The Rifle River and A Mystery Bird

It’s that time of year again when we travel 6.5 hours north from our home in central Ohio to the Rifle River Recreation Area. Usually we enjoy checking out different areas for new adventures but this park’s unique beauty keeps us coming back. Whether paddling on the park lakes or hiking the trails there is always something to discover. From one week to the next different wildflowers can be seen. Spring warbler activity is complimented by the evening call of a Whippoorwill or Barred Owl and there’s always the distant call of a loon on Devoe Lake.

(click on images for a closer look)

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This year’s late June visit meant that in addition to increased warbler activity we’d also see blooming lady slippers and pitcher plants. Of course there would also be more mosquitoes to deal with and they’re always particularly pesky when one crouches down to study a flower or take a photograph.

A shaft of sunlight highlights a fern along the trail.

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My wife was nice enough to contribute the bulk of the pictures for this post as much of my time was spent fishing. However, to start the post off on a curious note I did notice something interesting one afternoon while hiking.

These rolled up birch? leaves littered the forest floor.

A closer inspection revealed a small caterpillar within the shelter of the rolled up leaf. It was in the process of eating it’s way out. Another egg sac near by? Based on an educated guess it would appear that a moth deposited it’s eggs on the underside of the leaf which then caused it to roll up and fall to the ground. Inside the leaf the caterpillar is safe from the prying eyes of birds until it escapes into the leaf litter and pupates soon to emerge as a moth and continue the cycle.

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When my wife wasn’t hiking and I wasn’t trying to catch a fish we did a fair amount of exploring by canoe.

Yours truly with a Devoe Lake Large Mouth Bass.

Exploring Grebe Lake

Common Loon, Devoe Lake.

Take two, (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, Grebe Lake.

Painted Turtle, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, (Donna).

Paddling trough the lily pads, Grebe Lake.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Mink checks us out along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

Au Sable River Walleye.

While Water Lily, (Donna).

Kingbirds entertained us as we paddled the Devoe Lake shoreline, (Donna).

Morning on Devoe Lake.

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One day as we drove back to our campsite after a morning paddle we came upon an unusual discovery in the middle of the road.

Our first thought was to move it along before it became the victim of a less observant driver.

But a closer look revealed that it was a Blanding’s Turtle something we’d expect to see in a nearby lake but not in it’s present location. Since it’s not a turtle we often see we were pretty excited, (Donna).

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However, perhaps the most unusual thing seen during our week long stay was the bird spotted while hiking along Weir Road.

The best ID we could come up with was a partially leucistic White-breasted Nuthatch but it’s beak didn’t look right. The mystery remains.

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We’d be remiss if we didn’t give special mention to the Ovenbirds and Yellowbellied Sapsuckers that entertained us each day at our campsite.

Ovenbird, (Donna).

With a white moth.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, taken while hiking but representative of the activity around our campsite, (Donna).

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While on the subject of birds, while hiking a park trail my wife was excited to see a Black Billed Cuckoo. It was a life bird for her.

Black Billed Cuco, (Donna).

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Finally, below is a summary of other things seen as we explored the park trails.

A recently emerged mushroom translucent in the sunlight.

A family of very colorful but small mushrooms.

Wild Columbine along the trail.

Hawkweed and fern.

The Rifle River

Showy Lady’s Slippers along the park road. A real treat to see.

A closer look, (Donna).

Bunch Berry Flower

Spotted Thyris Moth on fleabane.

Deep into the woods.

Red-spotted Purple

Another view, (Donna).

Yellow Lady’s Slippers were also seen, (Donna).

The flower of the Pitcher Plant. The plant gets it name by the shape of the leaves at the base of the plant which trap insects in water the leaves collect.

Overlooking Pintail Pond

Hover fly on dogwood blossoms.

This fairly large moth has yet to be identified.

Fleabane

Eastern Wood Pewee, (Donna).

Elfin (not Slaty) Skimmer.

Yellow Goats Beard, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Another view.

Sheep Laurel, (Donna).

American Redstarts were fairly common, (Donna).

Blue Flag Iris, (Donna).

Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

River Jewelwing (M), (Donna).

River Jewelwing (F), (Donna).

Cedar Waxwing, (Donna).

Four-spotted Skimmer, (Donna).

Wood Frog, (Donna).

Coral Fungus, (Donna).

Chaulk-fronted Corporal

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Little Wood Satyr.

Indian Pipe (before), (Donna).

After? (Donna).

A Green Heron stalks prey along the Devoe Lake shore, (Donna).

Black-shouldered Spinyleg, (Donna)

Another interesting plant we have yet to ID, (Donna).

Dead Mans Fingers, (Donna).

Delaware Skipper, (Donna).

Baby Robin, (Donna).

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As each day passes nature evolves. A wishful thought would be to spend one week each month in a place such as Rifle River Rec Area. Then one would truly appreciate it’s wonder. Thanks for stopping by.

Misty Day, Devoe Lake.

A Spring Day At Magee Marsh

It was mid morning, sunny, the gentle lake breeze was cool, but warmed by the sun we felt energized. That was a good thing because the two and a half hour drive from Columbus had left us feeling just a little lethargic. It was our annual visit to Maggee Marsh in search of migrating warblers and we had just arrived at the parking lot adjacent to the boardwalk. Once in the refuge, located along the south shore of Lake Erie, we had made our way toward the lake on a very straight two lane road bordered by wetlands. On the ground and overhead a welcoming committee of more than the usual number of Great Egrets, a generous smattering of Great Blue Herons, a Snowy Egret, as well some of the other usual suspects, had greeted us. Near the lake, high in a Cottonwood, an active eagle’s nest could be seen. It felt like it was going to be a good day in birders paradise!

One of many Great Egrets seen.

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On this particular morning, as I hoisted my heavy camera over my shoulder, I couldn’t help thinking it would be nice to enlist all my senses and just be there with only binoculars in hand. But you never know what might be seen so better take the camera. After all, it’s a tool that does allow one to better tell stories and that’s good. However, when it’s pressed against my face I’m removed from the experience I seek to capture, caught up in the details (see PS: below) of taking a reasonable photograph of an object that refuses to sit still among what seems like an infinite number of twigs, leaves, and branches. Sometime it might really be nice just to hang out with these little guys. Besides, it’s not like there’s a shortage of excellent photos on the web of almost any bird you could imagine. However, I’m not quite there yet, so with the camera in hand the internal debate goes on.

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In the spring the area acts as a stop off point for migrating warblers as they pause to rest and wait for a favorable wind to carry them north across the lake to summer breeding grounds. The boardwalk, right along the lake with wetlands to the south, winds it’s way through a wet low lying area with numerous tall trees, including many Cotton Woods, and plenty of bushes and other ground cover that warblers as well as other birds seem to enjoy. This makes them especially easy to see.

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In past years we’ve gotten a fairly early start and have seen birds in the morning but our experience has been that things don’t really get cranked up until the afternoon. Such was the case on this trip. After lunch a lot more birds were seen. It may have something to do with temperature as it did warm up considerably as the day progressed.

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Ruby Crowned Kinglets were everywhere. That was the case throughout the day.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Take 2.

Take 3.

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The Yellow Warblers were also hard to miss.

Yellow Warbler

Take 2.

Take 3.

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As the day went on we saw other birds. We were especially excited to see Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Take 2.

Take 3.

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Palm Warblers were numerous.

Palm Warbler

Take 2.

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A Cape May Warbler proved a challenge to photograph.

Cape May Warbler.

Take 2.

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One of Ohio’s most commonly seen warblers made it’s presence known.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Looking more like a thrush than a warbler, it was great to see a, not often seen, Ovenbird.

Ovenbird

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We did also see a thrush.

Swainson’s Thrush, (Donna).

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Catbirds made a good showing along the boardwalk.

Catbird

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were also trying to get our attention.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher high in a tree, (Donna).

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A Tree Swallow was seen at it’s nesting cavity.

Tree Swallow

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White-throated Sparrows were hard to ignore in the low underbrush.

White-throated Sparrow.

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Not far from the boardwalk Solitary Sandpipers were busy foraging for food.

Solitary Sandpiper

Take 2.

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Along one of the canals, and partially hidden by low lying foliage, several Green Herons were spotted.

Tinged the green by a nearby leaf this shot captured a Green Heron waiting for lunch, (Donna).

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At the opposite end of the spectrum from the kinglets, Bald Eagles were getting on with their life.

Bald Eagle watches it’s nest, one of two in the immediate area. (Donna).

Eagle chick testing it’s wings while the other seems to be taking cover.

Exercise session over, the other chick pops up.

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Despite the grand reception as we entered the refuge, we didn’t see as many warbler species as in past years. However, there were still plenty of birds. While photographs were obviously taken, enough time was an spent listening and looking, as the fragrance of flowering bushes occasionally wafting past on the cool lake breeze, that I was there and not just behind the camera lens.

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PS: On a technical note, many of the photos taken on this trip were blurry or overexposed to the point of not being usable.  A few could be salvaged through post processing. After arriving home exposure compensation was found to be set at +1.3 EV and aperture had somehow been bumped to f13 for at least part of the time. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve taken a picture but I got lazy. Always check your settings and double check them throughout the day.

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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.

 

 

Photos by Donna

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