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Photo Shoot Report: Caesar Creek State Park

September 8, 2011
Eastern Forktail

© - Eastern Forktail damselfly

The longest trip that I took during my visit to Ohio was out to Caesar Creek State Park. This park, worked together with Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, is centered around Caesar Creek Lake.

However, my trips to the park never really seem to center on the lake, but instead are centered on a couple of key shooting areas which have always returned great results for me.  These areas are the Nature Center and the Visitor’s Center.  I spent most of the morning at these two locations before wandering over to get my lunch and continuing with my day.

As a side note, there’s a great little restaurant just west of the park.  I’m sure they would love it if I mentioned the place.  And normally I would–It was a mighty tasty meal that really hit the spot after a couple of hours in the field.  But the attitude of the young lady who served my party earned their non-inclusion into this blog.  No free publicity for you 😉

© jmillerphoto - Powdered Dancer damselfly

I started, as I usually do, over at the Nature Center.  It is at the south end of the park and it has a couple of nature trails to walk and three smallish ponds where I had luck in the past with dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and frogs.  This part of the trip did not disappoint.  I did find that I was there too early for the dragon action to be flowing well at the Nature Center, but I did have good luck with the damsels and butterflies, as well as a frog or two and a couple of turtles.  My dragonfly action got better when I went to the third pond that is a short distance from the nature center and off the beaten path a little bit.  This is where my Widow Skimmers and Blue Dashers were out in abundance along with the assorted damselfly and butterfly.

© - Northern Water Snake

After a reasonably productive hour or so it was back to the car and off to the visitor center.  At this location there were two places I was most interested in:  the youth fishing pond and the short prairie walk.  In the past the fishing pond was a very productive dragon and damselfly pond. It did not disappoint on this visit.  The usual odonate suspects were all present:  Slaty Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Eastern Amberwing, Common (Eastern) Pondhawk, and Blue Dasher.  New to the list for this location was the Halloween Pennant, which were present in significant numbers.  There were frogs in the water as well, though none were nice enough to give me a good pose.  Part of that could have been because of the Northern Water Snake that was also in the pond, looking for a meal to keep him going through the day.  Pretty, pretty snake and nice enough to stick around for a little while.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly

© - Slaty Skimmer

After making three or four laps of the pond, I took a quick walk around the short prairie loop.  When the flowers are running at full force this is a really fun walk.  This year, however, there just wasn’t that much to see.  There were a couple of American Goldfinches making the rounds, but none were kind enough to get into a position to allow me to make an image of them.  There were some damselflies, a few smaller butterflies, and other assorted insects.  I do have a life list add on the butterflies as soon as I can identify it, though the image is far from something that I would hang on a wall.  With that short walk I then headed back to the car, put the foot on ice for a couple of minutes, and then headed down the road for a great meal.

Now the woulda/coulda/shoulda part of the post…  If I had the time, I would try to make visiting this park a 2 day visit.  These areas are good, but I would have loved to see what the difference was between the activity in the morning as compared to the afternoon.  There were also a few places elsewhere in the park that I might have gone if I had more time but I went with the dependable rather than the potential.

Good visit.  Glad I went, though the walking was kinda ugly after a while.  Hope I have a chance to do it again sometime.

About the images:

Two damsels in their female forms, both the Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) and the Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta) were prowling near the small pond at the Nature Center.  I was very pleased with the backgrounds I was able to achieve on both of those images, though admittedly I’m more pleased with the Eastern Forktail.  The Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) and the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) were over at the visitor’s center.  The snake didn’t give me much to work with, but the Skimmer perched against the backdrop of the pond gave me the bokeh-ish background I was looking for.

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