Spring Walk

Despite a colder than normal spring with some trees showing just a hint of green, the longer days and the now more persuasive rays of the sun continue their call for nature to awake. Recently our walks in the wooded areas of local city parks have carried with them the unavoidable expectation of the season.

Bloodroot, so fragile to forces of wind and rain and hear so briefly as if a dream.
A migrating Golden-crowned Kinglet announces the season.
A cloudy cold day is not enough encouragement for the flowers of the Twinleaf to open.
High in a tree this Barred Owl will be impossible to see in a few weeks when the leaves are out.
It’s flower looking tired, it was still exciting to find more evidence of the rare Snow Trillium in a local park.
A migrating Ruby-crowned Kinglet refuses to show its crown but is still a welcome sign of the season.
A Northern Flicker ignores our presence as it works on its nesting cavity.
On a day that’s apparently just warm enough for the insects, an Eastern Phoebe waits.
Arriving a few weeks after the males, a female Redwing Blackbird is entertained by their suitors’ calls.

Sometimes with the expectation of the season comes the unexpected, a Fox Squirrel that appears to be Break Dancing (click on panes for a better view):

Much of what brings real meaning to life are the acquired tastes that must be pursued with intention after just the smallest beginning flicker of interest. In nature, as with most of life’s experiences, the more you look the more you see and then appreciate, becoming richer for it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Whisper Of Spring

On some days in early spring the whisper of life is not heard above the howl of wind through still bare branches of waking trees. A warm embrace under sunny blue skies one day turns into a gray freezing flurried rebuff the next.

With it’s fits and starts spring makes doubters of us all.

The woods do not yet invite. A stark barren seemingly lifeless landscape is now revealed by the absent blanket of snow.

Against what feels like our better judgment we dress for the unexpected and journey into the woods. If we walk slowly and pause, look closely and listen we can discover in the season of expectation and disappointment small signs and voices of our larger being.

At a distance all is quiet.
But here and there a Snow Trillium break through last year’s leaf litter.
The Downy’s world is always open for business.
A bee takes advantage of the Hepatica’s flower
A Carolina Wren gets organized for the day.
Skunk Cabbage that first emerged through the frozen ground of February, begins to leaf out.
In wooded vernal pools Spring Peepers heard quietly in the distance deafen as one gets close.
For a short moment in time the tiny Harbinger of Spring welcomes the coming season.
A male Red-winged Blackbird unambiguously announces the season.

Nature seldom gives graciously to plant, animal, or us. It offers just enough. In early spring that just enough often leaves us with mistaken discontent wishing for more.

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A Feast For The Gulls

Usually this time of the year in central Ohio we’re busy looking for the earliest spring wildflowers such as the uncommon Snow Trillium.

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But we also walk along the local reservoirs (Griggs and O’Shaughnessy Reservoir) hoping to see migrating waterfowl. Recently we weren’t disappointed when three inches of rain shocked area waterways resulting in thousands of dead or dying shad. It was a banquet for Bonaparte’s Gulls passing through the area and an excellent opportunity to observe these beautiful birds.

Immature, non-breeding and breeding Bonaparte’s Gulls.

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Bonaparte’s Gull, (Donna)

Adult breeding Bonaparte’s Gull.

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A few larger Ring-billed Gulls were also getting into the act.

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Not to miss out on the easy meal Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons were also present.

Great Egret, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron, (Donna)

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Fish die-offs, particularly shad, are not that uncommon in reservoirs. However, this is the first time we’ve happened upon such a feeding frenzy.

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We hope this post finds everyone doing well. Thanks for stopping by.

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 from 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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With dryer weather 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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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.

 

 

 

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