Florida, Paddling, Hiking, and Other Things Seen

Most of our photographic energy when paddling or hiking in Florida is directed at the birds, however it’s hard not to see other things when you’re out exploring. For any of you that have travelled to Miami or Naples or any of the other developed areas these pictures will not remind you of that Florida. In our quest to explore ad be in nature we try to avoid such places and look for the natural beauty. While it is still a place of much beauty, when driving through the many developed areas one cannot help but feel Florida is being “loved” to death.

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For those that are curious, our stay in Florida consisted of time spent at Myakka River SP; great hiking, big gators, and great wildlife photography, Lake Kissimmee SP; great hiking, paddling, fishing, and wildlife, the Chassahowzitka River Campground;  great paddling, fishing, and wildlife, and Ochlockonee River SP; great hiking, paddling, and wildlife.

 Click on images for a better view.

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The first place we visited was Myakka River State Park. In addition to many species of birds it’s home a lot of very large Alligators!

Hammock, Myakka River SP.

 

Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Living dangerously, Myakka River SP.

Alligator heaven, Myakka River SP.

Almost everything’s cute when it’s little, Myakka River SP.

Cooling off, Myakka River SP.

Lots of babies, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Bellowing, Myakka River SP.

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Sunset, Myakka River SP.

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Rumor has it that the alligators enjoy a turtle now and then. Hopefully this fella will live to a ripe old age.

Florida Redbelly Cooter, Myakka River SP

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Myakka River, Myakka River SP.

Air plants, Myakka River SP.

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Whether in Myakka or otherwise there were always butterflies and other insects to facinate.

White Peacock Butterfly, Myakka River SP

Black Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, central Florida, (Donna).

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, (Donna).

Pondhawk, Ochlockonee River SP.

Long-tailed Skipper, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Zebra Swallowtail, Ochlockonee River SP.

Palamedes Swallowtail, Chassahowitzka River.

Red-banded Hairstreak, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Jumping Spider, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Roseate Skimmer, Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Ornate Pennant, Lake Kissimmee SP. (Donna)

Fiddler Crabs, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

Fiddler Crabs in combat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

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One of the more interesting places in Myakka River SP  is the Deep Hole.

Heading towards the Deep Hole.

Alligators were everywhere!

The Deep Hole, Myakka River SP.

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After Myakka we made our way about 90 miles tp Lake Kissimmee SP in the center of the state and then on to the Chassahowitzka River area and then Chassahowitzka River SP in the panhandle.

Live Oak, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Lake Kissimmee SP

Exploring Mashes Sands Beach near Ochlockonee River SP, (Donna).

Along the trail, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

St Mark’s Lighthouse, St Mark’s NWR.

Sopchoppy River, St Marks NWR.

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My wife was better about documenting the flowers.

Thistle, Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, (Donna)

Golden Club, Sopchoppy River, (Donna).

Florida Scrub Roseling, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

British Soldier Lichen, Lake Kissimmee SP

Sundew, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Rain Lilies, Wakulla River

Checking out the Spider Lilies, Wakulla River.

Spider Lilies, Wakulla River

Southern Blackberry, Ochlockonee River SP.

 

St John’s Wort, Ochlockonee River SP.

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We also ran across a number of snakes and other reptiles during our adventures.

Banded Water Snake, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

Eastern Racer, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna).

Brown Anole, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Green Anole, Ochlockonee SP, (Donna)

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.   .   .  and then some other creatures.

Armadillo, Chassihowitzka River area, (Donna).

Bobcat, St Marks NWR, (Donna).

White Squirrel, Ochlockonee SP.

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Central Florida landscape, (Donna).

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Below are some birds pics that missed the previous Florida post.

Osprey trying a new fishing technique, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

White Pelican trying not to get it’s feet wet, Upper Myakka Lake, (Donna).

Limpkins, Myakka River SP, (Donna).

Red Shouldered Hawk (FL variant), Lake Kissimmee SP, (Donna).

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This year proved to be especially good for seeing River Otters while we paddled various rivers.

River Otter, Chassahowitzka River, (Donna).

River Otter, Sopchoppy River, (Donna)

River Otter, Sopchoppy River

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Views from the canoe, an incomplete photo record of places paddled.

Tiger Creek, Lake Kissimmee SP.

St Marks River, (Donna).

Tiger Creek into Tiger Lake, Lake Kissimmee SP.

Crawford Creek, Chassahowitzka River

Fish Camp, Crawford Creek.

St Marks River

Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Canoe wake reflection, Otter Lake, St Marks NWR.

Yes there is someone in the stern of the canoe.

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Those of you that follow this blog know I like to occasionally like to put a line in the water. Florida didn’t disappoint.

Largemouth Bass Sopchoppy River

Largemouth Bass, Lake Kissimmee, (Donna).

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That about wraps up Florida for this year. Whether on foot, in a canoe or kayak it’s a great place to enjoy nature. Thanks for stopping by.

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Sand and Water, Bald Point SP, (Donna).

 

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XXX

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 Should you wish, prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

Fall Fishing and Kinglets

Recent walks in Griggs Park along the reservoir and along the river below the dam have revealed that Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are moving through the area. We haven’t seen many Ruby-crowned Kinglets in the winter so they may move further south but at least a few Golden-crowned Kinglets hang around the  immediate area until spring.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park.

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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With the exception op Yellow-rumped Warblers, warblers have been scarce in the park in recent days.

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The autumn colors attracted my wife to this shot of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Griggs Park.

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Amazingly, we continue to see quite a few butterflies as well as other insects and spiders.

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Variegated Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Black-legged Meadow Katydid, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Monarch, Griggs Park, (Donna)

 

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Bumblebee

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Meadow Fritillary, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Donna’s mystery six legged spider. We found out that it’s not uncommon for spiders to loose legs as the season progresses.

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Eastern Comma, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Other birds were also seen in the past week, some of which will spend the winter.

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Great Blue Heron and female Belted Kingfisher along the Scioto below Griggs Dam. Two images, both taken within seconds of each other, were spliced together to get both birds in focus.

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Typical when trying to photograph a Belted Kingfisher, a little two far away for a good picture.

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Carolina Wren, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Too cute to pass up, Eastern Phoebe, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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American Coots, Griggs Reservoir, (Donna).

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Great Blue Heron below the dam.

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Other animals were also present. Chipmunks and squirrels seemed very busy getting ready for the approaching winter.

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Chipmunk, Griggs Park, (Donna).

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Something must have been lip smacking good, female Whitetail Deer west shore of Griggs Reservoir, seen while fishing.

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This fall in Griggs Reservoir I’ve tried to make a methodical effort to catch Smallmouth bass and while I always do well enough to keep coming back, results have been something less that spectacular.  Using small crank baits a variety of fish have been caught including Channel Cats, Large and smallmouth Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, Crappie, and other pan fish but not of any great size and with the exception of pan fish not in any great quantity. The reservoir is just a mile and a half from our home so it’s been an enjoyable research project to determine if the fishing would improve as the days got shorter and the air and water temp went down. So far I haven’t noticed much difference between August and October accept that the reservoirs a lot quieter.

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Smallmouth Bass

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Hybrid Striped Bass

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Largemouth Bass

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No matter what draws one outside this time of year sometimes just looking around can be enough so if you have a chance get out and look around!

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Griggs Reservoir

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Autumn along the Scioto.

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Low water, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Griggs Park.

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Quite autumn paddle, Griggs Reservoir

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Thanks for stopping by.

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Should you wish, various prints from this and other posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. and Donna’s 2017 Birds of Griggs Park calendar is available at Calendar.

“Up North” in Michigan

Every year for the past ten or so we’ve travelled from central Ohio to the northeast part of Michigan’s lower peninsula for a few days of “catch and release” fishing.

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Devoe Lake, (Keith)

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Although certainly providing it’s own challenges and excitement, it not so much about the fishing as just being there. We’re “Up North” after all, a special place for many of us who grew up further south.

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Ready to launch, showing rod setup and remotely actuated “fish cam”, Devoe Lake

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Jimmy fishing, Devoe Lake

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Looks like a promising area, Devoe Lake, (Keith)

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Jeff with a nice LM Bass caught using a Wacky Rig, (Keith)

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AuSable River SM Bass using a gold Rapala, “fish cam”.

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“Up North” magic; perhaps it’s a quiet misty morning with a distant Loon’s call or the long trail of  splashes as it slowly accelerates running, flying, then finally, after what seems like way to long, breaking the water’s hold. At night it may be the call of a Barred Owl or the laugh of a coyote. Unlike past years, this year the Whippoorwills were quiet as the sky darkened just after sunset, replaced later by the silent flashes of light from the Perseid meteor shower.

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Various wildflowers grace the shore of Devoe Lake

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A Green Heron watches as a fisherman’s cast breaks the water’s surface.

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A Loon swims close to the canoe, Devoe Lake

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Then a pair follow suit, Devoe Lake.

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Deer watch curiously along the shore, Devoe Lake.

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A small island provide a welcome place for a break, Devoe Lake.

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As if from an upstream lake or adjacent woods, magic finds it’s way to the river, it’s clear water flowing silently over sand and smooth rocks, interrupted occasionally by green.

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Launching on the Rifle River

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Dead Ash trees along the river caused by the Emerald Ash Borer.

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Late afternoon on the Rifle River

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Jim and Keith on the Rifle River.

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Rifle River tunnel.

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Occasionally an insect or a flower becomes the magic, seemingly more vivid and clear than it would be nearer to home.

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Along the Rifle River, a female White-faced Meadowhawk perches, seemingly unperturbed, as we launch our canoes.

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A closer look.

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Hard to miss, a bright slime mold on forest leaf litter, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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Lobelia kalmia, Brook lobelia, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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Joe-Pye Weed, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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Turtlehead, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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In the middle of the lake a Vesper Bluet damselfly finds the canoe.

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A closer look.

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Late in the day, the wind gone, the lake’s surface creates a canvas of light, shadow, and sky.

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Reflections, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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Near sunset, Devoe Lake, Rifle River Rec Area, MI.

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Racing the storm, Devoe Lake, (Keith}

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Illusion, Devoe Lake

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Again we are left with memories that sustain imagination and dreams until next year’s trip north.

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Camp, Devoe Lake Rustic Campground

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Thanks for stopping by.

“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.

 

 

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