Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 .   .   .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for stopped by

The Earliest Wildflowers

Some folks may be wondering what happened to “Central Ohio Nature” during the past two months so we thought we better post something to let everyone know we’re alive and well. Actually a little over a week ago, after a winter escape to Florida where we traveled to various state parks and explored numerous natural areas, we found ourselves back in Ohio. Two days of warm weather followed us home before the snow and cold returned on what just happened to be the first official day of spring.

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With camera, canoe, and hiking boots, and a small travel trailer in tow, we feel very blessed to have been able to spend time in warmer climes for a portion of the winter. For the nature lover the beauty, romance, and magic of Florida’s wild areas continually beckons one to explore.

Sunset, Myakka River State Park

Trail, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Bobcat tracks, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Great Blue Heron, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Gator, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Lily Pads on pond, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

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But I digress, this post is about central Ohio’s earliest wildflowers even though mid-March nature in Ohio doesn’t always beckon. One has to journey out with intention and look closely for the magic. The landscape is often rather drab as the below pictures of some of the more interesting features of the early spring woods will attest.

At Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park a vernal pool creates a point of interest in the otherwise still drab landscape. “Vernal pools (often the product of snow melt and early spring rain) are nurseries for a host of species. Big black and yellow spotted salamanders crawl silently along the pool floor to find a suitable place for egg-laying. Caddisflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and other invertebrates abound in these small, still waters. All of these species evolved larvae that develop relatively quickly before the pool dries out”. Ref: Adirondack Almanack.

Unlike the clear water in the previous picture this pool, a remnant of recent high water along Big Darby Creek, is supporting green algae no doubt fortified but agricultural runoff, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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On the last warm day before the snow, armed with my wife’s encouragement, off we went to look for Snow Trillium a favorite early spring wildflower. This small flower, perhaps an inch across, is not as common as it was in the past no doubt the result of habitat destruction. While we are aware of locations where it usually blooms, it’s never certain from one year to the next that it will be seen. An additional challenge is that the flowers don’t hang around long. Once located, we walk carefully and take pictures sparingly as the flower’s small size makes it difficult to see and easy to step on. In addition the soil on the ravine slope where it was blooming was easily disturbed.

Snow Trillium, Franklin County.

Snow Trillium take 2, Franklin County, (Donna).

Snow Trillium take 3, Franklin County, (Donna).

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Now more excited about our prospects, we set off to look for another favorite early spring wildflower, Harbinger of Spring, a few days later. This very small bloom, pollinated by commensurately small bees and flies, is much more common than the trillium. However, due to it’s very small size and the fact that it’s flowers are fleeting and fade away soon after they bloom, it is often missed.

Harbinger of Spring, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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As we continued to look for additional examples of Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring in the woods of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, other just starting to emerge wildflowers revealed their presence.

Emerging Virginia Bluebell, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica take 2, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 3, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 4, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Emerging Purple Cress, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Bloodroot, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot take 2. Still not open two hours after we first saw it, this flower will almost certainly loose at least one petal shortly after blooming making it a challeng to photograph.

Emerging Toadshade Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thinking it would be good to include a few critter pics in this post we couldn’t help but notice that we were being watched as we looked for signs of new life in the forest floor leaf litter.

Fox Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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That about wraps it up for this post. It’s good to be back and we look forward to sharing more experiences as spring unfolds in central Ohio. Also, we will undoubtedly share some of the special things seen during our recent stay in Florida. Thanks for stopping by.

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PS: Right within the city limits along the Scioto River near downtown Columbus, and a short 5 mile bike ride from our house, a new eagle’s nest has appeared. This is truly exciting for those of us who, given the ravages of DDT, would have had to travel a considerable distance to see such a thing in our youth.

Bald Eagle on nest, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

Cold Weather Brings Nature Our Way

Every two or three years a period of unusually cold winter weather results in the land and water north as well as in central Ohio being covered with snow and ice for a prolonged period of time.  When this happens waterfowl and other birds that may not be able to make a living further north are forced to seek suitable habitats in our area. The result is the opportunity to see birds in locations where it would be extremely unlikely other times of the year. A gift to nature lovers courtesy of cold arctic weather.

Ice creeps out into the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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The negative to all of this is that windy 0 F to 15 F temperatures preclude the use of serious photographic equipment on long hikes. Briefly popping out of the car, if you are able to get close enough to your subject, is the only option. If one is set on doing a long hike, stuffing a smaller superzoom under your coat does work but fingers freeze almost immediately when you try to manipulate the camera.

Landscape transformed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A habitat that attracts birds almost at our doorstep is the open flowing water of  the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam. In the past couple of weeks we’ve been fortunate to observe a variety of waterfowl at that location. Others birds, such as Trumpeter Swans, have been reported but we’ve yet to see them. Timing is everything as the birds move up and down the river corridor. More often than not there is a least one Bald eagle present as the number of ducks and geese make for easy pickings.

Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

A closer look.

 

Crowded conditions, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A Red-headed Duck tries to ignore a rambunctious Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Hooded Merganser on patrol, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This one found a crayfish. Did you know that 21 species of crayfish call Ohio home.

There were no shortage of Common Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Male Common Merganser

A nice group of male Common Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

A little closer.

Three Goldeneyes pose, (Donna).

Canvasback a little too far away for a decent pic, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Mute Swan, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

Cackling Geese, shot is courtesy of our follow birding friend Ed, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

This buck seemed confused about the best place to relax. We thought it might be sick or injured but the next time we checked it was gone, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

Red-headed Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

Amazingly, Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the Scioto.

There is often at least one Bald Eagle observing the activity along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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It’s also been a good year for Snowy Owls in Ohio with numerous birds being reported. The mechanism for that invasion, while perhaps partly due to the weather, also is the result of the past breeding season being a good one resulting in young owls looking for new hunting grounds further south as the increased population puts pressure on resources further north. Other birds such as Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs, to a greater or lesser degree, find their way into Ohio from further north during most winters.

Along farm fields not far from our home a roadside spill of corn attracted Horned Larks, a real treat to see. “The barer the ground, the more Horned Larks like it. Look for them in open country with very short or no vegetation, including bare agricultural fields. They breed in short grassland, short-stature sage shrubland, desert, and even alpine and arctic tundra.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Take 2.

At the same location, at first looking like some type of sparrow, was a Lapland Longspur, another first for us! They are a common songbird of the Arctic tundra, and winter in open fields across much of the US and southern Canada.

Take 2, (Donna).

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Other creatures have also been braving the cold.

Not far from the concentration of waterfowl on Scioto River this Fox Squirrel was trying to warm up in the 10F sunshine, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Nearby an immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was also spotted, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Our friend Ed told us about two Eastern screech owls located not far from Griggs Reservoir Park and was kind enough to send some pics our way.

. . . and a red morph, Ed.

Ed and Bob, photo courtesy of Sheila.

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Returning home after a recent outing we were treated to some interesting bird activity right in our front yard.

Dark-eyed Junco. “Dark-eyed Juncos breed in forests across much of North America and at elevations ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet. They are often found in coniferous forests including pine, Douglas-fir, spruce, and fir, but also in deciduous forests such as aspen, cottonwood, oak, maple, and hickory. During winter and on migration they use a wider variety of habitats including open woodlands, fields, roadsides, parks, and gardens.” Ref: Cornell Lab.

Competing with a Gray squirrel for goodies.

The chickadees love the sweetgum tree.

And so do the goldfinches.

A female Downy Woodpecker also takes advantage of the front yard feeders.

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We feel very blessed to have so many fascinating creatures paying us a visit this winter. A very warm coat, that didn’t get worn once last winter, has come in very handy the last few days as we’ve been out and about. Today, as I finish writing this, the temperature is a balmy 35F. Time to get out and see what else we can find!

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Finally, one of the joys of being a lover of nature is meeting kindred spirits like Ed and Sheila when out in the field. Ed, thanks again for supplying the pics!

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Flowing water and extremely cold temperatures create ice pancakes along the Scioto.

A Thankful Reflection

The last day of 2017, what better time to stop for a moment and reflect back to the wonders of nature seen in central Ohio in the past year.

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Griggs Reservoir.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden Crown Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along the Scioto River

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

November reflection, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Covered Bridge, Mohican State Park.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Buckeye, (Donna).

Monarch, (Donna).

Griggs Reservoir

Solitary leaf

Chicory

Design, (Donna).

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Autumn color.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Giant Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.

Mink, Au Sable River MI, (Donna).

Au Sable River Smallmouth, MI, (Donna).

Devoe Lake, MI.

Cardinal Flowers, Rifle River Rec, Area, MI.

Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec. Area. MI.

Common Loons, Devoe Lake, MI, (Donna).

Meal time, Devoe lake, MI

Caspian Tern, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, MI.

Catbirds, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Griggs Reservoir waterfall.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Cliff Swallows, (Donna).

Gray Squirrel.

Baltimore Oriole.

Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

Prothonotary Warbler

Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir

Yellow-collared Scape Moth, (Donna).

Northern Water Snake.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Blue Heron, Scioto River, (Donna).

Hayden Run Falls

Mating Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park.

White-crowned Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Palm Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Turkey, Blendon Woods Metro Park, (Donna).

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Looking at the landscape as we walked along the Scioto River yesterday it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. Very cold weather has made the river below the dam one of the few stretches of open water that waterfowl can now call home.

Hooded Mergansers.

More robins than we could count took turns getting a cool drink at waters edge.

Ring-necked Ducks.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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As always, thanks for stopping by and have a Happy New Year!

 

Hiking Back In Time

A sunny warm late November day provided an excellent opportunity for a hike back in time. Our hiking destinations were Blackhand Gorge and Flint Ridge. Both are nature preserves located just east of Newark, Ohio in an area rich in Native American history. Given the limited daylight hours and the fact that we wanted to visit both places, the hikes just wet our appetite for future trips when hopefully there will be more time. My interest in areas like these has been encouraged by a visit to Mound City  a few years back, an opportunity to learn about Cahokia, and books such as “1491“, and “The Mound Builders“.

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The name Blackhand originated from an indian petroglyph in the shape of a dark hand on the face of a sandstone cliff along the north side of the Licking River which runs through the gorge. Unfortunately the cliff along with the petroglyph was destroyed in 1828 during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Along with a bike trail through the gorge on an abandoned railroad right of way, there were also several hiking trails wandering through oak and beech woods adjacent to long abandoned sandstone quarries.

Blackhand Gorge

The Licking River flows through the gorge.

In some areas what remains of the canal system locks can be seen.

The days of the canal were very brief. It was soon made irrelevant when a rail line was run through the gorge.

The old railroad cut makes an interesting frame for the adjacent trees.

Christmas Ferns provided some welcome green amongst the dull brown of fallen oak leaves, (Donna).

Mushrooms also provided color, (Donna).

Where there’s a rock face and moisture there’s liverwort, (Donna).

Cracked Cap polypore, (Donna).

Adjacent to the gorge are abandoned quarries that up until the early 1900’s mined sandstone for use in the manufacture of glass.

Abandoned quarry, (Donna).

Nature has gradually reclaimed the area around the now flooded quarries.

Along the gorge trees have to be very innovative to survive.

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The history of Flintridge goes back some 10,000 years, just after the last ice age when native peoples first visited the site. The Hopewell was one culture known to have quarried flint in the areaThe flint taken from this site was apparently highly prized for its multicolored beauty as well as for being of high quality making it ideal for use in arrow heads, axes, and other cutting tools as well as ornamental or ceremonial objects. Flint from this site has been found at archeological sites throughout the eastern United States. As we hiked around the preserve, quarry pits were everywhere, some flooded and some not, while over head stood some of the largest beech trees we’ve ever seen.

Flint Ridge

 

One example of the color of the flint.

Exploring the area around the pits.

More flint color variations, (Donna).

Flooded pit.

A low November sun projects the shadow of leaves on to the bark of a Beech tree.

Pits were everywhere. For thousands of years this was a busy place!

 

Smaller Beech trees hang onto their leaves for most of the winter.

Moss and and back lite beech leaves prove color in an overwise somewhat monocolor landscape

Donna hugs a very large Beech.

It was a long way to the top, (Donna).

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It’s always a treat to find magic near home, something fascinating, unexpected, perhaps even sacred. With that thought it was hard not to feel the presence of the those that lived on this land long before Europeans when we walked the trails within Flint Ridge.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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For a moment an Oak leaf miraculously balances on the railing of a foot bridge.

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XXXX

 

Reluctant Treasures

We enjoy being outdoors no matter what the time of year. However, when it comes to providing a sense of wonder, unlike spring, summer and early autumn, late autumn and early winter give up their subtle treasures reluctantly. One must move slowly and look closely or much will be missed.

With the leaves now gone the convoluted bark of the Osage Orange is hard not to notice, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Better in B&W?

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A cloudy cold early November morning gives way to the fleeting sun of an unexpectedly warm afternoon and as if by magic things appear not seen a few hours earlier.

A warm early November afternoon and the first sighting of a Variegated Fritillary for the year, (Donna).

A pond quiet in the cold morning air comes to life in the warm afternoon sun, Leopard Frog, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

An Autumn Meadowhawk enjoys the afternoon sun, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A Striped Wolf Spider sunning itself along the trail just avoids being stepped on, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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A sheltered place, warmed by the sun, gives refuge to flowers that should be gone for the year. Fungi fruit in response to more generous rain defying the below freezing nights.

In the low late autumn sun Nodding Bur-Marigold defies the season, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss and lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Unexpectedly colorful Changing Pholiota, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tinged with green an unidentified shelf fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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More isolated now, some color still remains.

Road through Griggs Reservoir Park.

Sweatgum leaves, (Donna).

Poison Ivy, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The road along the reservoir evites us to walk further, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Fewer leaves, and a forest canopy of bare branches, allow one to better see the birds that haven’t made their way south.

Against a deep blue November sky a sentinel stands along the Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Better in B&W?

Song Sparrow, Battelle Darby Metro Park, (Donna).

American Goldfinch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Herons continue to make a living along the shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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

We continue to see Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam.

Backing off a bit we noticed a Coopers Hawk watching from the distance.

A dark morph American Robin from further north? Griggs Reservoir Park.

Thankfully, with the migrating warblers pretty much gone, the Carolina Wrens continue to entertain along the Scioto River.

Immature Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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For the last few weeks almost every squirrel has had a nut in its mouth.

Gray Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s the time of year when short cloudy days, a landscapes of muted colors, and breezes often too cool to be comfortable tell us that things are going to be quieter for a while.

A shoreline reflection reveals November’s bare branches, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

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