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Autumn Forest Adventures: Fall Wildlife Close-Up


Salmon wrestling in its finest form!

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I am not kneeling in this photo, but instead, "emerging from the Earth!"

...said our guide, as I stepped knee deep into (what I would refer to as) “quick-mud.”

You know, the kind of nasty, stinky muck that sucks your feet down with a loud slurp?


"Uh oh, I am stuck..."

Was my very first thought.

I am not simply kneeling in this photo here, I am emerging (or trying to) from the Earth!

This mud was strong, and did not want to give me up easily! I tried not to panic over the thought of losing my favorite pair of boots Five. Minutes. Into our fall nature adventure! I wiggled and squirmed my feet as much as I dared, but was only able to release one foot at a time (very slowly, I might add). Reluctantly I surrendered to the reality that I would have to take my mud-trapped boot all the way off my foot in order to get free of this mess. I did the unthinkable, and stepped my socked foot onto the cold, damp earth and sighed in relief.


Thankfully my boot did not sink anymore, and came out much easier without me in it, go figure. I grabbed the boot and put it on as quickly and gratefully as possible. No damage done! We had a lot of good laughs at my expense...it made the trip more interesting!

AND...

...If you are by chance, wondering about the picture...well, you can thank my dear sister for that. She was there to help... but first thought a picture was in order. (Must be payback! 😆)

Moral of this story...watch where you are walking, tread slowly, and listen to the warnings...or you will be knee deep in the muck!

The rest of the trip was amazing...see for yourself!


It was exciting to get out into Northern Michigan forests at peak-leaf changing time, and learn along with my nature loving children and their 4-H club. The field trip was to photograph Eagles, and observe the spawning nature of salmon. In October in Northern Michigan the salmon “run” up stream, swimming against the current, until they reach the place of their hatching, to spawn the next generation. This draws in quite a crowd from fishermen to photographers. Another interested party...the Eagles, who prey on them for dinner!

The spot we visited is a spot where 40-50 eagles had been spotted hunting at various different times. We hoped for good luck, and clear shots with our cameras. The area was a marshy wetland, complete with a stream running through it, and lots of snags (Snags are dead trees in wetlands. Learn more here).

Snags provide great perches because there are no leaves to obstruct vision. They also offer a closer distance for swooping in to grab prey. This was the perfect Eagle hunting grounds!

Wetlands are a very important part of our ecosystem (learn more about them here).

Salmon Eggs

We curiously found a pile of salmon eggs on the shore of the stream. We all piped up with our conclusions as to why there was a perfectly good pile of fish eggs on dry land, instead of the water. The best conclusion we came up with, was that an Eagle had caught a salmon, had dinner in that very spot, and left only the pile of eggs behind.

We got into the stream for a close up of the spawning salmon (and to wash the mud off of my boots), and was lucky enough to feel them swarming around our feet, bumping into us, and splash-soaking us with their powerful tails! (Watch an underwater video of them below.)

Have you ever been fin slapped by a salmon? It was truly a magical experience! Both enlightening and educational. Our guide taught us all about Michigan wildlife in the fall. The highlight of the trip, I would have to say, was watching my eldest daughter hand-catch, and then pick up a 40 lb salmon!

Her facial feature says it all!

"Look What I Caught Mom!"



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Tanya Paez here!

Michigan native illustrator & digital artist; observing and learning...as much as I can!

I specialize in nature images for educational resources.

Find out more here!

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