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.

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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.

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A view from the canoe.

Devoe Lake

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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).

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Early morning solitude near our campsite.

Looking across the Jewett Lake.

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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.

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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”)

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Late Summer at Prairie Oaks

The last few days we’ve spent some time at Prairie Oaks Metro Park looking for early migrating warblers that are now making their way south through central Ohio.  We’ve heard them, even seen them, but their constant movement and the leaf cover have foiled most attempts at pictures. However, as is usually the case, there were plenty of other things that capture our imagination.  The fact is, it’s also a great time of the year for insects, and with recent rains that includes the biting kind, the price of admission.

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P1050012

Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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As we walked, we couldn’t help but notice the abundance of wildflowers.

Yellow flowers Bouquet 1 best 1 090115 Prairie Oaks cp1

Jerusalem Artichoke, (also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour), is a sunflower native to eastern North America. Cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable tasting something like an artichoke.

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Virgin’s Bower has an attractive flower,

Virgin's Bower IMG_9100a

Virgin’s Bower

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.   .   .   but it’s appearance after it goes to seed may be more fascinating.

Virgin's Bower gone to seed 083015 Prairie Oaks cp1

Virgin’s Bower gone to seed, (Donna)

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Great Blue Lobelia

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Evening Primrose

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IMG_9099

Daisies

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A wooded trail offered the opportunity to see fungi.

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Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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.   .   .   and it’s not long before some is seen.

Wood Ear 2 closer 1 083015 Prairie Oaks cp1

Wood Ear, (Donna)

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Unidentified Fungi P1160058

A type of polypore, (Donna)

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Orange Mycena P1160066

Orange Mycena, (Donna)

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Along the park’s meadows we were fortunate to see a few butterflies, Monarchs and a few other suspects.

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Viceroy

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A small tussock moth caterpillar levitates.

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Monarch (female) IMG_9103 (2)

Female Monarch

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Black Swallowtail IMG_9169use

Black Swallowtail

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Common Wood-nymph IMG_9110

Common Wood-nymph

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The water’s edge of a park pond is home to frogs and turtles.

P1050030

Eastern (Northern) Cricket Frog, is one of North America’s smallest vertebrates, 0.75–1.50 in long. diet is small insects, including mosquitos. They are preyed upon by birds, fish, and other frogs. To escape predators, they are capable of leaping up to 3 feet in a single jump and are excellent swimmers. (from Wikipedia)

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Red-eared Slider IMG_9155 (2)

Red-eared Slider. The box turtle shaped shell is interesting for an animal that spends much of it’s time in the water.

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IMG_9184

Painted Turtle reflection.

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Along with being excellent frog and turtle habitat, it’s a great place to see dragonflies.

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A pond at Prairie Oaks.

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Widow Skimmer P1050025

Widow Skimmer

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P1050035

Female Eastern Pondhawk.

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Haloween Pennant P1160143

Halloween Pennant, (Donna).

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Halloween Pennants IMG_9149 (2)

Halloween Pennants mating.

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Halloween Pennants IMG_9131 (2)

Three’s a crowd.

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Common Whitetail 2 closer better 1 090115 Prairie Oaks csb1

Common Whitetail, (Donna)

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Not far from the dragonflies .   .   .

Spider grande 2 back view 1 090115 Prairie Oaks cp1

Garden Spider, (Donna)

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Garden Spider, (underside)

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Another view of the Big Darby as it runs through Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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A few birds that managed not to elude the camera’s lens.

IMG_9203 (2)

Immature House Finch

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IMG_9177cuse (2)

Red-headed Woodpecker A rare sighting but a little too far away for a great picture.

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Red-headed Woodpecker 2 closer 1 090115 Prairie Oaks cp1

Another view, (Donna)

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IMG_9196 (2)

Ground squirrels beware! Across a park meadow a Red-tailed Hawk surveys it’s realm.

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Bay-breasted Warbler IMG_9129 (2)

Bay-breasted Warbler

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Just one more look at the river.

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The Big Darby

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Thanks for stopping by.

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