A Few Days Along The Rifle River

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

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

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

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

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

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

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

One more picture.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

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

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

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

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

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

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

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

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

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

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

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

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

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

Hawkweed.

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

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

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

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

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

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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

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

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

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

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

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

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

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

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

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

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

Swamp Smartweed

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

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

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

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

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

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

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

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

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

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

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

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

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

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

As always thanks for stopping by!

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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.

On The Shoulder of Very Small Giants!

Recently we were thinking about all the birds that nest in Griggs Reservoir Park or in the immediate environs. A list of some of the more interesting ones would go something like this:

White-breasted Nuthatch,

Cardinal, Northern Flicker,

Kingbird,

Red-bellied Woodpecker,

Rose-breasted Grosbeak,

Blue Jay,

Yellow-throated Warbler,

Black-crowned Night Heron,

Northern Parula Warbler,

Protonotary Warbler,

Kingfisher, Wood Duck,

Baltimore Oriole,

Cedar Waxwing,

Mallard Duck,

Great Egret,

Great Blue Heron

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well I think you get the idea. It’s amazing that  just a few years ago we were ignorant of much of this. To become more aware has taken time coupled with repeated outings to the park and reservoir. While some visits have been pretty quiet, in general learning about the birds has been a rewarding activity.

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Too further this point, recently we’ve been fortunate to photograph a few of the “youngsters”. The always active Kingbirds have been hard to miss.

Two Kingbird chicks see the parent approaching, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna, pics 1-4).

The parent arrives but apparently with no food.

But the other parent did have something to offer.

Open mouths, hard for a parent to miss!

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While we’ve heard them calling from time to time over the past few weeks, Yellow-throated Warblers have been illusive so the one below was a pretty exciting find!

Juvenile Yellow-throated warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

 

Take 3, with an ant.

Take 4.

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Always cute, a few Mallard ducklings were present along the reservoir. Interesting because we’ve seen a stream of ducklings over the last two months indicating there is no fixed time to mate.

Mallard Ducklings, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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While not youngsters, a few other birds also allowed us to take their picture. For those of you that have tried to photograph a Kingfisher you know they don’t usually cooperate so even an average picture is an accomplishment.

Female Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Black-crowned Night Heron, one of two seen as we paddled the reservoir. We haven’t seen as many this year perhaps due to the larger than normal number of Great Egrets.

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As mentioned above the birds have been rewarding but we never imaged we would discover a new snake right within the city limits of Columbus! It was seen while canoeing Griggs Reservoir and was located in a low lying bush overhanging the water. While looking at the one below another one splashed into the water. Needless to say we were very excited by this discovery!

Queen Snake, frequently seen and captured by overturning large flat stones, boards, or other debris along fresh water streams. Some will try to bite which due to their small teeth is not a treat to humans. However, all use their musk glands freely and struggle violently to escape. Although they become gentle with handling, they seldom eat in captivity. (ODNR) Their habitat is very specific, and this snake is never found in areas that lack clean running streams and watersheds with stony and rocky bottoms. The water temperature must be a minimum of 50 °F (10 °C) during it’s active months due to  dietary requirements that consist all most exclusively of newly molted crayfish. (WIKI)

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Summer wildflowers have benefited from the recent rain.

Rain garden, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Tall Blue Lettuce, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Vervain, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Joe Pye Weed, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Lizards Tail and Swamp Milkweed at the north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that in the summer we tend to focus more on insects. This year is no exception, except I’ve finally really caught the “bug” from my wife. Having made that declaration, as hard as I look I will never match her ability to see these little guys!

Soldier Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Female Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Giant Spreadwing, not one we see often, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Amber and Black Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Pelecinid Wasp, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Silvery Checkerspot, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna)

Take 2, Donna)

Metallic Gold Fly, very small, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Robber Fly, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Duke’s Skipper, Griggs Reservoir.

Dukes Skipper (M), Griggs Reservoir.

Blue Dasher (F), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Common Dogbane Beetles, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Question Mark, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Orange Sulfur (F), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The photo of the below dragonfly was an especially exciting because it very seldom lands.

Wandering Glider, the common name of this species may be the most appropriate of any of species. It is a strong flier, with a circumtropical distribution. It is found in nearly every contiguous state, extreme southern Canada, southward throughout Central and South America, the Bahamas, West Indies, Hawaii and throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, except for Europe. It is regularly encountered by ocean freighters and is a well-known migratory species. Because of its ability to drift with the wind, feeding on aerial plankton, until it finally encounters a rain pool in which it breeds, it has been called “…the world’s most evolved dragonfly.” (Odonata Central) , Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

After much searching Donna finally found a few Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Spicebush Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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There was a time when I wasn’t all that excited about “insects”, pointing my camera at butterflies, dragonflies, and the like only when the birds weren’t cooperating. Arriving home after one such an outing I took a close look at the images obtained and was amazed at the beauty of many of these creatures that are so easy for us to disregard. It’s hardly breaking news but some time ago I heard that if we compared the weight of all humans with that of all insects we would make up a very small piece of the pie. The below chart illustrates that point. For life to exist on this small sphere we stand on the shoulders of giants but in our case they are very small giants. Something to think about!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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There has been quite a bit of rain recently so we paddled to one of the local waterfalls. It did not disappoint, Griggs Reservoir.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Late Summer Magic; Insects and Fall Warblers

Late August isn’t usually when I think of seeing fall warblers in central Ohio. Although I’m sure that’s the result of a certain level of ignorance on my part. So not really expecting the warblers this early, most of our efforts in recent days have been spent looking for, and enjoying, the “bugs” that currently seem to be in their prime. What started as a way to say curious during the summer doldrums has now become a real goal of our explorations.

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Whether a spider, butterfly, moth, bee, or dragonfly their unique beauty and behavior, so unlike our own, takes us into a truly different world.  Fascinating as they are I wouldn’t want to return “in the next life” as an insect. The dragonfly is too efficient and maneuverable a flying machine bringing a quick end to anything flying nearby that it considers a meal. The life cycle of many wasps requires that caterpillars become live hosts for their larva. A convenient meal for the future wasps but undoubtedly not a pleasant experience for the caterpillar.  A garden spider quickly dispatches and gift wraps a careless fly in silk for later consumption. And just when you think your the biggest, baddest, “bug” around, a bird comes along. I could go on but it is sufficient to say, it’s not for me.

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Praying Mantis in our backyard garden. They’ve been observed catching unsuspecting humming birds that get a little too close.

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A closer look, this is one insect that has no trouble holding on to it’s meal!

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Iron weed and a Clouded Sulfur, flowers upon flowers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Wasps making baby wasps, Prairie Oaks Metro Parks.

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Pelecinid Wasp, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Question Mark, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Spotted Orbweaver, Griggs Park

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Triangle-bearing Orbweaver (very small), Griggs Park

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Very small Mayfly close to the water, Griggs Park

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Funnel Weaver Grass Spider, (Donna)

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Bumble bee, (Donna).

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Overhead view of a Katydid, (Donna)

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Walnut Caterpillar, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Marbled Orbweaver, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna)

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Unidentified fly, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Mayfly, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Grasshopper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Spotted Orb Weaver (underside), Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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It’s not as if there haven’t been birds around. Sometimes, in our quest for insects, we get so engaged in looking down we forget to look up! The Osprey was discovered as we were looking for warblers and provided many great poses as he devoured a fish just two of which are shown below.

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Osprey with fish, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Take two.

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Northern Flicker, finally managed to get an image which shows off most of it’s distinctive markings, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Red-bellied Woodpeckers, adult and immature, Griggs Park

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Great Blue Heron and nest, north end of Griggs Reservoir. This is special because it’s the first nest I’ve noticed at that area in some time.

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.   .   .  and then there were the warblers, always more seen than successfully photographed.

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Black and White, Griggs Park

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Yellow-throated, Griggs Park.

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American Redstart, 1st year, Griggs Park.

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From a different angle, (Donna)

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Cape May, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Immature Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Park

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When in nature take a moment to enjoy the whole, allowing yourself just to be.

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Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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With the fall migration just getting started we’re looking forward to what will be seen in the coming weeks.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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