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.

 

Cabbage You Wouldn’t Eat

In the last week or so migrating birds have started to move through central Ohio. While there have been reports of early arriving warblers we have yet to see any. That may have more to do with our approach to nature, which at any moment in time focuses on the “low hanging fruit” rather than expending effort to see something that may or may not be there. It’s quite possible that as we were fascinating over a wildflower one of those little buggers flew right over our head. Oh, well.

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So with that in mind this post is mostly about those early spring plants and wildflowers that every year usher in the magic of spring.

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One of the first to be seen is Skunk Cabbage which due to it’s capacity to generate it’s own internal heat, often emerges by melting it’s way through the snow. It’s name comes from it’s skunk like smell. In contrast to it’s smell we’ve always thought it’s appearance to be quite attractive. It almost looks good enough to eat.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Take 2.

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Take 3, almost looks good enough to eat (not recommended!).

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Skunk Cabbage habitat, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park, (Donna).

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Not far from the skunk cabbage it was hard to miss this Eastern Towhee.

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Eastern Towhee, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Another early arriver is Dutchman’s Breeches. It continues to do well against the onslaught of Lesser Celandine in the many areas we visit. Lesser Celandine was introduced into the United States as an ornamental and is now considered invasive.

P1090522

Dutchman’s Breeches, Griggs Park, below the dam.

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We did manage to see Swamp Buttercup which is often confused with Lesser Celandine. Note the difference in petals and leaves. It seem less common each year which may be due to the aforementioned invasive.

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Swamp Buttercup, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

220px-RanunculusFicaria[1]

Lesser Celandine, (web pic)

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We always get excited when we spot the beautiful flower of the Bloodroot. Although not uncommon, it is very fragile and doesn’t fair well against the early spring wind and rain.

Bloodroot group 1 032916 Griggs cp1

Bloodroot, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

 

P1240211

Bloodroot, Griggs Park below the dam.

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With the rain not every interesting thing on the forest floor is a flower.

P1090463

Wood Ear fungus, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park

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Seeming to defy the temperature, early moths and butterflies made an appearance on the few “warmer” days we’ve had.

P1240217

Geometer Moth, Griggs Park, (Donna).

Moth Grapevine Epimenis 4 LR 3 better 2 040616 Griggs west cp1

Grapevine Moth, Griggs Park west shore, (Donna).

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Red Admiral, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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The flowing water of early spring inspired a beaver’s creativity.

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Beaver dam, Kiwanis’s Riverview Park.

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Sometimes a sound overhead pulls us away from the wildflowers.

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Northern Flickers, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Northern Flicker, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Male Cowbird, Griggs Park.

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Fox Sparrow, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Tree Swallows, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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Male Downy Woodpecker, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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Other flowers also fascinated.

Twinleaf buds and leaves 2 040616 Griggs west cp1

Twinleaf buds and leaves, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

Cutleaf Toothwort 1 best 1 032916 Griggs cp1

Cutleaf Toothwort, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

Violet 2 duo 1 better 1 040616 Griggs west cp177

Violet, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

Spring Beauties 2 colorful 1 032916 Griggs cp13

Spring Beauties, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A lone hepatica brings delicate color to it’s otherwise dreary early spring world.

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Round-lobbed Hepatica, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir.

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Other plants were also flowering under the still open tree canopy.

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Toad Shade Trillium, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Virginia bluebells, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Trout Lilies, Griggs Park below the dam.

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Ever feel like you’re being watched.

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Cooper’s Hawk, not far from Griggs reservoir.

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Some plants still have a way to go before their often missed flowers emerge.

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May Apple, Twin Lakes Area, O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, (Donna).

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A little further along, (Donna).

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In the days to come we’ll be keeping track of the progress of the May apples while out of he corner of our eye watching for those sneaky migrating warblers.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Late Summer at Prairie Oaks

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

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P1050012

Big Darby, Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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

Yellow flowers Bouquet 1 best 1 090115 Prairie Oaks cp1

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

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Virgin’s Bower has an attractive flower,

Virgin's Bower IMG_9100a

Virgin’s Bower

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

Virgin's Bower gone to seed 083015 Prairie Oaks cp1

Virgin’s Bower gone to seed, (Donna)

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P1050017

Great Blue Lobelia

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P1040998 (2)

Evening Primrose

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IMG_9099

Daisies

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A wooded trail offered the opportunity to see fungi.

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Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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

Wood Ear 2 closer 1 083015 Prairie Oaks cp1

Wood Ear, (Donna)

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Unidentified Fungi P1160058

A type of polypore, (Donna)

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Orange Mycena P1160066

Orange Mycena, (Donna)

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

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Viceroy

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A small tussock moth caterpillar levitates.

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Monarch (female) IMG_9103 (2)

Female Monarch

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Black Swallowtail IMG_9169use

Black Swallowtail

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Common Wood-nymph IMG_9110

Common Wood-nymph

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

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

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Red-eared Slider IMG_9155 (2)

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

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IMG_9184

Painted Turtle reflection.

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

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A pond at Prairie Oaks.

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Widow Skimmer P1050025

Widow Skimmer

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Female Eastern Pondhawk.

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Haloween Pennant P1160143

Halloween Pennant, (Donna).

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Halloween Pennants IMG_9149 (2)

Halloween Pennants mating.

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Halloween Pennants IMG_9131 (2)

Three’s a crowd.

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Common Whitetail 2 closer better 1 090115 Prairie Oaks csb1

Common Whitetail, (Donna)

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Not far from the dragonflies .   .   .

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Garden Spider, (Donna)

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Garden Spider, (underside)

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

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

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Immature House Finch

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

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Another view, (Donna)

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

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Bay-breasted Warbler IMG_9129 (2)

Bay-breasted Warbler

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Just one more look at the river.

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The Big Darby

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Glimpse of Color on Alum Creek

We paddled the upper reaches of Alum Creek today. We were treated to glimpses of fall color as we followed the shoreline hoping to see a Bald Eagle. The Osprey nesting platform area at the north end of the reservoir was now hosting a large population of gulls, terns, and cormorants. The Ospreys were nowhere to be found.

The water was clear so we saw many good examples of freshwater sponge and an unusual fungi occupied a place on a fallen tree near the water. The creek was serene with leaves decorating the surface of the water and a few casts rewarded me with a small bass and a bluegill.

On the way back we stopped to clean up a shoreline area fisherman used and littered with cans and bottles then it was a fast paddle back to our launch site ahead of the fast approaching rain.

For a better view click on the images.

Heading Up The Reservoir

Heading Up The Reservoir

Alum Creek near our lunch stop.

Alum Creek near our lunch stop.

Colors along Alum Creek

Colors along Alum Creek

Freshwater Sponge

Freshwater Sponge, DMP

Cormorants, DMP

Double-crested Cormorants, DMP

Alum Creek Landscape, DMP

Alum Creek Landscape, DMP

Unusual fungi

Unusual fungi, DMP

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Thanks for stopping by.

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