Largemouth Bass

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This is an olive-green fish marked by a series of dark, sometimes black, blotches forming a jagged horizontal stripe along each side. Largemouth Bass are the most popular game fish in North America.

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It’s mouth size is legendary and allows it to consume smaller fish, snails, crayfish, frogs, snakes, salamanders, bats, birds, mammals and baby alligators.

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As adults they are tend to be solitary fish and are often the apex predator in their habitat. Largemouth Bass hide in water vegetation or under roots and limbs of sunken trees, and striking out at their prey from the shadows.

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This is an adaptable fish that can live in swamps, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks and large rivers. Their average length is about 18 inches and their lifespan can be more than 10 years.

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This fish is known by a variety of regional names, such as the Widemouth Bass, Bigmouth Bass, Black Bass, Bucketmouth, Largies, Potter’s Fish, Green Bass, Green Trout, Gilsdorf Bass, Oswego Bass and LMB.

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What ever you call them, they are a lot of fun to catch!

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Northern Walkingstick

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While walking on the Buckeye Trail, I came across this very cool insect. Adults are 3 to 3-1/2 inches long and remarkably well camouflaged. They are slender, elongated and resemble a twig.

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Northern Walkingsticks have a wide range, extending down the Atlantic Coast from Alberta, Canada to Northern Florida.

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These creatures feed mainly on the leaves of trees. They are leaf skeletonizers, eating the tissues between the leaf veins before moving on to new leaves.

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There favored habitat is deciduous woodland edges and forests where their preferred food sources (Oak and Hazelnut) are in good supply.

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Northern Walkingsticks have the extraordinary ability to regenerate legs that are lost by attacks from predators. When predators are present, they remain motionless with their legs close to their bodies, thus resembling a stick.

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They tend to lay their eggs in September; they do so, usually from great heights, dropping them down to the leaf litter where they are left to overwinter. The eggs falling from the trees sound like of droplets of rain.

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We often think of strange, exotic-looking insects as creatures inhabiting tropical rainforests, but the Northern Walkingstick graces us with its presence right here in Ohio.

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Bald Eagle


Ohio’s largest breeding raptor feeds largely on fish. A pair has been nesting near the Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a few years now.

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The Bald Eagle was negatively affected by the use of the pesticide DDT and the numbers of our national symbol dropped severely in the 1950s and 1960s.

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By 1979 Ohio Bald Eagles declined to just four breeding pairs.The elimination of harmful pesticides has caused a dramatic comeback.

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At one time, the word “bald” meant “white,” not hairless. The Bald Eagle is the only eagle unique to North America. Its distinctive brown body and white head and tail make it easy to identify even from a distance.

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During breeding season, the male and female work together to build a nest of sticks, usually located at the top of a tree. The nests can weigh up to a ton and measure up to 8 feet across.


Once paired, bald eagles remain with each other until one mate dies, then the surviving bird will find another mate.

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Immature birds have mostly dark heads and tails; their brown wings and bodies are mottled with white in varying amounts. Young birds attain adult plumage in about five years.

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The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people for far longer than that. For me it’s always a thrill to see one of these majestic birds when hiking the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath.

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Virginia Waterleaf


Hiking on the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath trail around this time of year I often encounter this Spring wildflower of low-lying damp woods, stream terraces and floodplains.

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This is a classic northwoods plant, that often look messy, growing in dense clusters of eight to twenty blossoms. This plant grows by both rhizomes (underground stems) and seeds.

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This plant’s genus, Hydrophyllum, refers to water; its early season leaves often have a bleached appearance as if they’ve been stained by water.The whitish marks on the leaves fade as Summer progresses and by mid-Summer the plant dies back to the ground and is no longer apparent.

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Virginia Waterleaf’s flower color varies from pale pink, to deep purple, to occasionally white. They are small, bell-shaped blossoms borne in clusters with stamens and pistils protruding well out of the flower.

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When young and tender, the leaves are good eating. People still gather wild Virginia Waterleaf for food. It’s other common name, John’s cabbage, also speaks to its tasty nature.

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California Red-sided Garter Snake

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This snake is rivaled only by the San Francisco Garter Snake in color, with its bright red and black bars covering the sides of its body and a distinct turquoise or yellowish dorsal stripe. In Marin and some parts of Sonoma County, it is particularly colorful.

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This subspecies of the common garter is found soley in California, traversing almost the entire state’s coastal region. I have often found it along waterways, where it is wary and hard to catch.

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The California Red-sided Garter Snake utilizes a wide variety of other habitats such as forests, mixed woodlands, grassland, chaparral, farmlands; though it is often found near ponds, marshes or streams.

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This serpent eats a wide variety of prey, including amphibians and their larvae, fish, birds and their eggs, small mammals, reptiles, earthworms, slugs and leeches. It is able to eat adult Pacific Newts, which are deadly to most predators.

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The California Red-sided Garter Snake is most active in the daytime. I often see them sunning themselves along hiking trails. In Summer, it is most active in the morning and late afternoon; in the heat of mid-day, it often remains hidden.

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Like all Garter Snakes native to the United States, this is a livebearer. It mates in the late Winter to early Spring and young are born in Summer to early Fall. Newborns are typically 5-8 inches in length and clutch sizes vary from 8 to 20 offspring.

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