A First Sighting

Each year it’s a happy time when we again realize that while increased leaf cover and more secretive nesting behavior may make birds harder to observe other beautiful and fascinating things have taken their place. The other things that enchant, as we explore area parks, are the butterflies and dragonflies.

These creatures are a lot like small birds in the sense that you must get close up and personal in order to really appreciate them. At a distance they look like just another LBFI. For starters an essential tool is a pair of close focus binoculars, minimum focus distance of 6 – 7 ft. If you are like me that may soon give way to the desire to photograph them either as an aid to identification or for the record. That’s when you really start to notice how fascinating and beautiful they are. The next thing you may notice is their behavior like the pond surface tapping of a female dragonfly depositing eggs or the unique flight patterns of various butterflies. The more you observe and learn the more enchanting it all becomes.

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Dragonfly heaven, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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That’s not to say that we’ve given up on the birds. During recent insect outing I was hoping for a good shot of an Indigo Bunting but the one seen was just a little too far away.

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Again too far away for a good picture but it is an Indigo Bunting.

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A few other birds were a little closer.

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A Brown Thrasher plays hide and seek in the leaf cover.

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Certainly not trying to hide, this singing Protonotary Warbler was amazing hard to find but once spotted hard to ignore. It’s cavity nest wasn’t far from this perch.

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Gradually as we work our way through June the bulk of nature’s activity increasingly revolves around the insects. A major menu item for many of the now stealthier birds, it’s impossible to ignore them while exploring areas such as Darby Bend Lakes in Prairie Oaks Metro Park. On a recent outing dragonflies and damselflies seemed to be everywhere and was made all the more exciting when a dragonfly that my wife spotted turned out to be the first recorded sighting in central Ohio!

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Double-striped Bluet, (Donna).

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Smaller than a Halloween Pennant a beautiful Calico Pennant poses for the camera.

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Damselflies often are seen flying among the leaves of low lying bushes making them easy prey for the orb weaver spider.

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Female Blue-ringed Dancer

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Damselflies can be friendly.

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Powdered Dancer

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Blue-fronted Dancer.

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Male Ebony Jewelwing, (Donna).

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Halloween Pennant

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Mating Halloween Pennants.

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Female Widow Skimmer

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A male Widow Skimmer dining on what appears to be a damselfly.

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Male Eastern Pondhawk

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One of the larger but very common dragonflies this female Eastern Pondhawk dines on a small insect, (Donna).

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Fawn Darner

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The Swift Setwing is one of the larger dragonflies and this sighting was the first recorded in central Ohio. Over the past few years it has slowly been working it’s way north perhaps due to such factors as global warming, (Donna)

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Butterfly Weed

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And as if the dragonflies weren’t enough during the past few weeks we’ve been treated to sightings of an amazing variety of other insects. So much so, that at times it was a bit overwhelming!

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The medium size Eastern Comma Butterfly.

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Eastern Comma another view, (Donna).

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The medium size Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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Another view of the Great Spangled Fritillary.

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Virginia Ctenucha Moth

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Red Admiral.

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On a warm day the medium size Hackberry Emperor often lands on exposed skin to take advantage of the goodies in ones perspiration.

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The beautiful marking on the underside of the Hackberry Emperor’s wings.

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Monarch Butterfly.

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A Monarch Butterfly shows the underside of it’s wings.

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As far as we can remember this is the first time we’ve seen a Delaware Skipper, (Donna).

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A very rare view of the top side of the very small female Eastern-tailed Blue Butterflies wings, (Donna).

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A very common medium sized Orange Sulfur Butterfly.

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Sometimes it’s hard to believe your eyes, such was the case a number of years ago when we saw our first hummingbird moth. We continue to be amazed.

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Donna

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Another view, (Donna).

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Pearl Crescent, a common, beautiful but smaller butterfly, (Donna).

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Duskywing, a fast flying smaller butterfly.

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The Silver Spotted Skipper butterfly is one of the larger skippers that at times we’ve observed to have an rather fearless attitude toward other flying insects. (Donna).

 

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A Hoverfly pollenates on a Black-eyed Susan.

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A very small long legged fly taxes the closeup capability of a Tamron 18-400 mm zoom.

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Recently not far from our house we were thrilled to see Michigan Lilies in bloom

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It’s always hard to know when to stop as there are always more pictures that could be part of the post based on their merit. However, realizing that the photographer is usually more excited about pictures taken than those looking at them I’ve decided to show some compassion and stop here. At the very least I hope this post inspire nature lovers to get out and take a closer look and find that which enchants.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Hey wait, what about me!

 

 

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“Black Lagoon” Crayfish and Things Eating Things

Well not exactly the Black Lagoon (recalling a movie from childhood), but while I was in Michigan fishing my wife continued to explore the areas around our home in central Ohio. One morning between heavy rain storms she observed some rather interesting behavior by the local crayfish population in Griggs Reservoir as they gathered along the shore and then partially crawled out of the water. We spent some time researching crayfish (did you know there are 20 species in Ohio?), trying to understand this behavior but to no avail. Our only guess is it had something to do with the recent heavy rains.

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The Griggs Reservoir crayfish seemed to be waiting in line to peer above the water’s service, (Donna).

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One rather large specimen takes his time looking around, (Donna).

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It became a group activity.

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Upon my return we spent time paddling Griggs Reservoir as well as exploring Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for late summer dragonflies and butterflies. At Prairie Oaks we arrived about 20 seconds to late, according to our hiking companions, to witness a garden spider making quick work of a dragonfly that it had captured in it’s web. That spider was fast!

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Unfortunate dragonfly, Prairie Oaks

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Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

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.   .   .  and continuing with the same theme, just a few days earlier my wife caught this robber fly enjoying lunch at the expense of a careless bee.

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Robber Fly, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Also courtesy of my wife sharp eye, one last series of photos dealing with things eating other things.

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Double-crested Cormorant attempts to eat a Crappie on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ultimately, the Crappie being just a little too big to swallow, swam away, (Donna).

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We don’t usually consider ourselves a food source so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that if a creature is not in the process of being eaten, it is usually searching for or waiting to ambush it’s next meal, or if successful, eating it. Spending time in nature guarantees one will witness such things from time to time. In the last few days not everything seen has been in the process of eating or engaged in some unusual hard to explain behavior. Some things were just posing for the camera.

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There were butterflies, some of which like the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue are very small.

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Red-spotted Purple, Griggs Park.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Viceroys, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

 

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Summer Azure, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Tailed Blue, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Juvenal’s Duskywing (F), Griggs Reservoir.

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Dragonflies.

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Griggs Reservoir.

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Common Whitetail, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Calico Pennant, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Powdered Dancer (Blue form), Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Ebony Jewelwing, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Pondhawk, Griggs Reservoir

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Moths, they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes.

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

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Chickweed Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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and other things.

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Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Common Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Bumblebee on False Dragonhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Arrowroot, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Map Turtle with friend, Griggs reservoir, (Donna).

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Loaded with pollen, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Solitary Sand Wasp, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh yes, we have been seeing birds and a few posed for a picture.

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Hairy Woodpeckers, north end of Griggs Reservoir.

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Mallards creating reflection art, Griggs Reservoir.

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Once again we find ourselves amazed at what is seen right under our nose in central Ohio. Should you be curious about such things, but not inclined to try your hand at photography, get a pair of binoculars, preferably a pair with close focus capability, and a new world will be opened to you! Thanks for stopping by.

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North end of Griggs Reservoir from the canoe, (Donna).

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Little Things and The Whole

Sometimes when in nature it’s not about a new discovery to photograph,  it’s about being in the moment, awake, content with the “usual” flowers, insects, or birds, their motion, colors, sounds, feeling the cool early morning air, drawing it into our lungs, aware as treetop leave rustle and small ripples appear along the reservoir shore.

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Reflection of a small branch breaking the water’s surface.

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But even during those times, in that experience, we do see things that draw us out, that asked to be photographed, and in doing so embrace us in a feeling of oneness with something that is part but also beyond ourselves.  In that moment time, as if also captured by the photograph, stands still.

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Recent dry weather has resulted in low water levels.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Flower’s continue to be a part of the wonder.

Moth mullein, an invasive species native to Eurasia and North Africa, it has naturalized in the US.

Moth mullein, an invasive species native to Eurasia and North Africa, it has naturalized in North America..

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White Mulberry, Griggs Park.

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Scarlet Pimpernel, probably an escapee, (Donna), Griggs Park.

 

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Backyard Day Lily.

Thimbleweed, Griggs Park

Thimbleweed, Griggs Park.

 

Butterfly Weed, Griggs Park.

Butterfly Weed, Griggs Park.

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Motherwort, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Chicory, Griggs Park.

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Pokeweed, Griggs Park.

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Wild Lettuce, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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When looking at flowers other things are seen.

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Female Powdered Dancer, (Donna) Griggs Park.

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Female Blue Fronted Dancer, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Stream Bluets, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Blue Fronted Dancer, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Powdered Dancer, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Dusky Dancer, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Widow Skimmer, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Question Mark, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Question Mark, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Bronze Copper, Griggs Park.

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Hackberry Emperor, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Hackberry Emperor, Griggs Park.

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Crane Fly along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Black and Yellow Wasp, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Canadian Petrophila Moths, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Black Swallowtail caterpillar, (Donna) Griggs Park.

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On a recent walk an Osprey was spotted in what appeared to be an agitated state.

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Osprey being dive bombed by a Baltimore Oriole. Along the Scioto below Griggs Dam

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The oriole kept at it.

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The Osprey finally flew away.

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We’ve also been fortunate to enjoy a few other birds.

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Eastern Phoebe, (immature), Griggs Park.

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Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park.

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With an insect.

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Prothonotary warbler, (immature) Griggs Park. We have at least two nesting pairs along the reservoir and river just below the dam.

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Griggs Reservoir nature.

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There seem to be lots of chipmunks right now.

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Chipmunk, (Donna), Griggs Park.

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Being a mom isn’t easy.

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All right kids could you swim the other way I’m getting dizzy.

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That’s better!

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Sometimes being in nature just means relaxing.

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Not a lunker but a nice Smallmouth Bass that went swimming right after this picture, Griggs Reservoir.

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Sometimes the opportunity to reflect on what’s been experienced is as good as reliving it a second time.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Late Spring Celebration of Nature

Whether paddling or walking our explorations in the last week or so have been very close to home in Griggs Park and the reservoir. We hardly feel deprived. As the pictures below will attest, especially in the case of my wife, the closer you look the more you see.

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Some of the flowers we are now seeing will continue to bloom for most of the summer. Others will not. Part of the ever changing scene.

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Ox-eye Daises, (Donna), FZ200.

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Hairy Ruellia, (Donna), FZ200.

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Rough-fruited Cinquefoil, (Donna) FZ200

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Northern Catalpa, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Along the shore of Griggs Reservoir the Blue Flag Iris continues to enchant, (Donna), FZ200.

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Goats Beard, (Donna), FZ200.

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Mushrooms, (Donna), FZ200.

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Some things seen have been unusual. Many thanks to New Hampshire Garden Solutions for help in identifying what was going on in the following pic, Elm Pouch Galls.

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Produced by aphids, Elm Pouch Galls rise from the upper leaf surface, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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While we are still hearing them, many birds choose to peer at us from behind the leaf cover so my wife has directed more of her attention to more cooperative subjects.

 

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Peck’s Skipper, (Donna), FZ200.

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Zebulon Skipper, (Donna), FZ200

 

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Bronze Copper, (Donna), FZ200

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Top view.

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Clouded Sulfur with a friend, (Donna), FZ200.

 

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Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna), FZ200.

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A busy bee, Griggs Park, Canon 3ti, 18-135.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Widow Skimmer (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Look even closer and you’ll see tiny insects with jewel like qualities.

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Stream Bluet, (Donna), FZ200.

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Stream Bluet (F)?, (Donna), FZ200.

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Powdered Dancer (M), (Donna), FZ200.

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Very small gold fly, (Donna), FZ200.

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Thankfully not all of our feathered friends were in hiding.

 

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Kingbird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Robin, Griggs Park, ZS50.

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We haven’t had much luck getting a close pic so far this year but we did catch the male Baltimore Oriole along the Scioto below Griggs Dam,  ZS50.

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What were these White-breasted Nuthatches doing? ZS50.

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Fledglings! along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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With so many beautiful Great Blue Herons along the reservoir so it hard to resist taking a picture, Canon 60D sigma 150-500.

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We watched this Great Blue Heron for some time as he struggled and went through all kinds of contortions but never did see him swallow the poor fish which by heron standards wasn’t all that large, ZS50.

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As we walk along park path, just overhead a Turkey Vulture sizes us up, “Still Moving, @?%#!!!”, ZS50

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Mother Mallard with baby along Griggs Reservoir, FZ200.

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An Osprey watches as we paddle by, north end of Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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A Red-tailed Hawk does likewise, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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And a few other creatures too.

 

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Sunfish, sometimes what a fish lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. This little fella went swimming right after the pic, Griggs Reservoir, Canon SD850.

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A turtle convention along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, ZS50.

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Looking like somewhere in northern Michigan a deer crosses the Scioto north of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna), FZ200.

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Not seen as often as Map Turtles and Red-eared Sliders, we were excited to see two Painted Turtles enjoying the sun along the Griggs Reservoir shore, (Donna), FZ200.

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Sometimes it’s good to just step back and admire it all from a distance.

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North end of Griggs reservoir, FZ200

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Thanks for stopping by.

Small Wonders, Summer in Central Ohio

Most of the pictures in this post are a result of my wife’s skill, tenacity, patience, and love of the small creatures that grace nature in central Ohio and so often go unnoticed. It wasn’t that long ago that I thought of insects as second class citizens. Wouldn’t you rather look at or take a picture of a warbler? Okay, many insects are essential to natures food chain, many are important for pollination, surprisingly few actually “Bug” us, but some are also amazing to watch.

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We hope you enjoy the following pictures and that you’ll also be excited to take a closer look. But be forewarned that unlike a beautiful sunset, a mountain landscape, or the spontaneous smile of a small child, these marvels must be pursued with intention to fully appreciate their wonder.

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Right in our backyard:

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Black Swallowtail, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna)

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Not far from our backyard along Griggs Reservoir.

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Coneflowers, (Donna)

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Blue Vervain

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A very small butterfly.

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Least skipper, (Donna)

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A moth, really? Judging from the number of pictures taken just to get a few good ones, it’s safe to say we got pretty excited. Not an uncommon moth but not often seen.

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A Hummingbird Moth heads for a snack.

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Lunch time!

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This is actually pretty good!

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There must be more of that stuff here somewhere.

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Okay, I’ll pose and let you take my picture, Hummingbird Moth, (Donna)

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Black-eyed Susan’s in Griggs Park.

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Black-eyed Susan’s

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Near waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

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Ebony Jewelwing female, (Donna)

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Ebony Jewelwing female, (Donna)

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Powdered Dancer, (Donna)

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Stream Bluet, (Donna)

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Cup Plants.

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Cup Plants along Griggs Reservoir.

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A wasp and a fly.

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Wasp, (Donna)

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Thick-Headed Fly, (Donna)

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Another moth, is it really?

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Virginia Ctenucha, (Donna)

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Virginia Ctenucha, (Donna)

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Other butterflies seen.

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Summer Azure, a small butterfly, (Donna)

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Silver Spotted Skipper, not uncommon, (Donna)

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Silver Spotted Skipper , showing it’s silver spots, (Donna)

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Red Admiral, (Donna)

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Last and in this case least, a very small moth.

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Pyrausta orphisalis – Orange Mint Moth, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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No Longer “just another bug”

The last couple of weeks we’ve done a few walks and paddles. Along the way we’ve managed to take pictures of some of the insects that might be seen if one ventures into the woods, or unto rivers and lakes in central Ohio this time of year.

To be honest; I get a little more excited about the opportunity to photograph a Mink, Bald Eagle, or Blackburnian Warbler. Looking at the following images it’s hard to understand exactly why that is. I guess it’s understandable that we might have a greater sense of kinship with feathery fury things than something with an exoskeleton. Certainly if we think of a Common Sanddragon the same way we do a mosquito the dragonfly doesn’t stand a chance. How many of us have been out photographing mosquitoes lately. It goes without saying that when we consider how a dragonfly makes it’s living it’s significances, as well as that of all the smaller insects it feeds upon, become much more apparent.

So having decided to quit disrespecting the “bugs” we find ourselves making more of an effort to learn about them. However, having made such a commitment there’s always the chance that after we’ve spent quality time observing, photographing, and being fascinated by the behavior of an insect like a dragonfly, a sense of kinship may develop where there was none before. Not long after that, down the trail, we might see a Great Crested Flycatcher enjoying one for breakfast. If it hadn’t happened already, at that moment, courtesy of the flycatcher, our perspective changes, an unavoidable sense of remorse may ensue, the dragonfly no longer seems like “just another bug”.

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A great place for bugs. Prairie Oaks

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Red Admiral, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Cone Flower, Battelle Darby Creek

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Backyard Bee Balm

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Viceroy, Prairie Oaks

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Band-winged Meadowhawk, Prairie Oaks

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Blue-fronted Dancer, Prairie Oaks

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Blue-ringed Dancer, Prairie Oaks

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Silver Spotted Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Red-spotted Purple, Prairie Oaks

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Hummingbird Moth

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Widow Skimmer, (female), Prairie Oaks

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Powdered-dancer, female, Prairie Oaks

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Ebony Jewelwings, Prairie Oaks

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Eastern Pondhawk, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Common Sanddragon, Prairie Oaks

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Clouded Sulfur, Prairie Oaks

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Calico-pennant, Prairie Oaks

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Dragonflies, Damselflies, and Mosquitos, Prairie Oaks

 

 

Swimming Deer

A few days ago, early in the morning, I was fishing the west shoreline of Griggs Reservoir in my 14′ Hornbeck. One of the joys of fishing, at least the way I do it, is that you can look around for interesting birds or animals as you fish. On this particular morning I wasn’t disappointed as several deer came down to the water’s edge for drink or so I thought.

1 - Deer Swimming

1 – Deer Swimming

2 - Deer Swimming

2 – Deer Swimming

3 - Deer Swimming

3 – Deer Swimming

4 - Deer Swimming

4 – Deer Swimming

5 - Deer Swimmin

6 - Deer Swimming

6 – Deer Swimming

7 - Deer Swimming

7 – Deer Swimming

A few days later on a walk below Griggs Reservoir Dam we stumbled across a nesting site for a pair a Prothonotary Warblers. Not a nesting box but a woodpecker hole in a dead tree!

8 - Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam

8 – Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam

Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam

Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam

Prothonotary Warbler Nest Site

Prothonotary Warbler Nest Site

We continue to see new, or new for the year, insects. While it’s sometimes a challenge, we always enjoy trying to ID them.

Powdered Dancer

Powdered Dancer

Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak

Blue Tipped Danceri

Blue Tipped Dancer

Blue Fronted Dancer

Blue Fronted Dancer

Finally, during a paddle today, we saw this flower at the north end of O’Shaughnessy Reservoir. Do you know what it is?

Mystery Flowers

Mystery Flowers

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Thanks for stopping by.

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