A Spring Wildflower Wonderland

A few days ago we thought we’d better take the hour and a half drive south from Columbus to Miller Sanctuary State Nature Preserve and Highlands Nature Sanctuary to check out the spring wildflowers before they bid us farewell for the year. Both destinations are located within an area commonly referred to as the Arc of Appalachia which is comprised of numerous beautiful undisturbed natural areas no matter what the time of year you choose to visit. 

An area map showing the location of access points for the areas we explored.

Our first stop was the Miller Sanctuary which has about three miles of trails. Even though the trails are not long one should allow plenty of time as the number of wildflowers is truly amazing and it will take time if one wants to adequately appreciate them.

Remember: you can click on the images should you desire a better view.

Golden Ragwort, common throughout Ohio, was one of the first wildflowers to greet us as we started down the trail.

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When one thinks of the Large Flowered Trillium one usually thinks of a white flower but the images below show the change in color as the bloom ages.

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In a very small area one can see a variety of wildflowers.

Blue phlox, rue-anemone, trillium.

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A closer look reveals the delicate beauty of Blue Phlox.

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William.

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The Rue-anemone blossoms were hard to ignore.

Rue-anemone, (Donna).

From another angle.

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Fiddleheads grace the bank of the Rocky Fork River.

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A little further on there was another nice grouping.

Virginia Bluebells, Large Flowered Trillium, and Miterwort.

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The Miterwort flower is so small that from a distance it doesn’t even appear to be a flower but if one takes a closer look  .   .   .

Miterwort or Bishop’s Cap.

.   .   . and closer still, (Donna).

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While certainly not uncommon throughout Ohio, Virginia Bluebells were also present in the sanctuary.

Virginia Bluebells.

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Redbuds accent the Rocky Fork landscape.

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The large boulders and rocky cliffs provided an excellent habitat for Wild Columbine.

Wild Columbine, (Donna).

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A real treat were the Shooting Stars, a flower we don’t often see closer to home.

Shooting Star, (Donna).

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May Apples carpet the forest floor but we were a bit early to see their flowers.

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We were greeted by more wildflowers as we continued along the trail.

Very tiny Bluets

Goldenseal, (Donna).

Emerging Squawroot. A native perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant that grows from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Donna).

Large-Flowered Bellwort, (Donna).

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The sanctuary contain a sizable stand of large Tulip trees.

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Canada Violets, (Donna).

Blue Cohosh, the yellowish flower clusters ripen into berries that eventually turn deep blue.

Nestled under the plant’s leaves close to the ground one really needs to look to see the flower of the Wild Ginger plant, (Donna).

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Trilliums line the bank of a small feeder stream.

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Wild Geranium.

Star Chickweed.

Moving in a little closer, (Donna).

Jack In The Pulpit, (Donna).

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The beauty of wildflowers complimented by the sight and sound of a small waterfall.

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Just on the other side of the Rocky Fork River were trails contained in Highlands Nature Sanctuary. We choose to hike the spectacular Barrett Rim Trail. While many of the wildflowers were the same, the dramatic rocky outcropping brought an additional dimension.

One section of the trail runs between the river and these cliffs.

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Certainly not the showiest the blossoms of the Pawpaw were just emerging.

Pawpaw.

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As with Miller, Large Flowered Trillium lined the trail in many places.

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The extensive groups of Celandine or Wood-Poppy were a real treat. A plant we didn’t see in the Miller Sanctuary.

We were surprised by their number.

Wood Poppy, a closer look.

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It’s easy to see how the Rocky Fork River got its name.

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Perhaps the most exciting discovery on our two-mile hike was one solitary flower that was new to us.

Wood Betony.

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After five miles of hiking and countless wildflowers we returned home excited about the possibility of a return visit. For those interested in checking things out this year there have still been reports of wildflowers, some of which are “new arrivals” that we didn’t see, as I post this a week later.

Another view along the Rocky Fork River.

There are times when a walk in the woods provides more than it’s share of encouragement to again be in nature. Thanks for stopping by.

A Carnivorous Butterfly But No Warblers

During a recent trip to Georgia cooperative weather allowed us to get the canoe in the water and do some exploring on Lake Sidney Lanier. The lake is huge with  large parts heavily developed due to it’s close proximity to Atlanta. However the area we choose to explore by starting from Don Carter State Park is not as developed and as a result has many interesting coves and inlets to explore.  In the last couple of years the region has been blessed with plenty of rain so the lake level has stayed near summer pool. A few years before that the area was suffering from draught conditions and the lake level was down in excess of 10 feet. Not much fun for paddling.

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The idea was to look for wildflowers and warblers. While we were treated to a bald eagle flying overhead, just out of camera range, we didn’t have much success with flowers or warblers. However, we did see butterflies and a rather rare one at that.

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Entering one of Lake Lanier’s many coves.

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The leaves were just starting to come out.

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What’s going on here?

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Soon another smaller butterfly joins the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Duskywings all looking for some valuable nutrients from some type of bird droppings, perhaps from a Great Blue Heron?

Harvester Butterfly 040315 GA trip cp1

My wife moves closer for a better look. It’s a rare Harvester Butterfly! In it’s larval stage it feeds on aphids making it the only carnivorous butterfly in North America.

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We turned away from the butterflies for a moment to notice an Eastern Box Turtle cautiously observing the proceedings.

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Eastern Box Turtle

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Not far from Lake Lanier, in the woods behind the family home, we did discover some new to us wildflowers and a few birds were also seen.

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Young leaves

Purple tipped white violet 040315 GA trip cp1

Purple tipped White Violet, (Donna)

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Creeping Phlox, (new to us)

White flower trio 040415 GA trip cp1 (2)

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Star Chickweed, (New to us)

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Lichen and moss

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Turkey tail

White moth brown strips 4 best one 2 040415 GA trip    cp1

Four Spotted Angle Moth, (Donna)

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Wood Thrush, a bit too far away for a good shot.

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Hermit Thrush, also a bit too far away.   .   .

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Back in Ohio, hoping for better luck, we continue our quest for spring warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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