Spring Wonder at Griggs Reservoir

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It seems that nature is in it’s most generous mood. “New” arrives everyday whether it’s in the form of a bird, flower, or other creature. Places that may seem ordinary later in the year are magically transformed by this new life. Even for those of us that spend large amounts of time walking in the woods or paddling along rivers, this time each year is no less fascinating.  This is certainly the case for a special place to us, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River just below the dam, which is not far from our home. For those of you that follow this blog you know we write about this place often. Residents of central Ohio probably know where it is, for all others, it’s located right within the city limits of Columbus, Ohio. For us, this fact greatly contributes to the magic.

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In an attempt to document this magic, the photos below are a record of some things seen  over the last two weeks.

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 Common Red-breasted Mergansers along the Scioto River.

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Can’t help but think these Red-breasted Mergansers (corrected per reader comment) should be further north by now, (Donna)

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The early spring wildflowers are gone but others have taken their place.

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Dame’s Rocket, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Appendaged Waterleaf along the Scioto, (Donna)

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Wild Stonecrop along the reservoir, (Donna)

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Golden Alexander along the Scioto River, (Donna)

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.   .   .   and one of the more unique late spring wildflowers has appeared on the low cliffs along the reservoir.

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Wild Columbine along the reservoir

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Wild Columbine typically grows on vertical rock faces.

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A good selection of reptiles have also been observed.

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Red Eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

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Northern Water Snake, Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Spiny Soft Shell, Griggs Reservoir

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On one of our paddles, two deer look on as we glide by.

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Whitetail Deer along the shore, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Then there are the birds.

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Tree Swallow, north end of Griggs Reservoir (Donna)

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Prothonotary below the dam, (Donna)

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Prothonotary, below the dam.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continue to be a common sighting below the dam.

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Singing Baltimore Oriole (male) along the Scioto River below the dam, (Donna)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, below the dam.

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Here till the fall Cedar Waxwings have finally made an appearance, Griggs Park.

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Cedar Waxwing

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There are mothers and fathers with babies.

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Canada Geese share the parenting responsibilities, Griggs Reservoir

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 But among the birds, the real treat is the return of mating pairs of Wood Ducks.

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Wood Ducks on the Scioto River below the dam.

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Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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The female Wood Duck has to have good parenting skills because she’s on her own, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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Not to long after mating the Male Wood Duck will be hard to find, Griggs Reservoir cove.

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.   .   .   and it’s all happening so close to our home! What’s happening close to yours?

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One of the coves popular with Wood Ducks on Griggs Reservoir. The rock faces in the background are a typical location for Wild Columbine.

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Hope you enjoyed and thanks for stopping by.

Watching all the Ducks Float By

One of our favorite places to look for waterfowl this time of the year is along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. It’s an area that’s accessible only on foot so using a car as a blind to get closer to the birds is not an option. When one ties to sneak up on waterfowl for a decent photo one quickly realizing why duck hunters use blinds. Truth is, after years of being shot at, the only the wary birds a left. The dumb ones have been selected out.

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So recently I tired a new technique. Rather than stalking the birds, moving quietly from cover to cover. I decided to find a good spot and quietly lean against a tree and wait for the birds to float by. It was a sunny 20 degrees with no wind which made the process not uncomfortable. In the past the other technique I’ve used is to walk down river and then slowly work my way back upstream. It turns out that the birds are less interested in swimming upstream to get away from a low level treat. However, when the treat is sufficient they will fly.

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So below are some of the results using the above techniques:

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Common Mergansers and a Ring-necked Duck, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Common Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A haven for waterfowl, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Hooded Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Red Breasted Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Herring (not Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid) Gull , Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Male Canvasback, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Two Canvasbacks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Redhead, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Greater (not Lesser) Scaups, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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There were also a few other birds that made me smile:

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Cardinal against a blue sky.

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Front yard Chickadee

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Song Sparrow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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It’s hard not to notice other forms of beauty when out looking for birds:

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Ice, Big Darby Creek

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Patterns, Big Darby Creek.

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A late winter scene along Big Darby Creek

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Thanks for looking in.

Visitors from The Frozen North

February in Ohio has left us shivering. The abnormally cold weather has resulted in frozen lakes and reservoirs both here and further north. The open water that remains provides refuge to waterfowl that would normally be much more dispersed. One such area is the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir.

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Below is a partial photographic inventory of the birds seen there in the last day. Some, such as the Common Golden Eye and Hooded Merganser, are fairly common winter visitors. Others are less so, and because of that they are a real treat to see.

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Common Goldeneyes and Ring-necked Ducks cruise the opposite shore, Scioto River below Griggs.

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Red-breasted Mergansers join the Goldeneyes.

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A parade of Goldeyes.

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Safety in numbers.

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What appears to be a lone Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid.

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Lesser Scaup

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Common Mergansers almost avoiding the camera.

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Common Mergansers

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Surrounded by Canada Geese

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Great Blue Herons not wanting to have their picture taken.

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A Red-breasted Merganser tries to fit in.

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A pair of Canvas Backs, a Black Duck, and a female Bufflehead almost go unnoticed.

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We often think of there being less biodiversity in winter but the Scioto River below Griggs dam opens our eyes. Thanks for looking in.

 

Would The Last One Out Please . . .

Yesterday we set off on another training walk for our upcoming hiking trip. Since it was going to be a long walk we decided to travel light and take only a few snacks, small 8×25 binoculars, and our Canon SX260 cameras. This decision was also prompted by the fact that on recent walks we hadn’t seen as many waterfowl in the reservoir/river and the spring wildflowers were just starting to stir.

But with this kind of a lead in you probably suspect that we must have seen something special and you would be right.  As we walked along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, other than a few Mallard Ducks there were only two other birds of interest visible on the river. The larger one, without the help of binoculars, appeared to be a Common Merganser. A bird that we’ve seen quite often this winter. But a closer look through the bino’s revealed it to be a Red-breasted Merganser. A bird that we’ve seen less often and seldom at this close distance. Tagging along behind was a female (confused?) Bufflehead. Given that in recent days the majority of the ducks had moved on and for one of the last that we might see this year to be such a beautiful and illusive bird, left us feeling ecstatic. We spent some time looking and savoring the moment.

The lesson in this story may very well be, Always make sure you have to right equipment. Evident from the pictures below, wonderful little camera that it is, the Canon SX260 is not the best bird camera.

click on image for a better look

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Female Bufflehead and male Red-breasted Merganser, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, Canon sx260, crop to apprx, 30% of image

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Male Red-breasted Merganser, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, Canon sx260, crop to 15% of image.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Icicles and Ice Chandeliers

Yesterday, with the reservoir again frozen over, we were out looking for waterfowl along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam and spotted some interesting ice formations. Recent warmer temperature, snow melt and rain had resulted in high water along the river. The formations resulted when this was followed by very cold temperatures and dropping water levels.

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Ice Chandeliers

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Along the river

With the wind was gusting to over 30 miles per hour and the temperature hovering around 15 F our fingers froze almost instantly as we tried to take pictures. Its amazing any turned out as well as these did.

The ice was very clear giving the appearance of glass

The ice was very clear giving the appearance of glass

For the record we did see Hooded, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers along the opposite shore of the river. Below are our meager attempts to record the sightings.

Common Merganser with Red Head

Common Merganser with a Red Head Duck

Red Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser

Male Common Mergansers

Male Common Mergansers

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Thanks for stopping by.

Home in December

A sunny day provided a great opportunity to see what birds were calling Greenlawn Cemetery home in the days before Christmas. Reports of White-winged Crossbills were what got us down there, but in a place as big as Greenlawn, they might be easy to miss.

For the first hour or so not many birds were spotted. However, the many mature Oaks and Evergreens were at least beautiful to look at even if they weren’t appealing to the birds.

Continuing to appreciate the trees, we spotted an interesting Oak in the distance that was worth investigating. Approaching it we found that it was full of White and Red-breasted Nuthatches! The Red-breasted Nuthatches, like the White-winged Crossbills, are winter visitors in this area.

A little while later we finally found the Crossbills in some Sweet Gum trees but not before we had nice views of Downy Woodpeckers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Chickadees, Brown Creepers, and a Carolina Wren.

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White Winged Crossbill

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All in all a good day. Thanks for stopping by.

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