An Early June Paddle On Griggs Reservoir

A few days ago while fishing I was fortunate to see two Black-crowned Night Herons. Such a sighting is always a treat in Ohio as, unlike Great Blue Herons, they are only found in a few isolated locations with Griggs Reservoir being one. As you might expect most of their activity is a night so during the day they are usually found perched quietly in trees at waters edge.

 

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Fishing rig for the reservoir.

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Black-crowned Night Heron

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Given my good fortune the day before, my wife expressed the desire to do a paddle, bird camera in hand, with the express goal of seeing and perhaps photographing the herons. Of course as most birders know there is an element of uncertainty to these endeavors. After eight miles of paddling no Black-crowned Night Herons were seen much less photographed but as is often the case other things made up for it.

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As I moved the canoe closer a very young White Tail fawn at waters edge tries to remain unnoticed, (Donna).

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An also very young Map Turtle, about the size of a fifty cent piece, enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

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We catch a rare glimpse of a female wood slinking along the shore with young ones. Usually by the time we get this close they’ve scattered. An outcome we try to avoid, (Donna).

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Typical evasive “wounded” maneuver by a female with young when you get too close, (Donna).

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In a second he was gone but that was all the time my wife needed to catch this Mink. Pretty exciting as it had been a while since we’d seen one, (Donna).

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A Red-eared Slider poses for a picture. It may now be more common in the reservoir than the Map Turtle, (Donna).

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Usually several groups of mallard duckling are seen during early June paddles, (Donna).

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Like all youngsters this immature Red-tailed Hawk was making a lot of noise, demanding to be noticed.

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Given the number of nesting boxes Prothonotary Warblers are certainly not rare in central Ohio. However, whenever we find one “setting up housekeeping” in a natural tree cavity it’s particularly exciting. Such was the case with the below female at the north end of Griggs.

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Prothonotary Warbler, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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We were almost to the 161 bridge and Kiwanis Riverway Park when we saw the prothonotary and usually go just a little further before turning for the journey home. However, on this particular day it was hard to imagine what would be discovered that would top that already seen so with a fair breeze off our stern we somewhat reluctantly pointed the bow south and headed home. A wonderful way to finish the day.

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Thanks for stopping by

 

 

Paddling for Prothonotaries

Prothonotary Warblers have been eluding us in the park close to home so we decided to put the canoe on top of the car and head to the Howard Rd Bridge launch site at north end of Alum Creek Reservoir. If the warbler wasn’t seen during the eight mile loop north around the lake and into the creek we would at least enjoy a good paddle and besides there would undoubtedly be other things to see.

Exploring a quiet cove in Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Friends join us, (Donna).

Heading up Alum Creek

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Before any warblers were sighted we were treated to nice views of Osprey.

There are a number of Ospreys nesting at the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Taking flight, (Donna).

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Near noon we started to get hungry. Sometimes finding a pull-out for lunch can be a challenge.

Alum Creek was running high and muddy with most pull-outs under water.

 

A dry spot was finally located.

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Continuing to paddle and explore we finally found the warblers!

Prothonotary Warbler

Singing! (Donna).

Take 3 (Donna).

Take 4.

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A nice bonus were the numerous Green Herons seen along the wooded shoreline. Not as easy to spot as one might think, we were sometimes right on top of them before realizing they were there. At which point they would suddenly take flight, leaving us startled and with no picture.

Green Heron

Other times they seemed oblivious to our presence.

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3. (Donna)

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With numerous flowering bushes, some overhanging the water, butterflies were an added bonus.

Spicebush Swallowtail with Tiger Swallowtail in the background.

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And there were wildflowers.

Chickweed.

Corn Salad.

Depford Pink, (Donna).

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No trip is complete without a turtle picture. This guy was perched on a submerged log and uncharacteristically calm as we moved closer.

Red-eared Slider, (Donna).

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As though it wanted it’s picture taken, a Northern Water Snake swam right up to the canoe.

Northern Water snake, (Donna).

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With high water and a good current, the downstream leg of the trip didn’t require much paddling.

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Sometimes we have such good fortune it’s hard to imagine what the next adventure will bring that can possibly compare but nature always seems to come through. Who knows, it may be a different look at something we’ve seen before or a totally new discovery.

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Should you be interested in nature photography from a small boat we offer a few thoughts:

1. Canoes are typically more difficult to handle and are more effected by wind than kayaks.

2. Since both the object being photographed and the boat may be moving, not to mention interferences from branches etc., don’t expect your success rate to be a high as when shooting on land.

3. Although we have never submerged a camera, if you are new to small boats it may be best to start out with a relatively inexpensive camera like a Panasonic FZ200 or 300 just in case everything goes swimming. The FZ200/300’s fast lens throughout the zoom range as well as it’s reasonable amount of zoom will provide a better chance of success. More zoom is of questionable value when trying to photograph erratic fast moving objects such as warblers from a small, somewhat unstable boat.

4. The ideal situation is to have a boat handler while you shoot which is the case when my wife and I go out.

5. If you have no choice but to go it alone, make sure you have a way to quickly stow your paddle because when a subject is sighted you’ll seldom have much time for the shot.

6. As far as the boat goes, a recreational kayak like a Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 or a 12-14 foot pack canoe like a Hornbeck would be a good choice for one person. A boat less than 12 feet long will be fine if you don’t plan on paddling far. A longer boat will be faster, track better, and will be better at maintaining speed through waves but typically will be a little harder to maneuver and may be effected more by the wind.

7. If you have any questions, drop us a line, we’ll be happy to provide any help we can.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

Walking Not Running

When younger one of my greatest joys was running trails in the various area parks and experiencing the exhilaration as my body rose to the challenge of each new hill or greater distance. Blame it on the aches and pains of age, overuse, or maybe just wanting something more out of the experience, but at some point trail running wasn’t as enjoyable so I started to walk when in the woods. Sometimes I walked fast, but often a little slower not worrying as much about getting a “workout”. It wasn’t long before I started seeing things I hadn’t noticed before and often found myself stopping for a better look. At first, armed with only a little curiosity, I did so impatiently, wanting to keep moving. But gradually, the more I looked the more was noticed; relationships and interconnections, certain butterflies liked certain plants, some birds were usually found in the treetops, others on the ground, and some somewhere in between. Some birds passed through very briefly in spring and fall while others appeared to hang around all year.  There were unique spring, summer, and fall wildflowers. Nothing was forever, flowers faded, plants died, hawks ate squirrels, storms downed once admired stately trees, but through it all there was always new life.

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Aware of their interconnectedness, the plants, animals, and insects seen became more interesting, and then they, as well as the experience of being in nature, became almost magical. There was apparently a lot more going on than I ever realized when running. Slowly, rather than being “inner-directed” and worrying about “breathing and pulse rate”, I became “outer-directed”. A feeling of being part of something much bigger than myself, or even humankind, started to develop. Before long a feeling of oneness with “that bigger something” would embrace me while walking through the woods or paddling a lake or river. But also a heightened awareness arose that, like the “stately tree”, I was not here forever. I had been given a gift that allowed me, for a very brief moment of seemingly insignificant time, to look, listen, smell, and touch the wonder of it all.

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So on that note, the following pictures of things seen in nature over the last few days are offered as a merger celebration of this brief moment in time.

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The Baltimore Orioles have arrived to nest along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir.

Baltimore Oriole over the Scioto River, (Donna).

Male Baltimore Orioles along Griggs Reservoir.

 

Another lone male along the Scioto. The males are often seen chasing each other this time of year.

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Paddling on Griggs Reservoir it’s hard not to notice that the Wild Columbine is in bloom along the low but rocky cliffs of reservoir’s east shore.

Wild Columbine.

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Walking park paths other late spring wildflowers have also been seen.

Appendage Waterleaf, (Donna).

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Very common Yellow-rumped Warblers pass through Griggs Park heading north to Michigan or Canada to nest.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Another view.

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High in a Sycamore the first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year is seen. It will probably nest along Griggs Reservoir.

Great Crested Flycatcher. Note distinctive yellow underside.

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A whimsical year round resident, this Carolina Wren shows off it’s prize.

Carolina Wren

 

Another view.

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Numerous Palm Warblers are seen passing through Griggs Park as they also head further north.

Palm warblers are common in the spring and fall along Griggs Reservoir.

Another view.

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Also on it’s way further north a Nashville Warbler forages at the edge of the Scioto River. Not a bird we often see.

Nashville Warbler.

Another view, (Donna).

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As it searches for higher ground a Northern Water Snake is seen along the rain swollen Scioto River.

Northern Water Snake

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A “turtle family” doesn’t seem to mind the high water.

Red-eared Sliders along the Scioto, (Donna).

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Trying to locate a warbler we sometimes have a sense we’re being watched.

Peeking out.

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Sure enough!

Gray Squirrel

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We hope that in the past few days your adventures in nature have been as rewarding as ours. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

 

“Magee Marsh” Comes To Central Ohio

At least that was our experience this year. After a somewhat disappointing one day trip to Magee Marsh at the beginning of  “The Big Week” we decided to concentrate our efforts locally. Specifically Griggs Park and Kiwanis Riverway Park, with one trip to the O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area. We kept seeing birds, repeats and new ones,  at Griggs and Kiwanis so we kept going back. What made it so unbelievable was that both places are just a few minutes from our house so it wasn’t much of a leap to go from thinking about it to being out there with binoculars and camera. How much easier can it get?

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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So below is a photographic record of most of the birds we saw along with views of other things beautiful or fascinating seen along the way.

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Prothonotary Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Gray’s Sage, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

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Female Redstart, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Phoebe , Griggs Park.

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Large Flowered Valerian, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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House Wren, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Wild Hyacinth, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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A closer look.

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Robin, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Where are your wings? Who let you guys in here anyway? Red-eared Sliders, Griggs Reservoir

 

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Blackpoll Warbler, Griggs Park.

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False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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False Solomon’s Seal, Griggs Park

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

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Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Griggs Park

 

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Dryad’s Saddle, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Philadelphia Vireo, Griggs Park.

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Giant Swallowtail, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Goats Beard, Griggs Park.

IMG_5123 Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Bluejay, Griggs Park

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Fungi, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Gray Cheeked Trush, Griggs Park.

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Swainson’s Thrush, Griggs Park.

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Phlox, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna)

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Blackburnian Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Park.

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Mushroom Colony, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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American Redstart (M), Griggs Park.

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American Redstart (F), Griggs Park.

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Mushroom, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Northern Flicker, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Wood Ear, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park.

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Great-crested Flycatcher, Griggs Park.

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Chestnut-sided Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Yellow-billed Cuckoo, east shore of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Kingbird, Griggs Park.

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Insect, Griggs Park.

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Park.

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Things seem to be tapering off a bit but one never knows for sure till several days have past. In any case, even if they were all to up and leave tonight, it’s been a great spring migration.

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O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

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Thanks for stopping by.

In Full Bloom

Recently I decided a paddle on our local reservoir was in order and needing some exercise why not make it a lengthy one covering several miles. When on such an adventure it’s best to stay fairly close to shore because that’s where all the interesting stuff seems to be.

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I had the place to pretty much to myself. Of course in the city there is always a few floating plastic bottles to pick up.

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On a quiet morning or afternoon it doesn’t take long for things to appear:

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Whitetail deer look out from the shore.

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Turtles (Red-eared Sliders) try to warm up in the meager morning sun.

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A Spotted Sandpiper, beautiful from any angle.

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Spotted Sandpiper

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The reservoir has some unique features which are home to one of Ohio’s most beautiful flowers.

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Several areas in the reservoir have small cliffs which are home to Columbine.

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Columbine

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A closer look.

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Seeing the Columbine always puts the exclamation mark on spring but in recent days walks along the reservoir shore have also been rewording.

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Redbud

 

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Dryad’s Saddle

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False Solomon’s Seal

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Flowering Buckeye

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A beautiful cluster of Golden Ragwort

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Revisiting a favorite scene at the very north end of the reservoir.

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A few birds have also posed for photographs, some while in the middle of a meal.

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Palm Warbler

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Green Heron

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Tree Swallow

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Wait, I’m not quite ready!

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Baltimore Oriole

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on nest.

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Cooper’s Hawk with lunch.

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No sharing here.

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Along residential streets near home spring was in evidence everywhere.

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Buckeye flowering

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Dandelion’s gone to seed beautiful in their own way. Probably doesn’t make much difference but I’m glad this guy doesn’t live next door!

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Dogwood.

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Spring in full bloom, at the peak of it’s celebration, is sometimes a bit overwhelming but that’s probably a good problem to have.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Shouldn’t You Guys Be Doing Something Else?

It shouldn’t have been a big surprise, after all yours truly was out there in a kayak in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to get a better picture of a Red-throated Loon. In my defense, while the water was cold enough to cause condensation on the inside of the boat, the air temperature was 50 F and there wasn’t much wind.

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December 16th on Griggs Reservoir in our Folbot Kodiak, (photo by Willkie)

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But still, in central Ohio on December 16th, I’ve never seen turtles sunning themselves on a log or anywhere else for that matter. By now, it’s usually been cold enough, long enough, that ice has threatened open water and turtles have long since made what I’ve always thought to be the irrevocable decision to head for the muddy bottom. That is, at least until the consistently warmer and longer days of spring again beckon them to the surface.

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December turtles.

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El Nino, global warming, just a fluke of warm weather? For now I’ll just enjoy the novelty of the experience.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Speaking With A Soft Voice


In recent days we’ve found ourselves visiting some of the usual places as well as making another trip the Clifton Gorge for a hike with friends. The gorge trip was interesting because, unlike our last visit, the day was cloudy and different light often means different photographic possibilities! Whether along the gorge or closer to home, we’re always on the lookout for things that interest us, some of which might even be worth sharing in a blog. Sometimes we’re not the only ones looking.

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A Raccoon watches as we walk along the Scioto River

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From a creative point of view this time of year, as colors start to fade, can be a challenge. Taking pictures just for the sake of taking a pictures, or trying to make a good picture of a subject that doesn’t really draw you in, has never been of much interest to me. The subject needs to speak to me in some way and in November it’s often with a very soft voice.

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Reflections on the last few leaves

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While on our recent gorge hike, it was fun to explore landscapes similar to those photographed a few weeks ago. What had changed? While exploring on cloudy days one often notices that photos taken come out of the camera “muddy”. With that in mind, contrast or saturation are often increased just a bit so the finished picture reflects what was “seen”.

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The Little Miami, similar to a shot posted a few weeks ago but this time with a cloudy sky.

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A few weeks ago

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This method of crossing the Little Miami works fine unless there’s been a big rain.

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Pillars along the Little Miami. A cloudy day means good detail in the shadows and river.

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Same spot a few weeks ago. Quite a bit of work was done in “Lightroom” to try and bring out shadow and river details as well as to address blown out highlights.

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Fallen leaves along the gorge. Notice how the shadows are well controlled. But on cloudy days just don’t have your heart set on a beautiful picture of the sky.

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Another comparison from a few weeks ago, which do you like better?

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The gang on one of the bridges over the Little Miami.

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Cliffs along the gorge. The lack of deep shadows allows one to enjoy the colors, as none are blown out, as well as textures and the underlying design.

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Through the trees.

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Trail along the Little Miami, (Donna).

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Water starts to pool as it leaves the gorge.

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In a few places color persists.

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Contrasts.

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Flowers persist long after you would think they’d be gone.

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Tall Bellflower, (Donna)

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Our friends in the world of fungi seem to like the cooler. damper, weather, bringing their color to an increasing drab landscape.

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Fungi, (Donna)

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Colorful fungi, (Donna).

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Whether we were walking or paddling, there were places where things looked pretty bleak so expectations for seeing critters aren’t real high, but .   .   .

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Male Kingfisher along Griggs Reservoir. They never seem to let us get close enough for a really good shot.

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Hunting season, not to worry we’re in the middle of the city.

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Common but beautiful. Under very dramatic but harsh light.

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The November morning sun warms Red-eared Sliders on Griggs Reservoir.

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It had been a very quiet outing but at on point during a recent walk along the Scioto River we were descended upon by a noisy group of Carolina Wrens.

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Take two.

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Always reliable this time of year, Downy Woodpeckers weren’t far away.

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This male Blue Bird seemed content to just sit and enjoy the late autumn sun, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Warm days in early November mean we’ve continued to see a few butterflies.

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Along the trail near Clifton Gorge.

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Door Hinge

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Maybe the trick is to let go of expectations and allow yourself to hear the voice of each season. Even when it speaks very softly.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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***

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