Thursday, July 28, 2011
At first glance, this duck might not look too spectacular, but if you know your ducks, there are a few things that jump out. First, she’s much larger than many of the brown, mottled ducks you may have seen. Second, she’s on the ocean. Third, her head shape is completely different from, say, a mallard.
Sure enough, I had kayaked my way into a flock of Common Eiders.
It might be time to mention that I found the eider and the seal during a kayak excursion on Casco Bay, out of Falmouth, Maine. I managed to grab the last few hours of daylight to put in at the Falmouth town dock and do a little exploring.
I have to admit some jealousy at the wilder nature of Casco Bay compared to my local Thimble Islands. I’ve heard that we have Harbor Seals, but I haven’t seen them, and I definitely don’t expect eiders at home.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
On a more pleasant afternoon during my trip to Maine, I paid a visit to my old friend Jill’s brand new farm. It has a lovely barn to house classes for her new dog training school, and the house sits smack in the middle of a beautiful meadow that goes all the way down to a river.
Finny (left) is closer to nine than eight, but he’s still got all the crazy enthusiasm of Copley (right).
the website if you live in the area and need artful, positive dog training. You can also check out her photo galleries on the Facebook page, even if you don’t live close enough to train with her.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The weather was a bit threatening, but I figured I could put in, tool around the lower section of Sebago, and get back to the dock quickly if things got hairy.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Jeremy lives near the Hammonasset River, which wends down through Clinton and empties out at Hammonasset Beach State Park. Jeremy and I had talked a couple of times about maybe putting kayaks in near his house and traveling all the way down to the ocean.
Given that today was the hottest day of summer thus far, Jeremy wisely decided it wasn’t a good day for his first major kayak outing. That freed him up to drop me off and pick me up, which made the whole process much, much more pleasant.
The river wends down through deciduous forest which transitions quite quickly to salt marsh. The luckiest picture of the day, by a long shot, was of this Saltmarsh Sparrow. These guys are known for being secretive and quiet, but I got lucky. This kind of moment can only happen in a boat as quiet and unobtrusive as a kayak. I can see a small bird hopping in the reeds, paddle quietly upstream of him, and drift toward him, snapping photos. If I had more robust camera equipment, I could do even better, but shooting with a twenty-year-old 75x300, I think I did alright.
Ospreys are a far, far easier target, for three reasons: they’re common, relatively calm about humans, and large. There are also about four nests between the put-in and the open ocean, so opportunities abound.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
For a long time, I’ve kept my old whitewater kayak in the shed on a sort of just-in-case basis. I don’t have any local friends who paddle, though, and I haven’t actually taken the thing out in quite some time.
So I decided that I was old enough to simply give in and accept that I probably wasn’t going to be whitewater boating anymore. There are certainly plenty of guys much older than I who do whitewater, but I think my days of throwing a boat on the car and driving to Maine to catch a dam release are probably over.
I took it down to the closest put in (Stony Creek), and gave myself a tour of the Thimble Islands.
Typically, I’d try not to disturb resting birds, but I paddled upwind of this Double-crested Cormorant and let the breeze take me closer and closer as I snapped shots. Finally, he gave me the hairy eyeball and took off like some prehistoric monster.
“Cormorant” is a contraction of corvus marinus, Latin for “sea crow.” It’s apt. They’re common, hardy, and have a reputation for greedy eating.
Common Tern, who was fishing off of one of the pricier-looking pieces of property. Taking these photos involved drifting and twisting and mashing the shutter button.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
High tide is a nice time to go, and sometimes Jax moves so fast that it looks like he’s skimming the surface of the water.
Photo credit: Ben Taylor
The best goodie? The 30mpg highway I can get on my way to work.