A Heron, Egret, and Cormorant Rookery in Columbus

If you’d like to see nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants pack up your binoculars or better yet a spotting scope, and head over to Campbell Park off McKinley Avenue and just south of Trabue Rd. The park is interesting in it’s own right because it’s one of the last ancient cone-shaped burial mounds in Columbus, but in addition, the top of the mound happens to be a great vantage point to view an island rookery located in the middle of the adjacent quarry.

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We learned about the spot by chance from a fellow birding enthusiast while looking for migrating warblers along the Scioto River in Columbus. So before we get to the rookery, below are a few shots from our adventures along the Scioto in recent days.

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Prothonotary Warbler along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker being a good parent along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Turkey Vultures along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200, (Donna).

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Robin singing, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, FZ200. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Kiwanis River Way Park

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. . . just a minute I’m not quite ready!

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park

 

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Bluebird, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Cardinal, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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When we’re not looking for birds .   .   .

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Kiwanis River Way Park

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Butterweed, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Shooting Star, Kiwanis River Way Park.

 

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???, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wood Sorrel, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Spring Beauty, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Black Swallowtail, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Fleabane, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Campbell Park and the rookery. Views through our spotting scope were much better!

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Entrance to the mound. Campbell Park.

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Historical Marker

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The best view of the island and rookery (the only view really), was from the top of the mound.

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The bird camera at full zoom, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Looking around the island, nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Another view, Black-crowned Night Herons can just be made out in the lower lift corner, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Donna’s FZ200 takes a look at a variety of nesting birds.

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Nests, , Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Nesting cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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While my wife was investigating the wildflowers and butterflies I also tried some photos with a Digi-scope rig but the results were disappointing no doubt the result of operator error. If you have such equipment I recommend giving it a try. At the very least bring your spotting scope and enjoy the view while many of the birds are still on their nests.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Sometimes It Takes A Knock On The Head

In central Ohio it’s the time of the year when finding subjects that inspire a photograph can be a bit of a challenge. Contemplating a paddle in November, given a suitable day, usually means we’re thinking more about getting exercise than about the birds or other wildlife we might see. But if we happen upon something interesting, such as migrating waterfowl, so much the better. Such was the case a few days ago on Griggs Reservoir.

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The sun low in the south, water dark, reflections of naked branches.

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One of our favorite coves looks quite different now.

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As we paddled, it wasn’t long before we did spot waterfowl.

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Still pretty far away, as I continue to paddle my wife catches a pair of Wood Ducks.

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As we get closer they don’t hang around, (Donna).

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In a second they were gone, (Donna).

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A solitary Pie-billed Grebe also makes an appearance

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Pie-billed Grebe, not as timid as the Wood Ducks

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Not to be completely upstaged by the “ducks”, two hawks watch as we glide by.

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Red-tailed Hawk, (Donna)

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Coopers Hawk, (Donna)

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xxx

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A few days after our paddle, we wanted to get out of the house and enjoy a little nature before a prediction for cold and rainy weather went into effect. Since we weren’t sure when the rain would arrive we decided to travel the short distance to Griggs Park which borders the reservoir and the Scioto River. It was a cloudy/partly sunny day starting out, but the wind, warning of weather soon to change, was strong. Given the conditions, expectations weren’t high.

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Along the top of the Griggs Reservoir Dam gulls enjoy a warm but windy November day.

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Perhaps a little too windy.

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The good news; even on a windy day there’s something to see.

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Mushroom community, (Donna)

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Oyster Mushrooms, (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, (Donna)

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Recent rains brought out finger-like fungi, (Donna)

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Shelf fungi, (Donna)

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Eastern Wahoo, perhaps the most colorful thing around.

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But we had a slightly different priority for this particular day’s walk. During a recent trip we had noticed that along the river below the dam a secluded area in the woods had been commandeered for drinking and perhaps other things. A “hideout” had been fashioned out of available limbs and branches. Based on the accumulation of beer cans, other trash, and the existence of old wood furniture, it appeared that the area was being used on a regular basis. Since the surrounding area, while not a formal park space, is used by numerous people, along with their kids, for walking, exploring, birding, fishing, etc., the hideout had the potential to grow into a real problem. So, with the necessary tools and determination, the area was dismantled and the trash removed. Being a natural area in the middle of the city there is no illusion of permanency but at least for a while the “hideout” is gone.

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Reflections along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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But the task was not accomplished before an overhanging branch came into contact with the top of my head. Ouch!!! So the real point to this story is not the remediation of the area but the fact that I’m a bit superstitious. You see, normally when I do a good deed, picking up a discarded soda can here or a fast food wrapper there, I imagine good luck will follow. Perhaps we’ll see an unusual bird or something. With that in mind, after my painful encounter with the branch, and with my head still throbbing, I was hoping for something really spectacular.

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Amazingly enough as we continued south along the river, it wasn’t long before we heard two birds carrying on quite a conversation  .   .   .

a pair of Bald Eagles!

.   .   .   and they appeared to be working on a nest!

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Okay, who’s going to get the next stick?

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I got the last one!

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Are you sure? Seems like I’m doing most of the work!

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So as I finish this post, I’m still excited about the eagles and my head has actually stopped throbbing. It remains to be seen if their efforts at nesting will be successful. While the area around the nest tree isn’t easily accessible, it also isn’t the quietist, and is certainly not remote. But what a treat, and as we often like to say when something of wonder is seen near home, “right within the city limits of Columbus”!

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Taking a break during one of our paddles on Griggs Reservoir, (Donna)

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xxx

A Mink and a Dragonfly

Minks are not something one usually thinks of when exploring natural areas within the confines of a city like Columbus, Ohio. Over the years we’ve seen a few, but they’re rare, and it had been awhile since our last sighting. We debated between a drive to the Hocking Hills, a beautiful area near Columbus, for a fall color hike, or a paddle on the reservoir near our home. We decided to take advantage of a sunny relatively calm day and put the canoe in the water. As you may have guessed, our decision resulted in seeing a Mink and a dragonfly.

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Recently, while walking along Griggs Reservoir, color and scenery has been about as good as it gets.

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Along the reservoir, Griggs Park.

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West shore.

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Looking up.

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Walking along the reservoir.

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While we don’t have the brilliant red’s of the state up north, autumn in Ohio has it’s own beauty.

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The same color and scenery drew us in as we started our paddle. We had the reservoir to ourselves, not another boat, not even a fisherman, to be seen. For a place in the middle if the city, it was quiet. A very slight 55 degree morning breeze greeted us and we had to keep moving to stay warm. The temperature, the sound of our paddles and that of the canoe as it knifed through the water, as well as the autumn shore quietly passing by, all served to encourage us on.

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Photographing a Griggs Reservoir cove.

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No shortage of leaves on the water

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Hayden Run as it flows into the reservoir.

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Trees and leaves.

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Working our way north.

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Pool along Hayden Run

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The north end of the reservoir has fewer boat docks and can be quite beautiful.

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Green giving way to yellow.

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Cove along the west shore.

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A red leaf!

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During recent walks, as well as during our paddle, we’ve seen numerous birds. They’ve been very active.

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A Goldfinch blends in.

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A resident Great Blue Heron enjoying the autumn sun.

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But we get too close.

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Poetry .   .   .

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Cormorants flying high overhead, (Donna).

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A male Wood Duck stays put as two females streak by overhead, (Donna).

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A Nuthatch goes about it’s business along the shore.

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Mallard’s stand at attention, almost, (Donna).

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A Red tail hawk soars overhead, (Donna)

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Male Downy Woodpecker

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A Bluebird seeming to enjoy the fall colors.

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Inspecting it’s new digs, (Donna).

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Our interest in birds was interrupted when, after travelling about a mile north along the western shore, we saw the Mink. We almost fell out of the canoe. Normally, when one get’s really excited about something seen, you screw up when attempting to photograph it. We were lucky, between the two of us we managed to get a few good shots.

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Mink, (Donna)

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Take 2, (Donna)

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Take 3.

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And as if the Mink wasn’t enough, at the very north end of the reservoir we pulled out to explore a low lying often wet area that’s home to birds, insects, and wildflowers .   .   .

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Very north end of the reservoir.

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.  .  .  and while there wasn’t much in the way of wildflowers we did manage to discover a new for us dragonfly, an Autumn Meadowhawk. Needless to say we were excited!

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The weathered, sun warmed, surface of a log attracts mating Autumn Meadowhawks, (Donna)

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It had been an invigorating, wonderful day, brisk and clear, with some wind, but never enough to effect our speed as we made our way south and home. Thinking about all we had seen, it was hard to believe our good fortune.

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Thanks for stopping by.

It Was A Really Big Beaver, Honest!

Early this morning I decided to take a break from warblers and such and go kayak fishing on Griggs Reservoir. During the week with most people at work it’s actually pretty quiet, so along with catching and releasing pan fish and an occasional bass, wildlife are often seen. With this in mind, I usually have a small pocket cam and a pair of binoculars with me.

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I had just started fishing after paddling across the reservoir when I noticed a rather large tree stump that seemed to be eating something. It became obvious real quick, even without the aid of binoculars (it was only about 25 feet away), that it was a very large Beaver.  Given it’s size, this one must have been a very mature specimen as Beaver continue to grow throughout their lives. It was a great photographic opportunity that wasn’t, as my pocket cam with it’s handy 20x zoom was resting safety on my desk at home right beside my binoculars.  The only excuse is that an early morning fog had apparently shrouded my brain. Not long after that, again along the shore, a Mink momentarily stopped it’s constant and often erratic movement to gaze curiously as I fished. Again, no camera, no pictures.

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It was a good outing, a little over five miles of paddling, Wood Ducks, Baltimore Orioles, Double-crested Cormorants, Great-crested Flycatchers, etc.,  and a reasonable selection of fish caught. But I promise to take the Beaver and Mink more seriously during future outings in the hope that an upcoming post may contain a few photos. For now, I humbly offer the below, taken during a recent walk along the reservoir.

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Lot’s of green.

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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One of the most beautiful of our late spring wildflowers.

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Blue Flag Iris

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Multiflora Rose is making an appearance along the river.

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Often grouped together a Multiflora Rose is singled out.

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Other flower’s also delight.

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Goats Beard, (Donna)

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Deptford Pink, (Donna)

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A particularly attractive grouping of Daisy Flaebane

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My wife notices some small skippers.

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Male Zabulan, (Donna)

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Dun Skipper, (Donna)

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A White breasted Nuthatch shows off some pretty nice accommodations.

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White Breasted Nuthatch along Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Caterpillar Has a Bad Day

Often I’m so caught up the beauty of nature and that I lose touch with it’s other “darker” side. It’s easy to forget that it’s “a jungle out there”. When in such an elevated state it’s usually not long before I see something that brings me back to reality and the awareness of just how tough nature can be. It’s about trying to eat and keep from being eaten. In the sequence below it’s obvious that whatever defenses the caterpillar had they weren’t effective. It’s hard not to feel sorry of the caterpillar and lower our opinion of the nuthatch. We humans tend to do that. Trying to feel better, I find myself thinking about the consequences of an unchecked caterpillar population, but of course I’m left with the realization that unchecked population growth in any group is bad for the system as a whole.

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Nuthatch with caterpillar, 1

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2

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3

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4

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5

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Then, as it often does, being out in nature brings me back from darker thoughts with a message of hope, and gives reason to smile.

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Baby Mallards, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

Looking For Spring

Some out of town travel has resulted in fewer posts in the last couple of weeks but now we’re back searching for plants, animals, and birds that will encourage us that spring, which so far has been too slow to green, leaf, and flower, is not that far away. Based on things seen while walking along the river recently, which included Turkey Buzzards, Double Crested Cormorants, and Tree Swallows, we are encouraged.

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Below are some things seen along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River in the last week:

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Along the Scioto River some area Bluebell plants are just emerging, (Donna)

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A few days later we see progress, (Donna)

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Cutleaf Toothwort is getting ready to bloom, (Donna)

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Virginia Waterleaf doesn’t need to bloom to be beautiful, (Donna)

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A very close look at Harbinger of Spring reveals it’s beauty, (Donna)

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A solitary Trout Lilly bloom leads the way, (Donna)

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Spring Beauty does it’s best to add some color, (Donna)

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The Toad Shade Trillium are very close to blooming, (Donna)

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An island of unidentified green, (Donna)

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A Brown Creeper doing what it does best.

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Along the Scioto an Eastern Phoebe eludes a good picture. The first one seen this year..

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Eastern Phoebe along the Scioto.

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A White breasted Nuthatch finding lunch among the still bare branches

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White breasted Nuthatch

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Bloodroot, beautiful and one of the earliest wild flowers.

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Bloodroot, (Donna)

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Coltsfoot almost seeming to smile.

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Another view, (Donna).

 

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Buds getting ready to leaf out, (Donna)

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Common Chickweed is a welcome sight as it gets ready to bloom.

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We found still green Dutchmen’s Breaches along the river, (Donna)

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The fact is, if spring progressed any faster we would surely miss a lot. That’s something that undoubtedly happens anyway but at what seems like spring’s usual snails pace it feels like we at least have a chance to see it’s wonder.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Early Spring Raindrops and Kinglets

The other day I was chatting with a friend and looking out the window at an early spring, gray brown, day. A quiet rain was falling. Water hung on still bare branches focusing the light. The water drop points of light reminded me that we need to cherish each day. Some days are just easier than others.

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Early spring rain.

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. . . but a closer look.

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Early spring days do try men’s souls. Certainly not an original thought. We can’t help but feel like we’re waiting for something.

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Waiting for green along Griggs Reservoir.

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To better manage such discontent, maybe the trick is to always be curious. The other day a Red Winged Blackbird stopped by are front yard feeder. Not something we’ve seen before as it’s a bird associated with more rural settings and we live right in the middle of the city.

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An uncooperative Red Winged Black Bird at the top of a tree in our front yard.

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Recently, on a day blessed with more sunshine, we went looking for Snow Trilliums. There is one spot along the reservoir not far from our house that so far has not been overrun by development or more common plants. No trilliums were seen. We’ll try again in a few days.

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But patience and attention pay off because we did see a few birds, most notably Golden Crowned Kinglets. A bird that will soon be heading north.

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Along Griggs Reservoir, on one of the few remaining areas covered with ice, a Hering Gull dwarfs a Ring-billed.

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A White-breasted Nuthatch peeks from behind a tree as we look for trilliums.

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Donna captures a beautiful Downy Woodpecker.

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The same downy from a different angle.

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Donna decided to take this photo but we’re not sure the Robin was happy about it.

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Probably the earliest we’ve ever seen a Mocking Bird, (Donna)

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Where there are Nuthatches and Downy’s you usually see Chickadees, (Donna).

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Not far away a Song Sparrow announces spring.

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We can always count on a Red-bellied Woodpecker to make an appearance.

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The real treat of the day were the Golden-crowned Kinglets, (Donna)

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But when you’re looking at the ground for trilliums you do see other things.

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Snowdrops are one of the earliest spring flowers to poke their head above the ground, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Vernal witch hazel contrasting beautifully with the gray brown surroundings, (Donna)

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This time of year the lichen really stands out, (Donna)

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Adding color to otherwise drab branches.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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