Flock of Canada Geese

Kayaking the Connecticut River: Wilson Landing to Grant Brook

On Sunday, September 6th I went on the longest kayak trip I had been on in years. I paddled a little over five and a half miles up river and back for a total of a little over eleven miles. I started at Wilson Landing in Hanover, NH and want to the mouth of Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

I left about mid-day, which is not the best time to see wildlife on the river, but I brought my camera anyway. As I approached the large island north of the Ompompanoosuc River I spotted a huge flock of Canada Geese. A large group of them swam over to the mouth of a small brook on the New Hampshire side.

I paddled over next to the shore and slowly approached the mouth of the brook so the geese would not see me so quickly.

Canada GeeseCanada GeeseEventually I slowly drifted out into the mouth of the brook so I could photograph more of the birds.

Flock of Canada GeeseCanada GeeseI continued up river to the mouth of Hewes Brook and was able to find the river landing from the river. The landing is an extreamly primitive kayak and canoe boat landing off of River Road in Lyme.

Beyond Hewes Brook is the Wilder Management Area, which is a tract of conservation land in Lyme, NH. The river part of the “land” is made up of river back-ins, coves and grass island. I did see three Mallard ducks while paddling around.

On the way back to Wilson Landing I went in and around the grass islands across from the Ompompanoosuc River. I was lucky enough to catch a bunch of Mallard ducks sunning on one of the logs in the river.

Mallard Ducks on the Connecticut RiverI was able to get a couple photos before a boat went by and scared them all off.

Connecticut River Duck Tour # 2: Wilson Landing to the Ompompanoosuc River

Another favorite Upper Valley kayak trip is from Wilson Landing in Hanover, NH to the Ompompanoosuc River on the Vermont side.

It’s up river of Hanover and is close to the mouth of the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford, VT, which is a great place for wildlife encounters.

Before going into the Ompompanoosuc it always good to paddle around the grass islands that are across from the mouth of the river on the New Hampshire side. It’s a great habitat for ducks and birds.


As you can see, the ducks can easily hide their family in the grass “islands” if there is a threat yet still come out to swim, feed and hang out on one of several logs poking above the water near the islands.

After a couple circles around the islands to see what else was around, I headed over to the Ompompanoosuc River. As I got to the large part of the river mouth near the Interstate 91 bridge I could see an enormous flock of Canada Geese. It’s not unusual to see geese raising their families here, but this seemed like a larger flock than I usually see.


I was amazed that they let me drift among them and take photos as they swam about and ate.


I have a 300mm lens and make efforts to drift slowing and quietly while taking photos.



Some of the birds came really close to the kayak.


This is one of my favorite Upper Valley kayaking trips!



Connecticut River Duck Tour #1: Wilder, VT to Hanover, NH

A fantastic kayak trip in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire is on the Connecticut River between the boat landing in Wilder, VT and Mink Brook in Hanover.

I paddled around the islands just below Mink Brook since it is usually a good place to see ducks. Sure enough I spotted a large group of more than a dozen ducks. They were a bit skittish at first and hid in the brush when I first paddled by. I decided to paddle around the island once more while paddling and drifting at an extreamly slow rate. Well, it paid off and I spotted the whole group in a small cove.


Due to the green coloring on the head, I’m pretty sure theses are Mallard Ducks. I visited the Website All About Birds to confirm my identification. The Mallard ID page says, “Male Mallards have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill.” and that “Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills.”


It looks like many of these birds are juveniles since I can see the green head feathers growing in on some of them.


The All About Bids Website also describes adult mails as having a gray body “sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear.” I can see the middle bird in the photo above is part way through the color change with most of the green head feathers grown in and the body feathers changing from mottled brown to gray.


I paddled into Mink Brook to look for more ducks. Sure enough, there were a few families in there but most were skittish and kept there distance from me. There were a few that stayed calm as a drifted around in the coves.


I was able to get a pretty good water reflection shot of the duck in the photo above.


Kayaking at Grafton Pond June 13, 2020

On June 13th our meetup.com group went on a sunrise kayak trip to Grafton Pond in Grafton, NH. The plan was to be on the water about 4:45am.

It wasn’t too long after we left the boat landing before we saw the first loon. It put on quite a show for us with some wing flapping and diving.

Look photo 1It was a little chilly out so it felt really good once the sun came up and warmed us up a bit.

Sunrise at Gradton PondAs usual, most of the the loons on the pond formed up in a small group for some fishing.Loon photo 3Loon photo 2
Loon photo 4Towards the end of the trip I was waiting for the rest of the group near a small island. I was able to drift my kayak pretty close to what I think is an Eastern Phoebe.

Bird Photo 1I’m definitely planning to go back for another early morning kayak trip this summer.


Kayak Trip to McDaniels Marsh

In late May I went on my first kayak trip to McDaniels Marsh in Enfield, NH. I heard it is a wonderful place to see birds and other wildlife so I made sure to bring my camera.

It was one of those mornings with abundant sunshine, no wind and calm waters.

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-1

At one point I broke off from the group to get photos of a Canada Goose. I soon found myself unable to paddle a direct course back to the group due to shallow spots and thick vegetation. I had to raise the rudder and find the deeper channels to work my way back to the group.

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-4

At the far end of the marsh I noticed one in the thick grass and the other “patrolling” close by. They both kept an eye on me as I drifted by snapping photos.

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-14

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-13

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-6

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-5

The marsh is also home to numerous Red Winged Blackbirds. It was easy to hear their distinctive song, “conk-la-ree” above the other bird songs and sounds of the marsh.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sunshine. It was easy to find Painted Turtles sprawled out on a stump while soaking up the sun.

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-10

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-15

McDaniels Marsh May 30 2015-16

This one took the big jump from the stump.

McDaniels Marsh is now on my list of places to kayak, although I hear the vegetation gets thick later in the season. It’s probably better to kayak there during the spring and early summer.

Full Moon Paddle on Grafton Pond

On Tuesday, October 7th I went to a meetup.com full moon paddle on Grafton Pond. The weather forecast looked pretty bad before the event and I expected it to the rained out. We got lucky and it cleared up just in time.

I arrived a little before 6 p.m.  The water was like a mirror giving us a nice foliage and sky reflection.

Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-2Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-5Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-3It did not take us long to get ready.

Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-7We could hear some loons calling as we headed out across the pond.

Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-10We eventually did see the loons swimming in the distance but it was getting dark pretty fast.

Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-8Grafton Pond Oct 8 2014-9The foliage on these couple trees were looking real good.

It soon got too dark for good photos. A couple more people arrived late so we circled back to the boat landing before going out to one of the islands. The clouds in the east were clearing so we could see full moon peaking out as we paddled around the islands. By the time we gt back to the boat landing it had risen above the clouds giving us a nice view. This trip was a great way to end the kayaking season in New Hampshire.

Kayaking on Mascoma Lake

Sunday, September 28th was another great Autumn day for a kayak trip. Mascoma Lake is a short drive from my place in Lebanon, which made it a good choice for an afternoon paddle.

Although the foliage was near the peak of color, it felt like summer again. Needless to say, there was lots of boat traffic on the lake. To avoid the traffic I headed to the mouth of the Mascoma River.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-1It seems the ducks had the same ideas as I did about finding a quiet corner of the lake to relax in the sun.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-3Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-2Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-4Several were feeding nearby as I drifted around on my kayak.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-6Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-8After a while I paddled under Shaker Bridge to the “small” section of the lake. I got to watch a young couple playing with their dog on the shore.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-11That dog was a great jumper and swimmer!

I paddled back over to the boat landing and sailboats hoping some people were going for an afternoon sail.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-13I was in luck and was able to watch one boat leaving the landing area.

Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-14Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-15A sailboats gliding across the water is really nice to watch with the foliage in the background.Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-16Mascoma Lake Sep 28 2014-17It was another great afternoon of paddling on the water.

Long Pond rock cairn

Kayaking at Long Pond during foliage season

We were blessed with fantastic weather and colorful foliage over the weekend of September 27th and 28th. I decided it could be one of my last opportunities to use my kayak for the season.
I wanted to go someplace different with lots of foliage for my Saturday trip. I had not been to Long Pond in Benton, New Hampshire since the early 90’s. It’s a good place to go trout fishing in the spring and canoeing and kayaking during the rest of the boating season.

Long Pond Sep 27 2014-17

As you can see the pond is well off of the main roads. I took a tight off of route 25 in Glencliff onto High Street. There is no street sign for Long Pond Road (which is a dirt road), however there is an Appalachian Trail sign pointing the way to the trail crossings and parking. The road did not show up on my Garmin GPS either. From my previous trips I was was pretty sure it was the right road so off I went. I soon passed a White Mountain National Forest gate in addition to the Appalachian Trail crossing. Like many dirt roads in the area, it’s narrow and not always wide enough for two cars (or trucks) to pass.

I was surprised to see how busy the boat landing and picnic area was. I was lucky to find a parking spot.

Long Pond Sep 27 2014-1Busy boat landing at Long Pond.

Long Pond is located near Mt. Moosilauke, which give you a great view of the mountain. The pond is man-made with a dam on one end. It was probably designed to control spring flooding and provide a recreation area and fishing for visitors to the White Mountains.

Mt. Moosilauke
Mt. Moosilauke

The pond has a rocky shoreline with several small islands (also rocky) scattered throughout the pond, which makes it an interesting place to kayak or canoe.  The islands also make it a great place for Loons to nest. I did see some loons fishing at the south end of the lake but they kept their distance so it was difficult to get photos. I observed a couple adults and at least one immature Loon.

Long Pond Sep 27 2014-6Long Pond Sep 27 2014-7Long Pond Sep 27 2014-10Long Pond Sep 27 2014-13Long Pond Sep 27 2014-14

A unique feature of Long Pond a rock cairn near one of the islands.

Long Pond rock cairn
Long Pond rock cairn

I hope to return here is the spring for some trout fishing.

Loon and sleeping chick.

Early morning paddle with Loons on Grafton Pond

I recently went for an early morning kayak trip on Grafton Pond in Grafton, NH. I was at the pond about 6:30 a.m. to catch the morning mist on the water and early wildlife sightings.

Morning mist on Grafton Pond.
Morning mist on Grafton Pond.

Shortly after leaving the boat landing I spotted a family of Canada Geese. As they went around one side of an island I want around the other. I was hoping to get in position with the morning sun to my back and shining on the geese.

Canada Geese at Grafton Pond.
Canada Geese at Grafton Pond.

They did not seem bothered by the fact that I was quietly floating around in my kayak nearby.

Canada Goose on Grafton Pond.
Canada Goose on Grafton Pond.

Showing no fear, one of them swam right over to me to check me out.

Canada Goose on Grafton Pond.
Close up of a Canada Goose on Grafton Pond.

I paddled around while exploring some of the hidden coves in the pond before coming back to a group of small islands. I was drifting near one of the islands when I noticed a loon with a sleeping chick.

Loon and sleeping chick.
Loon and sleeping chick.
Loon and sleeping chick.
Loon and sleeping chick.

The chick woke up for a minute for a stretch.

Grafton Pond Aug 10 2014-12
The chick wakes up for a stretch.
Loon on Grafton Pond.
Loon on Grafton Pond.
Loon on and chick on Grafton Pond.
Loon on and chick on Grafton Pond.

Much to my surprise I spotted a seagull on the way back the boat landing. This is unusual because the pond is at lease a couple hundred miles from the ocean.

A Seagull on Grafton Pond.
A Seagull on Grafton Pond.

Connecticut River Kayak trip Wilson’s Landing North

Another trip on the Connecticut River and you guessed it… more Black Ducks. 🙂

Sunday, September 1st had the best weather of the Labor Day weekend so I made it a point to get out on the water. I started at Wilson’s Landing and headed north. I hugged the New Hampshire shore and the “grass islands” where I had seen some ducks and a Heron during the last trip in this part of the river. Sure enough a bunch (probably not the right word) were hanging out on a log.

Black Ducks
Black Ducks

I found a small flock hanging out in a mini-cove on the New Hampshire shoreline.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-5CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-6

This Black Duck also has green coloring on his head feathers that reminds me of a Mallard.

Looking up I could not believe my luck. One of the area Bald Eagles was flying low (for an eagle) over the river. I suspect that this is one of the birds that lives below the Wilder Dam.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-7

At the tip of the largest “grass island” I found the whole flock of ducks all lined up on a log.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-9CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-10While going around the big island (not sure what the name is) I noticed some people on the river bank having fun on a rope swing.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-15CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-18

I headed north once more. The water was like glass.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-20I found a couple other small back-ins up river. One on the Vermont side had a couple more small flocks of Black Ducks.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-21

On the way south I was almost back at Wilson’s Landing when a water skier zipped by.

CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-23CT River Kayak Sep 1 2013-22

It looks like fun. I will have to try that someday.

According to the Google Maps route (at the top) I went just under 10 miles on this trip and was on the water about three and a half to four hours.