Up The Creek

We decided to paddle up Paint Creek with the hope of documenting some of the beautiful scenery along it’s banks. As creeks go, it’s one of the best in Ohio.

Paint Creek Reservoir is located in Paint Creek State Park. The park is located south of Columbus in the gently rolling hills that occupy that part of the state. Two rivers feed the reservoir, Rattlesnake and Paint Creek. Of the two, we feel that a paddle up Paint Creek is the better option. The bluffs and cliffs along it’s banks make you wonder if you’re really in Ohio. It is also possible to paddle quite a bit further than on Rattlesnake Creek making for a better day trip. As you head north, the shoreline with bushes and trees at waters edge, is usually good for seeing many types of birds from tanagers to eagles. Lower water at certain times of the year produces mudflats that are excellent for viewing shore birds and the many logs along the shore make it a great place to see turtles and water snakes. Once you’re up the creek far enough to be in the current a few casts will usually produces a large or smallmouth bass or maybe a nice pan fish.

Light is what photographers paint with and on the day we were out it was less than ideal. At times it was almost dreary and threatening rain while at others piercing sun light would illuminate a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in the dark. But we try to be philosophical about such things, so the pictures that follow hopefully capture some of the unique beauty of the place as it was on that day.

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Route map, Paint Creek Reservoir is quite large so this shows only a small portion.

 

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Heading north into Paint Creek

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The bluffs.

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Louisiana Water Thrush along the shore

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On a cool morning this Common Water Snake tries to warm up.

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A small island in the reservoir.

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A Killdeer on the mud flats.

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A Solitary Sandpiper near the mud flats

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Logs along the shore are a great place for Map and Spiny Soft Shell Turtles.

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Along waters edge, a Black Swallowtail on a Button Bush.

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Photographing rock formations.

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In many places the cliffs plunge straight into the reservoir.

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A Green Heron poses in a small cove.

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Take two.

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An intimate place, maybe there’s a picture.

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What she saw. (Donna)

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As far north as we could go in the canoe. Time for lunch.

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Pulled out on a sand bar, Paint Creek

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Very small moth.

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A damselfly makes friends with Donna.

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Colorful fungus along water’s edge

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Exploring.

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A few casts and Bob had a bass. (Donna)

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What to do? bird or fish! (Donna)

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Paint Creek

 

 

 

 

 

Too Many Ospreys To Count

Recently we decided the paddle the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir. To get started we put in at the Howard Rd launch and headed north. Early in the year we can expect to see both migrating and breeding warblers along the shore. In late July, from all we can tell, the warblers are no longer present. If they are, they’re being real quite.  So what would we see? Since it was a beautiful day, cool temperatures and a light wind, it didn’t matter too much. It was a great day for a paddle.

As we made our way up the reservoir we did manage to see Spotted Sandpipers, Green Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Terns, Great Blue Herons, Hummingbirds, Peewee’s, Phoebe’s, a Bald Eagle and even a Yellow Billed Cuckoo. Not bad! However, the real star’s of the day were all the Osprey’s. The nesting platforms at the north end of Alum Creek Reservoir were very successful this year. There were too many birds to count!

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The route.

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Bluffs overlooking north end Alum Creek Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper near the bluffs, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Cormorants, Alum Creek Reservoir, (Donna)

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Alum Creek, submerged tree.

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Quite a few Eastern Amber wings were out, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, looking a little tired.

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Large Wolf Spider along the shore, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Cliff along Alum Creek where it flows into the reservoir.

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Kingfisher perched along the cliff.

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, study 2

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Osprey, north end of Alum Creek Reservoir, study 3

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Sandbar on Alum Creek, as far up the river as we could paddle.

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Alum Creek

 

 

No Longer “just another bug”

The last couple of weeks we’ve done a few walks and paddles. Along the way we’ve managed to take pictures of some of the insects that might be seen if one ventures into the woods, or unto rivers and lakes in central Ohio this time of year.

To be honest; I get a little more excited about the opportunity to photograph a Mink, Bald Eagle, or Blackburnian Warbler. Looking at the following images it’s hard to understand exactly why that is. I guess it’s understandable that we might have a greater sense of kinship with feathery fury things than something with an exoskeleton. Certainly if we think of a Common Sanddragon the same way we do a mosquito the dragonfly doesn’t stand a chance. How many of us have been out photographing mosquitoes lately. It goes without saying that when we consider how a dragonfly makes it’s living it’s significances, as well as that of all the smaller insects it feeds upon, become much more apparent.

So having decided to quit disrespecting the “bugs” we find ourselves making more of an effort to learn about them. However, having made such a commitment there’s always the chance that after we’ve spent quality time observing, photographing, and being fascinated by the behavior of an insect like a dragonfly, a sense of kinship may develop where there was none before. Not long after that, down the trail, we might see a Great Crested Flycatcher enjoying one for breakfast. If it hadn’t happened already, at that moment, courtesy of the flycatcher, our perspective changes, an unavoidable sense of remorse may ensue, the dragonfly no longer seems like “just another bug”.

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A great place for bugs. Prairie Oaks

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Red Admiral, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Cone Flower, Battelle Darby Creek

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Backyard Bee Balm

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Viceroy, Prairie Oaks

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Band-winged Meadowhawk, Prairie Oaks

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Blue-fronted Dancer, Prairie Oaks

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Blue-ringed Dancer, Prairie Oaks

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Silver Spotted Skipper, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Red-spotted Purple, Prairie Oaks

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Hummingbird Moth

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Widow Skimmer, (female), Prairie Oaks

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Powdered-dancer, female, Prairie Oaks

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Ebony Jewelwings, Prairie Oaks

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Eastern Amberwing, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Eastern Pondhawk, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Eastern Comma, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

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Common Sanddragon, Prairie Oaks

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Clouded Sulfur, Prairie Oaks

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Calico-pennant, Prairie Oaks

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Buckeye, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Dragonflies, Damselflies, and Mosquitos, Prairie Oaks

 

 

A Puffy White Cloud Sort of Day

Mid-July and it was a perfect day for a long paddle on Griggs Reservoir. Temperature in the low seventies, little wind, with puffy white clouds dotting a very blue sky. The canoe seemed to glide along effortlessly.

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Paddle, drops and ripples, the aesthetic of canoeing.

Are we really in Columbus?

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A Puffy White Cloud Kind of Day, (Donna)

 

It wasn’t long before we started seeing birds. First it was a Kingfisher as we entered a cove.

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Female Kingfisher

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Just barely two pictures.

A little further a Double Crested Cormorant enjoys the morning sun.

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Double Crested Cormorant

As does a Painted Turtle.

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Painted Turtle on Griggs Reservoir

 

A little while later, north along the west shore we surprised a Red-tailed Hawk as it enjoyed breakfast. A bad day for the snake.

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Red-tailed Hawk

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Not a happy day for the snake.

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Red-tailed Hawk, study 2

 

Continuing on north of Hayden Run.

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Mallards in the morning mist.

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Griggs Reservoir natural area.

 

Several Ospreys were seen just south of the 161 bridge.

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Osprey on Griggs Reservoir

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Taking flight

 

In the same area a White Tail Dear made it’s way across the Scioto River.

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Where the Scioto flows into Griggs Reservoir.

A Green Heron plays hide and seek.

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Immature Green Heron

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Hiding

 

While in the north end of the reservoir we pulled out to explore the “wetlands area”.

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Normally this area would be covered with vegetation but recent high water has slowed that down.

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Wetlands Area

 

As is usually the case, my wife was hot on the trail of any wildflowers or birds she could find.

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Water Willow, (Donna)

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House Wren, (Donna)

 

It was hard to head back to our launch but we did have five miles ahead of us before we could call it a day.

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A great day to be on the water, Scioto River just north of Griggs Reservoir.

 

 

The West Highland Way

On occasion we leave central Ohio to experience nature in a different location. A few weeks ago we travelled to Scotland to hike the 96 mile West Highland Way which runs between Milngavie and Fort William. You can hike part or the whole thing. Deciding to be nice to our “We’re not 25 anymore” bodies we stayed in Inns or B&B’s each night.  The scenery was spectacular and the weather, while wet at times, never was so bad that you couldn’t enjoy the day. Because many of the birds seen for the first time were common, it was pretty easy to add 39 life birds to our list.

If you love being out in nature and enjoy walking, we highly recommend hiking in Scotland and the West Highland Way is one of the best long treks. Because some days could be as long as 16 miles, and some terrain rugged, we kept camera equipment to a minimum using a Canon SX260 and an older SD850. We wore all synthetic fabrics while on the trail and, because the weather could be very changeable, carried extra clothing, raingear, as well as water and snacks/lunch in our day packs. We set up our trip through Hillwalk Tours and were very happy with in the arrangements.

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The start of our eight day walk.

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The Route

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Walking through the woods early on.

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A Curlew is seen off the trail.

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A view of Loch Lomond from Conic Hill on the 2nd day.

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A Magpie entertains.

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The trail along Loch Lomond

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One of many small streams flowing into Loch Lomond

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Just one of the many beautiful waterfall seen.

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Beautiful view along Loch Lomond.

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Further north water seemed to be everywhere.

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North of Loch Lomond, following an old military road.

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On the sixth day we start to see more dramatic scenery.

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A view at the start of the seventh day leaving Kings House.

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Pixie Cup Lichen, with all the rain there was no shortage od moss and lichen.

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Near Kings House

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The trail beckons.

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More lichen.

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Sometimes the trail was a little rough.

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Are we really here?

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The team at the finish in Fort William.

 

A Dark and Cloudy Day Along the Reservoir

As we walked along the reservoir we were sure that any minute the clouds would open up delivering a soaking rain but with cameras in hand we soldered on. We were desperate for a nature fix but what would we possibly see? Any pictures taken would probably be blurry or at least, with the Auto ISO on, full of noise. Attempts to visualize landscapes that might have something endearing to say proved futile so we concentrated on the smaller things where the very flat dim light might be an asset.

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Cormorant on a dark day

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Amazingly even under these circumstances beauty was found.

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False Sunflower

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My favorite stump.

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Golden Star, (Donna)

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Blue Vervain, (Donna)

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Queen Ann’s Lace, (Donna)

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Milkweed

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The Mallard Ducks seemed happy enough.

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Female Mallard

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Female Mallard with young.

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The camera managed to capture a Nuthatch.

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Nuthatch (very low light)

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 .   .   .   a dragonfly even let us get close.

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Widow Skimmer

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But not all dragonflies were having a good day as witnessed buy this Great Crested Flycatcher that was showing off it’s prize.

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Great Crested Flycatcher, study 1

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Great Crested Flycatcher, study 2

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Great Crested Flycatcher, study 3

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On a lighter note during a recent bike ride we got an endearing picture of two young dear.

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Stopping to check out the turtles.

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Too cute!

 

***

 

An Eagle Over the Scioto River

Today we joined some friends for a paddle on the Scioto River just north of Columbus. The river, which usually is quite shallow this time of the year, had enough flow to make for an enjoyable paddle. Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Throated Warblers and Great Crested Fly Catchers were just some of the birds heard along the wooded river bank.  Kingfishers played tag with our canoes, and Red-tailed and Coopers Hawks as well as a numbers of Great Blue Herons and a Green Heron were seen.  It wasn’t that many years ago that a Bald Eagle in central Ohio would have been a very rare sight so what really made the trip special was to have one pose, flying from tree to tree, as we made our way down the river.

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A great day to be on the river.

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As always, looking for birds. (Teresa)

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An illusive male Kingfisher. Just a little too far away for a good pic.

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Bald Eagle along the Scioto, (Teresa).

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Bald Eagle, study 2, (Donna)

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Bald Eagle, study 3.

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Bald Eagle, study 4.

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Enough pictures already!

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One of many lovely scenes on the river.

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The final stretch.

 

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