Watching all the Ducks Float By

One of our favorite places to look for waterfowl this time of the year is along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. It’s an area that’s accessible only on foot so using a car as a blind to get closer to the birds is not an option. When one ties to sneak up on waterfowl for a decent photo one quickly realizing why duck hunters use blinds. Truth is, after years of being shot at, the only the wary birds a left. The dumb ones have been selected out.

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So recently I tired a new technique. Rather than stalking the birds, moving quietly from cover to cover. I decided to find a good spot and quietly lean against a tree and wait for the birds to float by. It was a sunny 20 degrees with no wind which made the process not uncomfortable. In the past the other technique I’ve used is to walk down river and then slowly work my way back upstream. It turns out that the birds are less interested in swimming upstream to get away from a low level treat. However, when the treat is sufficient they will fly.

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So below are some of the results using the above techniques:

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Common Mergansers and a Ring-necked Duck, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Common Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A haven for waterfowl, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Hooded Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Red Breasted Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Herring (not Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid) Gull , Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Male Canvasback, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Two Canvasbacks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Redhead, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Greater (not Lesser) Scaups, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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There were also a few other birds that made me smile:

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Cardinal against a blue sky.

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Front yard Chickadee

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Song Sparrow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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It’s hard not to notice other forms of beauty when out looking for birds:

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Ice, Big Darby Creek

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Patterns, Big Darby Creek.

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A late winter scene along Big Darby Creek

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Thanks for looking in.

“Going Home”

Sometimes, if we’re lucky,  thoughts off our past bring back memories of a special place that may have been part of the lazy warm summer days of our childhood. Such thoughts often awaken a desire to return. But as we all are too well aware there is a danger in trying to go back, things change, and not always for the better.

When I was a young my family spent one or two weeks each summer in northern Michigan. Quite often it was in an area along Lake Huron near Oscoda. As folks would say in Detroit at that time, we went “Up North” for vacation. During those vacations, family drives along the Au Sable River captured my imagination as well as did the fishing trips with my dad to several of the clear, and still relatively undeveloped, lakes in the area.

Time went by with many wonderful bicycling and hiking trips over the years. But the urge to return steadily grew, so several years ago I did return to fish, as well as explore, the areas near to where my family had vacationed. Places like the Rifle River Recreation Area and the Au Sable River and the ponds that are part of that river system.

Recent camping/paddling trips to this area with my wife and fishing trips with friends have revealed an area more magical than I ever imagined as a child. Seemingly endless clear water, Bald Eagles soaring overhead, the song of the Whip-poor-will or the call of a Barred Owl or Loon at night, and great catch and release fishing for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass just to name a few of the things that keep drawing me back.

This year’s experience, our seventh annual fishing trip, was shared and enjoyed by myself and three friends who also enjoy kayak fishing, exploring beautiful lakes, as well as paddling beautiful rivers.

Reflecting on this year’s trip, my wish is that everyone have such a beautiful place. A place, that when returned to, invokes a feeling of “Going Home”.

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Checking gear at the campsite, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Joe-pye Weed, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Gliding across the lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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A hint of autumn, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Trumpeter Swan, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Study 2

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Study 3

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Grass-of-Parnassus, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Jeff catches a nice bass, Rifle River Recreation Area

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A nice Smallmouth is caught and released below Loud Pond Dam on the Au Sable River.

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Reeds, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Morning Fog, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Colorful Fungus (Lobster Mushroom?), Rifle River Recreation Area

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Reflections, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Along the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Heading in, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Sky over the lake, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Au Sable River below Alcona Dam

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Lake through the trees, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Taking a break, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Keith on the Au Sable River.

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Nice Largemouth bass, caught and released, Rifle River Recreation Area.

 

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Loons, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Loons looking for dinner, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Immature Loon, first year, Rifle River Recreation Area.

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Adult Loon, Rifle River Recreation Area

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Floating the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam.

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Common Mergansers along the Au Sable River.

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Jim on the Au Sable River.

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Sunset, Rifle River Recreation Area.

 

 

Ice Necklesses and Winter Ducks

Griggs Reservoir remains frozen so the river below the dam (adjacent to Hoover Park), continues to concentrate waterfowl. In the last few days we’ve made two trips to this area hoping to take advantage of the conditions.

On the first trip, Horned Grebes, Golden Eyes, and Hooded Mergansers were seen. However, what really blew us away were three Bald Eagles flying up the river, two mature and one immature, the most we’ve ever seen at this location. The Grebes were also exciting because we hadn’t seen them below the dam before. Unfortunately, in addition to mini-binoculars we both had only our Canon SX260’s so any thought of getting flying eagle pictures was just that, a thought. If they landed nearby we were never able to determine the location. As our exploration continued my wife found an interesting ice formation caused by the slowly receding river. Also, ever on the lookout for fungi, she found some that she felt was worth a photograph.

The following day we tried again. This time with our “bird cameras” hoping that there would be another eagle fly by. However, as is often the case when you roll out the “heavy equipment”, no eagles were seen. We were happy to add a Common Merganser to our list of birds seen below the dam.

Many Hooded Mergansers were seen, Donna, Olympus E-620 600 mm

Many Hooded Mergansers were seen, Donna, Olympus E-620 300 mm

Ice necklace, Donna, Canon sx260

Ice necklace, Donna, Canon sx260

Horned Grebes, Canon sx260

Horned Grebes, Canon sx260

Golden Eyes, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Golden Eyes, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Horned Grebes, Canon sx260

Hooded Mergansers, Canon sx260

Hooded Mergansers & Golden Eyes, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Hooded Mergansers & Golden Eyes, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Common Merganser, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Common Merganser, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Cormorant & Hooded Mergansers, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Cormorant & Hooded Mergansers, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Warmer weather, Chipping Sparrow taking a bath, Canon t3i 500 mm

Warmer weather, Chipping Sparrow taking a bath, Canon t3i, 500 mm

Fungi close-up, Donna, Canon sx260

Fungi close-up, Donna, Canon sx260

Fungi, Donna, Canon sx260

Fungi, Donna, Canon sx260

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Thanks for stopping by.

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