A Spring Day At Magee Marsh

It was mid morning, sunny, the gentle lake breeze was cool, but warmed by the sun we felt energized. That was a good thing because the two and a half hour drive from Columbus had left us feeling just a little lethargic. It was our annual visit to Maggee Marsh in search of migrating warblers and we had just arrived at the parking lot adjacent to the boardwalk. Once in the refuge, located along the south shore of Lake Erie, we had made our way toward the lake on a very straight two lane road bordered by wetlands. On the ground and overhead a welcoming committee of more than the usual number of Great Egrets, a generous smattering of Great Blue Herons, a Snowy Egret, as well some of the other usual suspects, had greeted us. Near the lake, high in a Cottonwood, an active eagle’s nest could be seen. It felt like it was going to be a good day in birders paradise!

One of many Great Egrets seen.

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On this particular morning, as I hoisted my heavy camera over my shoulder, I couldn’t help thinking it would be nice to enlist all my senses and just be there with only binoculars in hand. But you never know what might be seen so better take the camera. After all, it’s a tool that does allow one to better tell stories and that’s good. However, when it’s pressed against my face I’m removed from the experience I seek to capture, caught up in the details (see PS: below) of taking a reasonable photograph of an object that refuses to sit still among what seems like an infinite number of twigs, leaves, and branches. Sometime it might really be nice just to hang out with these little guys. Besides, it’s not like there’s a shortage of excellent photos on the web of almost any bird you could imagine. However, I’m not quite there yet, so with the camera in hand the internal debate goes on.

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In the spring the area acts as a stop off point for migrating warblers as they pause to rest and wait for a favorable wind to carry them north across the lake to summer breeding grounds. The boardwalk, right along the lake with wetlands to the south, winds it’s way through a wet low lying area with numerous tall trees, including many Cotton Woods, and plenty of bushes and other ground cover that warblers as well as other birds seem to enjoy. This makes them especially easy to see.

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In past years we’ve gotten a fairly early start and have seen birds in the morning but our experience has been that things don’t really get cranked up until the afternoon. Such was the case on this trip. After lunch a lot more birds were seen. It may have something to do with temperature as it did warm up considerably as the day progressed.

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Ruby Crowned Kinglets were everywhere. That was the case throughout the day.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Take 2.

Take 3.

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The Yellow Warblers were also hard to miss.

Yellow Warbler

Take 2.

Take 3.

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As the day went on we saw other birds. We were especially excited to see Black-throated Blue Warblers.

Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Take 2.

Take 3.

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Palm Warblers were numerous.

Palm Warbler

Take 2.

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A Cape May Warbler proved a challenge to photograph.

Cape May Warbler.

Take 2.

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One of Ohio’s most commonly seen warblers made it’s presence known.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Looking more like a thrush than a warbler, it was great to see a, not often seen, Ovenbird.

Ovenbird

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We did also see a thrush.

Swainson’s Thrush, (Donna).

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Catbirds made a good showing along the boardwalk.

Catbird

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were also trying to get our attention.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher high in a tree, (Donna).

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A Tree Swallow was seen at it’s nesting cavity.

Tree Swallow

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White-throated Sparrows were hard to ignore in the low underbrush.

White-throated Sparrow.

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Not far from the boardwalk Solitary Sandpipers were busy foraging for food.

Solitary Sandpiper

Take 2.

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Along one of the canals, and partially hidden by low lying foliage, several Green Herons were spotted.

Tinged the green by a nearby leaf this shot captured a Green Heron waiting for lunch, (Donna).

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At the opposite end of the spectrum from the kinglets, Bald Eagles were getting on with their life.

Bald Eagle watches it’s nest, one of two in the immediate area. (Donna).

Eagle chick testing it’s wings while the other seems to be taking cover.

Exercise session over, the other chick pops up.

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Despite the grand reception as we entered the refuge, we didn’t see as many warbler species as in past years. However, there were still plenty of birds. While photographs were obviously taken, enough time was an spent listening and looking, as the fragrance of flowering bushes occasionally wafting past on the cool lake breeze, that I was there and not just behind the camera lens.

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PS: On a technical note, many of the photos taken on this trip were blurry or overexposed to the point of not being usable.  A few could be salvaged through post processing. After arriving home exposure compensation was found to be set at +1.3 EV and aperture had somehow been bumped to f13 for at least part of the time. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve taken a picture but I got lazy. Always check your settings and double check them throughout the day.

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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.

 

 

Autumn’s Color

Usually when we think of autumn color we’re thinking about leaves but recent outings in central Ohio have revealed that in the autumn color can come in many different shapes and sizes. The pictures below celebrate things we’ve seen in the last two weeks hiking and paddling. While peak color is still about two weeks away, it’s hard not to be charmed by the splashes of color amongst the predominately green landscape.

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Exploring Alum Creek Reservoir north of the Howard Road bridge.

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The green corridor along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River is still providing opportunities to view migrated birds as well as local residents.

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The portrait of a Cape May warbler gets photo bombed by a pair of amorous ladybugs, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Park.

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A Blue-headed Vireo makes an appearance at Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A pair of Northern Flickers, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Juvenile Green Heron, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A pair of Carolina Wrens, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Female Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Sparrows going for a swim, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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.   .   .  and plenty of insects, spiders, and flowers too!

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Griggs Park.

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Mating Blue-fronted Dancers, Griggs Park, Donna.

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A Praying Mantis pays us a visit, (Donna).

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Calico Asters, Griggs Park.

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Corn Earworm Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Wandering Glider, Griggs Park, (Donna, she wouldn’t tell me how long she waited to get this pic).

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Pearl Crescents, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Seemingly unperturbed, a Grey Hairstreak shares a small flower with a bumblebee, (Donna).

 

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Variable Orb Weaver, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Common Checkered Skipper, Griggs park, (Donna).

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Orange Sulfur, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Mudflats and logs exposed along Alum Creek due to slightly lower water levels provided an opportunity to see a few shorebirds.

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Spotted Sandpiper along Alum Creek north of the reservoir.

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Solitary Sandpiper along Alum Creek north of the reservoir.

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Alum Creek.

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The little bit of rain we’ve had recently brought out some fungi.

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Unidentified, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Non-inky Coprinus, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Witch’s Butter, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Unlike two or three weeks ago when there were Ospreys everywhere, when we paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir last Thursday none were seen.  However, there were a lot of cormorants and gulls.

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Along the shore of Alum Creek Reservoir.

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A Doubled Crested Cormorant takes flight as we paddle north on Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

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Looking for Ospreys, Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Along Alum Creek

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As if sensing the warm weather won’t last forever .   .   .

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Basking in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir.

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The amount of insect activity we’ve seen in the last two weeks has been been truly amazing. We haven’t had our first frost yet so I’m sure a lot will change once that happens. Meanwhile we’ll continue to enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

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Early autumn on Griggs Reservoir.

xxx

Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

 

 

August Nature on Central Ohio’s Reservoirs

Recently we paddled the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir not far from our home in Columbus and then a couple of days later ventured about sixty miles due south to paddle Paint Creek. Given that it’s mid-summer we weren’t real optimistic about what we’d see. That said, one thing we observed which seemed rather counterintuitive given the summer’s midday heat was that the birds were much more active and approachable midday. This is something we’ve become accustomed to when looking for butterflies, dragon and damselflies, but necessary for other creatures. Of course, it is the insect time of year so we were not surprised to see plenty of them but in addition we were fortunate to see birds including immature Kingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, and hawks.

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For those interested in Ospreys, paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir can be very rewarding this time of year. Ospreys and their recently fledged offspring seem to be everywhere.  During our paddle we also had two Bald Eagle siting’s, however, they didn’t hang around for a photograph. Many Green Herons were also seen as we explored the shoreline and numerous coves. With lake levels slightly low exposing shoreline rocks numerous solitary and spotted sandpipers were also seen.

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Osprey, north end of Alum creek reservoir, FZ200

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Closer look, FZ200

 

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Adult Osprey, FZ200

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Taking flight, Donna, FZ200

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Flag-tailed Spinyleg, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Paddling up Alum Creek, FZ200

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Long-jawed Orbweaver, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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One of many Green Herons, this one was strutting it’s stuff, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

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Fall Phlox, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Amberwing, Alum creek, Donna, FZ200

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Very young Map turtle, alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

 

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Solitary Sandpiper, Alum Creek, Donna, FZ200

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The paddle up Paint Creek is stunning, it’s hard the believe you’re in Ohio. As the day progressed it seemed easier to get close enough to Kingfishers so that the resulting photograph didn’t leave you wondering what kind of bird it was.

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Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, dark morph, Paint Creek, Canon 3ti 18-135mm lens.

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Spotted Sandpiper, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Butterflies on scat, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200

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Double-crested Cormorant looking rather mysterious, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Eastern Amberwing (F), Donna, FZ200

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Male Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Female Kingfisher, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Bob’s big fish (White Bass), Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Spicebush Swallowtail, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Green Heron tidying up, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Mushrooms on a log, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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Common Arrowhead, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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One member of Donna’s Hackberry Circus, Paint Creek, Canon 60D with Sigma 150-500mm.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, Donna, FZ200.

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After spending time exploring Alum Creek Reservoir and Paint creek we returned to our own “backyard”, Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River, where we also found things to fascinate.

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Summer along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Sunflower, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

 

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Immature Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Another look.

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Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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The Scioto River below Griggs Dam, another view, FZ200.

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One of the very few Buckeyes seen so far this summer, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Black-crowned Night Heron, very early morning, Griggs Reservoir, ZS50.

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Pearl Crescent, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Robber fly, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Monarch, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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One of many Hackberries seen, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Horace’s Duskywing, Griggs Park, Donna, FZ200.

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Often we find ourselves walking along residential streets on the return leg of an urban hike to Griggs Park. We usually don’t expect to discover anything special but you never know what you’re going to see.

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Immature Red-tailed Hawk just outside our kitchen window, FZ200.

 

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Immature Cooper’s Hawk, residential street near our home, FZ200.

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We hope you’ve been able to get out and explore and appreciate nature this summer. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

As Summer Goes On . . .

Photos often result from our time spent in nature but they are seldom the only reason we’re out there. Truth is, we just love being outdoors. Part of the fun is looking closely to see what each new day brings. Perhaps it’s a flower, butterfly, bird, or something else that appears unexpectedly.

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Below is a pictorial ramble through things seen in the last few weeks in central Ohio that amazed or enchanted.

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The summer flowers have really been coming through for us this year.

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Swamp Rose Mallow, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Halberd-leaved Rose-Mallow along water’s edge, Griggs Reservoir

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Monkey Face along Griggs Reservoir

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Trumpet Flower along Griggs Reservoir

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Checking out the Lizard’s tail, Griggs Reservoir

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A closer look.

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While things are starting to dry out from an unusual amount of early summer rain, it continues to be a good year for fungi.

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Taking a close look at mushrooms in a neighbors lawn reveals unexpected beauty.

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White Jelly fungus, Griggs Park

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Chicken Mushroom, Griggs Park

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It’s harder to find warblers now but other birds are filling in.

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While kayak fishing on O’Shaughnessy Reservoir this immature Black-crowned Night Heron was spotted along the shore. A real treat!

 

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Adult Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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Solitary Sandpiper on mudflats, Paint Creek Reservoir

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Eastern Phoebe with a snack, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Killdeer on mud flats, Paint Creek

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Green Heron, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Great Egret, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Taking flight, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Baby mallard, Griggs Reservoir

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Double Crested Cormorants in the middle of Griggs Reservoir

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Portrait of a Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

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At first we thought it might be a beaver.

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Muskrat, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Insects continue to satisfy our curiosity.

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Black Swallowtail, Paint Creek

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtails puddling, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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A closer look, Paint Creek

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Blue-fronted Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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American Rubyspot, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Stream Bluet and American Rubyspot , Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Powdered Dancer, Paint Creek, (Donna)

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Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir.

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Female Ebony Jewelwing, Griggs Reservoir

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Stream Bluets mating, Griggs Reservoir

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Cicada, front yard.

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.   .   .   and it’s always nice to see turtles and snakes some of which were in unexpected locations due to recent high water.

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Painted Turtle, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Snapping Turtle, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Garter Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Common Water Snake, Scioto River just below Griggs Dam.

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Sometimes it’s just the place.

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Cove, Griggs Reservoir

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Paint Creek riffles, heading further upstream would have meant more dragging than paddling.

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Cliffs along Paint Creek.

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Lunch stop, Paint Creek

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It was very quiet as we paddled along the cliffs, Paint Creek Reservoir.

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Looking north on Paint Creek Reservoir as cormorants enjoy their sunny perch.

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O’Shaughnessy Reservoir looking much more isolated than it actually is.

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Thanks for stopping by.

The warblers are coming, the warblers are . . .

Earlier this week we did another long paddle on Griggs Reservoir with the hope of seeing a Mink. We were encouraged by the fact that on two previous paddles we had seen them. I even brought my “Bird Camera” with the hopes of getting a decent picture. There is a lot of luck involved in getting a decent picture because unless they’re munching on something like a crayfish or similar delicacy they seldom stop moving.

With a slight wind at our back we had a pleasant paddle north following the shoreline of the long narrow reservoir. We did manage to see a Mink but true to form it left us no time for a picture. A little further north an Osprey was more cooperative.

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Osprey, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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It wasn’t too long before we reached the northernmost point of our paddle, a place we affectionately call the “Wetland Areas” because of their propensity to flood during high water. Their attraction is the fact that they’re usually a great place for viewing birds, insects, and other wildlife, as well as an excellent place to see wildflowers. In a secluded area I was able to get a shot of a group of immature Wood Ducks.

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Immature Wood Ducks, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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We beached the canoe and my wife took off in search for wild flowers while I tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish. While there we had hopped to see a few more birds, perhaps migrating warblers, or maybe even a Mink, but no such luck.

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Red flowering plant, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Monkey Flower, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Arrowhead, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Wild Mint, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The wind was picking up out of the south so we reluctantly decided to start back before things got too “interesting”. We do a fair amount of cycling and often compare it to paddling. One gives you a good upper body workout and the other is great of your legs and lower body. But in the “doing” there is one big difference if you stop pedaling you just stop. If you stop paddling with the wind in your face you start going the wrong way! Hugging the shoreline as much as possible to stay out of the wind we made it back to our launch area without too much trouble.

But wouldn’t you just know it, near the end of our five mile return paddle, tired as we were, hugging the the wooded shore rewarded us with the sighted of an interesting bird! We entered a cove to investigate as a Black Crowned Night Heron watched from a distance. While I controlled the canoe my wife was able to get some serviceable pictures. How exciting, it wasn’t the a Mink but instead our first fall warblers of the year!

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Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Wilsons Warbler, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Fired up by our brief encounter with the warblers we spent the next few days exploring several areas along the Scioto River and were able to get more shots of birds, migrating or otherwise.

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Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak, north end of Griggs Reservoir

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Adult Solitary Sandpipers, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Downy Woodpecker, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir

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Solitary Sandpiper, immature, Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir

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Eastern Wood-Pewee, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Female American Redstart, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Catbird, immature, Griggs Park

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Female and immature male Mallard Ducks, Griggs Reservoir

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Coopers Hawk, immature, Griggs Park

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Cape May Warbler, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam

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Gold Finch feeding young, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Goldfinch, study 2, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Goldfinch, study 3, (Donna)

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.   .   .   as will as pictures of a few other interesting subjects.

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Curious Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Water’s edge, Griggs Park

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Milkweed bugs, Griggs Park

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Sunflower, Griggs Park

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Buckeye, Griggs Park

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Great Spangled Fritillary, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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Clouded Sulfur, north end of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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The sultry days of summer are officially over. The warblers are back!

Up The Creek

We decided to paddle up Paint Creek with the hope of documenting some of the beautiful scenery along it’s banks. As creeks go, it’s one of the best in Ohio.

Paint Creek Reservoir is located in Paint Creek State Park. The park is located south of Columbus in the gently rolling hills that occupy that part of the state. Two rivers feed the reservoir, Rattlesnake and Paint Creek. Of the two, we feel that a paddle up Paint Creek is the better option. The bluffs and cliffs along it’s banks make you wonder if you’re really in Ohio. It is also possible to paddle quite a bit further than on Rattlesnake Creek making for a better day trip. As you head north, the shoreline with bushes and trees at waters edge, is usually good for seeing many types of birds from tanagers to eagles. Lower water at certain times of the year produces mudflats that are excellent for viewing shore birds and the many logs along the shore make it a great place to see turtles and water snakes. Once you’re up the creek far enough to be in the current a few casts will usually produces a large or smallmouth bass or maybe a nice pan fish.

Light is what photographers paint with and on the day we were out it was less than ideal. At times it was almost dreary and threatening rain while at others piercing sun light would illuminate a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in the dark. But we try to be philosophical about such things, so the pictures that follow hopefully capture some of the unique beauty of the place as it was on that day.

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Route map, Paint Creek Reservoir is quite large so this shows only a small portion.

 

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Heading north into Paint Creek

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The bluffs.

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Louisiana Water Thrush along the shore

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On a cool morning this Common Water Snake tries to warm up.

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A small island in the reservoir.

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A Killdeer on the mud flats.

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A Solitary Sandpiper near the mud flats

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Logs along the shore are a great place for Map and Spiny Soft Shell Turtles.

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Along waters edge, a Black Swallowtail on a Button Bush.

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Photographing rock formations.

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In many places the cliffs plunge straight into the reservoir.

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A Green Heron poses in a small cove.

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Take two.

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An intimate place, maybe there’s a picture.

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What she saw. (Donna)

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As far north as we could go in the canoe. Time for lunch.

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Pulled out on a sand bar, Paint Creek

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Very small moth.

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A damselfly makes friends with Donna.

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Colorful fungus along water’s edge

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Exploring.

Bob with fish better 072914 Paint Creek cp1

A few casts and Bob had a bass. (Donna)

Bob with binoculars and pole 072914 Paint Creek cp1

What to do? bird or fish! (Donna)

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Paint Creek

 

 

 

 

 

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