Broken Hill and Menindee, NSW. Mar 2014

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by moloch05, Apr 4, 2014.

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  1. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    These are photos from a quick trip out to Broken Hill and Menindee in northwestern New South Wales. These areas are quite a distance from Canberra where I am currently working. I clocked over 3500 kms of driving in 4 days so I spent much of my time behind the steering wheel. As always, though, it was lots of fun to venture into the outback again.

    On the return trip, I spent a night and early morning in Cocoparra National Park near Griffith, NSW. This was my first visit to the park and it was good to see and is well worth a return visit. Gorges in the park were rocky and trees included many cypress pine. The park was good for parrots and I saw Turquoise Parrots, Mulga Parrots and Glossy Black Cockatoos in the tree above my tent while I ate breakfast.

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    map by moloch05, on Flickr

    • B: Broken Hill
      C: about 70kms north of Broken Hill along the road to Tibooburra
      D: Menindee/Kinchega NP
      E: Cocoparra NP
      F: Canberra


    The habitat north of Broken Hill was bleak. Shrubs were small and widely spaced.
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    habitat north of Broken Hill2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    habitat north of Broken Hill by moloch05, on Flickr
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    habitat north of Broken Hill4 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Drainages did support big Eucalyptus:
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    habitat north of Broken Hill3 by moloch05, on Flickr


    This rock outcrop was along the road north of Broken Hill. I've always thought that there should be lizards here but have never previously seen anything at all. On this trip, I found three species of skinks. I think that it was probably a result of milder temperatures in the autumn (28C) rather than the searing heat of summer (40C+).
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    Gidgee Skink Egernia stokesii habitat1 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Gidgee Skink (Egernia stokesii): The outcrop in the previous shot was the home for a colony of these Gidgee Skinks. I saw 5 but there were probably more. These skinks were super shy and required a stealthy approach behind cover to get within range for photos. I liked this one that seemed to be surveying the land where it lived.
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    Gidgee Skink Egernia stokesii1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Gidgee Skink Egernia stokesii3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Gidgee Skink Egernia stokesii2 by moloch05, on Flickr

    Boulenger's Snake-eyed Skink (Morethia boulengeri): This little juvenile was on the same outcrop as the Gidgee Skinks. It fed on tiny ants that it would thrash and pound on the rock before swallowing.
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    Juvenile Morethia boulengeri1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Juvenile Morethia boulengeri2 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Gibber Gecko (Lucasium byrnei): These geckos live on the rocky flats were plants are sparse. On this trip, I only saw two but they can be abundant in the spring.
    ... warming itself on the road:
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    Lucasium byrnei4 by moloch05, on Flickr


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    Lucasium byrnei1a by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Lucasium byrnei2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Lucasium byrnei3 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Bynoe's Gecko (Heteronotia binoei): I only saw one of these north of Broken Hill.
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    Heteronotia binoei1 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca): I was surprised on this trip to see this exotic species. I knew this plant from southern California where it is also a common exotic. There, it was almost always attended by a variety of hummingbirds.
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    Nicotiana glauca1 by moloch05, on Flickr





    Habitat between Broken Hill and Menindee was mostly arid shrubland that supported a number of species of chenopods and amaranths. Bluebush (Maireana sp.) was one of the most conspicuous shrubs.
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    habitat near Minindee3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    habitat near Minindee2 by moloch05, on Flickr

    Bluebush (Maireana sp.)
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    habitat near Minindee4 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Galahs were abundant in this habitat.
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    Galah1 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Box-patterned Geckos (Lucasium steindachneri) were common in the shrubland habitat.
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    Lucasium steindachneri6 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Lucasium steindachneri3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Lucasium steindachneri5 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Lucasium steindachneri11 by moloch05, on Flickr

    Their disruptive colour pattern made them hard to spot when on dry stems of grass:
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    Lucasium steindachneri8 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Here is a collage of shots to show the variability in dorsal colouration and pattern.
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    Lucasium steindachneri800 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Bynoe's Gecko (Heteronotia binoei): These geckos were common near my campsite above Menindee Lake.
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    Heteronotia binoei13 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Heteronotia binoei12 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Tessellated Gecko (Diplodactylus tessellatus): This one was sucking up the warmth from the road. Most geckos that I saw were like this ... pressed tight against the road surface. The night temps were a little cool and dropped to 19C.
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    Diplodactylus tesselatus2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Diplodactylus tesselatus3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Diplodactylus tesselatus5 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Diplodactylus tesselatus6 by moloch05, on Flickr





    Boulengers Snake-eyed Skink (Morethia boulengeri): I found a colony of these skinks on tree stumps near Menindee Lake. The behaved much like Grass Skinks here on the coast.
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    Boulengers Snake-eyed Skink Morethia boulengeri1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Boulengers Snake-eyed Skink Morethia boulengeri2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Boulengers Snake-eyed Skink Morethia boulengeri3 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps): I only saw a few of these dragons on this trip.
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    Pogona vitticeps1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Pogona vitticeps3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Pogona vitticeps2 by moloch05, on Flickr

    ... this one was basking in the afternoon sun from a shrub:
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    Pogona vitticeps10a by moloch05, on Flickr


    ... "hiding"
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    Pogona vitticeps11 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Curl Snake (Suta suta): I saw four of this small species of elapid.
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    Suta suta1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Suta suta3 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Suta suta2 by moloch05, on Flickr



    This Centipede (Ethmostigmus rubripes, thanks Nick) was feasting on a road-killed Neobatrachis.
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    centipede1 by moloch05, on Flickr

    Neobatrachus sudelli
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    frog1 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Black Kite: This flock in Kinchega NP was waiting for thermals to begin.
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    bird Black Kite by moloch05, on Flickr

    Bluebonnet: These parrots were numerous near Menindee.
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    bird Bluebonnet1 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Chirruping Wedgebill: These Whipbird relatives were one of the most conspicuous species near Broken Hill and Menindee. They called for a couple of hours or so in the morning and then again in the evening.
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    bird Chirruping Wedgebill by moloch05, on Flickr



    Emus were also a frequent sight. They almost always seemed be looking for a way around fencelines.
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    bird Emu1 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Meadow Argus (Junonia villida): I saw a few of these along with Australian Painted Ladies.
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    Meadow Argus Junonia villida by moloch05, on Flickr



    Two-spotted Line-blue (Nacaduba biocellata): This species was abundant near flowering shrubs.
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    Nacaduba biocellata (Two-spotted Line-blue)1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Nacaduba biocellata (Two-spotted Line-blue) collage by moloch05, on Flickr



    Saltbush Blue (Theclinesthes serpentata): Present but not nearly as common as the Two-spotted Line-blues.
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    Saltbush Blue Theclinesthes serpentata1 by moloch05, on Flickr




    Mallee Woodland between Broken Hill and Mildura. I only spent a half-hour here but it would be a good place to explore. I would love to walk here at night since there must be some interesting geckos in this habitat. — in Broken Hill.
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    habitat mallee1 by moloch05, on Flickr


    Mallee Military Dragon (Ctenophorus fordi)
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    Ctenophorus fordi1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Ctenophorus fordi2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Ctenophorus fordi4 by moloch05, on Flickr

    ... these dragons had long toes. They would kick up a little cloud of sand when the jumped to run.
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    Ctenophorus fordi6 by moloch05, on Flickr



    Desert Skink (Liopholis inornata), juvenile. This little skink was lucky to be alive. I saw it in the middle of a busy highway. I stopped the car and raced back to it. Somehow, the little lizard made it safely to the shoulder and I was able to take a few shots of it. Road trains were racing by less than a meter from the lizard but it completely ignored them. Eventually, it headed back into the mallee.
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    Desert Skink Liopholis inornata1 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Desert Skink Liopholis inornata2 by moloch05, on Flickr



    ... Later, I will post more shots from Cocoparra NP.
     
  2. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Great thread David! You've found a wonderful array of animals and taken some superb photographs of them. Thanks for sharing.
     
  3. saratoga

    saratoga Well-Known Member

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    Great trip report David with beautiful images. The one of the Galahs is quite surreal, not sure why just has a strange moodiness to it.
    You certainly knock up the kms for a brief trip!
     
  4. SteveNT

    SteveNT Very Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff cobber. It is great you include the habitat shots. I am heading into the desert myself next week. First up is Davenport Ranges on the Binns Track. Then Dulcie Ranges and Box Hole meteor crater and down to Harts Range before R&R in Alice Springs. No time limit. Cant wait. I love the tropics but you cant beat the desert for herps. I will put up a post when we get interwebs access again. Southern Phasmid gecko is up near the top of the wish list but of course Moloch is always at the top!
     
  5. Barrett

    Barrett Well-Known Member

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    Awesome photos! I wish I knew you were coming out this way, as I moved back to Broken Hill a bit over a year ago,
     
  6. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Bushman.

    Saratoga, I was lucky with the lighting. The shot was in the late afternoon and the light was perfect.

    Steve, good luck with your trip. Hope to see shots of the Phasmid Gecko and Moloch.

    Thanks, Barrett.


    Here are a final few shots from Cocoparra NP. I stopped here for a night on my return trip and walked around a little the following morning. This was my first visit to the park and it looked to be quite interesting and well worth another visit. Gorges in the park were rocky and looked ideal for reptiles. I climbed these and then spent hour searching for reptiels before returning to the car for the drive back to Canberra.
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    habitat1 by moloch05, on Flickr

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    habitat2a by moloch05, on Flickr


    Tree Skinks (Egernia striolata) were common on rocks at the top of the cliffs.
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    Egernia striolata1a by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Egernia striolata2 by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Egernia striolata4a by moloch05, on Flickr


    ... I tried to sneak up on this one but failed:
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    Egernia striolata3 by moloch05, on Flickr


    While I ate breakfast, a number of colourful parrots landed in the tree above my tent.

    Mulga Parrot:
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    Mulga Parrots by moloch05, on Flickr

    Red-rumped Parrot:
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    Red-rumped Parrot2 by moloch05, on Flickr

    Turquoise Parrot (female upper, male lower):
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    Turquoise Parrots by moloch05, on Flickr


    Finally, the essential fuel for the long drives to/from the outback ... strong espresso coffee!
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    fuel by moloch05, on Flickr
     
  7. tickerbox

    tickerbox Not so new Member

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    Exceptional photography. Thanks so much for posting! I'm glad you got to enjoy some 'real' coffee too while you were away :D
     
  8. AUSHERP

    AUSHERP Well-Known Member

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    Awesome trip moloch! Makes me get ants in my pants when I see that red sand, just asked the mrs does she want to disappear for a week.
    Last time I was out there, the area north of Broken Hill was particularly rich with Ctenophorus Nuchalis.
    Thanks for sharing, love those black kites....
     
  9. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Tickerbox and Ausherp. On this trip, Ausherp, I only saw a single Central Netted Dragon. Don't know if this was due to the season or to the hot, dry summer.

    Along the Murray River near Euston, I saw these beautiful flowering Illyarrie (Eucalyptus erythrocorys). These beautiful mallees are native to the southwest of Western Australia.
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    Eucalyptus near Euston by moloch05, on Flickr
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    Eucalyptus near Euston2 by moloch05, on Flickr
     
  10. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    You've illustrated a remarkable range of pattern variation in Lucasium steindachneri.
    Were the specimens from varying habitats and/or significant distances apart?
     
  11. borntobnude

    borntobnude Guest

    Fantastic photos David Again !! .. we were at Menindee in 2012 , the lakes were full . the things I spent the most time doing there was A ,trying to get a good sunset and B, reading the sand markings in the mornings to see who had fought with who or eaten who . the ant trails were also pretty amazing
     
  12. whyme

    whyme Well-Known Member

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    The photo of the galah's is spectacular!
     
  13. Reptiles78

    Reptiles78 New Member

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    That sounds like a cool trip the photos were awesome. Thanks for sharing.
     
  14. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much, everyone.

    Bushman, the Box-patterned Geckos were all within 100km of each other in similar habitat. I hoped to do the same sort of comparison shots of Gibber Geckos unfortunately, I only saw two on this trip. I guess that I will need to wait for a spring trip when they are much more active.

    Rodney, I always like to check dunes in the morning as well although I did not do that at Menindee. I did not have enough time. Windorah is a great place for dune walking. I usually try to get out first thing in the morning before there is disturbance.

    whyme, I was also happy with the Galah shot. The light was just right in the afternoon so I followed this flock for awhile and took lots of shots out the car window.

    Reptiles78, yes, the trip was lots of fun.


    Regards,
    David
     
  15. krusty

    krusty Almost Legendary

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    Great photos as always....thanks.
     
  16. rockethead

    rockethead Active Member

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    fantastic photos really like the geckos I might have to add that trip on my bucket list
     
  17. Jeannine

    Jeannine Very Well-Known Member

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    great photo's hubby and i love to wander the bush around here too but slow and casual isnt something we can do anymore

    that Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca) is a nuisance and everytime it starts sprouting in the yard its ripped out or poisoned but the house next door has a big one growing in the backyard and its seeds keep spreading into our yard

    had a heap of rain here from Wednesday night until Friday morning so it will green up around the area now for a while
     
  18. cracksinthepitch

    cracksinthepitch Very Well-Known Member

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    Some amazing photos as usual David, good to see some bird pics too.
     
  19. moloch05

    moloch05 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much, everyone.

    Jeannine, I did not see much at these flowers. In the southwest of the US, hummingbirds love them. There are almost always Anna's or Black-chinned nearby. The plant does not really go out of control there so I would just see an occasional stand of these.

    Broken Hill looked like it had a fair bit of rain before I arrived as well. Many of the gravel roads were closed.


    Other reptiles seen but not photographed included:
    1) Gehyra lazelli/variegata: 1 seen but it was too fast and vanished before I could get out of the car
    2) Rhnychodura sp.: I walked a sandy area near Minindee late one night. Saw black scorpions at the entrance to their burrows and a single Beaked Gecko that charged down a hole before I could photograph it.
    3) Shinglebacks: a few DORs
    4) Ctenotus robustus: several at Cocoparra NP
    5) Ctenotus sp.: 1 in mallee/spinifex between Broken Hill and Mildura
    6) Varanus gouldii: 1 in mallee near Euston.
    7) Pseudonaja sp.: 1 DOR and 1 live animal in Kinchega NP


    Regards,
    David
     
  20. Gusbus

    Gusbus Well-Known Member

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    Very nice photos, love that counrty out there.
     
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