National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

National Center for Nature Photography

On our recent trip to northwest Ohio, we visited the National Center for Nature Photography. The center is located in Secor Metropark near Toledo. The center features exhibits of the works of nature photographers and occasionally offers classes on nature photography. The center is a small building in the middle of the metropark. It generally shows the works of one artist with the exhibit changing every few months. Admission is free and open to the public.

National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark

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Biggest Week in American Birding 2016

Yellow Warbler

The Biggest Week in American Birding is an annual event held in northwestern Ohio. This year it is being held from May 6 to May 15, 2016. Every spring many species of small birds in the warbler family migrate from South America to Canada. In order to store up energy for the flight across Lake Erie, the birds spend some time on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie fattening up on insects. While the birds look for insects, the people look for the birds. We’ve participated in two previous Biggest Weeks toward the tail end of the event. This year we decided to see what it was like at the beginning of the Biggest Week. We joined other birders on the 7th and 8th at Magee Marsh, the Ottawa Wildlife Refuge, and the Toussaint Wildlife Area.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

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Early Spring Wildflowers 2016

Pride of Ohio (Primula meadia), photographed April 23rd at Miller State Nature Preserve

Here a sampling of the wildflowers that I saw in March and April of this year. With each photo below, I’ve identified the flower and indicated when and where it was photographed. I’m leading off with a flower called Pride of Ohio out of Buckeye pride. 🙂 It is also known as Shooting Star.

Pride of Ohio (Primula meadia), photographed April 23rd at Miller Nature Sanctuary

Pride of Ohio (Primula meadia), photographed April 23rd at Miller Nature Sanctuary

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The Hummingbird Moth

Hummingbird clearwing moth sipping nectar from purple dead nettle.

This little creature is my favorite moth. It’s common name is actually the hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe). When I first saw one, I actually thought that I was seeing a hummingbird flitting about from flowers. But then I noticed the antenna.

Hummingbird clearwing moth sipping nectar from purple dead nettle.

Hummingbird clearwing moth sipping nectar from purple dead nettle.

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GPS Mapping Apps: MyTrails – a Replacement for Google MyTracks

One feature we often include with our articles is a map of our hike. Originally we used a handheld Magellan Explorist 310 to do the job of mapping our hike. But as we acquired more capable smart phones, we’d switched over to Google’s MyTracks application for Android phones. This app had a bit of a learning curve and some idiosyncrasies, but we became accustomed to it and it became our goto application for mapping. We used it for finding our way on the trail (or back to our car) and afterwards to view distance traveled and total elevation gain. For our web site, we could either do a screen capture from our phone or easily export the data to Google Maps (web app) and then embed the Google Map web page in our site.

MyTracks Map - GPS trace of our 8.4 mile October 31, 2015 hike at Shawnee State Forest

MyTracks Map – GPS trace of our 8.4 mile October 31, 2015 hike at Shawnee State Forest

All was good until a few weeks ago, we fired up MyTracks for a hike and it informed us that Google was discontinuing it and it would stop working on April 30, 2016!

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Indian Mound Reserve

Cedar Cliff Falls, viewed from the observation deck.

Indian Mound Reserve is a 169-acre park that’s managed by the Greene County park district. We were very favorably impressed by the park’s historic and natural features. Among the historic features are:

  • Williamson Mound: a Native American, earthen mound constructed by the Adena culture between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D.
  • Pollock Works: a Native American, earthen wall constructed by the Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D.
  • A historic log cabin that’s currently being renovated
  • A dam created that formerly powered a couple of historic mills; both are now long gone — the water cascading over the dam is known as Cedar Cliff Falls

Natural features include Massie Creek Gorge, cliffs, slump blocks, white cedar, wildflowers, ferns, and a small wetland. The park includes about four miles of hiking trails with a number of footbridges and stairs.

Cedar Cliff Falls, viewed from the observation deck.

Cedar Cliff Falls, viewed from the observation deck.

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Beach City Wildlife Area: Dundee Falls

Dundee Falls

A few weeks ago on a warm winter weekend, we visited Dundee Falls. The waterfall is located in the Beach City Wildlife Area near the town of Dundee, OH. We parked in a dirt and gravel parking area off of Dundee Wilmot Road. An unmarked path at one end of the parking lot led to a stream valley. We turned right and continued down the path a short ways till we heard the sound of falling water.

The path leads to the top of the falls. On the right side of the falls (same side as the parking area) a somewhat muddy and precarious path leads downhill providing a nice view of the falls. The falls is roughly 12-15 ft in height. We thought the falls were best viewed from the same side of the creek as the parking lot.

Dundee Falls

Dundee Falls

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Mohican State Park in Winter

Big Lyons Falls

Although we normally aren’t free on a weekday, we happened to be at Mohican State Park on Friday, March 4th. We were staying at the lodge for Bob’s birthday. Snow had fallen the previous night, so we had our first opportunity to see what Mohican looked like in winter. What a beautiful sight!

Big Lyons Falls

Big Lyons Falls

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Malabar Farm Maple Syrup Festival – 2016

Draft Horses Pulling Cart - Transportation at Maple Syrup Festival

We attended the 40th Annual Malabar Farm Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday March 5th. From the parking area participants queued for a ride by horse drawn wagon to the festival which was centered around the Malabar Farm sugar shack. There were a variety of wagons available for transporting visitors, some with benches and others with hay bales for seating. The wagons were 2HP – each being drawn by two large draft horses. The horses and wagons were provided by volunteers from the Central Ohio Draft Horse Association. Passengers were taken to Malabar Farm’s sugar shack where tree sap is boiled down until it becomes maple syrup. Nearby the sugar shack where historical reenactors, a place to purchase food and drink, and of course locally-made syrup for sale.

Draft Horses Pulling Cart - Transportation at Maple Syrup Festival

Draft Horses Pulling Cart – Transportation at Maple Syrup Festival

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Great Seal State Park in Late Winter

Rock outcroppings along the Shawnee Ridge Trail.

My daughter doesn’t like hiking this time of year when there’s no snow on the ground and the forests are devoid of greenery. As she puts it, “The forests look like a nuclear wasteland.” Although I see her point, there are some advantages to hiking now. If you are considering hiking to some destination where there is no trail (like Trimmer Arch in the Paint Creek Wildlife Area) then going at this time of year means that you will have to contend with the least amount of undergrowth of the year. Similarly there are a number of waterfalls that are partially obscured by vegetation, but if you go before the trees begin to leaf out, you can get a much better view. We found that to be the case with Fallsville Falls in the Fallsville Wildlife Area. However if you like hiking hills as we do, this is also a great time to check them out. Unlike the greener months, it is a much easier to get the lay of the land. From hilltops you can see neighboring hills and the valleys beneath you. With that in mind we recently decided to go hiking at Great Seal State Park. During a previous visit we had wanted to hike the Rocky Knob Trail, but it turns out we had started too late in the day to complete the hike before dusk. So on our return trip to Great Seal Park we made our priority the Rocky Knob.

Rock outcroppings along the Shawnee Ridge Trail.

Rock outcroppings along the Shawnee Ridge Trail.

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