So Close To Home

Usually when one thinks about life in Columbus, shopping malls, the local college football team, and rapid urban development come to mind. Columbus, with its multifaceted economy has escaped the malaise of many midwestern cities that relied on manufacturing and heavy industry for their prosperity so outlying farm fields continue to give way the strip malls and housing developments.

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Still, embedded right in the center of the metropolitan area, there is nature.  During outings along the Scioto River or on Griggs Reservoir I can’t help but feel blessed. Recently while fishing (catch, photograph, release) the surprisingly productive waters for Small Mouth Bass and otherwise being on or near the river and reservoir I’ve been treated the sights and sounds of Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, Great Egrets, Osprey, Spotted Sandpipers and even an occasional Bald Eagle.  After time spent in these places I can only hope that the treasure I get to enjoy endures and is here for those that come after me.

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Black-crowned Night Heron taken while fishing in the reservoir. A not real common bird!

Another look.

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The river:

The Scioto River.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam is a favorite spot for fishermen.

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.   .   .  and for good reason.

A beautiful Scioto River Small Mouth Bass.

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The reservoir:

An Osprey looks on as I fish in the reservoir.

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Fishing in the reservoir is very good also.

Okay bear with my enthusiasm but just wanted to show the above fish wasn’t an accident.

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Immature Black-crowned Night Heron along the reservoir.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron? If I’m right it’s our first sighting ever along Griggs Reservoir, exciting to say the least!

While paddling Spotted Sandpipers often frequent the water’s edge.

In late August Green Herons seem to be more common along the river and reservoir.

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my enthusiasm. I hope that where ever you live you are blessed to have a special place so close to home.

Taking a break along Griggs reservoir at Hayden Run Falls.

A Special Place In Michigan

At least once a year for the last number of years we’ve traveled seven hours from central Ohio to the expansive 4500 acre Rifle River Recreation Area in Michigan. With it’s fairly extensive system of hiking and mountain bicycling trails, plus lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s a beautiful quiet nature lovers paradise. The park’s woods contain conifers, including some fairly large White Pine, as well as deciduous trees like oak and maple making it home to a great diversity of insects, plants, birds, and animals. The park has two campgrounds, one with electrical hookups, and one that is rustic. We prefer “tent” camping in the Devoe Lake rustic campground with it’s pit toilets and handpumps, whether in our small trailer or in a tent, because the sites are bigger, more secluded, and a variety of birds often come right to your campsite. In addition the rustic campground communicates with park’s best hiking trails without the need to get in your car.

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Park Map.

A south loop hiking trail cuts through meadows interspersed with stands of trees that attract numerous species of butterflies and dragonflies not mention birds such as Indigo Buntings that love that type of habitat.

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South Trail

The northern loop takes the hiker on much more rolling terrain interspersed with swamps and culminating along a ridge that provides a panoramic view of four of the parks lakes.

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Grousehaven Lake from the park loop road.

The lakes offer a variety of fish species to attract the angler including Brook and Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Large Mouth Bass and panfish.

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Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

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Many of the lakes just outside the park boundary offering public access are heavily developed with boat and dock filled shorelines and large year round homes which in recent years have replaced many smaller cabins set back in the trees. Some of the larger multistory dwellings seem almost ready to topple into the lake giving these small bodies of water more the feel of a large recreational swimming pool. Even so, the lakes do offer good fishing even if with somewhat diminished natural aesthetic. However, if communing with nature is your goal, it is worth it to travel away from the park to the nearby Au Sable River and it’s chain of lakes which offer a rewarding undeveloped destination for the photographer, fisherman, and nature lover.

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Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

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Within the park, even without a very special species of bird, there is ample reason to  return year after year to enjoy the park’s beauty. But the very special bird that makes the park so irresistible is the Common Loon. Numbers seen vary year to year but they’re always there with their haunting cry breaking the silence of the night. To our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting loons can be found.

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Common Loon

 

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With young, (Donna).

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Another view, (Donna).

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Meal time, (Donna).

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The young are growing fast.

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Lodge Lake.

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An equally enchanting bird usually seen on Grebe Lake is the Trumpeter Swan. During one paddle the call of the adults across the lake gave ample evidence as to how they got their name.

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Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

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Another look.

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Being old enough to remember when they suffered the ravages of DDT and were very rare Bald Eagles always have a high wow factor. We had a number of sightings in the park and at least five the day we paddled Loud Pond along the Au Sable River.

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I control the canoe and my wife often takes the pictures.

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Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

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Donna get’s a picture of one of the Bald Eagles seen on Loud Pond.

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***

Equally fascinating were the other birds seen during our hikes and paddles.

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A Great Crested Flycatcher over looks a meadow on the south trail.

 

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An immature Great Crested Flycatcher asks to be fed, (Donna).

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A Catbird puts everything into it’s song, (Donna).

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A good day for the Cedar Waxwing, not so much for the dragonfly, (Donna).

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Along the south trail in the very top of a tree a Chestnut-sided Warbler sings it’s heart out, (Donna).

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A Green Heron makes a living along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Too far away for a good pic, perhaps an immature Rose Breasted Grosbeak?

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Ever on the lookout for flying insects, like sentry’s Kingbirds lined the shore of Devoe Lake.

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Another look, (Donna).

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Near water’s edge a Kingbird sits on it’s nest, (Donna).

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Donna catches this female Kingfisher along the shore of Devoe Lake.

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A Tree Swallow party along the shore of Devoe Lake,(Donna).

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Numerous Rose Breasted Grosbeaks were seen but they proved a challenge to photograph, (Donna).

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Spotted sandpiper along the shore of Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

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Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

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The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

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***

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know we love dragonflies. While butterflies may initially catch your eye very few creatures fascinate in the air like the  dragonfly. But the relationship fraught with conflict because we also love birds and the dragonflies maneuverability is often not enough to avoid becoming a tasty high protein snack.

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Calico Pennant, (Donna).

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Female Ruby Meadowhawk

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Blue Dasher, (Donna).

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Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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This Damsel fly on flower illustrates the capability 0f the micro 4/3rds Panasonic (Leica) 100-400mm lens, (Donna).

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Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

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Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

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Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

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Female Calico Pennant.

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Male Halloween Pennant.

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Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

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Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

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Most of the time when we take a picture we have a pretty good idea what the subject is. When we don’t part of the fun is during the research to figure out what it is. So far the ID of this rather nondescript dragonfly remains a mystery.

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The Vesper Bluet is a late afternoon and evening damselfly, (Donna).

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Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

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River Jewelwing seen along the Au Sable River, (Donna).

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The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

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***

Butterflies live a rough life. Subject to the effects of rain, wind, sun and sometimes attempted predation they often become rather tattered with age. Like wildflowers much of their magic come from the fact that they are only here for a short time. During this most recent visit it was interesting because we didn’t see as many as expected and often the ones seen were rather tattered. However, the few that were in nice enough shape to merit a photograph took up the slack.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

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Northern Pearly-eye

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Northern Pearly-eye another view.

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American Copper, (Donna)

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Another view, (Donna).

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Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

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Peck’s Skipper with a partially shaded wing explores an iris.

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Northern Cloudywing Skipper

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Eastern Comma.

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Monarch, (Donna).

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The very small and seldom seen Banded Hairstreak, (Donna).

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No matter when one visits the park in spring and summer there are some flowers that are seen and some that are not. Turtleheads and Cardinal flowers usually appear in August so we missed them this year but others were present.

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Certainly not a flower but one of a number of very large White Pines in the park. How do you capture it’s impressive size in a photograph?

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St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

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Yellow Water Lily

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Black-eyed Susan’s appear to take flight, (Donna).

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This American Wintergreen was growing in a very moist area, (Donna).

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Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

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Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

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Water Lily.

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Water Lily times two, (Donna).

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A hover fly checks out a water lily.

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Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

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Small and very common in the meadow areas along the south trail this one has eluded identification.

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Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

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New Jersey Tea or Wild Snowball, interestingly it has been used for treated such things as gonorrhea, syphilis, colds, cough, fever, chills, spasms, bleeding, . . . “.

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Monkey Flower, (Donna).

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Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

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Indian Pipe, (Donna).

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

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Fern.

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At their peak these Picture Plant flowers will turn a deep burgundy. See below for the leaves.

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The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

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Daisy Fleabane, very small, very common, very beautiful.

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Early morning on Grebe Lake.

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When out on a day’s hike looking for birds, flowers, or butterflies it’s hard not to notice other things and sometimes they become the most memorable.

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Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

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Pixie Cups, north trail.

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We saw quite a bit of this colorful fungi the day we hiked the south trail.

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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle along the trail, (Donna).

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American Toad, (Donna).

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Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

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A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

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British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

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Early July is apparently not the best time for fungi. This was one of the few not very colorful examples seen.

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Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

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A Map Turtle catches a few rays, (Donna).

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A large Porcupine is spotted along the south trail, (Donna).

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So much natural diversity in one Michigan state park! This year we left the park wishing for a few more days to explore, to look more closely with intention, to breath in the fragrance of balsam, or just to gaze up into the splendor of the green canopy of trees surrounding our campsite. Perhaps that’s the best way to leave.

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Devoe Lake.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Exploring The Coves Of Alum Creek Reservoir By Canoe

It promised to be another hot day, but with the sun just rising when we launched it was still pleasant, giving only a hint of the heat to come.

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Alum Creek Reservoir at Cheshire Rd.

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Considering the forecast our goal was to be off the water by noon. The wind hardly rippled the water’s surface as quiet paddle strokes moved the canoe toward an area of Alum Creek Reservoir that we hadn’t explored in a while. Two days earlier during an early morning fishing trip I had surprised a Bald Eagle in a tall tree at waters edge. Now with my wife along to handle photography from the bow, I was hoping we would see, and perhaps photograph, some equally interesting things as we explored the coves along our route. For those new to this blog, we love to paddle and to eliminate the need to shuttle cars we usually paddle reservoirs, the more convoluted the better, to maximize time in the canoe.

No matter how one feels about damming up rivers to create reservoirs, in the case of Alum Creek Reservoir it did result a wonderful place to explore containing a rich variety of wildlife. Unlike the often cottage lined predictable shorelines of spring fed glacial lakes in northern states like Michigan, the many small ravines that followed slopes down to the creek resulting in an almost endless number of coves to explore with the coming of the reservoir. In addition, because the reservoir is surrounded by parkland there are virtually no buildings or homes along it’s shore.

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Alum Creek Reservoir Paddling Route

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With rainfall this year about six inches above normal giving rise to higher water levels, the lush shoreline vegetation reached right down to waters edge and at times gave the feeling of paddling through a jungle.

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Beautiful reflections as the reservoir narrows into a creek, (Donna).

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As nature photographers know, what one sees and what one has a chance to photograph are seldom the same. Particularly when in a canoe which has it’s own stability, speed, and mobility constraints. It turns out that at the very north end of our route we saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. The first one we’ve ever seen in Ohio. A little later a pair of very wary Great Horned Owls were seen. The surprised heron spotted us just as we rounded a tight bend in what had become a narrow snag infested creek.  It flew before we could react. The outcome was similar for the owls. They were perched high in a tree canopy partially obscured by low lying brush and saw us coming despite our best efforts, moving a little further away each time we tried to get closer.

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But there are always other things to marvel at.

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A male Eastern Amberwing perches right near the canoe as we wait quietly in a secluded cove, (Donna).

 

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A Slaty Skimmer enjoys the morning sun, (Donna).

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As we paddled along the shore we were often overwhelmed by the aroma of wild roses.

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Donna looks for the best composition.

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Bingo!

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I try my hand.

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Water loving Lazard’s Tail at waters edge, (Donna).

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Entering some coves small, noisy, and mostly invisible birds were everywhere.

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Donna points to what turns out to be a White-breasted Nuthatch.

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Along one stretch of open rocky shore a group of sandpipers, always just a little ahead of us, hurried as we approached.

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Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

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Immature Spotted Sandpiper, (Donna).

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On this particular day the turtles were a little more cooperative than the birds.

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Map Turtle, (Donna).

 

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Eastern Spiny Softshell, (Donna).

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If you travel north to Michigan with it’s colder clearer lakes and streams you typically don’t see as many egrets and herons but in Ohio they are very common. I could be wrong but I’ve often thought it’s because the rough fish (catfish, suckers, carp, shad, etc.) that call Ohio’s often turbid waters home are just easier to catch.

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A Great Egret gets ready to strike   .   .   .   .

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and very quickly does!

 

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To no avail.

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It heads back to it’s perch .   .   .

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to regain it’s composure and try again.

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Along the shore a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron seem to be getting along just fine, (Donna).

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Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes persistence, and yes it’s true knowledge and skill do come into play, but if you hike a trail or paddle a lake often enough you will see new and fascinating things.

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In the woods or by a meadow, stream, or lake on any given day, even if  nothing new is seen, you will at least return having allowed yourself to be there for a time, in the still freshness of the early morning with the call of the Wood Thrush, or later to the sound of  wind as it dances with leaves, breathing air with a hint of wild rose. 

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Then One Morning They Were There

Just a few days ago, during a spring migration walk along Griggs Reservoir, it was quiet. Sure there were a noticeable number of Yellow-rumps, one or two Yellow-throated were heard so high in the Sycamores that they threatened to go into earth orbit, and even some Palms were flitting about with tails bobbing, but most of the kinglets had moved on with nothing else within easy binocular reach taking their place. An unwelcome reminder that spring migration can be that way, one day the land of plenty the next not so much.

Yellow-throated Warbler (trust me) high in a Sycamore.

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Over the past few years we’ve enjoyed monitoring a few locations close to home. While we do go further afield we’ve noticed that for us by concentrating on a few locations, the place, as will as the creatures that call it home, seemed to be valued more. We acknowledge that by not hopping in the car in response to an E-bird post there are birds that will not see. With that in mind, the next day we found ourselves back at Griggs Reservoir Park to see if things had changed. Amazingly, as if by magic, brightly colored orange birds that were no where to be seen the day before were now streaking through the air to perches high in trees or low in bushes, they seemed to be everywhere. The park was transformed. Did they arrive quietly during the night on the “red eye”? Your guess is as good as ours. Many were undoubtedly just passing through while others, based on observations from years past, will make the park and it’s environs home for the summer decorating the trees with their hanging nests. As you have probably already guessed these brightly colored birds were Baltimore Orioles.

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Male Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Reservoir Park.

2, (Donna).

3, (Donna).

4, (Donna).

5, (Donna).

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A female sneaks in.

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Even with the arrival of the orioles, other birds including some that are migrants continued to compete for our attention.

A White-breasted Nuthatch strikes a classic nuthatch pose.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker is seen snacking on ants

.   .   .  while another is engaged in a little home construction.

A very vocal Catbird announces his arrival from points south

.   .   .   while another looks on, (Donna).

Cliff Swallows, a species that in this case builds their communal grouping of nests under a bridge crossing the reservoir, were in the process of gathering nest building material (mud) resulting in a frenzy of activity around a small puddle not far from their nest site, (Donna).

A House Wren pauses momentarily .   .   .

then continues it’s song, (Donna).

The Cardinal is a beautiful but very common bird in Ohio. We have to remind ourselves not to take it for granted.

A male Bluebird bathed in a sea of green waits for lunch to fly by.

Right now Palm Warblers may be even more common than Yellow-rumps, (Donna).

A Cape May Warbler gets close enough for a photo with my Panasonic FZ200.

Based on the fact that that is where we often saw them, Red-eyed Vireos seemed to really enjoy the Sycamore trees, (Donna).

An almost always vocal Tufted Titmouse entertains us, (Donna).

If you hear a melodic and louder than it should be song, it could be a Tufted Titmouse.

The Spotted Sandpipers are also back in the neighborhood.

From a distance, without the aid of binoculars, we first mistake the movement of a Swainson’s Thrush for that of a robin. Many have been seen in the last few days and most are probably just passing through.

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Donna captures an amazing well camouflaged Brown Creeper

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With the leaves just emerging the orioles were easy to spot but that’s changing fast. In a few days, as green continues to embrace trees and bushes, they will be heard but even with their brilliant color they will be much harder to see. Many will move on with other species taking their place as the march of spring migration continues through central Ohio. We will wait expectantly for our next “new for the year” sighting and there undoubtedly will even be another post to celebrate it. Will it be an American Redstart, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or something else?

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Until then thanks for stopping by.

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Redbuds in bloom.

 

A Few Days Along The Rifle River

Last week we spent a few days in Michigan in the Rifle River Recreation Area not far from the town of West Branch on the northeast side of the lower peninsula. With a number of excellent hiking trails, and lakes that don’t allow motors, it’s an excellent place for nature viewing. The lack of boat generated wakes on Devoe Lake means that Loons nest there. To the best of our knowledge it’s the closest location from central Ohio where nesting Loons can be seen. There are also Bald Eagles, Osprey as well as other birds to enjoy. When out exploring one is also treated to dragonflies and butterflies, as well as a number wildflowers not seen in central Ohio. Not far from the park is the AuSable River and the adjacent National Forest create even more opportunities for paddling and outdoor adventure.

Overlooking Grousehaven Lake, early morning.

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We could spend hours watching loons. A quiet paddle on Devoe Lake allows one to observe them as they go about their day.

Adult Common Loon, Devoe Lake

In the middle of preening this adult seems to be sneaking a peek.

Testing it’s wings, (Donna).

The young are almost always begging for food.

The adult comes through. How does a bird as big as a loon chase down such a small fish under water?

One more picture.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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Bald Eagles are sometimes seen flying overhead as we observe the loons with their young. If they get too close the adult loons create quite a commotion!

A Bald Eagle looks over Devoe Lake.

Bald Eagle, Load Pond, AuSable river.

Take 3, (Donna).

Other birds of prey also frequent the area.

An Osprey takes a break along the shoreline of Devoe Lake, (Donna).

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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Most birds were seen from the canoe as we made our way along the shoreline of Devoe and Grebe Lakes, as well as Loud Pond on the Au Sable River.

Baltimore Oriole, Devoe Lake.

A Kingbird, the dragonflies worst enemy, waits for it’s next meal along the shore of Devoe Lake.

Three Caspian Terns circled overhead, occasionally landing, as we made our way back to our launch site on wind swept Loud Pond. A few reasonable sharp images were obtained.

Trumpeter Swans, Grebe Lake.

A Kingfisher actually stays put long enough for a “usable” picture, Devoe Lake.

A Green Heron is caught preening, Devoe Lake, (Donna).

Spotted Sandpiper, Loud Pond.

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While hiking, especially this time of year, birds usually give way to the wildflowers and interesting types of fungus.

Coral fungus near our campsite.

Turtlehead.

Bridge across the Rifle River.

Grass of Parnassus

Ontario Lobelia

An exotic looking mushroom near our campsite.

Knapweed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

Indian Pipe

Donna enjoying the ferns.

Doll’s Eyes

Asters

Broad-leaved Arrowhead

Great Blue Lobelia.

Fringed Loosestrife, (Donna).

Just after this picture was taken this tree got a big hug!

Hawkweed.

Cardinal Flower was quiet common in the wet areas of the park.

Mushroom family near our campsite, (Donna).

Picture Plant and flower. Tough to get a good picture of.

An attractive group of mushrooms along the trail.

An attractive flower that has eluded identification. Some type of lobelia?

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

Another example of some of the interesting fungi seen, (Donna).

Virgin’s Bower. (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”)

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Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were seen as we enjoyed the wildflowers included one butterfly not typically seen in central Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk, (Donna).

The very small American Copper, not a butterfly we’ve seen in central Ohio, (Donna).

Monarchs mating.

Pelecinid Wasp

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna).

Mating Robber Flies. Robber flies are one of the insect worlds more ferocious looking subjects. An appearance that is not unwarranted!

Mating Spreadwings, (Donna).

Bad-Wing Moths mating.

Spotted Spreadwing, (Donna).

Katydid.

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Vesper Bluet, (Donna).

Dragon Hunter, (Donna).

A Crab Spider ambushes a bee, (Donna).

Canada Darner

Common Wood-Nymph on Spiked Blazing-star.

Appalachian Brown, (Donna).

Great Spangled Fritillary, (Donna).

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A sense of place.

The Rifle River as it flows through the park.

Exploring a quiet backwater.

The quiet shoreline of Loud Pond, the AuSable River.

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Shall we go for a hike or paddle? The decision is often made based on the weather conditions. Wind and choppy water make canoe photography with long lenses almost impossible. However, should conditions permit we’re usually not disappointed be the flowers seen as we paddle!

Scaup Lake, Rifle River Rec Area.

Pickerel Weed and Lilly Pads, Grebe Lake.

Pickerel Weed, Grebe Lake.

American White Water Lily, Grebe Lake.

A closer look.

Meadow Sweet, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”),  (Donna).

Swamp Smartweed

Water Shield, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

Yellow Pond Lily, (Donna).

Burr Reed, (ID c/o “NH Garden Solutions”), (Donna).

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Sometimes when hiking you don’t have to look real close to be overwhelmed by the beauty.

Gamble Creek, Class 1 trout stream, Rifle River Rec Area.

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No post would be complete without touching on some of the reptiles and amphibians seen. Seeing the skink was a surprise.

Bullfrog.

Wood Frog.

Painted Turtle

Five-lined Skink.

Garter Snake.

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While fishing along the Au Sable River upstream of Loud Pond, a Mink is sighted!

A Mink scurries along the bank, (Donna).

Au Sable River, catch and release, Small Mouth Bass. The river is one of the best Small Mouth Bass fisheries in the Midwest.

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We spend a lot of time looking and exploring but sometimes there’s a lot to be said for just being there.

The end of the day, Devoe Lake.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this very incomplete sample of things that can be seen and experienced in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

The beauty is, the more time spent in nature the more you will see, the more you see the more you will want to understand and soon you’ll be carried away by the wonder and magic of it all.

As always thanks for stopping by!

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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.

Waterfalls, Birds, and Other Things

Outings in small boats can provide a unique opportunity to view and photograph wildlife. While we don’t pursue birds in our canoe, one will often take flight when approached. When it does, often crossing right in front of us, it offers an opportunity to get a nice “in flight” profile shot. Gliding silently without paddling often provides a chance to get very close to birds thus offering a photographic opportunity that may not be found while hiking.

Note: underlined text denotes a link which may be clicked on for additional information.

Prothonotary Warbler, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Immature Common Merganser, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A Spotted Sandpiper let us get very close, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Easter Spiny Softshell, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

As we get closer a Great Blue Heron takes flight, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Near the end of our paddle we spot a Great Blue Heron trying to figure out what to do with a just captured snake, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Male House Finch, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A few days ago Wild Columbine was still in bloom along Griggs Reservoir’s the low cliffs, from the canoe, (Donna).

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A small boat may also allow access to hard to reach points of interest for which there is limited or no access on land. In this case it was one named and one unnamed waterfall along Griggs Reservoir that were energized by the recent rain.

Entering a small creek leading to one of Griggs reservoirs waterfalls.

I’ve paddled as far as I can but fortunately it’s only a short walk to the falls.

Good flow over the falls which are about 6-8 feet high. The shot taken under cloudy conditions which controlled shadows.

Take 2. I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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Hayden Run Falls:

Paddling into the cove at Hayden Run Falls a Great Egret does a welcoming dance as two mallards look on.

Hayden Run Falls, about 35 feet high, benefitted from the recent rain. From the canoe pullout a not so easy hike up a rain swollen creek was required to get to the falls. Normally when using a digital single lens reflex I would have opted for a slower shutter speed to create a sense of motion in the water but a Canon SX40 superzoom and the lack of a tripod limited my options. Hayden Run Falls is also accessible via a boardwalk with parking provided off Hayden Run Road.

 

Take 2. Again, I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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When paddling it’s sometimes hard not to do a little cleanup. However, trying to clean up plastic, not to mention all the other stuff, after it’s already in the environment is next to impossible. While some litter is thrown directly into the reservoir, much finds it’s way in by way of storm drains. The reservoir, home to an amazing amount of biodiversity, thus becomes an aquatic “trash can” for a good percentage of the city’s litter.  This phenomena can be observed to a greater or lesser degree in all of Ohio’s lakes and streams. Paddle lakes and streams in states like Michigan or Maine and it’s obvious that a Ohio Beverage Container Deposit Law would largely eliminate this problem.

Trash canoe.

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In the past week, when not in the canoe, we’ve had opportunities explore Griggs Reservoir Park as well as a few other favorite spots.

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Birds:

Immature Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

I know it’s a very common bird, but the lovely light compelled me to take the picture, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Protonotary Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Mother Mallard with babies, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Perhaps the tail end of the warblers a female American Redstart poses for my wife, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Baltimore Orioles continue to be quite common in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Egret preening, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron with fish, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tree Swallow, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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As spring turns to summer insects are becoming much more common:

Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Little Wood-sater, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Grape Leaffolder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden-back Snipe Fly. Adults and larvae feed on a variety of small insects, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Making more flies, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Flowers seen are unique to late spring and early summer:

Blue-flagged Iris, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Canada Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In my humble opinion the flower of Virginia Waterleaf is not nearly as pretty as it’s early spring leaves, (Donna).

Blue-eyed Grass, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bittersweet Nightshade, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wafer Ash flowers (not always in the shape of a heart), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Other things:

A Northern Water Snake creates patterns on the otherwise still surface, Twin Lakes, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Very small Snapping Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

After quite a bit of rain the fungus is doing well in Griggs Park.

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The view down a short path leading to the reservoir shows the vegetation to be almost fully leafed out.

Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A special thanks to my wife for supplying many of the photos in this post included those from the canoe as I handled the boat. Given that spring is winding down, my guess is that future posts will contain fewer warbler pictures and probably more insect pictures but one never knows for sure. Future posts may also document new Ohio places explored or at least unique places that haven’t been visited in awhile. Until then, 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.

Turkeys, Trout Lilies and Other Spring Things

This post is a bit of a ramble covering our adventures in central Ohio nature over the past week. A search for wildflowers and warblers in area metro parks, a visit to a local city park to see if any warblers were passing through and finally the first long kayak paddle of the year. So I hope you enjoy the ride.

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In the spring wildflowers and migrating warblers are usually what comes to mind not turkeys. For me turkeys have always been a fall bird usually associated with a big meal that includes stuffing, gravy, and all the fixins. So a few days ago at Blendon Woods Metro Park it was a bit of a surprise to see a male turkey doing it’s best to convince a female that they should get together.

Turkey (M), Blendon Woods.

A closer look. In breeding plumage the feathers are truly spectacular, (Donna).

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The purpose of the trip to Blendon was to look for warblers. We were successful in spotting a few including a Black-throated Green which without to much effort eluded the camera’s lens. While we did see a few, we soon found ourselves seduced by the many wildflowers that were in bloom.

It won’t be long till the leaves fill in, Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Standing out due to their relative scarceness leaves evoke the feeling of flowers.

Yellow Trout Lilies were doing their best at Blendon Woods.

Another view as sunlight filters through from behind.

 

Wild Geranium, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Black haw viburnum, Blendon Woods.

There were some exceptional large examples of Toadshade Trillium at Blendon Woods.

Flowers aren’t the only thing worth taking a close look at.

Jacobs Ladder, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Buttercup, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

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When not looking at wildflowers or for warblers there were other things  .   .   .

Birds are apparently not the only spring nest builders, Fox Squirrel, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

One of a least two mature albino squirrels seen. How they evade the hawks long enough to reach adulthood is a mystery to me.

Home to small darters, in the spring the small creeks in Blendon Woods flow freely.

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The day following our trip to Blendon Woods we headed to Clear Creek Metro Park for what turned out to be a rather long hike. Spring is especially fascinating at Clear Creek with a number of plants not found elsewhere in Ohio. The number of butterflies seen (Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Commas, Morning Cloaks, etc.) but not photographed, was truly amazing.

Blue Phlox, Clear creek Metro Park.

Foamflower, Clear creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Pussytoes (F), Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Fiddleheads, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Soloman’s Seal, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Duskywing, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

Violet Wood Sorrel, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Coltsfoot, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Dogwood, Clear Creek Metro Park

Wild Geranium, Clear Creek Metro Park. (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Violets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Squaw Root, a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America, when blooming resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Wikipedia), Clear Creek Metro Park.

Fire Pink, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Closer to home within the city limits of Columbus along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir spring was also in full swing.

Redbuds, Griggs Park.

“Lovebirds”, male and female American Goldfinch, Griggs Park.

Blackberry, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Redwing Blackbird (M), Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

Shooting Star, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Buckeye, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

White-throated Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Honeysuckle, (Native?), Kiwanis Riverway Park

Yellow-throated Warbler singing high in a Sycamore tree, Griggs Park.

Wild Ginger, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In week or so ago I spotted this pair of Blue jays starting work on a nest. They must have given up on that location as no nest was found on this particular day, Griggs park.,

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Out on the reservoir there was also lot’s of activity, much of which eluded the camera’s lens, but some subjects cooperated just long enough. Spotted Sandpipers, turtles, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere. As I have undoubtedly mentioned in the past, shooting from a canoe or kayak has it’s own set of challenges, camera shake and the fact that everything is moving just to name a few, so when one gets a relatively good picture it’s truly cause for celebration. When paddling the kayak certain limitations are excepted so a relatively small light superzoom is usually what is taken. It’s easy to tuck out of the way and if it happens go swimming it’s not the end of the world.

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir.

Very small Red-eared Slider getting ready to attempt a double-backflip with a twist , Griggs Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Griggs Reservoir.

Great Egret in breeding plumage with a couple of close friends, Griggs Reservoir.

Note color around eyes.

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In the last week not far from our home it seemed that no matter which way we turned there was something wonderful to see. We hope that’s been your experience also. 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.

 

 

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