Journeying On Through Florida

After leaving Lake Kissimmee State Park we headed north, ran the Orlando metro area traffic gauntlet, and arrived at Blue Springs State Park which was a new park for us. After spending a week there we would take relatively quiet back roads further north to Mike Roess State Park. The two parks couldn’t be more different. Blue Springs is a heavily used “day use” park with a small campground near Orlando while the larger Mike Roess SP was quiet and lightly used during our stay. Part of the popularity of Blue Springs can be attributed to the Manatees that inhabit the springs during the winter months and which had started to leave while we were there due to warmer weather. When one ventured away from the campground after mid-morning parking lots were pretty much full and there were always more than enough people in the park’s general use areas. However, once on the water paddling into a secluded creek or cove things changed dramatically and the area felt like wilderness.

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The big find while hiking the parks limited trails was the endangered Scrub Jay which is a bird we’ve been in search of for some time without success. Habitat destruction appears to be the main reason for its decline.

Scrub Jay.

Another look.

Yellow Star Grass occurred periodically along the trail in single blossoms.

This Eastern Towhee was seen in the same scrub habitat as the jay, (Donna).

This Pileated Woodpecker was also seen along the trail as we searched for the Scrub Jays, (Donna).

Spiderwort.

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St Johns River near Blue Springs SP.

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The extensive wildlife seen while canoeing was the big draw at Blue Springs SP. Our favorite paddle was the eleven mile loop that incorporated Snake Creek. The creek is a true celebration of the richness and beauty of nature.

A small alligator checks us out, (Donna).

An immature Black Crowned Night Heron along Snake Creek, (Donna).

A Great Egret watches as we pass by.

St Johns River.

Florida Cooters,  (Donna).

Wood Stork, (Donna).

Black Crowned Night Heron along the St Johns River.

Little Blue Heron in the thick of it.

Snake Creek provided an intimate paddling experience.

Purple Gallinule eating flower petals, St Johns River.

While paddling Snake Creek we came upon this mating pair at Turkeys. The male seemed not to be bothered by our presence.

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Cypress

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A Tree frog at water’s edge, (Donna)

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St Johns River.

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American Bittern along the St Johns River.

Osprey with fish.

Little Blue Heron preening.

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Although they are common, Anhingas always catch our eye.

Male Anhinga dries it’s feathers along the St Johns River.

Preening.

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St Johns river landscape.

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A Snowy Egret shows off its yellow feet, (Donna).

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Unlike Blue Springs which provided excellent opportunities to observe wildlife from the water, hiking was the best way to do so at Mike Roess SP. A plus was that there were no crowed parking lots or large numbers of people to negotiate when one left the campground. There were areas to explore around the park’s several small lakes and along one fairly long designated hiking trail. We enjoyed the park’s quiet subtle beauty.

Mike Roess SP landscape.

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Walking the shoreline of the parks small lakes was an excellent way to see insects. Some of the dragonflies and damselflies seen were new to us.

Vesper Bluet Damselfly, (Donna).

The Variable Dancer Damselfly is one we haven’t seen further north in Ohio.

Carolina Saddlebags, (Donna).

Female Faded Pennant, (Donna).

Male Faded Pennant.

Slaty Skimmer, (Donna).

The Stripe-winged Baskettail is another dragonfly we’ve not seen further north in Ohio.

The Blue Corporal often perches on the ground, (adult male).

The Buckeye is usually seen in late summer in Ohio.

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Pond reflection.

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In addition to the insects there were birds to enjoy:

Hermit Thrush.

A Hooded Merganser and a Wood Duck pose.

There was a sizable population of Ring-necked Ducks on the small park lakes.

A closer look.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Pied Billed Grebes

A White Eyed Vireo announces its presence.

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Shoreline grass.

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As well as other things:

Cricket Frog at waters edge, (Donna).

Unfortunately these lovely but uncommon little flowers that liked the park’s sandy soil remain unidentified.

A Fence Lizard shows it’s underside, (Donna).

Lichen on fallen branch.

A Gopher Tortoise enjoys some grass, (Donna).

Trees.

Pinebarren Frostweed.

A Five Lined Skink shows its beautiful tail, (Donna)

A Long Leaf Pine just starting out.

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Leaving Mike Roess we’d completed six weeks of exploring nature in Florida. As we looked forward to spending time at Paynes Prairie Preserve and Black River SP before heading north to early spring in Ohio we couldn’t help but feel incredibly blessed.

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Lily Pads

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Celebration of Florida Birds

It’s been a while since our last post so after almost two months bumming around some of Florida’s most beautiful natural areas in sunny 70 degree weather we now find ourselves back in central Ohio looking out the window as a 25 F wind blows snow around our front yard. One way to celebrate the trip, and perhaps to feel a little warmer, is to post pictures of a few of birds seen while while hiking and paddling. Perhaps no one species expresses the diversity and beauty of nature like birds, each with their own unique appearance and behavior. Florida gives one an excellent opportunity to witness and perhaps photograph that diversity and beauty.

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For those that are curious, our stay in Florida consisted of time spent at Myakka River SP; great hiking, big gators, and great wildlife photography, Lake Kissimmee SP; great hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife, the Chassahowzitka River Campground;  great paddling, fishing, and wildlife, and Ochlockonee River SP; great hiking, paddling, and wildlife.

 Click on images for a better view.

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Salt Creek, Chassahowitzka River

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Great Blue Heron, Myakka River SP.

Limpkins, very common in Myakka River SP.

Cardinal, Myakka River SP.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

Osprey, Myakka River SP.

A Brown Thrasher serenaded us early every morning, Ochlockonee River SP.

Green Heron, seldom seen, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

Common Moorhen, Myakka River SP.

Pileated Woodpecker, Myakka River SP.

Greater Yellowlegs, Myakka River SP.

Little Blue Heron, Myakka River SP

Sand Hill Crane, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilts, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, Myakka River SP.

Black-necked Stilt, a closer view showing eye color, Myakka River SP.

Least Sandpiper, Myakka River SP.

Great Egret, breeding plumage, Myakka River SP.

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron, Myakka River SP.

Roseate Spoonbills, Myakka River SP.

American Avocet, Myakka River SP.

Glossy Ibis, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagle, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Snail Kite, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Eastern Phoebe, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Wood Thrush, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Carolina Wren, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Bald Eagles were almost always overhead, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Tri-colored Heron, Chassahowitzka River.

Pied-billed Grebe, Chassahowitzka River

Brown Pelican, Chassahowitzka River

Blue-winged Teal, St Marks NWR.

Vermilion Flycatcher, St Marks NWR.

Female Kingfisher, Wakulla River.

Mockingbird, Ochlockonee River State Park

Black Skimmers, Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP.

Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Pine Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

Red-cockaded woodpeckers, endangered, Ochlockonee River State Park

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ochlockonee River State Park

White Ibis, Myakka River SP.

Red-shouldered Hawk, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Red-headed Woodpecker, one of eleven sightings that day, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Anhinga, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, not as common as The Black-crowned, Chassahowitzka River.

Eastern Towhee, common, Ochlockonee River State Park

Laughing Gull with Least Tern, Bald Point SP.

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Along the trail, Myakka River SP.

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Given the weather we came back to we may decide to stay longer next year. There’s always something new to discover. Thanks for stopping by.

Winter and Then Not

There is nothing particularly different about this winter in central Ohio. For a few days the temperature hovered around 5F then almost overnight it was 65F and raining making a recent light snow seem like an hallucination. Cold, snowy, icy, weather always seems to have a hard time taking up permanent residence.

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Griggs Reservoir

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Freezing, thawing, and then refreezing do make for interesting ice patterns. Below are a few I’ve taken the liberty to enhance so pattern and design stand out.

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. . .

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. . .

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. . . (Donna).

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Walking along the Scioto River and seeing our old friend the Kingfisher is reassurance that unlike the weather some things don’t change much.

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Across the river a Belted Kingfisher perches briefly.

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Along the reservoir a Junco looks on as a gull enjoys a good stretch while not far away a crow appears to be practicing his skating.

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Dark-eyed Junco, Griggs Park.

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Ring-billed Gull, Griggs Reservoir.

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Crow, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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On a recent day, as the reservoir froze, a grebe seemed almost trapped in one of the few small areas of open water. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.

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Pied-billed Grebe, Griggs Reservoir.

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In late December so much is monochromatic brown gray dreariness but on a recent outing my wife’s tireless quest for very small but always cheerful kinglets paid off.

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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In the spring, fascination seems to offer itself at every turn but in winter one often needs to look closely and with intention. On a recent @40F day this little fella was spotted as we walked through the woods near our home.

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A very small spider enjoys a warmer late December day, (Donna).

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Other things have also brought color to the landscape.

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Leaves on ice, (Donna)

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Sycamore branches against a blue sky.

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Sweet Autumn Clematis, (Donna)

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We hope this post has brought some cheer to what in the northern hemisphere can be a challenging time of year. So until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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Molly Cat

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Birds of Florida on Foot and by Canoe

Our recent six weeks of hiking and paddling in Florida resulted in a lot of photographs.

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The pictures below provide a record of some of the birds seen. While lovely in their right, we are left with the feeling that they don’t come close to conveying the overall sense of wonder experienced as we explored the trails and waterways of Florida. Equipped with the knowledge that places visited were home to many fascinating living things, the wonder was with us even when we didn’t see a plant, bird or other animal that begged to be photographed. We returned home with the feeling that just being in such places had been more than enough.

(click on images for a better view)

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Yellow-crowned Night Heron, from the canoe, Estero River, (Donna)

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Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park

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Ruddy Turnstones, Bald Point State Park

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Sanderlings, Bald Point State Park

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Royal Tern, near Ochlockonee State Park

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Bald Eagle, St Marks NWR.

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Brown-headed Nuthatch, Ochlockonee River State Park

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White-eyed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

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Red-shouldered Hawk, Manatee Springs State Park

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Blue-headed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

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Carolina Wren, Manatee Springs State Park

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

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Northern Parula Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

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Cat Bird, Shady Acres RV Park.

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Black and White Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

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Black Vultures, Manatee Springs State Park

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Swallow-tailed Kite, Shady Acres RV Park

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Little Blue Heron, Ding Darling NWR.

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White Pelicans, Ding Darling NWR.

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Immature Yellow-crowned Nigh Heron, Ding Darling NWR.

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Little Blue Heron, Six Mile Cypress Slough

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Blue-headed Vireo, Manatee Springs State Park

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Black and Turkey Vultures over the Suwanee River and Manatee Springs State Park. Moments before these birds were all perched in trees around the spring, Then, as if on queue, they all took flight.

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Mockingbird, St Marks NWR.

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White Pelicans, St Marks NWR.

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Pied Billed Grebes, St Marks NWR.

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American Wigeons, St Marks NWR.

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Brown Pelican with Kingfisher, St Marks NWR.

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Red-cockaded woodpecker , Ochlockonee River State Park., These birds are threatened in much of their range due to loss of habitat.

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Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee State Park.

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Brown Pelican, St Marks NWR.

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Horned Grebe, St Marks NWR.

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Eastern Phoebe, St Marks NWR.

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Palm Warbler, Ochlockonee River NWR.

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Tri-color Heron, from the canoe, Wakulla River

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Hermit Thrush, Ochlockonee River State River.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Ochlockonee River State Park

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Eastern Towhee, Ochlockonee River State Park

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Pine Warbler, Ochlockonee River State Park,

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Black-bellied Plover and Dunlins, Bald Point State Park

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Great Egret, (Donna). We spotted this bird as we were making our way down the Wakulla River with the current, an outgoing tide, and a fairly strong wind at our back. Managed to get the canoe swung around and slowly headed back upstream while my wife started to shoot. While never our intention the bird soon tired of our interest and flew away. In my opinion it was the best bird pic of the trip.

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Piping Plover, Bald Point State Park. A rare and endangered bird.

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Bald Eagle, Bald Point State Park.

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Laughing Gull, Bald Point State Park

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Cardinal, Manatee Springs State Park

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Black Vulture, Manatee Springs State Park.

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Manatee Springs State Park

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Red-headed Woodpecker, Manatee Springs State Park

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Black Vultures, Manatee Springs State Park

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Tri-color Heron and Brown Pelican, from the canoe, island off Cedar Key.

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Great Egret, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

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Take 2.

 

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Juvenile Ibis, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

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Green Heron, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

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Roseate Spoonbill, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

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Peleated Woodpeckers, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

 

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Osprey, from the canoe, Ichetucknee Springs State Park

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American Oystercatcher, from the canoe, Cedar Key

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American Avocets, from the canoe, Cedar Key

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Black Skimmer, from the canoe, Cedar Key

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Least Terns, Cedar Key

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Wood Stork, Six Mile Cyprus Slough, Ft Meyers

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Sandpiper, from the canoe, Lovers Key State Park

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Snowy Egret, from the canoe, Lovers Key State Park.

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Shady Acres RV Park.

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Brown Pelican, from the canoe, Estero River

 

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Ibis, Six Mile Cypress Slough, (Donna).

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Now back in Ohio, we visited one of our favorite spots earlier today. While nuthatches, creepers, and various woodpeckers were present, no Bald Eagles were seen nor did any Scarlet Tanagers show themselves. But we have seen them there before and you never know about tomorrow.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Sometimes It Takes A Knock On The Head

In central Ohio it’s the time of the year when finding subjects that inspire a photograph can be a bit of a challenge. Contemplating a paddle in November, given a suitable day, usually means we’re thinking more about getting exercise than about the birds or other wildlife we might see. But if we happen upon something interesting, such as migrating waterfowl, so much the better. Such was the case a few days ago on Griggs Reservoir.

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The sun low in the south, water dark, reflections of naked branches.

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One of our favorite coves looks quite different now.

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As we paddled, it wasn’t long before we did spot waterfowl.

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Still pretty far away, as I continue to paddle my wife catches a pair of Wood Ducks.

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As we get closer they don’t hang around, (Donna).

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In a second they were gone, (Donna).

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A solitary Pie-billed Grebe also makes an appearance

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Pie-billed Grebe, not as timid as the Wood Ducks

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Not to be completely upstaged by the “ducks”, two hawks watch as we glide by.

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Red-tailed Hawk, (Donna)

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Coopers Hawk, (Donna)

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xxx

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A few days after our paddle, we wanted to get out of the house and enjoy a little nature before a prediction for cold and rainy weather went into effect. Since we weren’t sure when the rain would arrive we decided to travel the short distance to Griggs Park which borders the reservoir and the Scioto River. It was a cloudy/partly sunny day starting out, but the wind, warning of weather soon to change, was strong. Given the conditions, expectations weren’t high.

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Along the top of the Griggs Reservoir Dam gulls enjoy a warm but windy November day.

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Perhaps a little too windy.

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The good news; even on a windy day there’s something to see.

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Mushroom community, (Donna)

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Oyster Mushrooms, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, (Donna)

Yellow finger-like fungi 1 111115 Griggs solo walk cp1

Recent rains brought out finger-like fungi, (Donna)

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Shelf fungi, (Donna)

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Eastern Wahoo, perhaps the most colorful thing around.

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But we had a slightly different priority for this particular day’s walk. During a recent trip we had noticed that along the river below the dam a secluded area in the woods had been commandeered for drinking and perhaps other things. A “hideout” had been fashioned out of available limbs and branches. Based on the accumulation of beer cans, other trash, and the existence of old wood furniture, it appeared that the area was being used on a regular basis. Since the surrounding area, while not a formal park space, is used by numerous people, along with their kids, for walking, exploring, birding, fishing, etc., the hideout had the potential to grow into a real problem. So, with the necessary tools and determination, the area was dismantled and the trash removed. Being a natural area in the middle of the city there is no illusion of permanency but at least for a while the “hideout” is gone.

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Reflections along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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But the task was not accomplished before an overhanging branch came into contact with the top of my head. Ouch!!! So the real point to this story is not the remediation of the area but the fact that I’m a bit superstitious. You see, normally when I do a good deed, picking up a discarded soda can here or a fast food wrapper there, I imagine good luck will follow. Perhaps we’ll see an unusual bird or something. With that in mind, after my painful encounter with the branch, and with my head still throbbing, I was hoping for something really spectacular.

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Amazingly enough as we continued south along the river, it wasn’t long before we heard two birds carrying on quite a conversation  .   .   .

a pair of Bald Eagles!

.   .   .   and they appeared to be working on a nest!

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Okay, who’s going to get the next stick?

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I got the last one!

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Are you sure? Seems like I’m doing most of the work!

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So as I finish this post, I’m still excited about the eagles and my head has actually stopped throbbing. It remains to be seen if their efforts at nesting will be successful. While the area around the nest tree isn’t easily accessible, it also isn’t the quietist, and is certainly not remote. But what a treat, and as we often like to say when something of wonder is seen near home, “right within the city limits of Columbus”!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Taking a break during one of our paddles on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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xxx

November Dragonflies

Yesterday we thought a visit Prairie Oaks Metro Park was in order to see if the park ponds were home to any migrating waterfowl. After checking out the ponds it was hoped that the nearby woods might contain other migrating birds.

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Oak leaves provide a splash of autumn color.

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The ponds did produce a few Pie-billed Grebes   .   .   .   ,

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Pie-billed Grebes.

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and turtles,

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Red-eared Sliders enjoy the autumn sun, (Donna).

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but not much else.

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In the woods birds were heard but few would pose for a photograph.

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Hairy Woodpecker

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While I was looking up, my wife was looking down. Fortunately, recent rains made the fungi a little more cooperative.

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Bearded Tooth, a type of fungi we don’t often see.

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Oyster Mushroom, (Donna)

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Changing Pholiota, (Donna)

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Resinous Polypore, (Donna)

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Orange Jelly, (Donna).

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While I missed out on most of the fungi, I did manage to photograph a rather illusive stump.

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An old stump surrounded by fallen leaves always causes one to wonder what the area was like years ago.

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By November we’ve pretty much stopped thinking about insects. Even on a warm day one doesn’t expect to see much so we were pretty excited when dragonflies and butterflies started to appear. Apparently, even after a number of freezing nights, some just don’t give up easily.

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Eastern Comma

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A female Green Darner blends in, (Donna). These dragonflies are some of the first to appear in the spring and the last to be seen in the fall.

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Autumn Meadowhawk, (Donna), As the name implies another dragonfly that is seen late into the year.

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Another view, (Donna)

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There were spots, mostly near low lying creeks, where the water’s surface reflected autumn color as sunlight found it’s way through the few remaining leaves.

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Reflections

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But mostly it found it’s way around the many now bare branches without much trouble.

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The Big Darby

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Even at less generous times of the year, we’re almost always amazed by some unexpected discovery when in the woods. Today it was the dragonflies and butterflies. Something I need to remind myself of when I’m having one of those “hard to get off the sofa” days.

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*****

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Often, for folks fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time in nature, the “us versus everything else” paradigm starts to break down. The all, of which we are a part, begins to become one. For our survival that’s inevitably how we must think, and if we’re lucky, it will also be our experience.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Eagles and Ice

Yesterday we decided to check out the area along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam for ice formations. It was very cold and the reservoir had frozen over. It all seemed a little unreal because just a few days before very heavy rain had  accompanied 50F temperatures. Rain means the river level rises in proportion to the amount. Usually within a day or so the level drops leaving beautiful ice formations if it’s cold enough. The ice the only evidence of where the water had once been.

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Many waterfowl had taken up residence in the river’s open water . Amongst the Canada Geese and Mallards we did see Golden Eyes, Hooded Mergansers, Buffle Heads, Pie-billed Grebes. Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons were still making a living in the cold. However, one heron flying overhead appeared to have a least one of it’s feet encased in a small block of ice. Perhaps it stood in the wrong place to long.

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Just below the dam waterfowl escape the ice of the frozen reservoir.

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Waterfowl huddle just out of the river’s current.

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Fascinating ice shapes were everywhere.

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Scioto River looking north

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Ice cones.

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Different shapes.

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Icy landscape, Scioto River looking south.

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Very small Chandelier, (Donna)

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Shadows.

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Ice Ear Rings?, (Donna)

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Another chandelier, (Donna)

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There was evidence of birds walking in the fresh snow.

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Tracks

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Last year we noticed that when there are a lot of waterfowl concentrated in one spot it’s not uncommon to see Bald Eagles. Yesterday, with the concentration of waterfowl, we were rewarded with some great views of eagles perched near the top of tall trees along the river. In total we saw four, two appeared to be mature and two were immature. Pretty exciting for just two miles from our house!

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A Bald Eagle lands.

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Bald Eagles, study 2

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Bald Eagles, study 3, (Donna)

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Study 4, (Donna)

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Getting ready to take flight, study 5

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Immature Bald Eagle, (Donna)

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A Bluebird braving the cold. One of several that were seen.

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Bluebird, Hoover Park

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Thanks for looking in. We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy nature in our neighborhood in the coming week.

piecemealadventurer

Tales of the journeys of a piecemeal adventurer as a discontinuous narrative

Photos by Donna

Sharing My Passion of Birds and Wildlife

Londonsenior

The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog

Kerry Mark Leibowitz's musings on the wonderful world of nature photography

Montana Outdoors

A weblog dedicated to the world outside the cities.

Cat Tales

Mike and Lori adrift

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Exploring Nature in New Hampshire

Jessica's Nature Blog

https://natureinfocus.blog