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.

Connecticut River and Reeds Marsh Kayak Trip

On Sunday, August 18th I went kayaking in another section of the Connecticut River. This time I put in at the Orford, NH boat landing and headed south towards Reeds Marsh and another back-in (that I don’t know the name of).

Reeds Marsh kind of has two sections. One part you can get to from Route 10 in Orford, NH. It used to be a great spot to catch Hornpout but the weeds have grown in so thick it is difficult to fish here. The other part is a large “pool” that you can enter through a narrow channel from the Connecticut River.

View west to Vermont from Reeds Marsh
View west to Vermont from Reeds Marsh

I noticed several small flocks of Black Ducks upon entering the “pool” on the river side. In a back corner I found these ducks hanging out on a log.

Black Ducks on Reeds Marsh
Black Ducks on Reeds Marsh

I noticed far fewer ducks on this section of the river compared to the Wilder, VT and Hanover, NH area. They are a lot more wary of people as well.

I continued on down river towards the large back-in on the Fairlee side of the river. I have no idea what it is named but I have been fishing there, in the summer and through the ice for years. It is known as a great place for Northern Pike in the winter.

View east to NH
View east to NH
View east to NH
View east to NH

I believe this is where the outflow from Lake Morey flows into the Connecticut River. However there is a culvert pipe going under the railroad tracks preventing you from going too far upstream.

Culvert under the train tracks
Culvert under the train tracks

I did manage to sneak up on this Painted Turtle while paddling to the back corner of the back-in.

Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle sunning on a log

On the way back to Orford, NH I got a nice view of the Fairlee cliffs in Fairlee, VT.

View of the Fairlee cliffs
View of the Fairlee cliffs

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!

Mt. Hunger Hike in Waterbury, VT

On July 14th I went with a group on a hike to the summit of Mt. Hunger in central Vermont. It was warm with quite a bit of cloud cover when we started up the trail. The trail to the top was only two miles but it was really steep. It was a very challenging hike.

The top of Mt. Hunger is above the tree line proving a great view for hikers.

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-16There was a dark cloud to the south of us.

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-11Due to the hazy conditions I did not get the distance shots that I was hoping for. However, I did get some pretty good shots towards Waterbury Center and Stowe. I did a succession of shots of Waterbury Reservoir and Waterbury Center getting closer each time.

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-9

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-8

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-7

Adding some black to the photos when processing in Lightroom or Photoshop helps to reduce the impact of the hazy conditions.

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-6

As I had hoped, I could see the ski trails at Stowe. The haze really made this shot difficult.

Mt Hunger Hike July 14 2013-14

This is the view west towards Stowe.

I would like to go on another hike this season for more photographs!

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!

 

Hiking trip to Cardigan Mountain

Wednesday was another beautiful fall day in New Hampshire, which made it a perfect time for a short hike to the top of Mount Cardigan.

I had just picked up some new Merrill hiking boots and decided Mt. Cardigan was the perfect place to see how they felt.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-1

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-3
A mountain spring on Cardigan Mountain along the West Ridge Trail.

One of the best things about the West Ridge Trail is the waterfalls from a mountain spring near one section of the trail.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-7
Grantham mountain with Mt. Ascutney in the distance.

Once you get above the tree line there is a good view of the exposed rock of Grantham Mountain with Mt. Ascutney in the distance.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-9
Mount Cardigan fire tower
Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-10
Summit trail sign

Mt. Cardigan has an interesting history. The Dartmouth Outing Club Website tells us, “In 1855, a devastating fire burned over the summit and removed all the vegetation, including the thin soil. Well over a century later, the summit remains bare of all but a few lichens.” Ironic that there is now a fire watch tower at the summit now. There are few other 3000 foot mountains in the area that are not tree covered at the summit, making Cardigan special. You can get a great view with only a short mile and a half hike up the West Ridge Trail.

Looking north towards the White Mountains from the top of Mt. Cardigan
Looking north towards the White Mountains from the top of Mt. Cardigan.

I started out with a few wide angle 18mm photographs. This one is looking north towards the White Mountains. The big surprise to me since my last trip to Cardigan are the Windmills of the Groton Wind Farm.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-13

Looking at Mt. Flume, Big Coolidge and Mt. Guyot in the distance to the right.
Looking at Mt. Flume, Big Coolidge and Mt. Guyot in the distance to the right.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-19

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-23

I switched to the 300mm Tamron lens for some close-up shots of the windmills with the White Mountains in the distance.

Cardigan Hike October 24 2012-15
Newfound Lake with Lake Winnipesaukee in the distance from the top of Mt. Cardigan.

There is also a pretty good partial view of Newfound Lake with Lake Winnipesaukee in the distance.

Ragged Mountain Ski Area form the top of Mt. Cardigan
Ragged Mountain Ski Area form the top of Mt. Cardigan.

Upon consulting Google Earth I discovered this is Ragged Mountain ski area. I hope to make it over there this coming ski season.

Mirror Lake in Canaan, NH from the top of Mt. Cardigan
Mirror Lake in Canaan, NH from the top of Mt. Cardigan.

Next I looked for landmarks a little closer to the mountain. I wanted to photograph Mirror Lake in Canaan since I had stood by the lake several time while taking photographs of Mt. Cardigan.

Town of Canaan, NH from the top of Mt. Cardigan
Town of Canaan, NH from the top of Mt. Cardigan.

You get a pretty good view of the little town of Canaan, NH from the top of Cardigan. You can just see part of the Canaan speedway in the lower right hand corner of the picture.

I would like to return to Mt. Cardigan when there is less haze in the air for some more photographs. I think I will make a point to bring a tripod as well.

Whitetail deer photographs

I was on my way home from fishing last week when I spotted a bunch of deer feeding in a field along side Route 10 in Hanover, NH. I pulled into the breakdown lane, parked and grabbed my camera. I was thankful to have my Pentax DSLR camera with my 300mm Tamron lens with me.  I dashed across the road and tried to find an opening through the trees to snap some photographs.
Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-1

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-2

This one still has its reddish brown summer coat and has not yet shed to grow the grayish brown winter coat.

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-3

They got a little skittish once they noticed me. A couple of them have their tails up and are heading for the woods.

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-4

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-5

A couple of them paused at the edge of the woods for a while.

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-7

Whitetail Deer Oct 18 2012-8

I was thrilled to watch the smaller deer nuzzle the larger doe on the hind leg. I wonder if this is a mother doe and her daughter. The NatureWorks Website page about White-tail Deer tells us, “Female fawns may stay with their mother for two years, males usually leave after a year.”