Journeying On Through Florida

After leaving Lake Kissimmee State Park we headed north, ran the Orlando metro area traffic gauntlet, and arrived at Blue Springs State Park which was a new park for us. After spending a week there we would take relatively quiet back roads further north to Mike Roess State Park. The two parks couldn’t be more different. Blue Springs is a heavily used “day use” park with a small campground near Orlando while the larger Mike Roess SP was quiet and lightly used during our stay. Part of the popularity of Blue Springs can be attributed to the Manatees that inhabit the springs during the winter months and which had started to leave while we were there due to warmer weather. When one ventured away from the campground after mid-morning parking lots were pretty much full and there were always more than enough people in the park’s general use areas. However, once on the water paddling into a secluded creek or cove things changed dramatically and the area felt like wilderness.

.

The big find while hiking the parks limited trails was the endangered Scrub Jay which is a bird we’ve been in search of for some time without success. Habitat destruction appears to be the main reason for its decline.

Scrub Jay.

Another look.

Yellow Star Grass occurred periodically along the trail in single blossoms.

This Eastern Towhee was seen in the same scrub habitat as the jay, (Donna).

This Pileated Woodpecker was also seen along the trail as we searched for the Scrub Jays, (Donna).

Spiderwort.

.

St Johns River near Blue Springs SP.

.

The extensive wildlife seen while canoeing was the big draw at Blue Springs SP. Our favorite paddle was the eleven mile loop that incorporated Snake Creek. The creek is a true celebration of the richness and beauty of nature.

A small alligator checks us out, (Donna).

An immature Black Crowned Night Heron along Snake Creek, (Donna).

A Great Egret watches as we pass by.

St Johns River.

Florida Cooters,  (Donna).

Wood Stork, (Donna).

Black Crowned Night Heron along the St Johns River.

Little Blue Heron in the thick of it.

Snake Creek provided an intimate paddling experience.

Purple Gallinule eating flower petals, St Johns River.

While paddling Snake Creek we came upon this mating pair at Turkeys. The male seemed not to be bothered by our presence.

.

Cypress

.

A Tree frog at water’s edge, (Donna)

.

St Johns River.

.

American Bittern along the St Johns River.

Osprey with fish.

Little Blue Heron preening.

.

Although they are common, Anhingas always catch our eye.

Male Anhinga dries it’s feathers along the St Johns River.

Preening.

.

St Johns river landscape.

.

A Snowy Egret shows off its yellow feet, (Donna).

.

Unlike Blue Springs which provided excellent opportunities to observe wildlife from the water, hiking was the best way to do so at Mike Roess SP. A plus was that there were no crowed parking lots or large numbers of people to negotiate when one left the campground. There were areas to explore around the park’s several small lakes and along one fairly long designated hiking trail. We enjoyed the park’s quiet subtle beauty.

Mike Roess SP landscape.

.

Walking the shoreline of the parks small lakes was an excellent way to see insects. Some of the dragonflies and damselflies seen were new to us.

Vesper Bluet Damselfly, (Donna).

The Variable Dancer Damselfly is one we haven’t seen further north in Ohio.

Carolina Saddlebags, (Donna).

Female Faded Pennant, (Donna).

Male Faded Pennant.

Slaty Skimmer, (Donna).

The Stripe-winged Baskettail is another dragonfly we’ve not seen further north in Ohio.

The Blue Corporal often perches on the ground, (adult male).

The Buckeye is usually seen in late summer in Ohio.

.

Pond reflection.

.

In addition to the insects there were birds to enjoy:

Hermit Thrush.

A Hooded Merganser and a Wood Duck pose.

There was a sizable population of Ring-necked Ducks on the small park lakes.

A closer look.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Pied Billed Grebes

A White Eyed Vireo announces its presence.

.

Shoreline grass.

.

As well as other things:

Cricket Frog at waters edge, (Donna).

Unfortunately these lovely but uncommon little flowers that liked the park’s sandy soil remain unidentified.

A Fence Lizard shows it’s underside, (Donna).

Lichen on fallen branch.

A Gopher Tortoise enjoys some grass, (Donna).

Trees.

Pinebarren Frostweed.

A Five Lined Skink shows its beautiful tail, (Donna)

A Long Leaf Pine just starting out.

.

Leaving Mike Roess we’d completed six weeks of exploring nature in Florida. As we looked forward to spending time at Paynes Prairie Preserve and Black River SP before heading north to early spring in Ohio we couldn’t help but feel incredibly blessed.

.

Lily Pads

.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

rifle_river_map

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.

Bob looking out to meadow1 071618 Mi trip fz200 fix

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.

IMG_8230fixd

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.

IMGP0252fix

Typical catch and release LM Bass on Devoe Lake.

.

***

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.

IMG_2339

Loud Pond, Au Sable River chain of lakes.

 

IMG_2341fix

Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

IMG_2361fix

Loud Pond Au Sable River chain of lakes.

.

***

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.

IMG_5147fix

Common Loon

 

IMG_5158fix

With young, (Donna).

Loon1 LR1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

Another view, (Donna).

Loon group1 070918 MI trip birdcam fix

Meal time, (Donna).

IMG_5163fix

The young are growing fast.

.

IMG_8227

Lodge Lake.

.

***

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.

Trumpeter Swan grp4 best1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

Trumpeter Swam Family, (Donna).

IMG_7955

Another look.

.

***

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.

IMG_7854

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

IMG_8254

Where there is a nest there is usually an eagle.

Eagle1 LR beak open1 071218 MI trip birdcam 1

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

.

***

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

P1210600fix

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

 

Great Crested Flycatcher baby2 beak open1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Catbird1 LR1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

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

Cedar Waxwing2 LL wbug1 070918 Michigan trip fix

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

Chestnut-sided Warbler1 LL1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

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

IMG_5186

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

IMG_7879fix

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

IMG_8171

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

Kingbird3 LL1 best1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

Another look, (Donna).

Kingbird in nest2 LR2 best1 070918 Michigan trip birdcam fix

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

Kingfisher1 femaleLR1 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Kingbird party2 flying1 also1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Rose-breasted Grosbeak2 LL1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Spotted Sandpiper3 LR2 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Spotted Sandpiper5 juvLR2 best1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Immature Spotted Sandpiper along Loud Pond, (Donna).

IMG_8253fix

Immature Baltimore Orioles hang out in a distant tree.

.

IMG_8324

The Rifle River just downstream of Grousehaven Lake.

.

***

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.

Calico Pennant3 headon3 wiping mouth1 071518 MI trip fz200 fix

Calico Pennant, (Donna).

P1210571

Female Ruby Meadowhawk

Blue Dasher1 LR1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Blue Dasher, (Donna).

IMG_8065

Chalk-fronted Corporal.

damselfly on flower1 LR1 070918 MIchigan trip birdcam fix

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

Dot-tailed Whiteface3 headon1 071018 MI trip bridcam fix

Dot-tailed Whiteface, (Donna).

Ebony Jewelwing mating1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Ebony Jewelwings, (Donna).

IMG_2368fix

Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Lancet-Clubtail female2 LR best1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Female Lancet Clubtail, (Donna).

P1210595fix

Female Calico Pennant.

IMG_7966fix

Male Halloween Pennant.

Halloween Pennant mating1 LL1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Halloween Pennants, (Donna).

img_7973fix.jpg

Slaty Blue Skimmer, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

 

IMG_7999

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.

Vesper Bluet3 LR1 best1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Vesper Bluet1 mating pair1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Mating Vesper Bluets, (Donna).

River Jewelwing4 LL2 best2 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

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

***

IMG_7852

The Rifle River near the park’s southern boundary.

.

***

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.

Common Wood-NYmph2 LR2 closer1 071518 MI trip fz200 fix

Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna).

P1210579

Northern Pearly-eye

IMG_8048

Northern Pearly-eye another view.

American Copper1 LL1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

American Copper, (Donna)

American Copper4 WPO1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Another view, (Donna).

IMG_5076

Great Spangled Fritillary, Tamron 18-400mm zoom.

IMG_8013

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

IMG_8035

Northern Cloudywing Skipper

IMG_8337

Eastern Comma.

Monarch1 WFO male1 071518 MI trip birdcam fix

Monarch, (Donna).

Banded Hairstreak1 LL1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

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

.

***

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.

IMG_8261

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?

St. John's wort1 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

St. John’s Wort, (Donna).

IMG_8125fix

Yellow Water Lily

Black-eyed Susan1 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

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

cluster white flowers1 071018 MI trip birdcam fix

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

IMG_2320fix

Spotted Knapweed along the Lake Huron shore.

IMG_7885

Pickerel Weed on Grebe Lake.

IMG_7984fix

Water Lily.

Water LIly2 duo1 071018 MI trip fz200 fix

Water Lily times two, (Donna).

IMG_8215fix

A hover fly checks out a water lily.

P1210552

Clustered-leaved Tick-trefoil.

P1210634fix

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

Yellow Aquatic flowr1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Bladderwort seen along the north trail, (Donna).

IMG_8234fix

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

Monkey flower2 side view1 071718 MI trip birdcam fix

Monkey Flower, (Donna).

Milkweed2 070918 MI trip fz200 fix

Swamp Milkweed, (Donna).

Indian Pipe1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

Indian Pipe, (Donna).

IMG_8085

Jack-in-the-Pulpit.

P1210557fix

Fern.

IMG_8092

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

IMG_8097

The leaves resemble a picture, imagine that!

IMG_8224

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

.

IMG_7860fix

Early morning on Grebe Lake.

.

***

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.

IMG_8143fixs

Painted Turtle, Devoe Lake.

P1210566fix

Pixie Cups, north trail.

P1210612

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

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle1 LL1 071118 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Toad1 LR1 071618 MI trip birdcam fix

American Toad, (Donna).

IMG_8135fix

Garter Snake in an unusual location, Devoe Lake.

IMG_7857

A beaver lodge on Grebe Lake.

IMG_2326fix

British Soldier Lichen seems to love old fence posts.

P1210623

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

P1210628

Crown-tipped Coral Fungi near our campsite.

Turtle on log2 Map LR1 071218 MI trip birdcam fix

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

Porkupine1 LL1 07518 MI trip birdcam fix

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

.

***

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.

IMG_8116fixc

Devoe Lake.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

<<<>>>

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).

<<<>>>

Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

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”)

<<<>>>

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).

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

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).

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

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.

<<<>>>

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.

.

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!

.

<<<>>>

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.

“Up North” in Michigan

Every year for the past ten or so we’ve travelled from central Ohio to the northeast part of Michigan’s lower peninsula for a few days of “catch and release” fishing.

DSCN5431

Devoe Lake, (Keith)

 .

Although certainly providing it’s own challenges and excitement, it not so much about the fishing as just being there. We’re “Up North” after all, a special place for many of us who grew up further south.

IMG_1212use

Ready to launch, showing rod setup and remotely actuated “fish cam”, Devoe Lake

IMG_1224

Jimmy fishing, Devoe Lake

DSCN5435

Looks like a promising area, Devoe Lake, (Keith)

DSCN5429

Jeff with a nice LM Bass caught using a Wacky Rig, (Keith)

IMGP0011use

AuSable River SM Bass using a gold Rapala, “fish cam”.

 .

“Up North” magic; perhaps it’s a quiet misty morning with a distant Loon’s call or the long trail of  splashes as it slowly accelerates running, flying, then finally, after what seems like way to long, breaking the water’s hold. At night it may be the call of a Barred Owl or the laugh of a coyote. Unlike past years, this year the Whippoorwills were quiet as the sky darkened just after sunset, replaced later by the silent flashes of light from the Perseid meteor shower.

IMG_1262

Various wildflowers grace the shore of Devoe Lake

IMG_1259

A Green Heron watches as a fisherman’s cast breaks the water’s surface.

IMG_1246

A Loon swims close to the canoe, Devoe Lake

IMG_1245

Then a pair follow suit, Devoe Lake.

IMG_1236

Deer watch curiously along the shore, Devoe Lake.

IMG_1296

A small island provide a welcome place for a break, Devoe Lake.

.

As if from an upstream lake or adjacent woods, magic finds it’s way to the river, it’s clear water flowing silently over sand and smooth rocks, interrupted occasionally by green.

DSCN5444

Launching on the Rifle River

IMG_1278

Dead Ash trees along the river caused by the Emerald Ash Borer.

IMG_1273

Late afternoon on the Rifle River

IMG_1275

Jim and Keith on the Rifle River.

IMG_1272

Rifle River tunnel.

.

Occasionally an insect or a flower becomes the magic, seemingly more vivid and clear than it would be nearer to home.

IMG_1268

Along the Rifle River, a female White-faced Meadowhawk perches, seemingly unperturbed, as we launch our canoes.

IMG_1268closer

A closer look.

IMG_1299

Hard to miss, a bright slime mold on forest leaf litter, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

IMG_1289use

Lobelia kalmia, Brook lobelia, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

IMG_1286

Joe-Pye Weed, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

IMG_1282

Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

IMG_1307use

In the middle of the lake a Vesper Bluet damselfly finds the canoe.

IMG_1307usecloser

A closer look.

.

Late in the day, the wind gone, the lake’s surface creates a canvas of light, shadow, and sky.

IMG_1315use

Reflections, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

IMG_1229

Near sunset, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

DSCN5437

Racing the storm, Devoe Lake, (Keith}

IMG_1310upsidedown

Illusion, Devoe Lake

.

Again we are left with memories that sustain imagination and dreams until next year’s trip north.

IMG_1304

Camp, Devoe Lake Rustic Campground

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch

A few days ago we had the pleasure of doing a canoe/birding trip on Alum Creek Reservoir north of  the Howard Rd. bridge with some friends. While prime spring birding has passed we were rewarded with great views of King Birds, Prothonotary Warblers, Red Eyed Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, and Great Blue as will as Green Herons. In addition we also enjoyed observing various turtles on logs along the shoreline taking advantage of the intermittent sunshine as well as a Common Water Snake. Dragonflies and damselflies were also out in force as well as some early summer wildflowers.

The day started slow but after a couple of hours a good number of birds had been seen so we decided to take an early lunch break at a nice spot on a bluff overlooking the lake. We hadn’t been there very long when a mature Bald Eagle was spotted flying in the distance and a little later we saw what appeared to be an immature eagle.

Lunch was progressing rather nicely when my wife spotted a rather large snake patrolling the perimeter of our picnic area. It climbed up into a hollow tree and came back down and continued to check things out very near to where we were sitting. It seemed not to mind as we sat there eating our chocolate chip cookies. Turns out it was a Rat Snake and is one of the largest snakes in Ohio which can reach a length of  8 feet. It was all pretty exciting!

Below are some pics of that trip as well as other recent journeys into the wilds of Ohio. If you want a better view click on the image.

1 Black Rat Snake - Alum Creek

1 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake = Alum Creek

2 Black Rat Snake – Alum Creek

3 Black Rat Snake - Prairie Oaks

3 Black Rat Snake – Prairie Oaks

Wildflowers from the Alum Creek Paddle:

Fire Pink - Alum Creek, Donna

Fire Pink – Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass - Alum Creek, Donna

Blue-eyed Grass – Alum Creek, Donna

Common Water Snake seen during our Alum Creek paddle:

Common Water Snake - Alum Creek

Common Water Snake – Alum Creek

We continue to identify central Ohio dragon and damselflies:

Widow Skimmer - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Widow Skimmer – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Vesper Bluet – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Variable Dancer - Prairie Oaks

Variable Dancer – Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets - Prairie Oaks

Stream Bluets – Prairie Oaks

Fragile Forktail - Prairie Oaks, Donna

Fragile Forktail – Prairie Oaks, Donna

Eastern Forktail - Prairie Oaks

Eastern Forktail – Prairie Oaks

A Pair of Stream Bluets - Griggs, Donna

On a recent trip to Prairie Oaks it was exciting to see Orchard Orioles feeding there young:

Immature Male Orchard Oriole - Prairie Oaks

Immature Male Orchard Oriole – Prairie Oaks

A Northern Flicker seemed as though it was watching as we looked for Damselflies at Prairie Oaks:

Northern Flicker - Prairie Oaks

Northern Flicker – Prairie Oaks

Finally some rather unexpected or unusual discoveries at Prairie Oaks:

Coyote Scat? - Prairie Oaks

Coyote Scat? – Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite - Prairie Oaks

Strange Leaf Parasite – Prairie Oaks

.

Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

Sharing My Passion of Birds and Wildlife

Londonsenior

The life of an elderly Londoner and her travels.

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

Eloquent Images by Gary Hart

Insight, information, and inspiration for the inquisitive nature photographer

gordoneaglesham

The Wildlife in Nature

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

My Best Short Nature Poems

Ellen Grace Olinger

through the luminary lens

The sun is the great luminary of all life - Frank Lloyd Wright

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

Essays, photos, and discussion about prairie ecology, restoration, and management

Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog

Kerry Mark Leibowitz's musings on the wonderful world of nature photography

Montana Outdoors

A weblog dedicated to the world outside the cities.

Cat Tales

Mike and Lori adrift

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Exploring Nature in New Hampshire

Jessica's Nature Blog

https://natureinfocus.blog

Quiet Solo Pursuits

My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan