Religion, Nature Photography

Londonsenior

The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Nature Is My Therapy

Trees help me breathe.

The Eye of a Thieving Magpie

My view of this wonderful and crazy life - as I travel and explore.

Diary of an Aesthete

Follow the Journey...

quercuscommunity

Life after the Care Farm

Out For 30

Exploring the world, 30 days at a time.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Photos by Donna

Birds and Wildlife Photography

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Israel's Good Name

Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography