Looking For The “White-throated Sparrow”

In the back of our mind during outings over the past week has been the thought that we might see the season’s first White-throated Sparrow. For us, along with the arrival of the Dark-eyed Junco, this small bird marks the passing of the season and the certain coming of winter. During breeding, they are found further north in either coniferous or deciduous forests up to tree line in the U.S. and across Canada. During migration and during the winter months central Ohio is just one location they call home.

Autumn reflection.

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Recently, walking along the Scioto River looking for White-throated Sparrows, and perhaps a stray kinglet or two, we stumbled across some slightly larger birds.

Bald Eagles along the Scioto River below Griggs Reservoir Dam are always a real treat to see.

Take 2.

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At river’s edge, almost right below the eagles, a young male White-tail deer relaxed. It was apparently not too concerned about the eagles.

White Tail Deer, (Donna).

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The next day, hoping for additional photos of the eagles that were now nowhere to be found, Golden-crowned Kinglets seemed to be everywhere  .   .   .

Golden-crowned Kinglet, along the Scioto River below the Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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.   .   .  along with a few of their close associates with the exception of “the sparrow”.

Male Downy woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Male Bluebird, Griggs reservoir Park.

Yellow-rumped warblers continue to stick around enjoying the Poison Ivy Berries, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

“Must you take the picture when my mouths full and besides, I’m not a bird!” Red Squirrel, Griggs reservoir Park.

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A tree’s few remaining leaves seemingly slide a slippery slope to the ground.

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Wanting to check out a location not previously explored, we decided on Shale Hollow Park, one of Delaware County’s preservation parks. Blustery cold conditions made birding less than optimal, so while birds eluded us we did find something quiet different and no less interesting, concretions. Probably some of the best examples we’ve seen in central Ohio. For us it was proof once again that one should always be open to the wonder of the day.

For those that are curious, “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. 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 surrounding strata. Concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities. Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have in the past been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs,  animal and plant fossils, extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.” (Wikipedia)

 

Concretion, Shale Hallow Park, (Donna).

Two concretions that appear to have seen better days.

A concretion that may have been spherical at on time.

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In addition to concretions, with the coming of  wetter weather, there have been other things to appreciate.

Disclaimer: Fungi identifications represent our best effort.

Turkey-tail on log, Shale Hollow Park, (Donna).

Rusty Polypore, (Donna).

Shaggy Mane, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Witches Butter with fruiting lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Split-pore Polypore, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging mushroom, Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, Shale Hollow Park.

Same as above but further along.

Pink polypore with lichen, (Donna).

Red leaf on Turkey Tail, Shale Hollow Park.

Radiating Phlebia on log, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park

Another view.

On a fallen branch a, almost too small to see, mushroom pops up through some lichen, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Late autumn sentinels along Griggs Reservoir.

The beautiful patterns of newly emerged Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park.

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It’s often when least expected, near the end of a long hike, almost back to the car and too tired to care, that what we seek appears. Such was the case with the White-throated Sparrow.

White-throated Sparrow, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Take 2.

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Some may wonder what the big deal is. Why is seeing a sparrow so meaningful? For many who spend time in nature the answer is simple; seeing a white-throated Sparrow brings expression to a sense of connectedness to a world much bigger than ourselves. We usually first hear and then see the sparrow and for the time is sees fit are in its presence. It in turn acknowledges us in its own unique way. This small, seemingly fragile, creature has travelled perhaps a thousand miles and during this brief fleeting moment we are part of each other’s world. Next summer if we look, we will not find it. It will again be further north engaged in its own dance to the cycle of life. This wonder graces our lives with the appearance of the first spring wildflowers, the larger than life sound of spring peepers, the spring migration of the many too beautiful to imagine warblers, the sight and sound of a distant summer thunderstorm, the call of the loon on a northern lake, the color of leaves as a low autumn sun filters the branches, and the slow quiet descent of  winter’s first snowflakes.

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Concretion, Shale Hollow Park.

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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. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

Cause and Effect

Recently, after several weeks of very dry weather, the rain came. One day it amounted to almost three inches. Once clear and lazy, area rivers are now swollen and turbid and flow with more purpose as though their water has somewhere to go. The precipitation came too late to have a major effect on the season’s color but the orange, yellow, and brown of oaks and hickories is now more saturated. The moist earth returns it’s recent gift to the humid early morning air, as suspended leaves, some no longer green, appear to almost come back to life.

Griggs Reservoir

The crotch of a tree provides a resting place, Emily Traphagen Park.

Stump, Emily Traphagen Park.

Fallen tree, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Two days ago during a walk in an area park a bench provided a place to eat lunch. In the stillness we watched an occasional leaf  from some unknown high branch in a nearby tree, like a large early winter snowflake, silently float down and land quietly at our feet. A few descended without a flourish, but most either spiraled, spun, or sashayed side to side on the last and only journey of their lives. They joined those already fallen to complete the cycle of life. One here, another there, slowly, as we sat watching, they never stopped. Today, as I write this, with wind howling past a partially open window, the scene would be much different.

Moss covered roots grace a hillside, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

Fall color, Griggs Reservoir Park.

Rotting log, Emily Traphagen Park.

Leaves of the Shagbark Hickory, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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It’s hard not to think of them as friends, the group of birds; robins, nuthatches, blue jays, etc., that are such an important part of our walks in nature near home.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Pigeons, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Male Downy Woodpecker, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

White-breasted Nuthatch, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Carolina Wren, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Blue Jay, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Mallard reflection, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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Autumn color, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Others birds, such as the Bald Eagle, are only seen on occasion but that occasion is a miracle. When I was young, in the days of DDT, a trip to Alaska may have been necessary to see one. Now they can be seen just a mile and a half from our house. Ospreys are seen more frequently, but soon they will embark on their journey south following the already departed community of Black-crowned Night Herons that through early fall call Griggs Reservoir home. With each osprey sighting we wonder if it will be the last until next year.

A Bald Eagle is framed by fall color on the west side of Griggs Reservoir.

Osprey along the Scioto River, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

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A pond forms the backdrop for shoreline grass, Emily Traphagen Park

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The true magic of the rain, after such a long period of dry weather, is the fungi. Many just seem to appear out of nowhere while others, having endured the dryness, regain their color. Identifying what is seen can be a challenge.

Puffballs, Emily Traphagen Park.

Non-inky Coprinus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Turkey Tail, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Some type of polypore, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

Artist’s Bracket, Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Crust fungi, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park,, (Donna).

Common Spilt Gill, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A jelly fungus on the left and Witches’ Butter, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wood Ear, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

An emergent polypore, Griggs reservoir Park, (Donna).

Angel’s Wings, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Wolf’s Milk Slime, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Emerging Dryad’s Saddle, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

A very rare sight near our home, Crown-tipped Coral, Griggs Reservoir Park, (Donna).

Moss on what appears to be False Turkey-tail causes one to wonder just how long it’s been there. Emily Traphagen Park, (Donna).

Luminescent Panellus, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna).

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Early morning fog, also the result of the recent rain, greeted us during a walk at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park creating splendor in a spider’s web.

Banded Garden Spider, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

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Still standing, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Later, as we continued our walk, we noticed a few moths that apparently had gathered on the light gray wood siding of a park building during the night.

Large Maple Span Worm Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Dot-lined White Moth, Battelle Darby Metro Park.

White-marked Tussock Moth, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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As we continued on a number of Eastern Commas where seen, usually right on the trail.

Eastern Comma, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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Along the trail, Battelle Darby creek Metro Park.

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When the rain came, after such a long period of dryness, I stepped out onto our porch, took a deep breath, watched, and listened. The rain fell softly at first, with the sound of a mouse playing as it touched the dry places. After a while, standing there, the rain leaving fleeting patterns in driveway puddles, it’s fragrance in the wet grass, soil, and filling the air, I was taken to a different place and embraced by a feeling of newness and rebirth.

Glacial Erratic, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

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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. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

Autumn’s Color

Usually when we think of autumn color we’re thinking about leaves but recent outings in central Ohio have revealed that in the autumn color can come in many different shapes and sizes. The pictures below celebrate things we’ve seen in the last two weeks hiking and paddling. While peak color is still about two weeks away, it’s hard not to be charmed by the splashes of color amongst the predominately green landscape.

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Exploring Alum Creek Reservoir north of the Howard Road bridge.

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The green corridor along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto River is still providing opportunities to view migrated birds as well as local residents.

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The portrait of a Cape May warbler gets photo bombed by a pair of amorous ladybugs, Griggs Park.

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Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Griggs Park.

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A Blue-headed Vireo makes an appearance at Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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A pair of Northern Flickers, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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

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Juvenile Green Heron, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A pair of Carolina Wrens, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Female Belted Kingfisher, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Sparrows going for a swim, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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.   .   .  and plenty of insects, spiders, and flowers too!

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Griggs Park.

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Mating Blue-fronted Dancers, Griggs Park, Donna.

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A Praying Mantis pays us a visit, (Donna).

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Calico Asters, Griggs Park.

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Corn Earworm Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Wandering Glider, Griggs Park, (Donna, she wouldn’t tell me how long she waited to get this pic).

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Pearl Crescents, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Seemingly unperturbed, a Grey Hairstreak shares a small flower with a bumblebee, (Donna).

 

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Variable Orb Weaver, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Common Checkered Skipper, Griggs park, (Donna).

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Orange Sulfur, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Mudflats and logs exposed along Alum Creek due to slightly lower water levels provided an opportunity to see a few shorebirds.

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Spotted Sandpiper along Alum Creek north of the reservoir.

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Solitary Sandpiper along Alum Creek north of the reservoir.

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Alum Creek.

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The little bit of rain we’ve had recently brought out some fungi.

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Unidentified, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Non-inky Coprinus, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Witch’s Butter, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Unlike two or three weeks ago when there were Ospreys everywhere, when we paddling the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir last Thursday none were seen.  However, there were a lot of cormorants and gulls.

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Along the shore of Alum Creek Reservoir.

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A Doubled Crested Cormorant takes flight as we paddle north on Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna).

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Looking for Ospreys, Alum Creek Reservoir.

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Along Alum Creek

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As if sensing the warm weather won’t last forever .   .   .

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Basking in the morning sun, Griggs Reservoir.

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The amount of insect activity we’ve seen in the last two weeks has been been truly amazing. We haven’t had our first frost yet so I’m sure a lot will change once that happens. Meanwhile we’ll continue to enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

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Early autumn on Griggs Reservoir.

xxx

Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

 

 

A Little North of Ohio, Part 3 of 3, Hiking in Algonquin

As mentioned in an earlier post, our time in Algonquin Provincial Park was split pretty much evenly between paddling and hiking. The trails we hiked, Beaver Pond, Mizzy Lake, Lookout, Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and Bat Lake  were all a short drive on Hwy 60 from our campsite at Pog Lake along the park’s southern edge.

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Most of the trails go through very biologically diverse areas with fascinating flowers, fungi and forest floor creatures. While the trails are not especially difficult, good hiking shoes, lightweight slacks and a long sleeve shirt, and insect repellent, especially in the early summer, will make the experience a lot more enjoyable. To fully appreciate these places it’s a good idea to allow enough time so you can really look around otherwise you’ll be missing most of what’s going on.

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Below is a record of some of the things we saw:

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On you way to hike there’s always the chance you may have to rescue something.

Rescuing a Snapper

Hwy 60 Snapper

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The trails were varied with the woods often opening up into some beautiful views.

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Mizzy Lake trail.

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Wetland, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Different types of fungi were everywhere.

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Mushroom Family, (Donna)

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Unidentified Fungus

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Finger Fungus

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Cup Fungi

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Butterscotch Mushrooms, (Donna)

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Red Mushroom, (Donna)

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Yellow-orange Fly Agaric, (Donna)

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Swamp Beacons fungus, (Donna)

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Witches Butter, (Donna)

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Sphagnum-bog Galerina, (Donna)

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Ling Chih Fungus

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Slug on Comb Tooth Fungus

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Pinwheel Marasmius  Mushroom

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Unidentified shelf Fungus

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.   .   .  and lichen too!

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Lung Lichen

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Common Button Lichen

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Unidentified Lichen

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Pixie Cup Lichen

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British Soldier Lichen, (Donna)

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By late June many of the orchids have already come and gone. However, we were fortunate to see a few.

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Lady slipper along the trail, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Lady Slipper, showing leaves.

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A nice group.

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There were other flowers and plants to fascinate.

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Blue Flag Iris

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Lilly Pads

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Corn Lily

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Coralroot, (Donna)

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Common Wood-Sorrel, (Donna)

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Yellow Parasitic plants, (Donna)

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Twinflower, (Donna)

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Spiral Ferns, (Donna)

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Moss fruiting bodies

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?

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Leaves

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Pale Laurel Fowers like very wet araes.

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Bunch Berries

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Hawkweed

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Pale Corydalis

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It doesn’t seem like you can go anywhere in Algonquin without seeing Sundew.

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Sundew

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A closer look, (Donna)

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Closer yet.

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We had high expectations of seeing and photographing warblers. Birds were heard, especially Winter Wrens, but because of the leaf cover few were seen (we did manage to see Magnolias, Northern Parulas, and Yellow-rumps)  but few were photographed.

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Red-eyed Vireo, (Donna)

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Along the trail we were never far from the “handiwork” of beavers.

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Beaver dam, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver dam, Beaver Pond Trail.

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.   .   .   and the beavers themselves.

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Beaver family, Mizzy Lake Trail.

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Moose are also fairly easy to spot in late June.

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Bull Moose along Hwy 60, (Ben)

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We were always on the lookout for dragonflies, moths and butterflies. Sometimes they cooperated.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, (Donna)

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Catching sunlight in a pine, a White Admiral catches our eye.

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Common Wood-Nymph, (Donna)

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Snail on the forest floor.

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With flowing water everywhere .   .   .

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Reflections, Bat Lake Trail

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Flowing towards a larger stream

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Water, moss, leaves, rocks

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The trails could be wet.

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Mizzy Lake Trail

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Bat Lake Trail Boardwalk, (Donna)

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The toads and frogs didn’t seem to mind.

Toad Emily

American Toad, (Emily)

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Wood Frog

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Green Frog

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Waiting for lunch.

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If no flower, insect reptile amphibian or other creature caught our attention there was always the scenery.

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Pond, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Beaver Pond

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Hiking around Pog Lake

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Lookout Trail overlook, (Donna)

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Stream, Mizzy Lake Trail

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Fallen tree,

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Campsite, Pog lake

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Wetland, Spruce Bog Boardwalk

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Beaver lodge, Beaver Pond Trail

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Pog Lake

 

 

What We Saw After We Didn’t See The Kirtlands Warbler

The report was that a Kirtlands Warbler had been seen at Highbanks Metro Park. There were even pictures on the Central Ohio Birders Facebook page.  We don’t usually chase birds but this one wasn’t far from home. Besides, if we weren’t successful in finding it, High Banks, with it’s many nice trails, would be a great place for a hike.

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Stream, High Banks Metro Park

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Well, as the title of this post indicates, we didn’t see the Kirtlands Warbler, but not wanting to waste a good day, we set off to see what else we could find.

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It was a great day to be in the woods. New green was everywhere. It was quiet except for birds calling, now harder to see with leaves almost fully out. The earth dampened by a recent rain, as well as the flowering plants, released the scent of spring.

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Not far down the trail:

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Berries will soon be on their way.

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Daisy Fleabane

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Sassafras Leaves

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Jelly Ear Fungus

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Common Split Gill that has aged a bit. (Based on input from a mushroom expert.)

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Witches’ Butter

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Sensitive Fern

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As the air started to warm more insects were about:

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Tiger Beetle and female Common Whitetail

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A closer look at the Tiger Beetle

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Golden-backed Snipe Fly

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Duskywing

Zabulon Skipper male on leaf 1 best 1  closer 1 051815   highbanks cp1

Male Zabulon Skipper

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Female Zabulon Skipper

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Silver Spotted Skipper

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Pearl Crescent

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While not the Kirtlands Warbler, we did see a few birds.

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Summer Tanager in a treetop. Too far away for a good pic.

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A Cape May Warbler (F) checks us out.

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Female Bluebird.

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Indigo Bunting

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By hikes end, the day had given so much we’d pretty much forgotten about the warbler.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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