Looking For The “White-throated Sparrow”

In the back of our mind during outings over the past week has been the thought that we might see the season’s first White-throated Sparrow. For us, along with the arrival of the Dark-eyed Junco, this small bird marks the passing of the season and the certain coming of winter. During breeding, they are found further north in either coniferous or deciduous forests up to tree line in the U.S. and across Canada. During migration and during the winter months central Ohio is just one location they call home.

Autumn reflection.

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Recently, walking along the Scioto River looking for White-throated Sparrows, and perhaps a stray kinglet or two, we stumbled across some slightly larger birds.

Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam are always a real treat to see.

Take 2.

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At river’s edge, almost right below the eagles, a young male White-tail deer relaxed. It was apparently not too concerned about the eagles.

White Tail Deer, (Donna).

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The next day, hoping for additional photos of the eagles that were now nowhere to be found, Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere  .   .   .

Golden-crowned Kinglet, along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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.   .   .  along with a few of their close associates with the exception of “the sparrow”.

Male Downy woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Male Bluebird, Griggs reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped warblers continue to stick around enjoying the Poison Ivy Berries, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

“Must you take the picture when my mouths full and besides, I’m not a bird!” Red Squirrel, Griggs reservoir Park.

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A tree’s few remaining leaves seemingly slide a slippery slope to the ground.

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Wanting to check out a location not previously explored, we decided on Shale Hollow Park, one of Delaware County’s preservation parks. Blustery cold conditions made birding less than optimal, so while birds eluded us we did find something quiet different and no less interesting, concretions. Probably some of the best examples we’ve seen in central Ohio. For us it was proof once again that one should always be open to the wonder of the day.

For those that are curious, “A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the surrounding strata. Concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities. Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have in the past been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs,  animal and plant fossils, extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.” (Wikipedia)

 

Concretion, Shale Hallow Park, (Donna).

Two concretions that appear to have seen better days.

A concretion that may have been spherical at on time.

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In addition to concretions, with the coming of  wetter weather, there have been other things to appreciate.

Disclaimer: Fungi identifications represent our best effort.

Turkey-tail on log, Shale Hollow Park, (Donna).

Rusty Polypore, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Witches Butter with fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Split-pore Polypore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging mushroom, Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, Shale Hollow Park.

Same as above but further along.

Pink polypore with lichen, (Donna).

Red leaf on Turkey Tail, Shale Hollow Park.

Radiating Phlebia on log, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park

Another view.

On a fallen branch a, almost too small to see, mushroom pops up through some lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Late autumn sentinels along Griggs Reservoir.

The beautiful patterns of newly emerged Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s often when least expected, near the end of a long hike, almost back to the car and too tired to care, that what we seek appears. Such was the case with the White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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Some may wonder what the big deal is. Why is seeing a sparrow so meaningful? For many who spend time in nature the answer is simple; seeing a white-throated Sparrow brings expression to a sense of connectedness to a world much bigger than ourselves. We usually first hear and then see the sparrow and for the time it sees fit we are in its presence. It in turn acknowledges us in its own unique way. This small, seemingly fragile, creature has travelled perhaps a thousand miles and during this brief fleeting moment we are part of each other’s world. Next summer if we look, we will not find it. It will again be further north engaged in its own dance to the cycle of life. This wonder graces our lives with the appearance of the first spring wildflowers, the larger than life sound of spring peepers, the spring migration of the many too beautiful to imagine warblers, the sight and sound of a distant summer thunderstorm, the call of the loon on a northern lake, the color of leaves as a low autumn sun filters the branches, and the slow quiet descent of  winter’s first snowflakes.

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Concretion, Shale Hollow Park.

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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.

Once In A Lifetime

A number of years ago, on a very still August day, we paddled the liquid glass of Clark Lake in the Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area. Located in Michigan’s upper peninsula, the lake’s water is so clear that on a quiet day one has the sensation that the canoe is levitating. Far below, a fascinating variety of aquatic plants can be seen as fish swam lazily by. As we moved along the shore a Loon was spotted a little further offshore. It promptly dove and then winged it’s way right under the canoe. It’s beautiful markings and graceful motion so vividly seen it was as though it and we were suspended in air as it “flew” by. The experience was magical and I was left voicing the thought, “This will never happen to me again in my life!”

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Fast forward to a week ago. We had just gotten out of the car and were starting a walk along Griggs Reservoir when a commotion was noticed in the shoreline brush. What ever was causing the ruckus was small. A moment later one of the perpetrators stopped for a brief rest on a small branch not six feet away.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

The only thing I could think of to say was, “This will never happen to me again in my life!” However, unlike Clark Lake, it just might, as we spend a lot more time walking in the parks near our home than paddling crystal clear loon inhabited waters in northern Michigan. While Ruby-crowned Kinglets are not seen as often as their close cousins the Golden-crowned, they are still observed on occasion during migration. Nonetheless, I couldn’t deny the feeling.

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On that same day, as if not to be upstaged, a few Golden-crowned Kinglets made an appearance.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing it’s crown, just.

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A few days later, and just a little further from home, we found ourselves in Highbanks Metro Park looking for birds or whatever else we could find.

Along a trail in Highbanks Metro Park.

Looking a little more like autumn, Highbanks Metro Park.

Leaves collect in a small creek, Highbanks Metro Park.

Sycamore reflections, Olentangy River, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Autumn color peers through the trees, Highbanks Metro Park.

The roots of an upended tree add design to fall color, Highbanks Metro Park.

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As I pursued that elusive “perfect” landscape, Donna, responding to sounds heard in the brush, came upon a very vocal but also cooperative, Tufted Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna)

Take 2, (Donna).

Take 3, (Donna).

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While looking for birds and landscapes it was hard not to take a closer look and appreciate the appearance of  various plants as they reflected the season.

Fungi surrounded by leaves of red, green, and yellow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Goldenrod gone to seed, Highbanks Metro Park.

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Wandering through autumn we continue to be treated to other bird sightings including Yellow-rumped Warblers, one of the last warbler migrants to make it’s way through central Ohio.

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bluebird, Griggs Reservoir Park. This time of year they always seem more numerous.

Carolina Wren, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along with enjoying Poison Ivy berries, the  Yellow-rumped Warbler also hunts for insects in the crevasses of tree bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Another view.

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Finally, stepping away from the birds and taking a slightly bigger view of things, below are a few landscapes taken along the Scioto River in recent days in what may be one of the last photographic celebrations of the season.

Path, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Fallen Sycamore along the Scioto.

Sycamore color along the Scioto.

Light rain highlights sycamore leaves against shoreline rocks, Scioto River.

Orange and green along the Scioto River.

Scioto River reflection.

Shoreline rocks along the Scioto River.

Autumn quiet along the Scioto River.

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It’s hard not to be a little contemplative this time of year. It’s undoubtedly brought on in part by shorter days, cooler weather, and the sense that another year is passing. With the sun rising later and the setting earlier there is more time to think. But perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s an awareness of the beauty in the cycle of which I am a part. Autumn, the exclamation point to all that comes before and which will return again in spring. The season that without the coming of winter, would teach us little.

Waiting till next year, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Autumn Contemplation

Most of the time it’s nice to have a central theme. However, for the most part, this post just meanders through early autumn and celebrates the time of year in some of our central Ohio parks. I continue to enjoy shooting a portion of my photos with a Sony A7, adapter, and legacy Canon FD lenses. It’s nice to have so much control over depth of field. My wife is ever on the lookout for things small, be it insects or details that charm in the fall foliage.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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Monarchs continue to work their way south while a few late summer buckeyes, having made their way to central Ohio, enchant. Painted Ladies and Viceroys also continue to be seen. Are Painted Ladies more beautiful with wings closed or open?

Viceroy, (Donna)

Take 2.

Buckeye, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Painted Lady, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Take 2, (Donna).

Eastern-tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Leaves continue to grace a long fallen Sycamore along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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There still may be time before the first hard frost results in an abrupt end to most of the current insect activity. Katydids and crickets that so willingly provide the late summer soundtrack for our outdoor adventures will fall silent. The purpose of their time here will emerge next spring and take up the charge as the dance of death and life continues. Meanwhile as autumn moves on we continue to enjoy their life.

Widow Skimmer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Bees on Nodding Bur-marigold, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Eastern Pondhawk, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

Black and Yellow Garden Spider, the bee managed to allude the spiders web, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Scarlet and Green Leaf Hopper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Long Horned Beetle, not sure which one, Griggs reservoir park, (Donna).

Grasshopper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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The Scioto River.

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Recently we were fascinated by an immature Red-tailed Hawk that posed to have it’s picture taken and then decided to fly into a nearby tree in an attempt to extract a meal from a squirrels nest. It did succeed in arousing the occupants but standing on top of the nest it was no match for them as they circled and sprang from branch to branch until they were out of harms way.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Come on out of there, I just went to play, honest!

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A hint of autumn, Griggs Reservoir.

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With the days now much shorter, other creatures seem to sense that colder weather is just around the corner as they enjoy the morning sun or in the case of the squirrels and chipmunks busy themselves collecting stores for winter.

Painted Turtle, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Chipmunk with acorn, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Red Squirrel, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Groundhog, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A favorite tree.

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Asters and other late summer flowers now compete with leaves for the seasons beauty.

Neighbors

Evening Primrose, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The Scioto River pays tribute to autumn.

The river peeks through windblown leaves as they struggle to hang on, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In the autumn breeze milkweed seeds prepare to take flight, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Reflections.

Virginia Creeper, Griggs Reservoir.

Sunflowers, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Color along Griggs Reservoir.

Changing leaves, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Sycamore bark, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Red, yellow, green, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Suspended color along the Scioto River.

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Rocks often washed by the river’s high water are now covered with the litter of trees.

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We often journey into nature equipped with expectations, perhaps it’s seeing a certain bird, insect, or wildflower, but the key to the magic may be to let go, allowing each day, each season, to speak in it’s own voice.

Autumn from the canoe, Griggs Reservoir.

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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.

A Journey Into Autumn

I have to admit that autumn sometimes leaves me feeling a little beside myself. It’s truer this year because the weather has been beautiful, it’s been great to be outdoors as the landscape transforms, but the very dry conditions have made it a real challenge to capture beautiful images. Past experience tells me that trying too hard usually leads to failure. The picture needs to come to you. So looking for autumn landscapes I must often resign myself to photographing details to capture the color. Even so the dryness has resulted in colors that often seem muted which goes along with the dry crunch of leaves under foot as one explores a favorite path. So the day after day low autumn sun and the resulting bluer than blue skies continue to delight while causing one to wonder where the rivers are finding the water to keep flowing. Every autumn is comes and goes in it’s own way.

Leaves along the Big Darby, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Thankfully, as I look for that “autumn landscape”, my wife’s passion for butterflies and other things closer to the lens continues unabated as she contributes by capturing whimsical patterns in leaves .   .   .

America Basswood seeds, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wingstem Seeds, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Milkweed goes to seed, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Leaves, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Patterns, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Reflections, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Virginia Creeper, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Grass, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Prairie Grass, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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.   .   . and the flurry of autumn insect activity.

Eastern Comma, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Pearl Crescent, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Buckeye, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern-tailed Blue, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Familiar Bluet, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Jacket, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Red-spotted Purple, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Ctenucha, backyard garden, (Donna).

We rescued this Wooly Bear Caterpillar (Isabella Tiger Moth) from the bike path and then spent some time observing its behavior. It’s deliberate movement would seem to indicate it was heading for a safe place to spend the winter. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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

Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Painted Lady, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Another view, (Donna).

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Over two weeks without appreciable rain, a blue sky, rocky shore, and clear water, Griggs Reservoir.

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An interesting inhabitant in the Scioto River below Griggs Dam this summer has been a solitary Hooded Merganser. It appears to have become part of an extended mallard family. While undoubtedly not that uncommon, it’s the first time we recall witnessing such behavior.

Hooded Merganser, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, (Donna).

Another view.

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We continue to see the other usual suspects, some with autumn color to give a sense of place.

White Breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Immature Double-crested Cormorant, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Immature Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Asters along the Big Darby, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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While the autumn leaves may not be living up to expectation, fall wildflowers are doing their best to pick up the slack.

Asters, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Lit from behind, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Purple Asters

 

Phlox, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Asters look toward the sun, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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The dryness has made hunting for fungi more hunting than finding but we did come upon one extraordinary specimen that was more than 12 inches across.

A very large unidentified fungi, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Another look.

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Sunny weather is forecast for the next few days. With cool mornings and warm afternoons it continues to be a great time to be outdoors. If that perfect autumn landscape continues to elude it may be time to pick up the fly rod and head out in pursuit of a Small Mouth Bass. Though decisions!

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Big Darby Creek at sunrise, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Hopefully the area where you live has been blessed with late summer and early autumn rains that will result in beautiful fall colors and an autumn to remember. 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.

 

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