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 Thankful Reflection

The last day of 2017, what better time to stop for a moment and reflect back to the wonders of nature seen in central Ohio in the past year.

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Griggs Reservoir.

Bald Eagle along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden Crown Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Along the Scioto River

Tufted Titmouse, (Donna).

November reflection, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Covered Bridge, Mohican State Park.

The Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Buckeye, (Donna).

Monarch, (Donna).

Griggs Reservoir

Solitary leaf

Chicory

Design, (Donna).

Red-spotted Purple, (Donna).

Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

Autumn color.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir.

Giant Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar.

Mink, Au Sable River MI, (Donna).

Au Sable River Smallmouth, MI, (Donna).

Devoe Lake, MI.

Cardinal Flowers, Rifle River Rec, Area, MI.

Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec. Area. MI.

Common Loons, Devoe Lake, MI, (Donna).

Meal time, Devoe lake, MI

Caspian Tern, Loud Pond, Au Sable River, MI.

Catbirds, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Griggs Reservoir waterfall.

Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Common Checkered Skipper, (Donna).

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Cliff Swallows, (Donna).

Gray Squirrel.

Baltimore Oriole.

Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

Prothonotary Warbler

Green Heron, Griggs Reservoir

Yellow-collared Scape Moth, (Donna).

Northern Water Snake.

Red-eyed Vireo, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Blue Heron, Scioto River, (Donna).

Hayden Run Falls

Mating Northern Water Snakes, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Scarlet Tanager, Griggs Reservoir Park.

White-crowned Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Palm Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Black-throated Blue Warbler, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Turkey, Blendon Woods Metro Park, (Donna).

<<<>>>

Looking at the landscape as we walked along the Scioto River yesterday it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. Very cold weather has made the river below the dam one of the few stretches of open water that waterfowl can now call home.

Hooded Mergansers.

More robins than we could count took turns getting a cool drink at waters edge.

Ring-necked Ducks.

The Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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As always, thanks for stopping by and have a Happy New Year!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

High Banks Spring Walk; Concretions Seen, Warblers Heard

It was a beautiful day for a hike at Highbanks Metro Park with friends. Warblers were our main objective but no doubt there would be other things to fascinate if the warblers decided not to cooperate.

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One of those things turned out to be concretions. We’ve hiked and explored High Banks for years but one thing we’ve never noticed are the concretions that exist along creek bottoms in the park. This partly due to the fact that they are not visible from the main trail and generally we avoid going off trail so as to not damage the landscape which, as is the case with most metro parks, is easily overrun. In this particular case we wondered why there was a worn path leading off the main trail so we decided to follow it for awhile.

According Wikipedia, “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, although irregular shapes also occur. 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 host stratum.”

Typical of the area in High Banks Metro Park where concretions might be found.

Sometimes one might see the rock formations as just random.

But other times things seem just a little different.

The origin of some shapes are difficult to figure out.

Others not so much.

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After the fascination of the concretions we decided to wander down the trail and see what warblers we might find.

Early morning sun filters through the trees at High Banks.

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While not warblers, we hadn’t gone far when several Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared in low lying bushes and weren’t shy about displaying their ruby crowns. They weren’t as good about sitting still of a picture. Along the Olentangy River Yellow-throated Warblers could be heard but not seen high in the Sycamores.

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 Other birds were more cooperative.

Tufted Titmouse

White-throated Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Pheobe

Okay, I know I’m not a bird but would you take my picture?

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As is often the case in the spring if one thing eludes there are always other things to enjoy. On this particular day it was trilliums many of which had turned pink as well as the many other wildflowers.

Large-flowered Trillium

 

There were a number of beautiful specimens.

There were also nice groupings  .   .   .

Standing at attention, almost.

and phlox trillium bouquets.

Phlox and Large-flowered Trillium.

Other types of trilliums were also seen.

Red Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

Nodding Trillium, (Donna)

Another view of a Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

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May Apples were starting to bloom.

May Apples

Hiding under the leaves the flower is not always easy to see, (Donna).

A closer look.

View along the trail, High Banks Metro Park.

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Other flowers, some not real common on central Ohio, were also seen.

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Soloman’s Seal, (Donna).

Philadelphia Fleabane, (Donna).

 

Dame’s Rocket, (Donna).

Corn Salad, not real common, (Donna).

Purple Cress, (Donna).

Goldenseal, also not a common flower. In herbal medicine, goldenseal is used as a multi-purpose remedy.

Dogwood

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To one that is so inclined, time spent in nature feeds the soul. In spring the uninterrupted songs of the various birds as they go about their day is sublime even when they remain unseen. The air seems especially fragrant and pure. The still deep blue sky frames the translucent green of the immerging overhead leaves. Flowers grace the forest floor with their varied and unique loveliness.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

The Bird That Thinks It’s a Mouse

At least that impression one gets watching a Winter Wren  foraging for food. These very small dark colored birds with a very pronounced turned up tail are hard to see much less photograph as they make their way around dense underbrush usually near water. In fact I don’t think we’ve ever seen one very far from water although that could be due to the fact that we spent a large amount of our time looking for birds near water along the Scioto River in Griggs Reservoir Park.

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Winter Wren along the Scioto River, (Donna).

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Study 2, (Donna).

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Study 3.

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Study 4.

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Winter Wren habitat along the Scioto River.

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From the very small to very large, a Sycamore along the Scioto River. What could it tell us of this place if it could talk?

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Sycamore along the Scioto, (Donna).

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This time of year it’s always a joy when common birds entertain us. Not so easy to capture in their natural habitat away from feeders.

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Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park.

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Carolina Chickadee, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Tufted Titmouse, Griggs Park.

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Study 2.

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While closer to the ground there is still a presence of green, in many areas overhead it’s a different story.

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November branches.

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Other birds continue to make their presence known.

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A female Downy lets the chips fly, Griggs Park.

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A White-throated Sparrow plays hide and seek, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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White-throated Sparrow, study 2, Griggs Park.

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Apparently one of this Red-bellied Woodpeckers favorite trees, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A Red-tailed Hawk waits patently for it’s next meal, Griggs Park.

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Almost always heard before they’re seen this Carolina Wren was determined to get noticed, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park.

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We were looking for the Winter Wren but some previously hard to fine Golden-crowned Kinglets kept getting in the way, along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Take 2.

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A noisy Northern Flicker also demanded to be noticed, Griggs Park.

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This Dark-eyed Junco was acting like it might have hurt feelings if I didn’t take it’s picture, Griggs Park.

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Goldfinch, winter plumage, Griggs Park.

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Wait, you’re not a bird!, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A fascinating and unexpected find during a recent walk along the Scioto River was this very nice example of a Horn Coral fossil. The fossil was about 4 inches long!

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Rugose corals, often called “horn corals”, because their form may resemble the horn of a cow or goat. This coral became extinct at or near the end of the Permian period, about 240 million years ago. It first appeared in the early Ordovician period and peaked during the Devonian. photo by Donna. Ref: http://fallsoftheohio.org/DevonianCorals.html

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Up until just four days ago warm weather was allowing some of our insect friends to hang around but with this mornings temperature around 20F we don’t expect to see them again any time soon.

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So long until next spring! (Donna).

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Likewise! (Donna)

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Given that it’s Thanksgiving week here in central Ohio the next bird we will be investigating will probably be a turkey. On that note we wish everyone a happy holiday. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Milkweed seeds take flight, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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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.

Griggs Park Celebrates Autumn’s Color

It’s the first part of November and the autumn colors have hung around a lot longer than usual. We thought about taking a drive down to the Hocking Hills in SE Ohio, a hilly part of the state that’s especially beautiful this time of year, but opted for a few long walks in Griggs Park instead. Can’t say that I feel like we missed anything by not taking the drive.

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Landscape photography in Griggs Park can be a challenge due to the amount of extraneous subjects that can distract so taking time to study vantage points and light is essential to capturing what one wants.

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I’ve been fascinated by the park’s picnic tables for a number of years particular when they are in an isolated setting. Now mostly deserted it’s as if they are still waiting patiently without a complaint for someone to sit down. Fall color adds to the visual interest. Perhaps B&W would also say what I wanted.

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Griggs Park picnic table.

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Black and White

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Picnic Table 2.

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Picnic Table 3.

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The paths and roads in the park can be delightful and almost magical this time of year. Capturing that feeling is always rewarding.

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Along Griggs Reservoir.

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Path at waters edge, Griggs Park.

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Park path, Griggs Park.

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Park road, Griggs Park.

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Sometimes it’s just a tree that enchants.

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Afternoon sun, Griggs Park.

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Sycamore, Griggs Park, (Donna).

 

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Tree trunks, Griggs Park.

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At first one notices the big things but before long smaller things, leaves and flowers start to tell their story.

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Maple leaves, Griggs Park.

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Leaves along the Scioto.

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Reflections, Griggs Reservoir.

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Teasel, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Leaf, Griggs Reservoir.

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Fleabane, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Milkweed, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chicory, Griggs Park.

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Don’t tell the insects it’s the first of November. However, for the squirrels and chipmunks that are getting ready for winter, it’s just that busy time of year.

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A bumblebee makes due with a flower past it’s prime, (Donna).

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Gray Squirrel, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Sharp-stigma Looper, (Donna).

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Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipmunk, Griggs Park.

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Common Checkered Skipper spending time with a Clouded Sulphur, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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The birds, local residents as well as migrants from the north,  also seemed to be celebrating the color of the season.

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Goldfinch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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We were surprised to see this immature male Red Winged Blackbird, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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As if the leaves weren’t pretty enough, a Goldfinch completes the picture, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Along the Scioto River autumn color creates a beautiful backdrop for this female Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Dark-eyed Junco, a migrant from the north, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A Great Blue Heron looking for lunch, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Male Mallard Duck, Griggs Reservoir.

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White-throated Sparrow, another migrant from the north, Griggs Park.

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Tufted Titmouse, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Take 2, (Donna).

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park.

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Take 2.

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A male Cardinal seems to blend right in, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Oh, I almost forgot, for those that are on the edge of their seat wondering how my autumn Smallmouth Bass quest is coming , here’s an update:

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Channel cats have been more cooperative. They are fun to catch but not what I’m looking for, Griggs Reservoir.

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. . . and then a few days later a measure of success! Since I’m a firm believer that the work begins when you put the fish on the stringer they are all released. The fish seem to be happy about that decision.

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When writing this blog at often occurs to me that it’s largely for internal consumption, a way of marking time, documenting life, and making it sacred. On that note we hope readers have found natural areas close to home that enchant and have enjoyed autumn in those special places as much as we have in ours. Thanks for stopped by.

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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.

A Different Mood

Light creates different moods and brings to our attention beauty in design, shape, and form not noticed before. Such was the case walking along the Scioto River a few days ago.

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Tree roots along the Scioto River

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Other things were also noticed. Some, like the Golden Crowned Kinglets and Brown Creepers, eluded the camera’s lens.

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Mallards swimming.

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These folks quickly swam away as I approach indicating that they are not part of the year round resident population accustomed to being feed.

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Mallards on ice.

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Mallards kind of walking, sliding, and skating. A video would have done it more justice. (Donna)

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Overhead a Tufted Titmouse looks out from a decaying tree.

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How about getting just a little closer? (Donna)

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Colors and patterns not seen in the warmer months.

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Tree bark, (Donna)

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There’s never a shortage  of robins and downy woodpeckers always cheer up the landscape this time of year.

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A Robin perches contently, (Donna).

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Downy Woodpecker (F), (Donna).

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Recent warm weather has some plants confused. Wonder what these little guys are doing today. The temperature as I write this is 9 F.

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New growth, (Donna)

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It has gotten much colder but still not much snow. We look forward to changes that will again draw our attention to beauty not noticed before.

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Thanks for stopping by.

___

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Molly Cat.

___

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