Migrating Into Spring

For some living things it is a migration through time that ushers in their seemingly too brief visit each spring. For others it’s a journey through both time and space. In each case April brings “magic” to the central Ohio woods and meadows. It’s a time of beauty in small things as the grander landscape has just begun to put on its coat of green.

With the cool spring it wasn’t that long ago that we saw Snow Trillium, now the Large Flower Trillium have started to appear.

Despite the cold spring in nearby trees we now notice early spring migrants, flowers of another kind.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, (Donna)

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to look. Up or down? Wildflowers capture our imagination, but when we look down as our feet shuffle through last year’s leaf litter and see Twinleaf or Cutleaf Toothwort, how many warblers fly by overhead? A good problem to have.

Twinleaf, (Donna)
Cutleaf Toothwort

Almost too small to notice with the naked eye several objects are in constant erratic motion in the nearby brush. We pursue them with our binoculars, which often only brings a bare branch into focus, but finally succeed in identifying them as a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Showing its crown. A few moments earlier, in full display and missed by the camera, the top of its head had exploded into ruby flame.

Most of what interests me in nature, a wildflower at my feet or a warbler in a tree, is small. Much of it would go unnoticed if I didn’t pay attention and even so there is much that is missed. Wildflowers not as often, but birds really do benefit when viewed though a decent pair of binoculars. However, having said that, the start is really about paying attention. But how does one care enough about things, that have never been experienced or even seen, to pay attention, to look, to listen? For me that’s the wisdom that time spent in nature graciously provides.

An emergent Bloodroot flower is embraced by its leaves, (Donna)
Toadshade Trillium, both the leaves and flower compete for our eye.
Virginia Bluebells are starting to appear, (Donna)
When one looks at Dutchman’s Breeches it’s hard not to smile.
Some wildflowers are very common and unlike trillium can be seen just about anywhere. Such is the case with Spring Beauty.

Along with those that may be passing through, other birds also compete for our attention.

A curious male Eastern Bluebird
Tufted Titmouse plays peek-a-boo.
Female Northern Cardinal
The Eastern Towhee is one of the more striking members of the sparrow family.
Northern Flickers are one of the woodpeckers seen excavating nesting cavities in a nearby park, (Donna)
This Broad-winged Hawk appears to be nesting near Griggs Reservoir not far from our home.
Will this Brown Thrasher make central Ohio home for the season or move on?
Field Sparrow, its song is sublime.
This male Red-winged Blackbird will nest in central Ohio.

The natural world speaks to us in a voice without words. In the “year” of human history it’s been less than four hours that technology and our modern lifestyle, with its illusion of wellbeing and comfort, has isolated us from that world. For many of us its voice is no longer heard. For most of our history we have been an integral part of nature, we have been nature! So, it may not be surprising that it is a voice that truly speaks to our soul. It’s ironic that technology now lets us share its sights and sounds in ways heretofore not imagined. When it comes to appreciating birds, modern binoculars have only been around for a little over 100 years and capable digital photography not much more than 20. Fortunately, if we just get out of our houses and cars and venture into nature without any modern technology, there is much that it has to say.

Thanks for stopping by.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Takes Up Residence

So far this spring it’s been colder than normal and rainy. Migrating birds and the resident wildflowers that would have enchanted us in the first week of April continue to be illusive.

A couple of days ago we returned from a local metro park with just the barest of photographic evidence that spring is actually here. Today, as I write this, snowflakes can be seen outside the window fortunately disappearing on contact with the ground.

Virginia Waterleaf adds color and design to a sea of last year’s leaf litter.
Purple Cress does it’s best to bloom.
One Virgina Bluebell blossom braves the cold.

But despite the disappointments in the field something that we’ve not previously experienced was taking place much closer to home. From time to time during spring migration our very urban front yard has been a stopover for some fairly exotic migrants that stay at most an hour or two before moving on. However, recently we observed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker foraging for food in our Sweetgum tree and it continued to do so for four consecutive days and counting! This male bird seemed to spend the whole day in the tree because just about any time we looked out there it was. Where it spent the night, we cannot say. We were astounded!

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
What are you looking at?
Preening

Why the bird hung around for such a long period of time we cannot say. Perhaps its normal behavior and just something we’ve never experienced. The mystery remains.

One evening while we watched the sapsucker, a little higher up in the same tree another bird caught our eye. It was in the middle of dinner!

Fortunately for the sapsucker this Cooper’s Hawk was busy dinning on dove.
Do you mind if I finish eating?

Sometimes after paying our dues with long hikes though the seemingly barren early spring woods nature comes to us. Go figure.

In nature it would seem that there is always a lot more going on than we know.

Thanks for stopping by.

Birds Being Birds

Early migrating spring warblers and other birds are moving through the area. With that in mind we’ve spent a fair amount of time in recent days looking into bushes and up into trees. Yellow-rumps have been found almost everywhere, but for yellow-throated warblers we had to look into the very top of tall sycamore trees making a good picture a challenge. Along with early warblers, many Ruby-crowned Kinglets were seen with males often displaying their ruby crown.

As if to throw out the welcome mat, spring wildflowers, including Large-flowered trillium compliment the beauty of migrating birds.

.

While trying to find warblers along Griggs Reservoir we were distracted by the behavior of other birds. In the last few days that has included a crow, eastern bluebirds and red-winged blackbirds.

American Crow, fish for brunch:

Along the reservoir a crow carries off a scavenged shad in it’s beak, flying overhead it lands in a nearby tree and proceeds to dine, (Donna)

We were not sure whether this was a normal practice but the head was soon separated from the body, (Donna).

Then on to the main course, (Donna).

.

The more common Virginia Bluebells add their color to the welcome mat.

.

Eastern Bluebird harmony, then not.

As a male and female bluebird were busy with “homemaking” tasks I took a few shots:

Female Eastern Bluebird

The male.

Together with nest hole visible.

Leaving the happy couple I walked to our nearby car as my wife trailed behind. Putting my gear away I looked back to see my wife with her camera pointed at the ground. Apparently another female had decided to challenge the status quo resulting in an epic battle which went way beyond mere posturing. We have heard that competition during mating is not restricted to males and that often rivalry’s between females can be even more spirited. What we witnessed certainly bore that out.

***

***

***

***

***

(fight action by Donna)

.

Normally white, this Cutleaf Toothwort shows just a hint of pink.

.

As we tried to listen for the faint treetop call of a yellow-throated warbler, a red-winged blackbird made it’s presence known:

Male Red-wing Blackbird.

***

.

 Not far away a blue jay was enjoying the hazy morning sun.

Blue Jay

.

Chickadees seemed too busy to notice anything but the task at hand.

Carolina Chickadee

***

.

Dutchman’s Breeches also graced the landscape.

.

Oh yes, we did manage to see a few warblers and even kinglets but their behavior wasn’t nearly as entertaining as that of some of the park’s normal residents.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler. Right now the yellow-rumps are by far the most common.

 

***

Yellow Warbler

Male Palm Warbler. A bird that’s quite common in Florida in the winter.

Male Black-throated Green Warbler with what appears to be nesting material. A bit unusual as this bird is not indicated to breed in central Ohio.

***

Ruby-crowned Kinglets seem to be everywhere.

Okay, one more picture!

.

As of the date of this post there have also been reports of Northern-Parula, Pine, and Yellow Warblers all of which we have yet to see. In the coming weeks, as the spring migration continues and before the trees fully leaf out and obscure the view, there should be no shortage of birds to entertain.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

.

 

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.

.

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.

***

***

***

***

.

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

Blue phlox, rue-anemone, trillium.

.

A closer look reveals the delicate beauty of Blue Phlox.

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William.

.

The Rue-anemone blossoms were hard to ignore.

Rue-anemone, (Donna).

From another angle.

.

Fiddleheads grace the bank of the Rocky Fork River.

.

A little further on there was another nice grouping.

Virginia Bluebells, Large Flowered Trillium, and Miterwort.

.

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).

.

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

Virginia Bluebells.

 .

Redbuds accent the Rocky Fork landscape.

.

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

Wild Columbine, (Donna).

***

.

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

Shooting Star, (Donna).

***

.

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

.

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).

.

The sanctuary contain a sizable stand of large Tulip trees.

.

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).

.

Trilliums line the bank of a small feeder stream.

.

Wild Geranium.

Star Chickweed.

Moving in a little closer, (Donna).

Jack In The Pulpit, (Donna).

.

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

.

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.

.

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

Pawpaw.

.

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

.

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.

.

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

.

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

Wood Betony.

.

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.

It’s Spring!

While working on a blog post pertaining to time spent in Florida earlier this year I was interrupted. However, unlike many interruptions this one was good. Spring wasn’t just knocking, it was banging on the door, calling us to come out and play. In just the last few days nature has exploded in central Ohio making it hard for my wife and I to contain our enthusiasm. Hopefully this post will convey just a little bit of the excitement.

.

One of the first clues that things were changing more rapidly were the wildflowers.

Redbuds.

Virginia Bluebells, (Donna).

Another look.

White Trout Lily

Dutchman’s Breeches.

Yellow Trout Lilies, (Donna).

A closer look. (Donna).

Emerging Buckeye leaves, not a flower but beautiful in their own way.

Spring Beauties, (Donna).

Newly emerged spring fungi, Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna).

Translucent green.

.

Then there were the birds, all of which seemed very busy.

From it’s nesting cavity a Red-bellied Woodpecker checks us out.

A Canada Goose on it’s nest at water’s edge. Hopefully there will be no heavy rains in the near future.

An argumentative pair of Blue Jays announce their presence. Could they be discussing nest location?

.

Some behavior seemed odd.

This Canada Goose was trying a different menu item. Something we’ve never seen before.

.

Other birds were just enjoying the warmer weather.

A Tufted-titmouse makes itself know with a voice much bigger than the bird.

A common but hard to photograph Carolina Chickadee is nice enough to pose.

Sunlight warms a male Mallard in breeding plumage.

Redbuds surround a female Cardinal.

A Great Blue Heron soars overhead along the Scioto River, (Donna).

.

The Great Egrets in their breeding plumage continued to enchant us.

Preening.

Another look.

Striking a beautiful pose.

.

But the days real excitement was generated when we spotted a newly arrived spring migrant.

This curious Yellow-throated Warbler flew down to see what I was up to.

Too cute for just one pic.

And perhaps one more.

.

As if the wildflowers and birds weren’t enough, more turtles than we’ve ever seen on one log decided to get into the act.

Turtles along the Scioto River, How many do you see?

.

We hope our enthusiasm rubs off on our readers and everyone gets out to witness springs transformation in their neighborhood.

.

Walking in the freshness of an early spring morning

along a path lined with trees just clothed in translucent green

with the sights, sounds, and smells of nature

I am reborn.

.

Thanks for stopping by.

***

 

 

 

Masque & Spectacle

An arts & literary journal

Endless dreams and boundless imaginations!

We only live once. Hence, let's not stop dreaming

Florida Rambler

Getaways to the authentic Florida

Wandering Around the Block

An exploration of walks, hikes and other experiences

Nature Views

Learning to embrace nature and appreciate the beauty around us every day

Ohio History & Travel

You can find a rich experience close to home.

Into the Light Adventures

By Sandra Js Photography - Make the rest of your life the best of your life.

Bay Photos by Donna

Chesapeake Bay's Nature & Wildlife Beauty Through My Lens

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

Only the Sense of the Sacred can Save us

talainsphotographyblog

Nature photography

Mike Powell

My journey through photography

The Prairie Ecologist

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