Passing Through

In central Ohio it’s not quite autumn but with daylight too quickly losing the battle to the setting sun it would be hard, even on a warm day, to mistake it for summer. Plants, animals, insects, weather, and daylight are all in all in a state of flux. It’s as though we’re passing through on our way to somewhere else, to a place that’s easier to put a label on. It’s hard to bring oneself to the realization that present forms of life are dying but such an awareness is inescapable as one walks through the woods. It is a season of paradox as late summer and fall wildflowers arrive doing their best to announce the autumnal fireworks to follow.

Leaf on stream bed.

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Caterpillars active just a few weeks ago have disappeared in preparation to reintroduce themselves next year in a new perhaps more beautiful form. Highlighted by the early morning dew, spider webs are everywhere often to the detriment of passing grasshoppers which seem more plentiful now. Other insects continue to make their daily rounds without the urgency of the squirrels which all seem to have a nut in their mouth. An occasional migrating warbler is seen making its way south while blue jays and crows are noticed more often just passing through while others have undoubtedly taken up residence for the winter.

Nodding Bur-Marigold.

Tree Swallows, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

A very fresh Monarch, (Donna).

Goldenrod, Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Killdeer, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, (Donna).

A slightly tattered Viceroy, (Donna).

A fresher Viceroy.

Morning Glory, (Donna).

Question Mark, (Donna).

A Banded Garden Spider gift wraps it’s prey, (Donna).

New England Aster.

Bay-breasted Warbler, (Donna).

Sunflower

A male Widow Skimmer, an easy to photograph and fairly common dragonfly.

A hint of autumn along Big Darby Creek.

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Unlike summer, with days that change little from one to the next, it’s a time of year that assigns value to what we have and blesses us with a feeling of gratitude for what soon will be lost.

Rain and reflections.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

Early Spring at O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve

March 30th, perhaps it was time to check out  O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve and see what early spring wildflowers might be making their presence known. After all we don’t want to miss anything. Having said that, this time always leaves us feeling a bit impatient as spring always seems to progress so slowly and often heads in the wrong direction.

A Beech Tree adds color to the early spring landscape, (Donna).

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Upon closer inspection we find other color in what is still mostly brown.

Spring Beauties

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Standing out in the stark landscape, a fallen trees creates a shape that fascinates when not looking for small flowers.

Fallen tree.

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Some flowers seen are unfortunately escapees from someone’s yard.

Ground Ivy, (Donna).

With Twin Lakes in the distance, the foreground flower make for a beautiful scene, that is until you realize it’s invasive Lesser Celandine.

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In a vernal pool the frogs were strangely quiet considering the time of year.

Vernal pool.

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We did discover a few native wildflowers. Looking at the still leafless canopy it’s a race against time for early spring ground plants that call the woods home.

Purple Cress.

Violet

Sharp-lobed Hepatica, (Donna).

The small blossoms on a Spice Bush.

Rue Anemone.

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

Hispid Buttercup, (Donna).

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We will continue to mark the season with visits to wooded areas near our home. The Trout Lilies, both yellow and white, should be blooming any day now.

Spring Beauties stand guard over the creek below, waiting for the Trout Lilies.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

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XXX

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Cabbage You Wouldn’t Eat

In the last week or so migrating birds have started to move through central Ohio. While there have been reports of early arriving warblers we have yet to see any. That may have more to do with our approach to nature, which at any moment in time focuses on the “low hanging fruit” rather than expending effort to see something that may or may not be there. It’s quite possible that as we were fascinating over a wildflower one of those little buggers flew right over our head. Oh, well.

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So with that in mind this post is mostly about those early spring plants and wildflowers that every year usher in the magic of spring.

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One of the first to be seen is Skunk Cabbage which due to it’s capacity to generate it’s own internal heat, often emerges by melting it’s way through the snow. It’s name comes from it’s skunk like smell. In contrast to it’s smell we’ve always thought it’s appearance to be quite attractive. It almost looks good enough to eat.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Take 2.

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Take 3, almost looks good enough to eat (not recommended!).

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Skunk Cabbage habitat, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park, (Donna).

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Not far from the skunk cabbage it was hard to miss this Eastern Towhee.

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Eastern Towhee, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Another early arriver is Dutchman’s Breeches. It continues to do well against the onslaught of Lesser Celandine in the many areas we visit. Lesser Celandine was introduced into the United States as an ornamental and is now considered invasive.

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Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park, below the dam.

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We did manage to see Swamp Buttercup which is often confused with Lesser Celandine. Note the difference in petals and leaves. It seem less common each year which may be due to the aforementioned invasive.

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Swamp Buttercup, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Lesser Celandine, (web pic)

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We always get excited when we spot the beautiful flower of the Bloodroot. Although not uncommon, it is very fragile and doesn’t fair well against the early spring wind and rain.

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Bloodroot, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

 

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Bloodroot, Griggs Park below the dam.

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With the rain not every interesting thing on the forest floor is a flower.

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Wood Ear fungus, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Seeming to defy the temperature, early moths and butterflies made an appearance on the few “warmer” days we’ve had.

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Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Grapevine Moth, Griggs Park west shore, (Donna).

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Red Admiral, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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The flowing water of early spring inspired a beaver’s creativity.

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Beaver dam, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Sometimes a sound overhead pulls us away from the wildflowers.

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Northern Flickers, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Northern Flicker, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Male Cowbird, Griggs Park.

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Fox Sparrow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Tree Swallows, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Male Downy Woodpecker, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Other flowers also fascinated.

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Twinleaf buds and leaves, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Cutleaf Toothwort, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Violet, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Spring Beauties, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A lone hepatica brings delicate color to it’s otherwise dreary early spring world.

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Round-lobbed Hepatica, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Other plants were also flowering under the still open tree canopy.

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Toad Shade Trillium, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Virginia bluebells, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Trout Lilies, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Ever feel like you’re being watched.

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Cooper’s Hawk, not far from Griggs reservoir.

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Some plants still have a way to go before their often missed flowers emerge.

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May Apple, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A little further along, (Donna).

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In the days to come we’ll be keeping track of the progress of the May apples while out of he corner of our eye watching for those sneaky migrating warblers.

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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?

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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

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Purple tipped White Violet, (Donna)

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Creeping Phlox, (new to us)

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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Hiking and Birding as Spring Moves On

Yesterday morning we enjoyed a 6 mile hike with friends at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Everything was coming to life with numerous wildflowers including Trilliums and Celandine or Wood Poppies along the trail.

click on the images for a better view

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Celandine Poppy, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Celandine Poppy , Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Celandine Poppy, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Buckeye Leaves, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Trillium, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

 

Later in the day we decided to see what warblers could be found along the reservoir in Griggs Park and the area below the dam. Several people stopped to ask what we were looking at as we peered up into the trees. One or two were fellow birders with binoculars which is always encouraging. The number of warblers seen exceeded our expectations.

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Palm Warbler, Griggs Park

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Palm Warbler, Griggs Park

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Warbling Vireo, Griggs Park

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Warbling Vireo, Griggs Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, along the Scioto below Griggs Dam

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Baltimore Oriole, Griggs Park

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Blackpoll Warbler, Griggs Park

Redbuds, other flowering trees, and wildflowers were making an already cheerful day even brighter.

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Redbud, along the Scioto below Griggs Dam.

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Violets, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Crabapple Blossoms, Griggs Park

The Map Turtles were definitely taking advantage of the warm afternoon sun.

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How many Map Turtles can you fit on a rock? Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Bigger Map Turtles on a smaller rock.

It wasn’t hard to imagine a Smallmouth Bass just below the surface.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

Green is now winning out over the colors of winter.

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Sycamore along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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