Getting Along Just Fine

At first, as we looked across the river, there appeared to be a Double-crested Cormorant hanging around with a bunch of turtles. But a closer look revealed that one turtle didn’t resemble the others. The others, Northern Map Turtles, were almost too many to count. The unique turtle was a Spiny Softshell Turtle which, while not uncommon, can’t compete with the map turtle when it comes to shear numbers in central Ohio. 

With it’s neck almost fully extended, it’s almost as though the softshell wants to be a cormorant. The cormorant and softshell made the picture interesting, but it was fascinating to see that they were getting along just fine.

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As opposed to just two weeks ago, the brilliantly colored male Baltimore Orioles are much harder to spot with trees leafed out. However, one obliged by landing on the exposed branches of a nearby sycamore. 

Enjoying a tasty meal in a sycamore tree.

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We’ve transitioned from spring to early summer wildflowers. Two of my favorites, both anemones are Canada Anemone and Thimbleweed. The Spiderwort was photographed in bright late morning sunlight, not the best conditions, but the dark background made it work. The flower of the ninebark is amazingly beautiful considering the plant’s rather ordinary name. 

Foxglove Beardtongue “grows in moist, sandy soil in full sun in meadows, prairies, fields, wood margins, open woods and along railroad tracks. Its bloom period is from late spring to early summer. The plant is known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds“. Ref: Wikipedia.

This small bee is only a little over 1/2 inch long.

Thimbleweed

Spiderwort

Canada Anemone, “in the past used medically by North American Indigenous peoples as an astringent and as a styptic for wounds, sores, nosebleeds, and as an eyewash. The root was respected by Plains tribes and used for many ailments”. Ref: Wikipedia

Wild Raspberry

Ninebark

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Along the reservoir small regular waves under overhanging branches create a fascinating pattern of reflections.

Waves and reflections.

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Sometimes just an inadvertent glace in a direction not planned draws one into an adventure of unexpected wonder.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Frost

It was dark, cold, foggy, and not the kind of morning we jump out of bed to go hiking, but our visiting son from San Diego wanted to hike so who were we to argue.

Morning fog, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Even though conditions were right to produce significant frost our initial goal was to see a few interesting birds. However, upon arrival at out hiking destination, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, the frost quickly became the main source of fascination.

Frosty landscape, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Taking a closer look at nearby weeds revealed very interesting ice formations, which we originally thought was hoar-frost but after a closer examination we now believe to be rime ice.

Let me see if I was going the create something this enchanting where would I start?

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It found its way unto leaves,

***, (Donna).

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Frost along the Big Darby.

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berries,

***, (Donna).

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Hiking through a frosty fantasy land, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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and other things.

Milkweed, (Donna).

Teasel.

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***

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The ice wasn’t just on plants. During the night’s cold a park pond tried it’s best to freeze over.

Patterns

Reflection and ice.

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***

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We actually did see a few birds, including Golden-crowned Kinglets that eluded the camera’s lens, but the ice is what really stole the show.

Blue Birds in a frost covered tree.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

December Quiet

Recently we had an opportunity to spent a few days at Salt Fork State Park. It’s located in eastern part of the state and is Ohio’s largest state park at 17,000 acres encompassing a landscape of forested hills, open meadows, valleys, winding streams and a large serpentine lake. It’s a park that’s new to us with a name that is said to have been derived from a salt well located in its southwest corner that was used by Native Americans. Early December is not the busiest time and the park system was offering a senior discount in an effort to rectify that problem. With leaves mostly on the ground and their colors fading fast it is not the best time of year to experience nature’s beauty, but if one loves to hike and explore we thought “the deal” was too good to pass up.

Morning landscape, from the lodge, (all images may be clicked on for a better view).

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A short afternoon hike after our arrival revealed that recent wet weather had resulted in trails that were wet, and in spots very muddy, but perhaps what was noticed most was that, with the exception of the call of a distant crow or a nearby chickadee, the woods were completely silent.

Along the trails the lake can often be seen.

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During our stay we had the opportunity to explore various trails and the playful sound of small streamlets could often be heard as they made their way down gullies and around moss-covered rocks.

Oak leaves on moss-covered rocks and a very small waterfall.

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Fortunately there were “wildflowers” to enjoy but not the kind one goes in search of in early spring woods.

Red-orange Mycena, (Donna).

Turkey Tail bouquet, (Donna).

Interesting but unidentified, (Donna).

Cypress needles on moss.

Crowded Parchment, (Donna).

Unidentified polypore.

Perhaps Ground Pholiota

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Moss covered rocks and fallen cypress needles provided the most vivid color seen.

Now moss-covered this sandstone rock broke off from a nearby cliff.

Bald Cypress

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A longer hike took us by an old stone house on our way to Hosak’s cave and waterfall. The house was built by Benjamin Kennedy, an early settler to the region, around 1840. With the exception of the lake the surrounding landscape probably looks a lot like it did then.

Old Stone House

Hosack’s Cave. Notice the small waterfall that is probably non-existent most of the year.

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The morning of our departure we were greeted by two inches of fresh snow. In the stillness it was magical.

View from the lodge.

Sycamore

Holly, (Donna).

In the fresh snow a small stream stands out.

Like powdered sugar the light snow graced park trees.

Snow covered branches reflect at water’s edge.

A Great Blue Heron seems out of place.

Blooms of a different kind, Tulip Tree.

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The lodge, all decorated for the holidays with the warm glow of fireplaces in cozy locations, was lovely. The food, be it breakfast, lunch, or diner, while not French cuisine, was reasonably priced and very good. The staff was very friendly and helpful.

Late autumn snow, Salt Fork State Park.

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At times nature’s beauty, found when not expected, speaks to us in a whisper.

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Thanks for stopped by.

Enchanted November Woods

A half an hour before, we were standing in a cold wind just below a dam that has created one of central Ohio’s larger reservoirs trying our best to spot, and perhaps photograph, the Black-legged Kittiwake that was reported in the area. A unique opportunity because it’s a gull not usually seen in these parts. We finally did get a very average binocular view of the bird, another one for my “life list”, but in the process managed to journey pretty far down the road to hypothermia. Now we were looking forward to a hike in the woods with the thought that it wouldn’t be windy and the modest exertion might be enough to warm us up.

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Char-Mar Ridge Park, is not far from the dam so it seemed like a good choice. The park is home to numerous species of large trees as well as a pond that usually contains waterfowl. A plus is that next to the pond is a nicely situated observation blind for undetected viewing. This time of the year finds most leaves, a significant portion of which are oak, on the forest floor as the bare branched sentinels, once their home, tower overhead. The lack of leaves on branches promotes a rather barren landscape but made it easy to spot a Pileated woodpecker just minutes into our walk. It insisted on maintaining its position between us and the sun foiling efforts to obtain a really good photo.

Pileated Woodpecker, all photos may be clicked on for a better view.

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Once in the park it was hard not to notice the uniform blanket of leaves. They accentuated the park’s large rocks and fallen trees giving the sense that one was walking through a sculptor garden.

Oak leaves on log.

Large glacial erratic.

Recent rains darkened fallen trees, further contrasting them with the leaves.

Fallen leaves and branches.

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While I was amusing myself with stumps and fallen trees my wife was doing her best to locate fascinating fungi.

A study of leaves, tree bark, and fungi.

Resinous Polypore, (Donna).

A type of spreading fungi, (Donna).

Lichen and jelly fungi, (Donna).

Common Split Gill just starting out, (Donna).

Colorful Turkeytail.

Perhaps young Cinnabar-red Polypore.

Another look, (Donna).

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It was just a short distance to the blind overlooking the pond and despite the fact that the resident Red Headed Woodpecker was not seen the time spent there did not disappoint. A neighborhood of usual suspects was more than happy to entertain us.

White Breasted Nuthatch, (Donna).

Another look.

Male Cardinal.

White-throated sparrow, (Donna).

Another look.

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

What are you looking at?

Downy Woodpecker

Take 2.

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There was also activity on the pond.

Male Hooded Merganser.

Male and female Gadwalls

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It is hard not to be enchanted when one finds color suspended in an otherwise drab gray landscape. Most leaves were down but those on the smaller beech trees hang on and even though their color is no match for the brilliant reds of a maple they did their best to supply color.

Color suspended among slender trees.

A closer look.

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Recent rains meant that some areas still contained “ponds” of standing water on and along the path creating a challenge for dry feet but also provided a unique “looking-glass” into the late autumn woods.

November reflection.

November reflection, black and white.

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November reflection 2.

November reflection 2, black and white .

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In the cold November woods there always is more going on than we know. We move too fast and miss much, wishing for warmer days.

Char-Mar Ridge Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

The Wisdom of The Moment and Time Passing

Recently on a cold blustery day, after a storm blanketed the landscape with ice and snow, we found ourselves walking through the woods along a high ridge where for thousands of years people long since gone, had come with all their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and those they loved, to quarry flint, for arrow heads, knives, and other tools.

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Around now flooded quarry pits, in the magic of frozen crystalline beauty, it was hard not to sense their presence and hear their voices as they spoke the wisdom of the moment and time passing.

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Ice and snow, Flint Ridge State Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

A Clifton Gorge Fungi Find

We were hoping for a little more autumn color when we decided to schedule a hike in The Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve but two days of wind and rain took care of that. Starting near the mill we were greeted with splashes of muted color from a few scattered young beech trees. The red of invasive burning bushes was also seen but most of the now faded leaves had found their final resting place along the trail.

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This 268-acre preserve protects one of the most spectacular dolomite and limestone gorges in the state. Registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1968, Clifton Gorge encompasses a 2-mile stretch of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River, just east of John Bryan State Park.

Geologically, it is an outstanding example of interglacial and post-glacial canyon cutting. At one point, the river funnels through a deep, narrow channel, which was apparently formed by the enlarging and connecting of a series of potholes in the resistant Silurian dolomite bedrock. In other sections of the gorge, cliff overhangs have broken off forming massive slump blocks scattered along the valley floor.

The shaded, north-facing slopes provide a cool, moist environment for northern species including hemlock, red baneberry, Canada yew, arbor-vitae and mountain maple. This is one of the most spectacular sites in the state for viewing spring wildflowers including the rare snow trillium”. (Ref: ODNR)

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No hiking distance records were set, and it wasn’t a great day to capture fall color, but my wife did spot some very interesting fungi.

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Along the gorge trail. (As always, you may click on any pic for a better look.)

The Little Miami, recent rain resulted in good flow through the gorge.

Oyster Mushrooms, (Donna).

In places the gorge is quite narrow.

Perhaps Golden Pholiota, (Donna).

At times it was a challenge to get the picture.

Further down the gorge the river widens.

Beech leaves appear to flow with the river. (This picture would have been much more effective with the camera mounted on a tripod using a slow shutter speed.)

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By far the most fascinating discovery was:

Fluted Bird’s Nest Fungi, (Donna).

Another view, (Donna).

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Hints of color.

A quiet spot along the river.

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It was a wonderful time spent enjoying nature with friends. A visit to Clifton Gorge never disappoints.

Beech leaves with the river far below.

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Thanks for stopping by.

An Autumn Bouquet

The image of a flower bouquet kept entering my mind as I thought about this post. Something enjoyed only briefly and then gone. Perhaps it’s the realization that today images are everywhere and the best we can hope for is a fleeting appreciation before they pass into time. So no iconic Ansel Adams images here, just glimpses of autumn in Ohio. If the reader soon forgets the images but is left with a positive feeling or inspiration the carries them into the day with a smile, we will smile.

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In no particular order, the photos were taken during the past week and are from a hike on a “new to us” trail along the western shore of Alum Creek Reservoir in Alum Creek State Park (AC), and also hikes in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park (BD), Clear Creek Metro Park (CC) and Griggs Reservoir Park (GR), an easy to over look city park just mile a from our home. The fungi pictures are a reminder that even with most wildflowers gone until next year there is always something to discovery during a walk in the woods.

Beech leaves cast subtle shadows, CC.

Eyelash Cup, GR, (Donna). As with all images click on the photo for a closer look.

Fall color along the Big Darby, BD.

Serenity, GR.

Cracked-cap Polypore, BD, (Donna).

Windfall, CC.

Lemon Drops, BD (Donna).

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

White-egg Birds Nest, AC, (Donna).

Cove, AC.

Unidentified yellow mushroom, CC, (Donna).

Dark jelly fungus, CC, (Donna).

Leaves, BD.

Unidentified fancy mushroom, BD, (Donna).

Road through Clear Creek Metro Park.

Creek, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Polypore, CC, (Donna).

Path through the woods, AC.

The beautiful underside of Common Split Gill, BD, (Donna).

The Big Darby, BD.

Bridge, AC.

Orange and yellow, BD.

Leaves and stump, AC.

Alum Creek Reservoir cove.

Tiny “parasols”, CC, (Donna).

Eastern Wahoo, BD.

Fence, BD.

Picnic table, GR.

Trees at waters edge, DB.

Leaves, AC

Shaggy Mane, BD

Leaves on fallen tree, AC

Solitary leaf, BD

Leaves along the shore of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Polypore, AC, (Donna).

Woods, AC

Path, DB.

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Walking a wooded path

with the colors of an autumn day,

the earthen scent of fallen leaves

touched by rain,

and the sound of a solitary woodpecker,

I awoke in the richness

of the moment.

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Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Walk Along The Scioto

Finding autumn in a composition of color, leaves, and trees that speak to us, can be a challenge. Especially when looking for new or different interpretations. On any given day the message can be very different, sunny bright, and cheerful, or overcast rainy, and solemn. Some days we must content ourselves with views through water streaked windows as a windy rain strips branches and blankets the ground with color.

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Autumn is particularly enchanting when the magic is found close home such as during a recent walk along the Scioto River. We felt particularly blessed as Ruby-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere. Two Dark-eyed Juncos even made a brief appearance but eluded the camera’s lens.

Meditation on a rock and fall color.

Distant bridge.

Color slowly makes it’s way to the ground.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet demanding to be noticed momentarily breaks the autumn color trance, (Donna).

Meditation 2.

Sunlight through Sycamore leaves.

Color across the river.

A light rain falls.

Mist on the river.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, take 2, (Donna).

River rocks.

Leaves come to rest on a fallen log as a light rain saturates their color.

Through Sycamore leaves.

Autumn mushroom “still life”.

Tree along the river.

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Dark, cloudy, or rainy days seldom get creative juices flowing and I’m not one to go out in the rain just to see what kinds of “rain pictures” I can come up with. But sometimes, if you are significantly enchanted by a subject, it may be worth looking at it under different kinds of light and climatic conditions. In dong so it may be more fully appreciated and it’s beauty more completely revealed.

Light rain and color along the Scioto River.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Reflection

As I write this the temperature has finally arrived at more normal levels for early October. Until just a few days ago it was much warmer and the season betrayed by the calendar was having a hard time getting started with leaves still reluctant to show their autumn color. That wasn’t all bad as we were treated to sightings of butterflies and other insects not usually seen this late in the year. Given the above average rainfall it continues to be a great time to see fungi which seems to be almost everywhere. Below is a celebration of some things seen over the past couple of weeks. Missing is “the picture” of me paddling the Scioto River, fishing for Smallmouth Bass, as two mature Bald Eagles circled overhead. Oh well, some things would be hard to capture in a photograph and must just be experienced.

Leaf.

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The above experience prompted me to consider things that can be photographed, which in this case happens to be landscapes. Specifically, it has to do with the difference between how a scene is seen and how the camera captures it. Or putting it another way, after we have been enchanted enough to take the picture, and after a preliminary look are happy with the results, does the image convey the desired message as shot? This then will have a lot to do with the kind and amount of post processing used and it’s limits for a particular photograph. Such things are often a matter of opinion or taste, there being no right or wrong. With that said, we’ve all seen the over saturated colors in autumn landscapes which risk devaluing the place and experience as if to say it wasn’t beautiful enough. Things worth considering I believe.

O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

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As already mentioned it’s been a great year for fungi. Apparently chicken Fungi and puffballs are edible but I think we will just enjoy looking at them. At their peak the colors of some fungi are no less spectacular than the loveliest wildflower.

Turkey tail.

Rosy Russula, Emily Traphagen Park.

Puffballs, (Donna).

Unidentified fungi family with lot’s of character, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Dead Man’s Fingers, (Donna).

Wrinkled Peach Mushroom, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Close up.

An emergent shelf fungi competes with puffballs and fallen leaves for our attention.

A polypore shows off it’s gills.

Chicken Fungi

Bearded Tooth fungi, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Dryad’s Saddle, note the different stages of development in this cluster, (Donna).

Orange Mycena, (Donna).

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A hint of autumn color along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tree roots and fallen leaves.

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Despite our recent fungi fascination other things have been hard to ignore. A number if years ago it took a really spectacular insect to make an impression but as I’ve spent more time looking at them my appreciation has increased. With greater knowledge and understanding it has become much harder to consider them a lower life form less noble than ourselves. They have become part of the beautiful tapestry of life where boundaries between self and the natural world disappear.

Bee on Calico Asters, (Donna).

We had to wait until fairly late in the year to start seeing Common Checked Skippers, (Donna).

Common Green Darner, (Donna).

Yellow-collared Scape Moth is very similar to the Virginia Ctenucha but is slightly smaller, (Donna).

A bee enjoying the same flower gives an appreciation of the Eastern Tailed-Blue’s size, (Donna).

Chickweed Geometer, (Donna).

A beautiful but tiny Gray Hairstreak, (Donna).

Orange Sulfur

A not often seen Variegated Fritillary, (Donna).

Giant Swallowtail, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Eastern Comma

Meadow Fritillaries were very common at Griggs reservoir Park this year, (Donna).

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A leaf is framed by reflections In a stream side pool.

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Pausing at water’s edge, rippled reflections dance to the rhythm of wind and light gracing us with a new vision and an invitation to a new place.

Tree branches reflect on the water’s surface, Griggs Reservoir.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

Maine Musings

Every couple of years we travel to the coast of Maine. It always seems like our stay is too short. The below images around Stonington as well as Mt Dessert Island are in celebration of our recent visit. For photographers enchanted by rugged natural beauty the coast of Maine offers endless photographic opportunities. As if the natural beauty wasn’t enough, exploring the trails of Acadia National Park often treats one’s senses to the fragrance of salt air and balsam. Not something we get to enjoy in Ohio. Our too brief stop in Stonington left us feeling that our next visit will have to encompass more than just a few hours and there are always more places to see and explore on Mt Dessert Island. Plenty of reasons to return.

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Landscapes:

Along Ship Harbor Trail, Mt Desert Island, (Donna).

Friendship Sloop, Southwest Harbor.

Granite along Ship Harbor Trail.

Harbor Scene, Rockport.

The narrows, Ship Harbor Trail.

Dingy, Southwest Harbor.

 

Ocean walk, Bar Harbor.

Ship Harbor Trail.

Stonington chair.

Balanced rock. This very large glacial erratic left behind by the receding glaciers 10,000 years ago has fascinated Bar Harbor visitors for years.

Undated picture of balanced rock perhaps from the early 1900’s.

Waiting for the boat, Bar Harbor.

Northeast Harbor.

Lobster boats, Stonington.

Lobster pound, Southwest Harbor.

Stonington waterfront.

Stonington cat.

Along the Ocean Path, Acadia National Park. This is one of the best trails for seascapes but getting a people free picture can be a challenge.

Gulls and boats, Southwest Harbor.

A view of Northeast Harbor from Thuya Gardens.

Margaret Todd off Bar Harbor.

Rainy afternoon, Bar Harbor.

Ocean Path.

Harbor scene, Bar Harbor.

Incoming wave, Ocean Path.

Peapod, Stonington.

Ocean Path.

Lobster boats, Bar Harbor.

Dories, Stonington.

Harbor scene, Southwest Harbor.

Ebbing tide, Stonington.

Unloading the catch, Stonington.

Salt air and balsam along the Ocean Path.

Kim’s Pride, Stonington.

Window, Southwest Harbor.

Friends, Northeast Harbor.

Boat lift, Stonington.

Reflection, Northeast Harbor.

Windows, Stonington.

Cliff along Ocean Path, Acadia National Park.

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Nature:

We saw several non-breeding Black Guillemots as we explored the coves and harbors.

Calico Asters, (Donna).

Female Common Eider with small crab, (Donna).

Colorful fungi, (Donna).

Greater Yellowlegs, (Donna).

Red Squirrel cuteness, Bar Harbor.

Gull with crab at low tide, (Donna).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Thuya Gardens, (Donna).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, (Donna).

As we hiked a trail in Thuya Gardens, this salamander just avoided my foot.

American Lady, Thuya Gardens, (Donna).

Another view.

Wild Rose, found along many of the ocean side trails.

Asters

As the tide goes out there’s the enchanting world of tide pools to explore, Wonderland Trail, Acadia National Park.

Tide pool detail, (Donna).

Tide pool.

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We hope you enjoyed this brief interlude from our usual central Ohio posts. For a moment this morning as we walking along Griggs Reservoir in the misty rain, except for the lack of salt air, it was hard not to imagine we were back in Maine. Thanks for stopping by.


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