We visited Kendall Lake in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park this afternoon. I wasn’t holding out hope for much to photograph but our little nature walk presented a fine assortment of opportunities, many of which were captured. Among the sights was a very large snapping turtle fellow visitors pointed out. The reptile stayed beneath the surface of the lake during the entire time we watched, occasionally stretching its neck to put up its periscope nostrils and eyes long enough to breathe. As pretty sunfish swam all around the potential predator, the turtle snapped not once. Following a park trail, we recorded woodland scenes of weathered wood and lush foliage in the understory. It was a very relaxing walk following a period of several stressful days and was a most welcome respite. On the opposite end of the lake, a spot of sunlight fell on slender, colored leaves floating in the shadows … a lovely and tranquil sight.
Today we decided to try out the Salt Run Trail in the Virginia Kendall area of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It's just outside the town of Peninsula and we've visited that area often but never tried that trail. Park materials said it was "moderate to difficult" hiking and they were not fooling. The warm, humid air quickly brought out the sweat in us as we hiked rolling to hilly forest pathway covering a little over three miles. Along the way we stopped to photograph plants and animals we encountered, shooing away far more mosquitoes than I would have liked to have dealt with… including one little biter who actually tried to enter my ear canal! I swear, I didn't mean to kill it… it was an accident! I saw my first scarlet tanager (bird) and, at the end of the walk, we had a close encounter with a beaver that was gathering reeds on the banks of a stream. The hike was a lot of work but the exercise was good, the woods were beautiful, and the wildlife surprises a treat.
We sighted this great spangled fritillary butterfly visiting flowers in a prairie area of the park. It moved between plants at just slow enough pace to allow me some photo opportunities.
I don't believe I've ever seen a scarlet tanager before. This one was very shy … I had to hide behind trees and brush to simply look at the beauty. The best images were captured with the bird in shadow where, apparently, it was most comfortable — very difficult conditions for photography, however. Four frames exposed at long distance and that was it… off, deeper into the forest, it went!
As we were emerging from the woods, finishing our hike, we crossed an automotive bridge spanning a stream. There, to my surprise, was a large, deep brown beaver gathering reeds from the bank. It finished its work, slipped into the water, and swam under the bridge with a bunch of green plants trailing from its mouth. I couldn't think of an appropriate pun based on the old TV series, so let's just say we'll Leave It to Beaver.