High Banks Spring Walk; Concretions Seen, Warblers Heard

It was a beautiful day for a hike at Highbanks Metro Park with friends. Warblers were our main objective but no doubt there would be other things to fascinate if the warblers decided not to cooperate.

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One of those things turned out to be concretions. We’ve hiked and explored High Banks for years but one thing we’ve never noticed are the concretions that exist along creek bottoms in the park. This partly due to the fact that they are not visible from the main trail and generally we avoid going off trail so as to not damage the landscape which, as is the case with most metro parks, is easily overrun. In this particular case we wondered why there was a worn path leading off the main trail so we decided to follow it for awhile.

According Wikipedia, “A concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil. Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the host stratum.”

Typical of the area in High Banks Metro Park where concretions might be found.

Sometimes one might see the rock formations as just random.

But other times things seem just a little different.

The origin of some shapes are difficult to figure out.

Others not so much.

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After the fascination of the concretions we decided to wander down the trail and see what warblers we might find.

Early morning sun filters through the trees at High Banks.

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While not warblers, we hadn’t gone far when several Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared in low lying bushes and weren’t shy about displaying their ruby crowns. They weren’t as good about sitting still of a picture. Along the Olentangy River Yellow-throated Warblers could be heard but not seen high in the Sycamores.

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 Other birds were more cooperative.

Tufted Titmouse

White-throated Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Pheobe

Okay, I know I’m not a bird but would you take my picture?

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As is often the case in the spring if one thing eludes there are always other things to enjoy. On this particular day it was trilliums many of which had turned pink as well as the many other wildflowers.

Large-flowered Trillium

 

There were a number of beautiful specimens.

There were also nice groupings  .   .   .

Standing at attention, almost.

and phlox trillium bouquets.

Phlox and Large-flowered Trillium.

Other types of trilliums were also seen.

Red Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

Nodding Trillium, (Donna)

Another view of a Nodding Trillium, (Donna).

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May Apples were starting to bloom.

May Apples

Hiding under the leaves the flower is not always easy to see, (Donna).

A closer look.

View along the trail, High Banks Metro Park.

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Other flowers, some not real common on central Ohio, were also seen.

Wild Geranium, (Donna).

Soloman’s Seal, (Donna).

Philadelphia Fleabane, (Donna).

 

Dame’s Rocket, (Donna).

Corn Salad, not real common, (Donna).

Purple Cress, (Donna).

Goldenseal, also not a common flower. In herbal medicine, goldenseal is used as a multi-purpose remedy.

Dogwood

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To one that is so inclined, time spent in nature feeds the soul. In spring the uninterrupted songs of the various birds as they go about their day is sublime even when they remain unseen. The air seems especially fragrant and pure. The still deep blue sky frames the translucent green of the immerging overhead leaves. Flowers grace the forest floor with their varied and unique loveliness.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo.

Turkeys, Trout Lilies and Other Spring Things

This post is a bit of a ramble covering our adventures in central Ohio nature over the past week. A search for wildflowers and warblers in area metro parks, a visit to a local city park to see if any warblers were passing through and finally the first long kayak paddle of the year. So I hope you enjoy the ride.

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In the spring wildflowers and migrating warblers are usually what comes to mind not turkeys. For me turkeys have always been a fall bird usually associated with a big meal that includes stuffing, gravy, and all the fixins. So a few days ago at Blendon Woods Metro Park it was a bit of a surprise to see a male turkey doing it’s best to convince a female that they should get together.

Turkey (M), Blendon Woods.

A closer look. In breeding plumage the feathers are truly spectacular, (Donna).

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The purpose of the trip to Blendon was to look for warblers. We were successful in spotting a few including a Black-throated Green which without to much effort eluded the camera’s lens. While we did see a few, we soon found ourselves seduced by the many wildflowers that were in bloom.

It won’t be long till the leaves fill in, Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Standing out due to their relative scarceness leaves evoke the feeling of flowers.

Yellow Trout Lilies were doing their best at Blendon Woods.

Another view as sunlight filters through from behind.

 

Wild Geranium, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Black haw viburnum, Blendon Woods.

There were some exceptional large examples of Toadshade Trillium at Blendon Woods.

Flowers aren’t the only thing worth taking a close look at.

Jacobs Ladder, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

Buttercup, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

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When not looking at wildflowers or for warblers there were other things  .   .   .

Birds are apparently not the only spring nest builders, Fox Squirrel, Blendon Woods, (Donna).

One of a least two mature albino squirrels seen. How they evade the hawks long enough to reach adulthood is a mystery to me.

Home to small darters, in the spring the small creeks in Blendon Woods flow freely.

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The day following our trip to Blendon Woods we headed to Clear Creek Metro Park for what turned out to be a rather long hike. Spring is especially fascinating at Clear Creek with a number of plants not found elsewhere in Ohio. The number of butterflies seen (Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Commas, Morning Cloaks, etc.) but not photographed, was truly amazing.

Blue Phlox, Clear creek Metro Park.

Foamflower, Clear creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Pussytoes (F), Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Fiddleheads, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Bluets, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Soloman’s Seal, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Virginia Bluebells, Clear Creek Metro Park.

Duskywing, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

Violet Wood Sorrel, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Spicebush Swallowtail, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Coltsfoot, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Dogwood, Clear Creek Metro Park

Wild Geranium, Clear Creek Metro Park. (Donna).

Rue Anemone, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Violets, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Squaw Root, a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America, when blooming resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees, (Wikipedia), Clear Creek Metro Park.

Fire Pink, Clear Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Closer to home within the city limits of Columbus along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir spring was also in full swing.

Redbuds, Griggs Park.

“Lovebirds”, male and female American Goldfinch, Griggs Park.

Blackberry, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Redwing Blackbird (M), Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Northern Flicker, Griggs Park.

Shooting Star, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

Buckeye, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

White-throated Sparrow, Kiwanis Riverway Park

Honeysuckle, (Native?), Kiwanis Riverway Park

Yellow-throated Warbler singing high in a Sycamore tree, Griggs Park.

Wild Ginger, Griggs Park, (Donna).

In week or so ago I spotted this pair of Blue jays starting work on a nest. They must have given up on that location as no nest was found on this particular day, Griggs park.,

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<<>>

Out on the reservoir there was also lot’s of activity, much of which eluded the camera’s lens, but some subjects cooperated just long enough. Spotted Sandpipers, turtles, Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets seemed to be everywhere. As I have undoubtedly mentioned in the past, shooting from a canoe or kayak has it’s own set of challenges, camera shake and the fact that everything is moving just to name a few, so when one gets a relatively good picture it’s truly cause for celebration. When paddling the kayak certain limitations are excepted so a relatively small light superzoom is usually what is taken. It’s easy to tuck out of the way and if it happens go swimming it’s not the end of the world.

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir.

Very small Red-eared Slider getting ready to attempt a double-backflip with a twist , Griggs Reservoir.

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Griggs Reservoir.

Great Egret in breeding plumage with a couple of close friends, Griggs Reservoir.

Note color around eyes.

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In the last week not far from our home it seemed that no matter which way we turned there was something wonderful to see. We hope that’s been your experience also. 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.

 

 

Clifton Gorge Celebrates Spring

A couple of times a year, usually in the spring and fall we get together with friends for a hike from Clifton to Yellow Springs and back. Yellow Springs turns out to be a great place for lunch with a number of excellent small restaurants and delis. The hike wanders through Clifton Gorge Nature PreserveJohn Bryan State Park, and finally Glen Helen Nature Preserve allowing us to enjoy a truly unique Ohio landscape. In the spring the quantity and diversity of wildflowers is truly amazing. The hike usually adds up to about ten miles so it necessitates compromises in the camera equipment we use. No heavy DSLR bird cameras here.  However, should you choose to bring more serious equipment or just not feel up to a long hike, there are many shorter options that still allow one to enjoy the natural beauty.

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Leaving Clifton the hike starts out overlooking a narrow stretch of the Little Miami River.

Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve

In the spring numerous small streams feed the Little Miami.

By no means the narrowest portion of the gorge it does give one an idea of what it is like.

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Continuing to follow the river it wasn’t long before we saw our first trillium.

Large-flowered Trillium with a hint of pink.

A nice group.

They covered the hillside, Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve.

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In the mix there were other trilliums to enjoy.

Toadshade Trillium

Another view, (Donna).

Drooping Trillium. Also known as Bent Trillium.

Drooping Trillium

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There were also “non-flower” things to see.

Dryad’s Saddle

This Redback salamander was crossing the road so we decided to place him in a safer location. This salamander can actually be one of two colors: “redback” or “leadback.” In its redback phase it has a reddish stripe that runs down its back from the base of its head to the tail. Found throughout Ohio, it is most often seen in early spring beneath rocks and logs, especially in floodplains. It is entirely land-dwelling and usually will not go to water even to breed. Ref: ODNR.

Morel Mushroom, (Donna).

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As we made our way downstream the river started to widen.

The Little Miami

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.   .   .  and then pool before becoming a river once again.

Blue Hole

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There was never a place where we couldn’t see a wildflower.

Virginia Bluebells

Bloodroot

Large-flowered Bellwort was everywhere.

A closer look.

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There wasn’t always a bridge when we needed one. Fortunately on this particular day the river level wasn’t too high.

In John Bryant SP.

Green was still mostly restricted to the forest floor, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

View from the bridge over the falls on Yellow Springs Creek, Glen Helen Nature Preserve.

A stream feeds Yellow Springs Creek.

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Just when you thought you’ve seen all the flowers   .   .   .

Rue Anemone, (Donna)

Squirrel Corn, It’s roots are yellow tubers that somewhat resemble kernals of corn. This fact, along with squirrels digging it up for food, gave rise to the name. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio by Robert L Henn)

Squirrel Corn, a closer look, (Donna).

Wild Ginger, (Donna). The root stalks have a ginger scent and taste. American settlers boiled the root stalks with sugar to make candy. Not the same as the true Ginger spice which is derived from a tropical plant. (taken from Wildflowers of Ohio -Robert L. Henn

Blue Phlox or Wild Sweet William, (Donna).

Wild Geranium was just coming along! Also known as Crane’s Bill. (Donna).

Golden Ragwort, (Donna).

Marsh Marigold, (Donna).

Yellow Trout Lilies, (Donna)

Surrounded by Chickweed the trout lilies peek through, (Donna).

Getting down and dirty.

Early Meadow Rue, (Donna).

Hepatica, (Donna).

Dwarf Larkspur

Dwarf Larkspur

How many different wildflowers can you spot in this photo?

Spring Beauty, (Donna).

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Sometimes we’re left feeling as though life’s magic is slipping away and there are no longer any miracles to celebrate. That’s when we might want to consider taking a walk in the spring woods.

 

Rue Anemone stands as a lone sentinel over the Little Miami.

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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.

A Tree Swallow and Some Friends

In the last few days the number of migrating and non-migrating birds seen by us and other birders in central Ohio has been incredible. We are trying to remember back to last year but nothing approaching the last few days comes to mind. Were we  just not paying attention? We’ve visited our usual areas along Griggs Reservoir, but also got over to Hoover Nature Preserve and adjacent areas at the north end of Hoover Reservoir as well as Glenn Echo Ravine in Clintonville. Wherever we went there were birds. Only a few of those seen are documented below either because they were a little too far away, moving around too much, or the light just wasn’t favorable for a picture. For more info on birds in central Ohio along with some wonderful pictures visit Central Ohio Birders Facebook page.

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Some other notable birds seen but not photographed;  Hoover Nature Preserve north end of the lake: a number of Red-headed Woodpeckers, Wood Ducks, Yellow Warblers, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Hoover Nature Preserve Meadows Area: American Redstarts, Nashville Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine: Great Crested Flycatcher, Black Headed Blue Warbler, Northern Parula Warbler, Black and White Warblers, Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers.

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So here are some of the birds seen.

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Tree Swallow, boardwalk north end of Hoover Reservoir

Black-throated Green 2 best 2 050416 Glen Echo cp1

Black-throated Green Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine, (Donna)

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Black-throated Green Warbler, Glen Echo Ravine

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Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Hoover Nature Preserve, north end of Hoover Reservoir

Yellow Warbler 1 LL 1 050316 Hoover N cp1

Yellow Warbler, Hoover Nature Preserve north end of Hoover Reservoir, (Donna).

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Great Egrets, meadows area, Hoover Nature Preserve

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Indigo Bunting, Glen Echo Ravine

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In the same tree, Glen Echo Ravine

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Scarlet Tanager, Glen Echo Ravine

Waterthrush Northern 1 LR 1 best 1 050416 Glen Echo cp1

Northern Water thrush, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna)

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Baltimore Oriole, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Catbird, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Downy Woodpecker, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Pileated Woodpecker, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Prothonotary Warbler, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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If there wasn’t a bird to look at there were other things.

 

jack-in-the-pulpit 1 050416 Glen Echo cp1

Jack-in-the-pulpit, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

Orange tan fungi 1 best 1 050316 Hoover 3 cp1

Fungi, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area, (Donna)

Wild Geranium 6 Best 6 close-up 2 050416 Glen Echo cp1

Wild Geranium, Glenn Echo Ravine, (Donna).

Pearl Crescent 1 best 1 050316 Hoover 3 cp1

Pearl Crescent, Hoover Nature Preserve meadows area, (Donna).

 

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Mayapple, Glenn Echo Ravine.

Yellow Flowers with water backgrd 1 050416 Glen Echo cp1

Marsh Marigold, Glen Echo Ravine, (Donna).

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New leaves, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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In the back of our minds we know that one day not too far in the future the spring celebration will be over. It’s a good time to be in the moment.

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Wetland landscape, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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Wetland landscape, Hoover Nature Preserve, Meadows Area.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Bob by Bird Mural 1 050416 Glen Echo csb1

Bird Mural, Glen Echo Ravine

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XXX

Spring Takes Flight at Prairie Oaks

We hadn’t been to Prairie Oaks for a while so we thought we’d head over to what is one of Columbus’s nicer metro parks and see how spring was progressing.  The day was breezy and cool so we weren’t sure what we’d find. Often the birds stay put on such days making locating them a challenge. But the sun did pop through the clouds periodically, and when it did, the birds, as if on cue, became more active. On this day, as often seems to be the case, the most magical event happened near the end of our adventure just as we arriving back at the parking lot after five miles of walking, looking. and then walking some more.

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A spring creek flows through the park on it’s way to the river.

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We hadn’t gone very far when a few birds appeared to greet us.

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White-throated Sparrow

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A Tree Swallow takes a break.

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A Yellow-throated Warbler not cooperating for the photographer.

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Further on my wife noticed some Dryad’s saddle. The time of year and recent rains all had contributed to a bumper crop.

Pheasant back 10 Trio underneath best 2 Prairie Oaks   csb1 (2)

Dryad’s Saddle, (Donna)

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Dryad’s Saddle. The one at the top is just emerging.

Pheasant Back 4 under and over close-up 1 042715 Prairie   Oaks cp1 (2)

In full bloom, (Donna)

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While it’s just a few miles from Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the diversity of spring wildflowers at Prairie Oaks is not as great, but the flowers are beautiful just the same.

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Golden Ragwort

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Large-flowered Bellwort

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Wild Geranium

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Spring Beauty

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Toadshade Trillium

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Toadshade Trillium

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It was an extensive patch.

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Where there are wildflower you can count on seeing other things.

Spring Azure 9 wings closed best 1 042715 Prairie Oaks   cp1 (2)

A tiny Spring Azure, (Donna)

Spring Azure 5 close-up on violet 1 042715 Prairie Oaks   cp1

As if to mimic the flower. A great shot by my wife of a butterfly that’s very difficult to get a photo of with wings open. Perhaps the warm sun and cool air helped.

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A Bumble Bee heads for Virginia Bluebells.

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On final approach

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Flaps down!

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Touchdown!

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As we continued our exploration we were fortunate to see a few of our other feathered friends.

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Eastern Towhee

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Yellow Warbler

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Take two. Okay, I couldn’t help it. The bird was so cute!

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The Big Darby flows through Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

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During high water the soil is scoured from around the roots of this Sycamore tree.

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The Big Darby.

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Many of the turtles we come across seem to have a very acute awareness of their surroundings making them deceptively hard to photograph. They usually slide off the log and disappear under the water’s surface just as we get ready to click the shutter. But not this time.

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Red Eared Slider

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Painted Turtle

Turtles Trio on log 042715 Prairie Oaks cp1 (2)

The group, (Donna)

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Spring nurseries for frogs and other living things surrounded by luminescent green.

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My wife checks out one of a number of spring nurseries.

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Frog heaven.

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At the end of our walk, not a hundred yards from our car, we observed a group of Killdeer (males?)  making quite a fuss.

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A meeting of the Killdeer.

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The discussion was loud and went on for quite awhile.

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One seems to have made his point and wants to move on.

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.   .   .   but then as if tired of the their earth bound or perhaps just to celebrate the day,

.   .   .  they took flight.

Kildeer group 9 in flight best ever 1 042715 Prairie Oaks   cp1

Killdeer in flight, (Donna)

Kildeer Group 9 in flight best 2 042715 Prairie Oaks   cp1

Revealing a beauty not seen until they were in the air. (Donna).

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.   .   .   as a straggler tries to catch up.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Very Large Ant Mounds and Celandine Poppies

Recently while hiking at Battelle Darby we noticed numerous very large ant mounds. What was going on? A guess would be that the large amount of rain recently had forced the ants above ground as they rebuilt their nests.

We were also excited to find two wild flowers that were new to us, the Celandine Poppy and Golden Seal, both of which were quite lovely.

As we continued our hike an old abandoned truck appeared contrasting with the new growth of the surrounding woods.

Finally a Wood Thrush entertained us for quite a while as we paused to listen.

Remember to double click on the pics if you want a better look.

Large Ant Mound - Battelle Darby

Large Ant Mound – Battelle Darby

Celandine Poppy - Battelle Darby, DMP

Celandine Poppy – Battelle Darby, DMP

 

Golden Seal - Battelle Darby, DMP

Golden Seal – Battelle Darby, DMP

Phlox - Battelle Darby

Phlox – Battelle Darby

Old Truck - Battelle Darby

Old Truck – Battelle Darby

New Life - Battelle Darby

New Life – Battelle Darby

Buckeye Flwr - Battelle Darby

Buckeye Flower – Battelle Darby

Wild Geranium - Battelle Darby, DMP

Wild Geranium – Battelle Darby, DMP

Trillium - Battelle Darby

Trillium – Battelle Darby

Titmouse - Battelle Darby

Titmouse – Battelle Darby

Stream - Battelle Darby

Stream – Battelle Darby

 

spring-pond-battelle-darby

Spring Pond

 

Wood Thrush - Battelle Darby, DMP

Wood Thrush – Battelle Darby, DMP

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Thanks for stopping by.

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