Kinglet Quest

In central Ohio early April usually brings the seasons first migrating birds but before they really start moving through the area we like to spend time enjoying spring wildflowers. Unlike many of the birds, their world is located on the forest floor and exists before the overhead canopy all to quickly leafs out and cuts off their sunlight. It is a magical time as splashes of color find expression amid the dullness of last years leaf litter.

A Bloodroot flower waits to open, Duranceaux Park.

As pretty as any wildflower Virginia Waterleaf emerges from the leaf litter, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In what almost seems to be an act of defiance, a solitary Bloodroot blooms surrounded by the slowly decaying leaves, Duranceaux Park.

Cold weather has allowed this Snow Trillium to stay around longer than one usually expects, Duranceaux Park.

Just emerging blooms of Dutchmen’s Breeches, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A few days of warm weather, after a week or two of colder than normal spring temperatures, and things really started to open up.

Spring Beauty, Greenlawn Cemetery.

False Rue Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bloodroot in full bloom, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

The very tiny flowers of Common Speedwell, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwart, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Highbanks Metro Park, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies “march” across the forest floor, High Banks Metro Park, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

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Often, as we looked for wildflowers, there was activity overhead. A quick glance up indicated that many of the birds were kinglets and they seemed to be everywhere. Armed with that awareness, we dusted off the “bird cameras” and for the next few days made kinglets our primary objective. Often when one decides to look for a specific bird efforts are frustrated, but in this case the kinglets cooperated. “Cooperated” should be qualified by saying that they only do as much as such a hyper active bird can. As many birders know all to well, they’re a challenge to follow with binoculars much less a telephoto equipped camera.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, Duranceaux Park.

Take 2, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 3, Duranceaux Park.

 

Take 4, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Not seen as often, we had less luck with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets. For the most part they stayed in the low thickets and brush and moved constantly, with fleeting views often partially obscured by small branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Showing off it’s ruby crown.

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Where there are kinglets there are often .   .   .

Carolina Chickadee, common but not always easy to photograph, Duranceaux Park.

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While the activity continued below, high overhead a Red-tailed Hawk surveyed it’s realm.

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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On one outing a group of Black Vultures was seen perched in a Sycamore along the shore of the reservoir. Not a real common sight in central Ohio. Closer examination of the nearby area revealed the partially devoured carcass of a deer.

Black Vultures, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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We don’t want to forget some of the other birds seen as we looked for kinglets.

No bird’s song speaks to us in the spring like that of the the Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are often taken for granted as they are one of the most numerous of their kind but the beauty of this male is undeniable, Greenlawn Cemetery,

Momentarily fooling us into thinking it was a Goldfinch, this Pine Warbler was seen at Greenlawn Cemetery.

Later in the year as low lying bushes leaf out the Eastern Towhee, a large colorful sparrow, will be much harder to see, Greenlawn Cemetery.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Bluebirds never fail to put a smile on our face, Griggs Reservoir Park.

With fast departing remnants of a spring snow an American Goldfinch warms itself in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir Park. surrounded by

Always a thrill to see, we were entertained by this acrobatic Black and White Warbler, Greenlawn Cemetery, (Donna).

If I were a first time visitor to Ohio from Europe, I would be enchanted by this American Cardinal, Griggs Reservoir Park.

On a cold spring morning we wonder what this Eastern Phoebe finds to eat, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very healthy looking male House Finch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

This Wood Duck pair  landed in “the pit” at Greenlawn Cemetery but left just as quickly when they realized they were being watched by a rather large group of birders, (Donna).

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As the ephemeral days of spring pass there will be other wildflowers and winged migrants to enchant, but for a brief moment in time, while on their yearly journey north, kinglets became the seasons exclamation point.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Waterfalls, Birds, and Other Things

Outings in small boats can provide a unique opportunity to view and photograph wildlife. While we don’t pursue birds in our canoe, one will often take flight when approached. When it does, often crossing right in front of us, it offers an opportunity to get a nice “in flight” profile shot. Gliding silently without paddling often provides a chance to get very close to birds thus offering a photographic opportunity that may not be found while hiking.

Note: underlined text denotes a link which may be clicked on for additional information.

Prothonotary Warbler, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

Immature Common Merganser, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A Spotted Sandpiper let us get very close, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Easter Spiny Softshell, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

As we get closer a Great Blue Heron takes flight, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Near the end of our paddle we spot a Great Blue Heron trying to figure out what to do with a just captured snake, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Male House Finch, from the canoe on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

A few days ago Wild Columbine was still in bloom along Griggs Reservoir’s the low cliffs, from the canoe, (Donna).

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A small boat may also allow access to hard to reach points of interest for which there is limited or no access on land. In this case it was one named and one unnamed waterfall along Griggs Reservoir that were energized by the recent rain.

Entering a small creek leading to one of Griggs reservoirs waterfalls.

I’ve paddled as far as I can but fortunately it’s only a short walk to the falls.

Good flow over the falls which are about 6-8 feet high. The shot taken under cloudy conditions which controlled shadows.

Take 2. I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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Hayden Run Falls:

Paddling into the cove at Hayden Run Falls a Great Egret does a welcoming dance as two mallards look on.

Hayden Run Falls, about 35 feet high, benefitted from the recent rain. From the canoe pullout a not so easy hike up a rain swollen creek was required to get to the falls. Normally when using a digital single lens reflex I would have opted for a slower shutter speed to create a sense of motion in the water but a Canon SX40 superzoom and the lack of a tripod limited my options. Hayden Run Falls is also accessible via a boardwalk with parking provided off Hayden Run Road.

 

Take 2. Again, I’m not sure which shot I like best.

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<<<>>>

When paddling it’s sometimes hard not to do a little cleanup. However, trying to clean up plastic, not to mention all the other stuff, after it’s already in the environment is next to impossible. While some litter is thrown directly into the reservoir, much finds it’s way in by way of storm drains. The reservoir, home to an amazing amount of biodiversity, thus becomes an aquatic “trash can” for a good percentage of the city’s litter.  This phenomena can be observed to a greater or lesser degree in all of Ohio’s lakes and streams. Paddle lakes and streams in states like Michigan or Maine and it’s obvious that a Ohio Beverage Container Deposit Law would largely eliminate this problem.

Trash canoe.

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<<<>>>

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In the past week, when not in the canoe, we’ve had opportunities explore Griggs Reservoir Park as well as a few other favorite spots.

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Birds:

Immature Song Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Catbird, Griggs Reservoir Park.

I know it’s a very common bird, but the lovely light compelled me to take the picture, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Chipping Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Protonotary Warbler, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Mother Mallard with babies, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Perhaps the tail end of the warblers a female American Redstart poses for my wife, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Baltimore Orioles continue to be quite common in Griggs Reservoir Park.

Great Egret preening, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Great Blue Heron with fish, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Tree Swallow, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

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As spring turns to summer insects are becoming much more common:

Zebulon Skipper, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Little Wood-sater, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Take 2, (Donna).

Grape Leaffolder Moth, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Golden-back Snipe Fly. Adults and larvae feed on a variety of small insects, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, (Donna).

Making more flies, (Donna).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Flowers seen are unique to late spring and early summer:

Blue-flagged Iris, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Canada Anemone, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Reservoir Park.

In my humble opinion the flower of Virginia Waterleaf is not nearly as pretty as it’s early spring leaves, (Donna).

Blue-eyed Grass, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Bittersweet Nightshade, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wafer Ash flowers (not always in the shape of a heart), Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Other things:

A Northern Water Snake creates patterns on the otherwise still surface, Twin Lakes, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve.

Very small Snapping Turtle, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna).

After quite a bit of rain the fungus is doing well in Griggs Park.

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The view down a short path leading to the reservoir shows the vegetation to be almost fully leafed out.

Griggs Reservoir Park.

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A special thanks to my wife for supplying many of the photos in this post included those from the canoe as I handled the boat. Given that spring is winding down, my guess is that future posts will contain fewer warbler pictures and probably more insect pictures but one never knows for sure. Future posts may also document new Ohio places explored or at least unique places that haven’t been visited in awhile. Until then, 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.

Spring Wildflowers? Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

The whole idea was to look for early spring wildflowers at one of our favorite Columbus metro parks. As you’ve probably remember us mentioning in the past, one of the good or bad things about looking for very small flowers hiding in last years leaf litter or in amongst other much larger plants is that you find other things, usually trash, but sometimes something very special, something you’ve never seen before. Such was the case yesterday on what turned out to be a seven mile ramble around the trails of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Many folks come to the park to see the bison, once native to Ohio.

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We hadn’t gone far when my wife spotted a very curious object. Arriving back home and checking was our rather limited guide to north American fungi we were able to come up with a fairly educated guess that it was Devil’s Urn, one of the earliest fungi to emerge in the spring.

Devil’s Urn

A little further on another unusual looking fungi was also spotted but this one’s identity remains a mystery.

Some type of polypore?

Turkey Tail, an example of a commonly seen fungi.

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Of coarse the real reason for the hike was the flowers and they didn’t disappoint.

Virginia Bluebells

Purple Cress

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Pink Rue Anemone

The easily overlooked very small flowers of the Harbinger-of-spring, (Donna).

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

Toadshade Trillium, (Donna).

Yellow Corydalis, (Donna).

As pretty as any flower, Virginia Waterleaf.

Due to it’s fragile and fleeting nature the flower of the Bloodroot is one of the more difficult to capture.

Immerging Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Take 2, (Donna).

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It’s hard to simultaneously look for wildflowers and birds but a few were hard to ignore, either because of their number or their song.

 

An Eastern Towhee in full song is hard to ignore.

 

At one point a large group of Golden-crowned Kinglets flittered about overhead.

Take two.

Several White-breasted Nuthatches provided a welcome diversion as they chased each other around the tree, (Donna).

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Anytime we discover something that we’ve never seen before it makes for a very special day. 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.

Turtles, Snakes, Hawks . . . , Oh My!

Recent explorations in the central Ohio natural places have been good to us. As mentioned in previous posts the warblers are becoming quieter and much harder to find but as is often the case we find other things to fascinate. Below are some discoveries from the past week.

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Early summer wildflowers and flowering trees and bushes.

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Hairy Beardtongue, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

 

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Squaw Root, Highbanks Metro Park. Never what one would think of as attractive this example is a bit past it’s prime

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Purple Rocket, Griggs Park.

 

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Flower of the Tulip Tree, Highbanks.

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Fire Pink, Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

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Spiderwort, Glacier Ridge.

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Hairy Hawkweed, Glacier Ridge.

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Squarrose Sedge, Glacier Ridge.

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Mystery flowering bush, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Goats beard, non-native, Griggs Park, (Donna FZ200).

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Blue Flag Iris, Kiwanis Riverway Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Virginia Waterleaf, Highbanks. It’s unusual that the leaves are still variegated. The variegated leaves are one of the beautiful things to look for on the forest floor in the early spring.

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Closer look at a waterleaf flower.

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While we’re not seeing the warblers now other birds are still cooperating.

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Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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An easy to hear hard to see Red-eyed Vireo, O’Shaughnessy Nature Preserve, Twin Lakes Area.

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Great Blue Heron takes a momentary swim in Griggs Reservoir, Canon SX40.

 

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The Prothonotary Warblers continue their nesting activity below Griggs Dam along the Scioto River, SX40.

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In the Scioto Below Griggs Dam a Great Blue Heron waits for a lunch delivery, Canon SX40.

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Eastern Phoebe, Highbanks.

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Song Sparrow, Glacier Ridge.

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Barn Swallow, Glacier Ridge.

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Field Sparrow with a mouthful, Glacier Ridge.

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This past week it was fascinating to see Snapping Turtles laying their eggs at Griggs Park.

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Snapping Turtle, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Snapping turtle nest. This one may have already been raided by a raccoon.

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Other reptiles and amphibians also made an appearance.

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Rat Snake high off the forest floor in a tree hole, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50).

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Bullfrog tadpole, Glacier Ridge.

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Bullfrog, Glacier Ridge.

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We’re heading into the insect time of year. Confirmed by the number seen recent walks.

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Bumble Bee, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Zabulon Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Silver-spotted Skipper, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Cabbage White Bouquet, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

 

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Tawny-edged Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200).

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Common Whitetail, (F), Highbanks, ZS50.

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Common Whitetail (M), Highbanks, ZS50.

 

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Female Blue Dasher, Griggs Park, (Donna, FZ200)

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When you’re looking for interesting insects and flowers other things magically appear.

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Bleeding Tooth, Highbanks, (Donna, ZS50)

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Dead tree, the victim of “bootstrap fungus Bootstrap fungus is caused by honey mushrooms, which are parasitic on live wood and send out long root like structures called rhizomorphs between the wood of a tree and its bark”. (thanks NH Garden Solutions for the ID help!), Highbanks.

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Hope everyone enjoyed our nature menagerie.

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Fishing on the Scioto below Griggs Dam, SX40.

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Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

xxx

 

Vernal Pools and Spring Wildflowers

The woods at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park  are a very good place to take a long walk. This time of the year, if you love spring wildflowers, it’s a great place. Yesterday, with that in mind, we packed water and a lunch and headed out with the goal of seeing trilliums and perhaps a few spring warblers.

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The park’s spring woods contain many shallow pools that usually last a few weeks and are gone. The aesthetics of these vernal pools is primarily what attracts me but the real magic is that, due to their lack of predatory fish, they are home to a variety insects and other small creatures. The most obvious of these being various species of frogs and toads which use the pools for reproduction. Salamanders may also use them to reproduce. Depending on location fairy shrimp may also be part of the mix.

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Some pools are small.

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Others larger.

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When not being fascinated by the vernal pools it was impossible not to be enchanted by the emerging life of the forest floor most dramatically represented by the wildflowers.

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It was the striking appearance of this Toad Shade Trillium’s leaves that attracted our attention. In a few short days they will be uniformly green.

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Dutchman’s Breeches were everywhere.

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A rare pink variant. (Donna)

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Wood Anemone

 

 

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While not quite as common as the Dutchman’s Breaches, we did see a lot of Cutleaf Toothwort. (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort, another look.

 

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This Yellow Violet was one of a few we saw. (Donna)

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Beautiful but unusual Yellow Sedge. (Donna)

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The small flowers of the Yellow Corydalis. (Donna)

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The beauty of Virginia Waterleaf.

 

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Large groups of White Trout Lilies were seen.

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This one was ahead of the others. (Donna)

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Spring Beauties were well represented.

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Some were more pink in color. (Donna)

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Spicebush, (Donna)

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Fragile but beautiful Rue Anemone.

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Rue Anemone, another look.

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Purple Cress

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Spring showcases the beauty and symmetry of young leaves

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Virginia Bluebells that were slightly ahead of the rest.

 

But when your looking for wildflowers you just might see   .   .   .

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Common Water snakes enjoying the warmth of the spring sun.

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While no warblers were seen there were other birds to enjoy.

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Female Eastern Towhee

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The male was close by.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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Male Downy Woodpecker. (Donna)

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With the female close by. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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The fact that the warblers and white trilliums eluded us has provided good reason for a return visit. Not that one is needed.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Enchants

We’re in the process of preparing for a hiking trip in Scotland and what better park than Battelle Darby to go for a long walk. Besides, who knows what flowers, birds, or other wildlife might make an appearance, or what follow bloggers we might meet along the way. My wife cautioned that we shouldn’t stop too often to look at “things” or the walk would lose it’s training effect. As you can see from the photos we weren’t entirely successful in meeting that goal.

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Trail at the south end of the park

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Our route:

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The route

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The first thing we noticed was an Eastern Meadowlark:

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Eastern Meadowlark no far from the Nature Center

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Eastern Meadowlark

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Not long after that wildflowers started to appear:

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Log and Appendaged Waterleaf

Oxeye Daisy Duet

Ox-eye Daisies, (Donna)

Miami Mist - J Petranka's Flickr Site

Miami Mist, new to us, seen but not photographed due to technical difficulties – picture is from J Petranka’s Flickr Site. This flower is interesting for reasons other than it’s beauty. As my wife found out, if touched it can produce a fairly severe burning itching sensation in the area that comes in contact!

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Yellow Flag Iris

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White or Red Baneberry, new to us.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Virginia Waterleaf

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Wild Geranium

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Violet Wood Sorrel, new to us, perennial plant is up to 6″ tall. It consists of a small cluster of trifoliate basal leaves on long petioles that emerge directly from the ground. Individual trifoliate leaves are about 1″ across and they open up during the day. The leaves may turn purplish in response to cold weather or strong sunlight, otherwise, they tend to be greyish green. (from the web)

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Black Cherry

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Foam Flower

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Goats Beard

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White Violet

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Appendaged Waterleaf, (Donna)

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Spiderwort

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Spiderwort, (Donna)

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Wild Cucumber

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Where there are flowers:

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Northern Pearly-eye (Donna)

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Pearl Crescent , (Donna)

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Not to be outdone the birds started to show up.

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Eastern Wood Pewee

 

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Femal Eastern Bluebird, (Donna)

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Red-winged Blackbird, (Donna)

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, (Donna)

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In a tree along a meadow a Indigo Bunting sings.

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At one point along the trail we heard a fairly loud buzzing/whirring sound coming from the nearby woods, like a sound that might be made by many small wings. We headed over to investigate and found a swarm of bees! Have you ever seen such a thing? Neither had we. After pictures were taken we didn’t stick around.

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Bee Swarm!!!!

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As the trail returned to the river’s edge we collected ourselves and noticed a Common Water Snake relaxing on a rock. A  little later a Rat snake was seen but not photographed until another one was seen at the nature center.

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Common Water Snake on a rock in the Big Darby

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Back at the nature center Tim shows us a Rat Snake

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A immature Gray Squirrel seems curious as is watches from a trailside tree.

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Young Gray Squirrel

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From what we could see on the trees, the park isn’t home to a rich variety of lichens but we did see a very nice shelf fungus.

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Polypore fungi, (Donna)

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Our walk was made all the more special because we had the opportunity to meet and take a few minutes to chat with Tracy of Season’s Flow. We left the park tired from the long walk and the many investigative side trips but so much richer for our experience.

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The Big Darby in spring.

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The Trilliums Were Everywhere

It was a beautiful spring day so, along with some of our hiking buddies, we decided to celebrate with a hike to Yellow Springs by way of  Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park. Wildflowers were everywhere, including Virginia Bluebells, Jack in The Pulpit, Toadshade Trillium, and Dutchman’s Breeches but we were most impressed by the Large Flowered Trilliums. The area is one of Ohio’s most beautiful and a great place for spring wildflowers. If you have any interest don’t hesitate, they won’t be around long.

click on the images for a better view

As we started down the trail it was apparent that things were just starting to green up.

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Overlooking the Little Miami River

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Trail through Clifton Gorge

But the view from a distance was deceiving. The first flowers seen were Dutchman’s Breeches. On this day they were more common than the trilliums.

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Dutchman’s Breeches

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Dutchman’s Breeches close-up.

Further on we noticed Virginia Bluebells. They ended up giving the trilliums a run for their money.

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Virginia Bluebells

A stream along the trail was running cold and clear.

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John Bryan State Park

 

Virginia Waterleaf and Toadshade Trillium also made a guest appearance.

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Virginia Waterleaf with Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trilium

Trout Lillys were making a good case for flower of the day.

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Trout Lilly

But who invited the Wild Ginger?

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Wild Ginger

There were also cameos by some other plants and flowers. Not all of which were identified.

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Any guesses?

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Large-flowered Bellwort, (Donna)

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Wild Leeks (Ramps)

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Jack in The Pulpit

 

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Rue Anemone, (Donna)

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Another one we haven’t identified yet.

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Marsh Marigolds

But nothing compared with the Large Flowered Trillium for sheer wow!

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Large Flowered Trilliums

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Trilliums everywhere!

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Large Flowered Trillium

Finally after all the excitement it was time for a rest.

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A interesting tree along the trail.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Voyages and Experiences in Israel

Nareszcie urlop

English & Polish TravelBlog / Poland, Europe, the World

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

Imagery of Light

Photography by Sheila Creighton

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

Views From A Small Island

A photographic record of the everyday and the not so everyday life around the UK.

Mike Powell

My journey through photography