A Late Spring Celebration of Nature

Whether paddling or walking our explorations in the last week or so have been very close to home in Griggs Park and the reservoir. We hardly feel deprived. As the pictures below will attest, especially in the case of my wife, the closer you look the more you see.

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Some of the flowers we are now seeing will continue to bloom for most of the summer. Others will not. Part of the ever changing scene.

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Ox-eye Daises, (Donna), FZ200.

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Hairy Ruellia, (Donna), FZ200.

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Rough-fruited Cinquefoil, (Donna) FZ200

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Northern Catalpa, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Along the shore of Griggs Reservoir the Blue Flag Iris continues to enchant, (Donna), FZ200.

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Goats Beard, (Donna), FZ200.

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Mushrooms, (Donna), FZ200.

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Some things seen have been unusual. Many thanks to New Hampshire Garden Solutions for help in identifying what was going on in the following pic, Elm Pouch Galls.

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Produced by aphids, Elm Pouch Galls rise from the upper leaf surface, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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While we are still hearing them, many birds choose to peer at us from behind the leaf cover so my wife has directed more of her attention to more cooperative subjects.

 

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Peck’s Skipper, (Donna), FZ200.

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Zebulon Skipper, (Donna), FZ200

 

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Bronze Copper, (Donna), FZ200

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Top view.

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Clouded Sulfur with a friend, (Donna), FZ200.

 

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Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna), FZ200.

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A busy bee, Griggs Park, Canon 3ti, 18-135.

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Eastern Pondhawk (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Widow Skimmer (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Look even closer and you’ll see tiny insects with jewel like qualities.

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Stream Bluet, (Donna), FZ200.

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Stream Bluet (F)?, (Donna), FZ200.

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Powdered Dancer (M), (Donna), FZ200.

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Very small gold fly, (Donna), FZ200.

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Thankfully not all of our feathered friends were in hiding.

 

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Kingbird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Robin, Griggs Park, ZS50.

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We haven’t had much luck getting a close pic so far this year but we did catch the male Baltimore Oriole along the Scioto below Griggs Dam,  ZS50.

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What were these White-breasted Nuthatches doing? ZS50.

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Fledglings! along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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With so many beautiful Great Blue Herons along the reservoir so it hard to resist taking a picture, Canon 60D sigma 150-500.

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We watched this Great Blue Heron for some time as he struggled and went through all kinds of contortions but never did see him swallow the poor fish which by heron standards wasn’t all that large, ZS50.

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As we walk along park path, just overhead a Turkey Vulture sizes us up, “Still Moving, @?%#!!!”, ZS50

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Mother Mallard with baby along Griggs Reservoir, FZ200.

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An Osprey watches as we paddle by, north end of Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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A Red-tailed Hawk does likewise, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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And a few other creatures too.

 

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Sunfish, sometimes what a fish lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. This little fella went swimming right after the pic, Griggs Reservoir, Canon SD850.

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A turtle convention along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, ZS50.

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Looking like somewhere in northern Michigan a deer crosses the Scioto north of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna), FZ200.

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Not seen as often as Map Turtles and Red-eared Sliders, we were excited to see two Painted Turtles enjoying the sun along the Griggs Reservoir shore, (Donna), FZ200.

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Sometimes it’s good to just step back and admire it all from a distance.

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North end of Griggs reservoir, FZ200

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Thanks for stopping by.

Revisiting the Rookery, A Closer Look

Our previous post talked about a Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Double Crested Cormorant rookery on an island in the middle of a quarry in Columbus.

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We finally managed to get the digiscope working reasonably well and were able to get the following shots. While certainly not National Geographic quality, hopefully they give the  reader a better idea about what’s on the island.

 

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Folks may be interested in the digiscope rig used so below are a few pics. The camera is a small, light, 8mp Canon SD850 IS mounted on a universal mount which is the fussy part. The scope is a easy to transport 60mm Vanguard Endeavour XF. 20X zoom was used for the shots.

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We don’t usually do two posts back to back on the same subject but we thought further elaboration might be welcome.

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P.S: Right at my feet as I was digiscoping and too beautiful to ignore .   .   .

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Heron, Egret, and Cormorant Rookery in Columbus

If you’d like to see nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants pack up your binoculars or better yet a spotting scope, and head over to Campbell Park off McKinley Avenue and just south of Trabue Rd. The park is interesting in it’s own right because it’s one of the last ancient cone-shaped burial mounds in Columbus, but in addition, the top of the mound happens to be a great vantage point to view an island rookery located in the middle of the adjacent quarry.

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We learned about the spot by chance from a fellow birding enthusiast while looking for migrating warblers along the Scioto River in Columbus. So before we get to the rookery, below are a few shots from our adventures along the Scioto in recent days.

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Prothonotary Warbler along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker being a good parent along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200.

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Turkey Vultures along the Scioto below Griggs Dam, FZ200, (Donna).

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Robin singing, Scioto River below Griggs Dam, FZ200. (Donna)

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White-breasted Nuthatch, Kiwanis River Way Park

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. . . just a minute I’m not quite ready!

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Palm Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park

 

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Bluebird, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Yellow-throated Warbler, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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Cardinal, Kiwanis River Way Park.

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When we’re not looking for birds .   .   .

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Kiwanis River Way Park

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Butterweed, Kiwanis River Way Park

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Shooting Star, Kiwanis River Way Park.

 

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???, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wood Sorrel, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Spring Beauty, Kiwanis River Way Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Wild Hyacinth, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Black Swallowtail, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Fleabane, Campbell Park, FZ200, (Donna).

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Campbell Park and the rookery. Views through our spotting scope were much better!

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Entrance to the mound. Campbell Park.

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Historical Marker

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The best view of the island and rookery (the only view really), was from the top of the mound.

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The bird camera at full zoom, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Looking around the island, nesting Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Double-crested Cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Another view, Black-crowned Night Herons can just be made out in the lower lift corner, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Donna’s FZ200 takes a look at a variety of nesting birds.

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Nests, , Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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Nesting cormorants, Canon D50, Sigma 150-500.

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While my wife was investigating the wildflowers and butterflies I also tried some photos with a Digi-scope rig but the results were disappointing no doubt the result of operator error. If you have such equipment I recommend giving it a try. At the very least bring your spotting scope and enjoy the view while many of the birds are still on their nests.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Chickadee In The Woods

A beautiful sunrise can offer inspiration as well as motivation to get outside and see what’s going on. This is especially true when it may mean rain later in the day.

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Sunrise from our front window.

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So after a quick breakfast, off we went. By way of explanation for the following few shots let me first say that we love Chickadees, whether they’re at our feeder or in the woods they never fail to put a smile on our face. Encountering one after several miles of hiking is extra special if for no other reason than that you’ve worked hard to get to the meeting place. “Free-range” Chickadees just can’t be beat. A further preface to the pics is that they were taken with a very pocketable Panasonic ZS50 a camera purchased with a hike of the Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula in mind. While no replacement for the capability of a DSLR when it comes to creative effects, low light capability, and fast and precise focus, I’ll let you be the judge is to just how well it does. Clicking on the image will give a slightly better idea of the resolution. All images are significant crops and were taken at 30x zoom.

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Chickadee, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Trying to hide.

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Going about it’s business.

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The ZS50 was also pointed at a much more sedentary Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker in the neighborhood.

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Whatever it was on the menu it was apparently to it’s liking.

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Finally, it’s capabilities were directed towards gulls far out on the reservoir.

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Gulls on ice, Griggs Reservoir.

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A day later at the same location but now with the “bird camera” I was hoping to document interesting waterfowl and perhaps see the Mute or Trumpeter Swans that were observed flying over head the day before.

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On this particular day the landscape did not cry out to be photographed, Griggs Reservoir Dam.

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While the day was rather drab the waterfowl were cooperative even if it was at a distance.

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Hooded Merganser, (F)

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Despite using trees for cover and moving very slowly, I’m spotted, and the Goldeneyes take flight.

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The Red-necked Ducks aren’t quite as cautious.

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On the other side of the river a male Kingfisher poses.

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A lone Greater Scaup is also seen.

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No stranger to these parts, a Great Blue Heron waits for the river’s flow to deliver lunch.

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All in all, the last two days were good. The Panasonic ZS50 appears quite capable of doing what’s needed in Ireland and having the “bird camera” out again reminded me why it is also in the stable. Thanks for stopping by.

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Blue sky, morning sun, and a Cardinal.

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XXX

Spring Snow

It’s been a back and forth spring. Nothing new there except sometimes it can be a bit confusing. Yesterday morning we woke to a fresh cover of snow. Just enough to color the landscape white for a time. By noon it was gone.

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Just pull the car out of the garage for some quick maintenance, perhaps it will take an hour, the weather had a different idea.

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There have been signs of spring:

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Skunk Cabbage

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A closer look.

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Squirrel with acorn, (Donna)

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Winter Aconite

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Titmouse, (Donna)

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Last years leaves cast shadows.

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A too blue Bluebird, (Donna)

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Lichen and fallen log, (Donna).

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Looking closer

 

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Downy Woodpecker

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Fox Squirrel

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Crocus

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.    .    .    and then, in parting, perhaps until next year:

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The snow reveals things not usually noticed

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. . . creating patterns and design.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Dance

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Autumn Dance

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                                             Returning today

                                             we looked up

                                             and were rewarded

                                             only with bare branches

                                             against a cold darkening gray.

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Late autumn.

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                                             But yesterday

                                             in the morning sun

                                             under a too blue autumn sky

                                             before the windy night

                                             we moved across the dance floor

                                             as young children

                                             to one partner then the next

                                             pausing in wonder

                                             while they, with arms outspread

                                             in red, yellow, orange, and gold

                                             demanded our admiring upward gaze

                                             then held us close

                                             in warm embrace.

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                                                                                                                                                RSP

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Autumn color, study 1

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Autumn color, study 2

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Autumn color, study 3

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Autumn color, study 4

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.

 

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