Bobbing For “Hedge Apples”

A few weeks back we were walking along Griggs Reservoir looking for migrating waterfowl and we witnessed some unusual behavior by our resident population of Mallard ducks. At first it looked like a game, perhaps a Mallard version of water polo, but then we realized they were attempting to eat an object that keep scooting away , diving below the surface, and then bobbing up only to be nibbled on again.

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They went this way   .   .   .

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then that   .   .   .

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then around   .   .   .

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and back again

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It turned out to be the bright green barely floating fruit of an Osage Orange tree or what is sometimes referred to as a “hedge apple”. Apparently a somewhat tasty morsel to the ducks because they keep up their efforts as long as we watched.

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Meanwhile one of the objects of our quest looked on.

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“What are those Mallards doing anyway?”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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“Perhaps the other side of the lake will be quieter”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few days later on another outing along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, as I looked for Bald Eagles, my wife was able to get some interesting shots of fungi.

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“Furry Fungi”, Donna

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Patterns in wood, (Donna)

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Mushroom Cluster, (Donna)

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Mushrooms on a log, (Donna)

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Another group, (Donna)

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Contrasting colors, (Donna)

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Finally, yesterday, after several rainy cloudy days, sunshine meant a hike at Battelle Darby Metro Park in the hopes of observing some bird activity. Perhaps we would even see a Northern Harrier.  While no harriers presented themselves, we did see a Kestrel, and a Bald Eagle both of which eluded the cameras lens. However, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk did pose for us.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, study 1, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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study 2

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study 3

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study 4

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study 5

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A Coopers Hawk wasen’t quite as cooperative.

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Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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.    .    .    and no trip into the central Ohio woods this time of the year is complete unless we see our friends the Golden Crowned Kinglets who often when seen are in the company of Chickadees, Titmouse and Nuthatches.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet

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That’s about it for this post. Hope you all have a chance to get out and enjoy nature in the coming days. Thanks for looking in.

Digital Photography and A Love of Nature

For those of you that have been seduced by nature photography I’m sure at times you’ve been left thinking how much photography has contributed to your love of nature. This can be particularly true in the digital age where a camera can be a tool for artistic expression or at the other extreme very useful for collecting data. After returning from a day in the field, we have immediate access to the images taken. This allows us to savor the experience in ways that were impossible in the days of film. Sometimes an image is not only pleasing but offers important information that may have been missed had we just relied on a quick glance through the binoculars, “Wow, that was a Meadow Fritillary not a Aphrodite”!

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However, film had the advantage of forcing us to count the cost before we decided to photograph a subject. That in turn immediately assigning value to the subject and our efforts. In the digital age we live with a dearth of own images as well as the images of others which can act to trivialize our efforts. We click the shutter with little thought of the cost so the subject becomes less important, a momentary diversion before we move on the next target. But, if there is sufficient interest and motivation, digital photography can allow us to explore the subject a ways that would have been cost prohibitive in the past. Digital cameras have also introduced a level of spontaneity and play to photography that it never had before.

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Finally, given that almost anybody with some skill or luck can take a decent picture, a quick review of images on the Internet would seem to indicate that in a search for uniqueness post processing, which offers control never dreamed of in the days of film, has become a bigger part of the equation. We now live in an Internet world full of incredibly jacked-up “fantasy” shots of just about every subject in our world and beyond. These images blur the line between traditional photography that in the past was thought to reflect some sense of reality, and art. So we are challenged to ask ourselves what it is that we’re trying to say. Is our goal to render the subject as one might see it with the naked eye or as something more?

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Since there is no going back I’m left thinking about my own modest efforts at photography. Fortunately I remain unshaken, despite my own dearth of images. For me nature photography will always be a celebration of and reverence for the subject.  As long as photographs taken continue to express that love I will continue to venture out camera in hand.

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Below are images taken in and around Columbus during the last week:

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Tree roots along the Scioto River on a sunny day.

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White-throated Sparrow below Griggs Dam

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An ever elusive Kingfisher in the distance, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Yellow-rumped Warbler along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Just managed to catch this Golden-crowned Kinglet along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Reflections, Big Darby Creek, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Bluebirds are common this time of year in Griggs Park.

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Path, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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The False Dragonhead is still blooming, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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The dance of the dueling Downies, Griggs Park

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. . . the dance continues. (Donna)

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. . . and continues. (Donna)

 

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. . . on their own unique dance floor. (Donna)

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Acrobatic squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Enjoying a Black Walnut, Griggs Park

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The squirrels have been busy, Griggs Park

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Auricularia auricular, Jelly Ear , Griggs Park

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From another angle, (Donna)

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Bear Lentinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Autumn morning light, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Eastern Comma (a bit tired), Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Meadow Fritillary, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Walking in Griggs Park we can’t help but notice the Milkweed Bugs. They are very common and will even appear on warmer winter days.

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Milkweed Bugs, pretty but don’ try and eat them!

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Road along the reservoir, Griggs Park

A Fleeting Autumn Day

The photographs below are in celebration of autumn in central Ohio. Inspiration was found on a recent visit to High Banks Metro Park as well as closer to home along the Scioto River. The High Banks landscape, with it’s ravines and mature trees, offers opportunities to explore autumn color not found elsewhere in the area. The Scioto River with it’s wooded banks and recently low relatively clear water also provided unique opportunities. Not all color was found in leaves. We were also fortunate to find some fungus with it’s own special beauty.

It is fleeting. Even on the nicest days, leaves often seem to cling precariously to branches as their colors change.  A driving overnight rain results in tree top branches being naked by morning that appeared fully clothed the night before. Later in the day, in a statement of inevitability, steady autumn winds take care of what is left.

 

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Autumn along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Sycamore leaves along the Scioto

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Type of small puffball?, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Common Mycena, High banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Orange Fungi/Slime Mold?, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker below Griggs Dam, (shutter speed couldn’t quite stop it’s head)

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Getting ready for winter, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Camera shy, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Mushrooms and leaves, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Mystery Polypore, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Autumn heron, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Hornet’s nest along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna)

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Creek bed, High Banks Metro Park

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Fence, High Banks Metro Park

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Bridge over ravine, High Banks Metro Park

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Forest floor, High Banks Metro Park

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Autumn light, High Banks Metro Park

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Splash of color, High Banks Metro Park

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Yellow leaves, High Banks Metro Park

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Trail of leaves, High Banks Metro Parks

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Leaves and fungi, High Banks Metro Park

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High Banks Metro Park Overlook

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Fallen tree, High Banks Metro Park

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Vines, High Banks Metro Park

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Autumn path, High Banks Metro Park

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Tree roots and autumn leaves along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Wildflowers at Battelle Derby Creek

Late July and early August is a great time to grab your camera and binoculars and go for a hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. The park has reestablished extensive areas of prairie containing many types of native wildflowers. With the flowers come butterflies and other types of insects. Eastern Meadowlarks, Indigo Buntings and other birds are also attracted to the area. If you ever questioned the value of native prairies in promoting biodiversity visit Battelle Darby and take a close look. You’ll be amazed at what there is to see.

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Prairie in early morning, Battelle Darby Creek

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Some parts of the prairie contain ponds, Bullfrog, Battelle Darby Creek

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Bullfrog, study 2 (Donna)

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Cardinal Flowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Tufted Titmouse along the Big Darby River

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Battelle Darby Creek

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Making friends with a butterfly.

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Hackberry Emperor, Battelle Darby

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Sunflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Catapillar, Battelle Darby

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Male Goldfinch, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Coneflowers, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

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Red Admiral, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Red Admiral, study 2, Battelle Darby Creek

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Red Milkweed Beetle, Battelle Darby Creek

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Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

 

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Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, study 2, (Donna)

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Blazing Star, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie, (Donna)

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Walking through the prairie, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Fungus, along the river, Battelle Darby Creek

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Familiar Bluet, Battelle Darby Creek Prairie, (Donna)

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Tall Bellflower, Battelle Darby Creek, (Donna)

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Giant Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek

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Daddy Longlegs with prey, Battelle Darby Creek.

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Silvery Checkerspot, Battelle Darby Creek

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Spicebush Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek

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Curious Cardinal, Battelle Darby Creek

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Zabulon Skipper, Battelle Darby Creek

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Turtles, Big Darby Creek

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Prairie, Big Darby Creek Metro Park

Thanks for stopping by and checking out some pictures of nature in central Ohio. We hope you’re inspired to get out and explore nature wherever you live.

 

 

Up The Creek

We decided to paddle up Paint Creek with the hope of documenting some of the beautiful scenery along it’s banks. As creeks go, it’s one of the best in Ohio.

Paint Creek Reservoir is located in Paint Creek State Park. The park is located south of Columbus in the gently rolling hills that occupy that part of the state. Two rivers feed the reservoir, Rattlesnake and Paint Creek. Of the two, we feel that a paddle up Paint Creek is the better option. The bluffs and cliffs along it’s banks make you wonder if you’re really in Ohio. It is also possible to paddle quite a bit further than on Rattlesnake Creek making for a better day trip. As you head north, the shoreline with bushes and trees at waters edge, is usually good for seeing many types of birds from tanagers to eagles. Lower water at certain times of the year produces mudflats that are excellent for viewing shore birds and the many logs along the shore make it a great place to see turtles and water snakes. Once you’re up the creek far enough to be in the current a few casts will usually produces a large or smallmouth bass or maybe a nice pan fish.

Light is what photographers paint with and on the day we were out it was less than ideal. At times it was almost dreary and threatening rain while at others piercing sun light would illuminate a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in the dark. But we try to be philosophical about such things, so the pictures that follow hopefully capture some of the unique beauty of the place as it was on that day.

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Route map, Paint Creek Reservoir is quite large so this shows only a small portion.

 

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Heading north into Paint Creek

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The bluffs.

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Louisiana Water Thrush along the shore

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On a cool morning this Common Water Snake tries to warm up.

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A small island in the reservoir.

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A Killdeer on the mud flats.

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A Solitary Sandpiper near the mud flats

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Logs along the shore are a great place for Map and Spiny Soft Shell Turtles.

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Along waters edge, a Black Swallowtail on a Button Bush.

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Photographing rock formations.

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In many places the cliffs plunge straight into the reservoir.

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A Green Heron poses in a small cove.

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Take two.

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An intimate place, maybe there’s a picture.

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What she saw. (Donna)

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As far north as we could go in the canoe. Time for lunch.

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Pulled out on a sand bar, Paint Creek

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Very small moth.

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A damselfly makes friends with Donna.

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Colorful fungus along water’s edge

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Exploring.

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A few casts and Bob had a bass. (Donna)

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What to do? bird or fish! (Donna)

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Paint Creek

 

 

 

 

 

Too Many Ospreys To Count

Recently we decided the paddle the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir. To get started we put in at the Howard Rd launch and headed north. Early in the year we can expect to see both migrating and breeding warblers along the shore. In late July, from all we can tell, the warblers are no longer present. If they are, they’re being real quite.  So what would we see? Since it was a beautiful day, cool temperatures and a light wind, it didn’t matter too much. It was a great day for a paddle.

As we made our way up the reservoir we did manage to see Spotted Sandpipers, Green Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Terns, Great Blue Herons, Hummingbirds, Peewee’s, Phoebe’s, a Bald Eagle and even a Yellow Billed Cuckoo. Not bad! However, the real star’s of the day were all the Osprey’s. The nesting platforms at the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir were very successful this year. There were too many birds to count!

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The route.

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Bluffs overlooking north end Alum Creek Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper near the bluffs, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Cormorants, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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Alum Creek, submerged tree.

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Quite a few Eastern Amber wings were out, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, looking a little tired.

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Large Wolf Spider along the shore, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Cliff along Alum Creek where it flows into the reservoir.

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Kingfisher perched along the cliff.

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, study 2

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, study 3

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Sandbar on Alum Creek, as far up the river as we could paddle.

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Alum Creek

 

 

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