Turtles, Snakes, Hawks . . . , Oh My!

Recent explorations in the central Ohio natural places have been good to us. As mentioned in previous posts the warblers are becoming quieter and much harder to find but as is often the case we find other things to fascinate. Below are some discoveries from the past week.

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Early summer wildflowers and flowering trees and bushes.

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Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

 

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Squaw Root, Highbanks Metro Park. Never what one would think of as attractive this example is a bit past it’s prime

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Purple Rocket, Griggs Park.

 

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Flower of the Tulip Tree, Highbanks.

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Fire Pink, Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

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Spiderwort, Glacier Ridge.

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Hairy Hawkweed, Glacier Ridge.

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Squarrose Sedge, Glacier Ridge.

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Mystery flowering bush, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Goats beard, non-native, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Blue Flag Iris, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Virginia Waterleaf, Highbanks. It’s unusual that the leaves are still variegated. The variegated leaves are one of the beautiful things to look for on the forest floor in the early spring.

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Closer look at a waterleaf flower.

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While we’re not seeing the warblers now other birds are still cooperating.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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An easy to hear hard to see Red-eyed Vireo, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area.

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Great Blue Heron takes a momentary swim in Griggs Reservoir, Canon SX40.

 

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The Prothonotary Warblers continue their nesting activity below Griggs Dam along the Scioto River, SX40.

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In the Scioto Below Griggs Dam a Great Blue Heron waits for a lunch delivery, Canon SX40.

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Eastern Phoebe, Highbanks.

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Song Sparrow, Glacier Ridge.

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Barn Swallow, Glacier Ridge.

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Field Sparrow with a mouthful, Glacier Ridge.

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This past week it was fascinating to see Snapping Turtles laying their eggs at Griggs Park.

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Snapping Turtle, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Snapping turtle nest. This one may have already been raided by a raccoon.

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Other reptiles and amphibians also made an appearance.

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Rat Snake high off the forest floor in a tree hole, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50).

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Bullfrog tadpole, Glacier Ridge.

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Bullfrog, Glacier Ridge.

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We’re heading into the insect time of year. Confirmed by the number seen recent walks.

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Bumble Bee, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Zabulon Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Cabbage White Bouquet, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

 

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Tawny-edged Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Common Whitetail, (F), Highbanks, ZS50.

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Common Whitetail (M), Highbanks, ZS50.

 

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Female Blue Dasher, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200)

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When you’re looking for interesting insects and flowers other things magically appear.

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Bleeding Tooth, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50)

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Dead tree, the victim of “bootstrap fungus Bootstrap fungus is caused by honey mushrooms, which are parasitic on live wood and send out long root like structures called rhizomorphs between the wood of a tree and its bark”. (thanks NH Garden Solutions for the ID help!), Highbanks.

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Hope everyone enjoyed our nature menagerie.

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Fishing on the Scioto below Griggs Dam, SX40.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

xxx

 

A Walk In The Smoky Mountains

Recently we got together with friends for a few days hiking in the Smoky Mountains near Ashville, North Carolina. Basecamp was the Sourwood Inn located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many things of the seen are not unique to the area but put together they do paint a beautiful picture of one of the more interesting natural areas in the US. Our hikes were typically long, 6 – 10 miles, with a fair bit of climbing so camera equipment consisted of an Panasonic Fz200 and a Canon SX260.

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On the Looking Glass trail.

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Some of our group.

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The mountains of North Carolina are a great place for fungi so it always gets quite a bit of our attention. Unfortunately, based on visual characteristics alone, it can be very hard to ID so we’re always open to corrections and clarifications.

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A unidentified type of bolete.

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Turkey Tail

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Old Man of The Woods, (Donna)

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Bolete with a horizontal orientation which we had never seen before.

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Pestle-shaped Coral, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, (Donna)

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Shaggy-stalked Bolete, a little older.

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Unidentified Mushroom

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Firm Russula, (Donna)

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Sharp-scaly Pholiota, (Donna)

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Crowded Parchment

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Sulfur Tuft, (Donna)

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Unidentified emergent mushrooms

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Tinder Polypore

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Fungus and moss.

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Mushroom Family

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Coral Fungus

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Rag-veil Amanita emerging.

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Rag-veil Amanita, too big to stand.

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Another type of bolete.

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Polypore on a fallen log.

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Puffball family.

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A view from the top during the Looking Glass hike.

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A great place to take a break before the trip down.

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Where there’s fungus there’s moss and lichen.

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Lichen and leaf abstract.

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Lung Lichen

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Lichen?

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Hanging garden.

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Old Man’s Beard

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Reindeer Lichen

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Parasitic plants, Beechdrops (Epifagus americana) along the Snowball Trail.

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The Mountain to Sea Trail is up and down with few long climbs.

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Mountain to Sea Trail

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Fascinating plants and flowers punctuated fungus and lichen sightings.

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Partridge Berry

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Aster

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Snakeroot and Alanthus Webworm Moth, (Donna)

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Foxglove?, (Donna)

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Coral Root, (Donna)

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Indian Pipe

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Late summer color

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Small Blue Flowers

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Butterfly Weed

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Lobelia?

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Aster

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Turtlehead

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Berries and Color

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Autumn Design

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Aster

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Some trails are easier than others.

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Just kidding.

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A few of our insect friends were also seen.

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Mating, (Donna)

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Red-spotted Purple

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It never hurts to be aware of your surroundings when your head is close to the ground looking for mushrooms .   .   .

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The first Black Bear we ever encountered on the trail, (Donna).

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We zoom in, (Donna).

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He’s curious, we’re curious.

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That’s close enough!, (Donna)

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The type of sign that most of us pay little attention to.

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When not running away from bears there are also reptiles to be seen.

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A Rat Snake checks us out.

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Then decides to wander off, (Donna).

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A skink plays hide and seek, (Donna)

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The group at the trail head after a long hike.

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Looking Glass trail head.

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The NC mountains are a wonderful place just to be.

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Sunrise from Sourwood Inn.

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The area around Ashville, NC is a hiker and nature lovers mecca. There are an almost infinite number of trails of varying degrees of difficulty to choose from. You may even get to see a bear!

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Thanks for stopping by.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Enchants

We’re in the process of preparing for a hiking trip in Scotland and what better park than Battelle Darby to go for a long walk. Besides, who knows what flowers, birds, or other wildlife might make an appearance, or what follow bloggers we might meet along the way. My wife cautioned that we shouldn’t stop too often to look at “things” or the walk would lose it’s training effect. As you can see from the photos we weren’t entirely successful in meeting that goal.

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Trail at the south end of the park

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Our route:

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The route

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The first thing we noticed was an Eastern Meadowlark:

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Eastern Meadowlark no far from the Nature Center

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Eastern Meadowlark

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Not long after that wildflowers started to appear:

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Log and Appendaged Waterleaf

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Ox-eye Daisies, (Donna)

Miami Mist - J Petranka's Flickr Site

Miami Mist, new to us, seen but not photographed due to technical difficulties – picture is from J Petranka’s Flickr Site. This flower is interesting for reasons other than it’s beauty. As my wife found out, if touched it can produce a fairly severe burning itching sensation in the area that comes in contact!

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Yellow Flag Iris

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White or Red Baneberry, new to us.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Virginia Waterleaf

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Wild Geranium

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Violet Wood Sorrel, new to us, perennial plant is up to 6″ tall. It consists of a small cluster of trifoliate basal leaves on long petioles that emerge directly from the ground. Individual trifoliate leaves are about 1″ across and they open up during the day. The leaves may turn purplish in response to cold weather or strong sunlight, otherwise, they tend to be greyish green. (from the web)

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Black Cherry

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Foam Flower

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Goats Beard

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White Violet

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Appendaged Waterleaf, (Donna)

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Spiderwort

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Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Wild Cucumber

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Where there are flowers:

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Northern Pearly-eye (Donna)

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Pearl Crescent , (Donna)

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Not to be outdone the birds started to show up.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

 

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Femal Eastern Bluebird, (Donna)

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Red-winged Blackbird, (Donna)

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, (Donna)

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In a tree along a meadow a Indigo Bunting sings.

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At one point along the trail we heard a fairly loud buzzing/whirring sound coming from the nearby woods, like a sound that might be made by many small wings. We headed over to investigate and found a swarm of bees! Have you ever seen such a thing? Neither had we. After pictures were taken we didn’t stick around.

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Bee Swarm!!!!

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As the trail returned to the river’s edge we collected ourselves and noticed a Common Water Snake relaxing on a rock. A  little later a Rat snake was seen but not photographed until another one was seen at the nature center.

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Common Water Snake on a rock in the Big Darby

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Back at the nature center Tim shows us a Rat Snake

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A immature Gray Squirrel seems curious as is watches from a trailside tree.

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Young Gray Squirrel

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From what we could see on the trees, the park isn’t home to a rich variety of lichens but we did see a very nice shelf fungus.

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Polypore fungi, (Donna)

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Our walk was made all the more special because we had the opportunity to meet and take a few minutes to chat with Tracy of Season’s Flow. We left the park tired from the long walk and the many investigative side trips but so much richer for our experience.

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The Big Darby in spring.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch

A few days ago we had the pleasure of doing a canoe/birding trip on Alum Creek Reservoir north of  the Howard Rd. bridge with some friends. While prime spring birding has passed we were rewarded with great views of King Birds, Prothonotary Warblers, Red Eyed Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, and Great Blue as will as Green Herons. In addition we also enjoyed observing various turtles on logs along the shoreline taking advantage of the intermittent sunshine as well as a Common Water Snake. Dragonflies and damselflies were also out in force as well as some early summer wildflowers.

The day started slow but after a couple of hours a good number of birds had been seen so we decided to take an early lunch break at a nice spot on a bluff overlooking the lake. We hadn’t been there very long when a mature Bald Eagle was spotted flying in the distance and a little later we saw what appeared to be an immature eagle.

Lunch was progressing rather nicely when my wife spotted a rather large snake patrolling the perimeter of our picnic area. It climbed up into a hollow tree and came back down and continued to check things out very near to where we were sitting. It seemed not to mind as we sat there eating our chocolate chip cookies. Turns out it was a Rat Snake and is one of the largest snakes in Ohio which can reach a length of  8 feet. It was all pretty exciting!

Below are some pics of that trip as well as other recent journeys into the wilds of Ohio. If you want a better view click on the image.

1 Black Rat Snake - Alum Creek

1 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake = Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

3 Black Rat Snake - Prairie Oaks

3 Black Rat Snake – Prairie Oaks

Wildflowers from the Alum Creek Paddle:

Fire Pink - Alum Creek, Donna

Fire Pink – Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass - Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass – Alum Creek, Donna

Common Water Snake seen during our Alum Creek paddle:

Common Water Snake - Alum Creek

Common Water Snake – Alum Creek

We continue to identify central Ohio dragon and damselflies:

Widow Skimmer - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Widow Skimmer – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Variable Dancer - Prairie Oaks

Variable Dancer – Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets - Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets – Prairie Oaks

Fragile Forktail - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fragile Forktail – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Eastern Forktail - Prairie Oaks

Eastern Forktail – Prairie Oaks

A Pair of Stream Bluets - Griggs, Donna

On a recent trip to Prairie Oaks it was exciting to see Orchard Orioles feeding there young:

Immature Male Orchard Oriole - Prairie Oaks

Immature Male Orchard Oriole – Prairie Oaks

A Northern Flicker seemed as though it was watching as we looked for Damselflies at Prairie Oaks:

Northern Flicker - Prairie Oaks

Northern Flicker – Prairie Oaks

Finally some rather unexpected or unusual discoveries at Prairie Oaks:

Coyote Scat? - Prairie Oaks

Coyote Scat? – Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite - Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite – Prairie Oaks

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Thanks for stopping by.

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