Early Spring Wildflowers At Clifton Gorge

We had been seeing early spring wildflowers closer to home so we though a trip to Clifton Gorge, an area known for it’s unspoiled beauty as well as wildflowers, to see what might be popping up. Driving to our destination we tempered our enthusiasm by agreeing that sometimes it’s just as important to take note of what one doesn’t see as well as what one does. and besides there are few places in Ohio that are better to take a hike.

Conifers along the Little Miami River add color to an otherwise drab early spring landscape.

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We didn’t have to walk far before we realized we wouldn’t be disappointed. True, some flowers still had a way to go:

Dutchman’s Breeches a few days away fro being in full bloom.

Actually, this Bloodroot may have opened up later in the day.

Toadshade Trillium’s leaves are beautiful. In this case, the flower, which never really opens up, is a few days away from blooming.

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Later in the year this small waterfall will be no more.

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But other flowers were in full bloom.

Hepatica getting ready to open, (Donna). There are 39 native Ohio species.

Along with the Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring, Hepatica is one of the earliest Ohio wildflowers to bloom, (Donna).

Hepatica, in this case sharp lobed, showing it’s leaves which disappear quickly once the flowers bloom, (Donna).

Bloodroot, trying to catch up.

This Blue Hepatica was stunning, (Donna).

A few Snow Trillium were still in bloom.

Snow Trillium.

Seeming to be a bit early, Wild Ginger was also found.

Wild Ginger has a flower but you need to look closely, (Donna).

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Along the river.

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Perhaps the most exciting find, Scarlet Cup Fungi, was no a flower at all. It occurs from late winter to early spring and was spotted it in several locations

A Scarlet Cup group perhaps a bit past their prime.

This one looked as though it had emerged more recently and had lovely color and shape.

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We hope to get back to Clifton Gorge in a couple of weeks to see how things have changed and very few things speak of change as clearly as spring.

Thanks for stopping by.

A favorite Clifton Gorge landscape.

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Harbingers Of Spring

After our extended stay in Florida to escape the north’s cold cloudy winter weather I realize we’re not going to get much sympathy when we say that waiting for spring in Ohio can try one’s patience. Walking through the woods we remind ourselves to value each day for the gift that it is, but with autumns now bleached and faded leaves covering a seemingly lifeless forest floor it’s hard not to want for more.

Many of Ohio’s woods lack the conifers that bring color to the early spring woods further north, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

The water was running clear but the landscape was no more colorful along the river, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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However, taking a closer look at last years leaf litter one just might find the tiny Harbinger of Spring one of the seasons first wildflowers.

Harbinger of Spring, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Another look.

Profile, (Donna).

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The Snow Trillium is an uncommon wildflower that occurs only in very select undisturbed locations.

A nice group of three.

A group of two, (Donna)

Head on.

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Perhaps one of the prettiest plants to pop up through leaf litter in early spring is Virginia Waterleaf.

Virginia Waterleaf, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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****

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As is often the case while making one’s way back to the trailhead, happy with the wildflowers and the day’s hike, other unexpected and wonderful things are seen.

An Eastern Towhee hides in a thicket, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

A number of Golden-crowned Kinglets showed themselves along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam, (Donna).

Walking along Griggs Reservoir we heard a faint tapping and just saw a tail protruding from a newly formed nesting cavity. The tapping stopped and this Downy Woodpecker turned and peered out at us.

We spotted this Blue-winged Teal in a pond adjacent to the parking lot as we were finishing a hike at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Present in smaller numbers all winter in areas where there is open water, the population of Great Blue Herons has increased as the days get longer and the weather warms.

A Great Blue Heron waits for something edible to appear.

We’ve never seen them over-winter so when Great Egrets appear along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam each spring in breeding plumage it’s a real treat.

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The Great Egrets are the grand finale to this post and our recent time outdoors and they left us with a true sense of  spring’s wonder and magic.

Stump in the early spring woods.

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For those who expectedly seek it along a stream or wooded trail, nature speaks in a language beyond words.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Earliest Wildflowers

Some folks may be wondering what happened to “Central Ohio Nature” during the past two months so we thought we better post something to let everyone know we’re alive and well. Actually a little over a week ago, after a winter escape to Florida where we traveled to various state parks and explored numerous natural areas, we found ourselves back in Ohio. Two days of warm weather followed us home before the snow and cold returned on what just happened to be the first official day of spring.

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With camera, canoe, and hiking boots, and a small travel trailer in tow, we feel very blessed to have been able to spend time in warmer climes for a portion of the winter. For the nature lover the beauty, romance, and magic of Florida’s wild areas continually beckons one to explore.

Sunset, Myakka River State Park

Trail, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Bobcat tracks, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Great Blue Heron, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Gator, Kissimmee Prairie State Park.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Lily Pads on pond, Apalachee Wildlife Management Area.

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But I digress, this post is about central Ohio’s earliest wildflowers even though mid-March nature in Ohio doesn’t always beckon. One has to journey out with intention and look closely for the magic. The landscape is often rather drab as the below pictures of some of the more interesting features of the early spring woods will attest.

At Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park a vernal pool creates a point of interest in the otherwise still drab landscape. “Vernal pools (often the product of snow melt and early spring rain) are nurseries for a host of species. Big black and yellow spotted salamanders crawl silently along the pool floor to find a suitable place for egg-laying. Caddisflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and other invertebrates abound in these small, still waters. All of these species evolved larvae that develop relatively quickly before the pool dries out”. Ref: Adirondack Almanack.

Unlike the clear water in the previous picture this pool, a remnant of recent high water along Big Darby Creek, is supporting green algae no doubt fortified but agricultural runoff, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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On the last warm day before the snow, armed with my wife’s encouragement, off we went to look for Snow Trillium a favorite early spring wildflower. This small flower, perhaps an inch across, is not as common as it was in the past no doubt the result of habitat destruction. While we are aware of locations where it usually blooms, it’s never certain from one year to the next that it will be seen. An additional challenge is that the flowers don’t hang around long. Once located, we walk carefully and take pictures sparingly as the flower’s small size makes it difficult to see and easy to step on. In addition the soil on the ravine slope where it was blooming was easily disturbed.

Snow Trillium, Franklin County.

Snow Trillium take 2, Franklin County, (Donna).

Snow Trillium take 3, Franklin County, (Donna).

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Now more excited about our prospects, we set off to look for another favorite early spring wildflower, Harbinger of Spring, a few days later. This very small bloom, pollinated by commensurately small bees and flies, is much more common than the trillium. However, due to it’s very small size and the fact that it’s flowers are fleeting and fade away soon after they bloom, it is often missed.

Harbinger of Spring, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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As we continued to look for additional examples of Snow Trillium and Harbinger of Spring in the woods of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, other just starting to emerge wildflowers revealed their presence.

Emerging Virginia Bluebell, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Hepatica take 2, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 3, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Hepatica take 4, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Emerging Purple Cress, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Bloodroot, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot take 2. Still not open two hours after we first saw it, this flower will almost certainly loose at least one petal shortly after blooming making it a challeng to photograph.

Emerging Toadshade Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thinking it would be good to include a few critter pics in this post we couldn’t help but notice that we were being watched as we looked for signs of new life in the forest floor leaf litter.

Fox Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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That about wraps it up for this post. It’s good to be back and we look forward to sharing more experiences as spring unfolds in central Ohio. Also, we will undoubtedly share some of the special things seen during our recent stay in Florida. Thanks for stopping by.

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XXXX

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PS: Right within the city limits along the Scioto River near downtown Columbus, and a short 5 mile bike ride from our house, a new eagle’s nest has appeared. This is truly exciting for those of us who, given the ravages of DDT, would have had to travel a considerable distance to see such a thing in our youth.

Bald Eagle on nest, Columbus, Ohio.

 

 

An Uncommon Early Spring Flower

We really needed a “pick me up” after several days back in cooler than normal gray Ohio which followed a recent two month stay in sunny Florida. What better way to cheer oneself up than to go looking for early spring wildflowers and in the this case one of the earliest. Of course there was always the possibility that we wouldn’t find anything in which case we were prepared to go to the local ice cream establishment to cheer ourselves up.

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The object of our search was the Snow Trillium a flower that defies the cold and snow to be one of the first to appear each spring. We first looked for Harbinger of Spring along the river just below Griggs Reservoir. It’s another early arrival. We didn’t have any luck. Not real encouraged we decided to check another location near the reservoir where we’d seen Snow Trillium in past years in hopes of better luck. The Snow Trillium is not a common flower and I would consider it rare in central Ohio so it’s always a treat to see them.

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Forgetting how small they are, at least when compared to a Large-Flowered Trillium, nothing appeared at first but after a few minutes my wife’s better eyesight spotted the first flower and then as if by magic another and then another appeared .   .   .    We were ecstatic!

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Snow Trillium, Griggs Reservoir

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Hopefully spring wildflowers will cast their spell on you and make this spring just a little more special. 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. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

 

 

A Rare Flower

After several weeks birding, hiking, and paddling in warm and sunny Florida fifteen hundred miles to our south, we’ve returned to early spring in Ohio.

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Fortunately the welcoming committee was out when we decided to get reacquainted with some of our favorite places.

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This year our timing was just right to see a number of rare Snow Trillium along Griggs Reservoir. This made the day because in past years we often waited too long and missed them. This smallest of Ohio’s trilliums typically arrives in middle to late March and doesn’t hang around. That fact coupled with their small numbers makes them a challenge to find.

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Snow Trillium

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This one’s looking up.

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It’s very unusual to see a group like this, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot were also out but the previous night’s heavy rain was hard on their fragile petals.

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Bloodroot

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Some show color before the flower opens.

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Crab apple blossoms in early spring are always a delight.

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Crab apple Blossoms

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As though pretended to be flowers, spring leaves emerge.

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Leafing out.

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Turkey tail joins in on the competition for the camera’s lens.

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Turkey Tail

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Along Griggs Reservoir Cedar Waxwings announce spring’s arrival.

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Cedar Waxwing

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On the reservoir, marking the time of year, a lone Ruddy Duck seems to be on it’s way to somewhere further north.

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Ruddy Duck

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I apologize for the longer than normal absence of posts. To compensate we hope to have some interesting shots of things seen in Florida in the coming weeks as we continue to celebrate spring in central Ohio.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Be Quick or You’ll Miss Them

One of the rights of spring that my wife and I truly enjoy is looking for the early spring wildflowers. These are the flowers that came out before the forest canopy leafs out and blocks the light. Some appear for only a day or two so there are years that we miss them altogether. Some are very small and easy to miss unless you look very carefully. Others are fairly rare so you count your good fortune when you see them. All are beautiful in their own way. The flowers below were all seen in central Ohio above and below the dam at Griggs and Hoover Parks not far from where we live.

click on the images for a better look

Toadshade Trillium, common but only if you look in the right place!

Toadshade Trillium family 2 040614 Griggs east cp1

At this point the leaves are competing with the flowers for our attention. In a few days a purple flower should appear. (Donna)

toadshade trillium best 040514 Griggs cp1

The purple flower is yet to come. (Donna)

 

The Snow Trillium is smaller than the more common later blooming trilliums and is rare in central Ohio.

 

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Snow Trillium, not real common in central Ohio so we were fortunate to see this one.

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Snow Trillium, (Donna)

 

Duchman’s Breeches are fairly common and a close look when the flowers are fully developed will make you smile.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, a little early the flowers are still coming out. It will be better in a couple of days.

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A closer look, (Donna)

Cutleaf Toothwort

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Cutleaf Toothwort, a few days before it blooms, (Donna)

 

 

Blood Root has a nice sized but fragile and short lived flower.

 

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Blood Root, (Donna)

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Bloodroot

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

 

Hepatica is fairly common.

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Hepatica

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Hepatica, study 2, (Donna)

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Hepatica, study 3

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Hepatica, study 4, (Donna)

 

Virginia Waterleaf

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Virginia waterleaf, the leaves are beautiful but loose this appearance as spring progresses, (Donna)

 

Harbinger of Spring, a very small, very close to the ground, flower.

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Harbinger of Spring, (Donna)

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I took a break from the wildflowers so that a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets could again show me just how difficult they can be to photograph. As they fluttered from branch to branch, never stopping for more than a fraction of a second, even on a single point focus setting the camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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Trust me! It’s a Golden-crowned Kinglet

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, take two.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

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