Enchanted November Woods

A half an hour before, we were standing in a cold wind just below a dam that has created one of central Ohio’s larger reservoirs trying our best to spot, and perhaps photograph, the Black-legged Kittiwake that was reported in the area. A unique opportunity because it’s a gull not usually seen in these parts. We finally did get a very average binocular view of the bird, another one for my “life list”, but in the process managed to journey pretty far down the road to hypothermia. Now we were looking forward to a hike in the woods with the thought that it wouldn’t be windy and the modest exertion might be enough to warm us up.

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Char-Mar Ridge Park, is not far from the dam so it seemed like a good choice. The park is home to numerous species of large trees as well as a pond that usually contains waterfowl. A plus is that next to the pond is a nicely situated observation blind for undetected viewing. This time of the year finds most leaves, a significant portion of which are oak, on the forest floor as the bare branched sentinels, once their home, tower overhead. The lack of leaves on branches promotes a rather barren landscape but made it easy to spot a Pileated woodpecker just minutes into our walk. It insisted on maintaining its position between us and the sun foiling efforts to obtain a really good photo.

Pileated Woodpecker, all photos may be clicked on for a better view.

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Once in the park it was hard not to notice the uniform blanket of leaves. They accentuated the park’s large rocks and fallen trees giving the sense that one was walking through a sculptor garden.

Oak leaves on log.

Large glacial erratic.

Recent rains darkened fallen trees, further contrasting them with the leaves.

Fallen leaves and branches.

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While I was amusing myself with stumps and fallen trees my wife was doing her best to locate fascinating fungi.

A study of leaves, tree bark, and fungi.

Resinous Polypore, (Donna).

A type of spreading fungi, (Donna).

Lichen and jelly fungi, (Donna).

Common Split Gill just starting out, (Donna).

Colorful Turkeytail.

Perhaps young Cinnabar-red Polypore.

Another look, (Donna).

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It was just a short distance to the blind overlooking the pond and despite the fact that the resident Red Headed Woodpecker was not seen the time spent there did not disappoint. A neighborhood of usual suspects was more than happy to entertain us.

White Breasted Nuthatch, (Donna).

Another look.

Male Cardinal.

White-throated sparrow, (Donna).

Another look.

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

What are you looking at?

Downy Woodpecker

Take 2.

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There was also activity on the pond.

Male Hooded Merganser.

Male and female Gadwalls

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It is hard not to be enchanted when one finds color suspended in an otherwise drab gray landscape. Most leaves were down but those on the smaller beech trees hang on and even though their color is no match for the brilliant reds of a maple they did their best to supply color.

Color suspended among slender trees.

A closer look.

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Recent rains meant that some areas still contained “ponds” of standing water on and along the path creating a challenge for dry feet but also provided a unique “looking-glass” into the late autumn woods.

November reflection.

November reflection, black and white.

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November reflection 2.

November reflection 2, black and white .

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In the cold November woods there always is more going on than we know. We move too fast and miss much, wishing for warmer days.

Char-Mar Ridge Park.

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Thanks for stopping by.

An Autumn Walk in Mohican State Park

It’s been several years since our last visit to Mohican State Park. The park is known for it’s heavily wooded rolling hills of white pine and hemlock which are not found in most parts of the state. With a good forecast for the day, followed by what appeared to be days of colder, wetter than normal weather, we decided to forgo our usual Saturday bike ride in favor of a scenic autumn drive to Ashland county and a hike along the Mohican River.

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As we headed to the northeast on some of Ohio’s most scenic back roads there were nice areas of color in the rolling hills near the park but closer to Columbus the land, mostly consisting of already harvested farm fields, is much flatter so the “autumnal splendor” was a little underwhelming. Nonetheless, once on the trail, we were rewarded with some nice views and, as always, some unexpected discoveries.

(You may click on images for a better view.)

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Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

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The trail that took us along the river meandered through woods of hemlock and beech.

Color along the trail.

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Fallen leaves and tree roots at water’s edge.

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Among numerous fallen and decaying trees there was plenty of fungi to fascinate.

Puffballs

Turkey tail, (Donna).

Resinous Polypore, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

Extremely small Yellow Fairy Cups, (Donna).

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A low autumn sun illuminates the river.

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Winter Wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers entertained us along the trail. Unfortunately, low light, and birds that were very active, conspired against photographs. However, a few insects did pose for the camera.

False Hemlock Looper Moth, (Donna).

Inch worm, (Donna).

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Old stump.

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A real treat was seeing liverwort on the rocks at various locations along the trail. Areas usually visited closer to home lack the rock formations on which it’s typically found. “Liverworts are of more than 9,000 species of small non-vascular spore-producing plants. Liverworts are distributed worldwide, though most commonly in the tropics. Thallose liverworts, which are branching and ribbonlike, grow commonly on moist soil or damp rocks. The thallus (body) of thallose liverworts resembles a lobed liver—hence the common name liverwort (“liver plant”).”, Ref: Encyclopedia Britannica. Liverworts represent some of the earliest land plants. “Five different types of fossilized liverwort spores were found in Argentina, dating to the Middle Ordovician Period, around 470 million years ago”. Ref:, Wikipedia.

Liverwort, Conocephalum conicum.

Another view, (Donna).

Looking closer, (Donna).

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Due to recent dry weather, Big Lyons falls was just a trickle and too small to capture in a photograph. However, the area immediately around it was beautiful.

The narrow gorge near Big Lyons Falls.

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While ferns are certainly not rare closer to home, we were surprised by the number seen in the woods of Mohican State Park. The below ID represents our best guess for one of the more common ferns seen.

Spinulose wood fern, (Donna).

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Since our trip just a few days ago fall color has continued to develop in the residential neighborhoods near our home. Particularly beautiful have been the reds of various maples planted by homeowners. In rural Ohio maples do not occur naturally in any appreciable number so colors are typically more muted. Hopefully that is not the case where you are. During this magical time of year we hope you have an opportunity to spend time in nature and that when doing so you are blessed with an autumn graced with the color of maples. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Covered bridge over the Mohican River.

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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.

 

November Dragonflies

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

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Oak leaves provide a splash of autumn color.

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

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Pie-billed Grebes.

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and turtles,

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

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but not much else.

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

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Hairy Woodpecker

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

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

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Oyster Mushroom, (Donna)

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Changing Pholiota, (Donna)

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Resinous Polypore, (Donna)

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Orange Jelly, (Donna).

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

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

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

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Eastern Comma

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

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

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Another view, (Donna)

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

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Reflections

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

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The Big Darby

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

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*****

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

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Thanks for stopping by.

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