Paddling Into Nature On Griggs Reservoir

This post is a partial summary of the wonderful diversity of life seen during a recent nine mile paddle on Griggs Reservoir. The reservoir is located within the “city limits” of Columbus, Ohio. Except for a few isolated cases where (Bob) is under the photo my wife was kind enough to handle the photography.

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It’s been a wet spring with not many nice days to beckon one out into nature. The wet weather in central Ohio has given many rivers and reservoirs a “chocolate milk” appearance, not the preferred aesthetic when paddling. But finally with a good forecast, wildflowers blooming, and the landscape turning evermore green, we decided it was time to get the boat in the water and do some exploring. Over the years we’ve seen many wonderful things in and along the reservoir but given it’s urban location we always try keep our expectations low. If nothing else we’ll get some exercise and we’ll be outdoors.

We enter one of Griggs Reservoirs small coves looking for Black-crowned Night Herons. The rock outcroppings are a favorite place for Wild Columbine, (Bob).

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The first clue that it might be a better than average day in nature was seeing the Wild Columbine along the reservoirs many rocky outcroppings.

Wild Columbine, (Bob)

A closer look, (Bob).

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While on the subject of wildflowers we also noticed Wild Stonecrop in the same area.

Wild Stonecrop, (Bob)

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A little further on we spotted a snapping turtle in the shallows of one of the reservoir’s small coves. The first of many turtles seen.

A Snapping Turtle checks us out from the safety of the water, (Bob).

Not far away a snapper was also observed sunning itself, a rare behavior for this always submerged creature that only occurs in the spring.

Snapping Turtle.

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Not seen as often as Red Eared Sliders or Map turtles a few softshell turtles were also seen.

Eastern Spiny Softshell.

A second later it disappeared below the surface.

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We probably shouldn’t ignore some of the other turtles:

A Map Turtle catches some rays.

A very small turtle surveys a big world.

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We expected to see more water snakes but only one was spotted.

Northern Water Snake.

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While no Green and Black-crowned Night Herons were seen, a few Great Egrets and countless Great Blue Herons made up for it.

Great Blue Heron.

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Something not fully appreciated is that four species of swallows make there living along the reservoir; Tree, Cliff, Barn and Rough-winged. The Tree, Cliff, and Barn Swallows are fairly numerous and easy to observe. The Rough-winged don’t seem to be as common.

Barn Swallow, (Bob).

On this particular day the Cliff Swallows were putting on the best show as they busily went about building their nests under the Hayden Run bridge.

Cliff Swallow nest building, (Bob).

Caught with it’s mouth full!

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We were really excited to see a pair of Wood Ducks because getting a great picture of this duck usually involves using a blind as you can seldom get close enough in a canoe.

Male and female Wood Ducks.

A slightly closer look.

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Along with the Wood Ducks a much more common and approachable female Mallard is seen with babies.

Female Mallard Duck.

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Remembering an area at the north end of the reservoir where a nested Prothonotary Warbler was observed last year, we headed for that location and were not disappointed.

Prothonotary Warbler.

With nesting material.

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As if in comic relief we couldn’t help but notice a Canada Goose that seem ready to set sail while perched high overhead their mate wondered what was going to happen next.

Canada Goose.

 

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A Spotted Sandpiper was spotted and seemed to be in a cooperative mood as it didn’t immediately take flight as we approached.

Spotted Sandpiper.

Eventually it did get tired of the attention.

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A few other birds were also seen:

Eastern Phoebe.

Tufted Titmouse.

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Over the years we’ve seen Gray, Red and Fox Squirrels but on this day it was a not uncommon Fox Squirrel. They always seem a bit curious about what we’re doing.

Fox Squirrel.

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Near a large beaver lodge at the north end of the reservoir we spotted what we first thought was a young beaver but was probably a Muskrat.

Muskrat.

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It had been awhile since we had seen one along the reservoir so our “Wood Duck” excitement  was more than duplicated with the discovery of a Mink making it’s way along the shore. It’s rapid movement made getting a sharp image a challenge.

Mink.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some Griggs Reservoir nature. A canoe or kayak can be a great tool for exploring and seeing things that would otherwise not be possible. As a platform for observations with binoculars it’s relatively straight forward. Should you decide to try canoe/kayak nature photography be prepared for more challenges than would be encountered shooting from land and a higher failure rate. The best scenario would be to have someone that loves to paddle handle the boat when you are taking pictures. But even if you are solo it is possible to get some great shots.

Hayden Run Falls framed in spring’s green and with a nice flow, (Bob)

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Thanks for stopping by.

Celebrating Mother’s Day on Griggs Reservoir

We decided to paddle Griggs Reservoir with the goal of hopefully seeing some unique wildflowers that populate the low shoreline cliffs. In addition, while the migrating waterfowl have long since left, we might see one of our favorite local residents, the Wood Duck. Considering the number that nest in the area, we were pretty sure we would also see a few Baltimore Orioles. Given the wind, which presented significant boats control issues, my wife was kind enough to take care of most of the photography while I took care of the boat.

click on images for a better view

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After a short paddle to the cliff area, we discovered the flowers we were looking for.

Wild Columbine and roots 050914 Griggs cp1

Wild Columbine, Griggs Reservoir

Wild Stonecrop 2 050914 Griggs cp1

Wild Stonecrop, Griggs Reservoir

White Flowers on bush 050914 Griggs cp1

European Bird Cherry, Griggs Reservoir

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Prior to setting up house keeping the male and female Wood Ducks always seem to stay together.

Wood Duck IMG_6281cuse-4

Wood Ducks, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

Wood Duck profile 050914 Griggs cp1-3

Male Wood Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few other suspects, including a Black-crowned Night Heron, greeted us as we paddled on.

Turtle on log 050914 Griggs cp1

Red-eared Slider, Griggs Reservoir

Spotted Sandpiper best 050914 Griggs cp1

Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

IMG_6307cuse-4

Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir (Bob)

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But not to be outdone and as if they were celebrating Mothers Day in advance, the female Mallards decided to introduce their recently hatched ducklings. It was a real treat!

Baby Mallards 1a IMG_6302cuse-4

Crossing Griggs Reservoir to safety, Female Mallard with ducklings, (Bob)

Baby Mallards 1b and Mom resting on dock 050914 Griggs cp1 1

Later we found them safe on the other side.

Baby Mallards 3 walking down ramp 050914 Griggs cp1

One duckling decided it wanted to go exploring.

Baby Mallards 4 and Mom walking 050914 Griggs cp1

Mom and the others followed.

Baby Mallards 5 and Mom in water 050914 Griggs cp1

Heading for adventure.

Baby Mallards 6 and Mom all in a row 050914 cp1

Mom kept an eye on the flotilla.

Baby Mallards 10 rock explore 050914 Griggs cp1

This is fun!

Baby Mallards 9 climbing up on rock 050914 Griggs cp1

To swim or to climb?

Baby Mallards 13 tasty lunchtime 050914 Griggs cp1

. . . or maybe eat!

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One mother Mallard seems to have an adopted duckling.

1 Baby Golden Duckling with Mom 050914 Griggs cp1-2

A mother’s love!

2 Baby Golden duckling 050914 Griggs cp1

Very young and very cute!

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And not to be left out. The “Hey wait, what about me!”, Baltimore Oriole.

Baltimore Oriole ground zero good side view 050914 Griggs cp1

A Baltimore Oriole at waters edge, Griggs Reservoir.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

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