Clay Brook and Connecticut River Kayak Trip

On August 10th it was a bit breezy so I decided to take a different kind of kayak trip.

I decided to see how far I could take my kayak up Clay Brook in Orford, NH. I figured there would be less breeze there compared to the river or a lake.

I put in at the covered bridge on River Road. I had to carry the kayak down over a steep bank but it was manageable.

CT River and Clay Brook-12

It turns out that the lower part of Clay Brook is a great place to see Dragonflies and Damselflies.

CT River and Clay Brook-1Much of the river bank was lined with Winterberry bushes, which made a nice background for dragonfly or damselfly photos.

CT River and Clay Brook-5I believe the dragonfly species above is a Widow Skimmer.

CT River and Clay Brook-4There were many damselflies on the brook like this Common Blue Damselfly above.

Once I got back past several bends in the brook I hit a large grassy area with several narrow channels through. I went down a few wrong ones before getting back to the main channel in the brook. I made it to the section of the brook next to Route 10.

CT River and Clay Brook-3I made it to a small bridge crossing the brook and decided not to go under. On the way back I spotted several other dragonflies and damselflies.

CT River and Clay Brook-9Another Widow Skimmer. Since they don’t land very much or for very long they are challenging to photograph.

CT River and Clay Brook-8This looks like a Slaty Skimmer to me. There were several other species present that I was not able to photograph.

CT River and Clay Brook-10CT River and Clay Brook-11Later I took a quick tour out on the river. At the mouth of a small brook coming in on the Vermont side I noticed some bumblebees on some purple flowers.

It was an interesting trip that I would like to do again. Perhaps I can get some new Odonata photos with more close-ups and some different species.

Connecticut River and Mink Brook Kayak Trip

On Saturday, August 3rd I returned to the Connecticut River for more kayaking since I had such a good trip earlier. This time I put in at the Wilder Dam boat launch and headed north to Hanover and Mink Brook.

This is the same trip route as a New Hampshire Audubon trip that is planned on the morning of the annual meeting in September.

When I arrived there were Canada Geese feeding right off of the boat landing. I was able to get the first few photos from shore.

Canada Geese
Canada Geese

Once I was heading up river I started to see lots of Black Ducks.

Ct River and Mink Brook-2

Ct River and Mink Brook-3Many of the ducks were in family groups with the young at a variety of ages.

Ct River and Mink Brook-5

I’m embarrassed that I was caught by surprise by a Heron. It was standing absolutely still on the shore and I drifted right by and did not see it until I was too close and almost past it. I was scrambling for my camera but was far too late for really good photograph.

Ct River and Mink Brook-17I hoped I would have another chance on the way back.

Ct River and Mink Brook-18I noticed a whole bunch of people canoeing and having a picnic on Gilman Island. I did not know there was a picnic table on the island until now.

Ct River and Mink Brook-21Near the island I noticed a duck diving for food. I did not think much of it until I looked at what it had in its mouth. I was surprised to see it had a snail. I could not believe the duck was really going to eat a snail that large.

Ct River and Mink Brook-19I spotted Ledyard Bridge crossing from Hanover, NH to Norwich, VT. Mink brook is just off to the right.

Ct River and Mink Brook-6I made it into Mink Brook and started to see more Black Ducks. I think this one was sleeping as I slowly drifted around the corner and came up behind him. Although it work up and moved away I as able to get a few close photos before it got too far away.

Ct River and Mink Brook-20

I made it all the way to the bridge that crossed Route 10 just outside of Hanover. I decided to turn back.

Ct River and Mink Brook-9
On the way out I was lucky enough to come upon four ducks all lined up on a log. I was able to drift pretty close before they decided to move along.

Ct River and Mink Brook-10Ct River and Mink Brook-11This time I was on the look our for the Heron that I missed photographing earlier.

Ct River and Mink Brook-12Ct River and Mink Brook-13It was still skittish and did not let me get too close. I did manage to get a couple shots of the heron in flight.

Ct River and Mink Brook-14I got one last Black Duck photograph before I hit the Wilder boat landing.

That is a great stretch of river that I will be sure to return to again.

Kayak trip on the Connecticut and Ompompanoosuc River

On Sunday the 28th I spent the afternoon kayaking on the Connecticut River and the delta of the Ompompanoosuc River. I had not been to the “new” boat landing on route 10 in Hanover named Wilson’s Landing.

From my trip planning using Google Maps I could see Wilson’s Landing was close to the Ompompanoosuc River and would be a short paddle.

Wilson's Landing
Wilson’s Landing

Wilson’s is a great site to launch a kayak since you can unload near the water and park nearby. It is also very close to home!

Just north of the landing I encountered a guy fly fishing from his kayak.

Connecticut River Kayak July 28 2013 4 Star-2

I was watching a family of Black Ducks paddle around.

Black Duck ducklings
Black Duck ducklings

The ducklings were very cute. Just then a water skier zipped by.

water skierThe ducks had enough of all the commotion and took off.

Black Duck ducklings
Black Duck ducklings

I continued up river to the railroad bridge that crossed the mouth of the Ompompanoosuc River.

Green Mountain Railroad Train
Green Mountain Railroad Train

I was near the bridge just as the Green Mountain Railroad “Tea Train on the Connecticut” Sunday trip was heading south to White River Junction, VT. The train is actually going backward in this photo.

Once under the railroad bridge and the route 5 bridge I started seeing ducks.

Black Duck
Black Duck

I watched this one fly in alone to corner of the back-in. I paddled over to snap a few shots.

Black Duck
Black Duck

It actually looked like one of its legs was injured. I could see one sticking up out of the water at a strange angle. It looked like it was having problems swimming as well.

I moved on and headed to the main channel of the Ompompanoosuc. It got so shallow for a while I had to pull the rudder up. When I finally hit the main channel I came around patch of grass the encountered a flock of Canadian Geese.

Canadian Geese
Canadian Geese
Canadian Geese
Canadian Geese

I had just put my camera away, convinced that I would not see anything else as I paddled back to the boat landing. How wrong I was.

I spotted a Great Blue Heron standing still in the grass on a little island on one side of the channel.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

After scrambling to get the camera out I quietly drifted closer as it returned to fishing.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

After a while it had enough and took off. I got lucky with my last shot and got the Heron just taking off.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Wilson’s Landing to the Ompompanoosuc River is a great kayak route that I will be sure to do again!

Kayak Trip to Grafon Pond

The kayaking fun continued on Sunday with an early morning trip to Grafton Pond. I brought my Pentax with the 300mm lens.

We were extremely lucky and had the privilege to have several close encounters with wildlife during the trip.

Early in the trip we spotted a Loon and several chicks. We drifted quietly while they swam on by us. We all remained very quiet and moved very slowly. Grafton Pond 4 Star-1

The adult Loon kept dunking its head underwater as it swam around. I assume it was looking for fish and other food to dive after.


Grafton Pond 4 Star-7

The next amazing encounter was with a Great Blue Heron. I still can’t believe that it did not fly off.

Grafton Pond 5 Star-8Grafton Pond 4 Star-10

A while later in another part of the pond we noticed a couple kayakers looking up at the top of a tree. One had a camera with a large lens. (He later told me it was a 400mm.) It turns out they had noticed a Great Blue Heron nest with several chicks. While we were all watching one of the parent herons returned to the nest and began to feed the chicks.

Grafton Pond 5 Star-12Grafton Pond 5 Star-13I feel fortunate to have witnessed this scene. Great Blue Heron are one of my favorite birds!


Kayak Trip to Hebron Marsh on Newfound Lake

I was able to get in a lot of kayaking over the 4th of July holiday. Saturday I went back to Newfound Lake to explore more of the Hebron Bay and Cockermouth River area.

This time I came prepared with the Pentax and 300mm lens.

By drifting very slowly and quietly I was able to get very close to this duck. From the color of the ducks head, and especially the eye band, I would say this is a Black Duck. However I noticed some green colored feathers like you might see on a Mallard. This could be one of the hybrid Mallard and Black Duck that I had read about.

Black DuckThe duck got pretty comfortable with me quietly drifting in my kayak. I even got a few close-up action shots.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-3

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-4

I expected to find some turtles getting a little sun and I was not disappointed.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-5

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-6

I spotted what appeared to be a couple otters swimming at the mouth of the Cockermouth River. I tried to snap a photo but of course it came out blurry.

I missed several opportunities to photograph a Great Blue Heron before I drifted by this one. I am amazed how tall this heron is.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-7I drifted back out towards the lake and encountered my friend the Black Duck again. He let me drift very close as it preened it’s feathers on the shore.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-10

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-13

I left the duck and headed out towards the lake on my way to the Audubon Center. Next thing I know a family of Canadian Geese swam by.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-16

The photo below is one of my favorites since I got both of the adults together.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-15The family swam off as I headed back toward the Audubon Center. Much to my amazement I encountered another flock of geese hanging out on the beach.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-18I had a nice visit at the Audubon Center and even got a chance for a quick swim to cool off. As I approached the Cockermouth River and the boat landing another family of geese appeared.

Hebron Marsh July 6 2013-22The Cockermouth River and Newfound Lake is a fantastic area to kayak and observe (and photograph) wildlife. It’s on my list of kayaking spots to return to.

Kayaking and Swimming at Lake Sunapee

Sunday, August 29th was HOT so we spent the day at Lake Sunapee State Park Beach, which is only a short 45 minute drive from home.

Lake Sunapee State Park Beach

It’s a small beach but it has a lot going for it. The park has a bathroom, changing room and store. They have charcoal grills on the grass near the beach. You can rent kayaks and canoes just past the swimming area for 10 dollars per hour. Their kayak fleet did not include anything with a rudder so I was a little disappointed. We ended up with some Old Town kayaks.


We headed north toward Great Island which brought us far enough away from the shore for a nice view of Mt. Sunapee. The photo shows the Wingding and Westside trail on the Sun Bowl side of the mountain.

There was lots of boat traffic on the lake and we got to watch many water skiers, with a few doing some cool jumps. The guy in the photo above was getting some good air.

After about an hour or so we headed back to the shore for some relaxation on the beach and a swim. The ability to kayak and swim makes Lake Sunapee State park beach a great summer destination. It was a fantastic day and turned out to be our last beach trip of the summer.

Seals on Johns Bay – Sunday July 18 2010

I had the photo opportunity I had been waiting for all week for. Sunday morning we went on our last kayak trip of the week. The tide was going out and the sun was shining. It was ideal conditions for seals to haul themselves out on the rocks. I had the Pentax k2000 with the 55-200mm lens and video camera with me in the kayak.

Eileen and I approached using the “small pine grove” island as cover. As I expected, they were skittish and many of them slipped off into the water.

This little guy crawled back up to sun and was watching Eileen as I slowly floated around the end of the island for the photo.

I like the composition of this shot since it has a seal, seagull and lobster buoy.

This is another good shot where I got pretty close to a seal without him getting skittish. Its a nice profile of the seal with a house across the bay in the background.

Early Friday morning kayak trip

Friday morning was overcast and cool and the tide was low when we awoke. I felt compelled to kayak out to the head of Johns Bay and see if any seals were hauled-out on the rocks. No luck with the seals but we had the pleasant surprise to get another nice heron “in flight” shot and geese photos.


As we approached the dock a family of geese were feeding near the shore. One of them swam surprisingly close to me.


Herons and Lighthouses

Thursday was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the low 80’s. We started the morning with a quick kayak trip across the top of Johns Bay. I had the Pentax and got a nice shot of Eileen paddling the  Necky Eskia across the bay.  I was hoping for some seal photos but the tide was coming in and no seals were hauled-out for shore photos.

We happened upon a heron at the head of the bay and I got a flight photo that I really like.

The wind and waves picked up so we drove down to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse for a late lunch and photography on the rocks while watching the waves and surf.

Once again I used the 18-55 mm lens to capture as much of the landscape as possible. After some shots from the rocks on the point we found a nice spot near the base of the lighthouse to watch the waves. I took a few landscape photos up the coast towards Musgongus Bay with one shot focusing on the flower and one on the landscape beyond.

Seals on the Johns River – Wednesday July 14, 2010

Wednesday started out to be a rainy but ended up being a fantastic evening with great kayaking conditions. I headed out for a late afternoon trip during low tide to visit the seals.

My luck was good and my approach quiet enough so as to not disturb the seals. Check out the YouTube video link below.

This is just a short raw video clip. I can’t wait to make a longer edited version using Adobe Premiere Elements when I get home.