Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Burrito and a New Duck

March is by far the earliest month that has ever found me in a sea kayak, but I have heard that we get Harbor Seals, and I figured, having seen them before in Maine, I should try to see them before they depart for colder climes in April.

I checked out lots of the little islands off of Stony Creek, but I didn't see any seals. I did, however, see these American Oystercatchers. I've seen them before, though not balancing on one leg to conserve warmth like this pair is.
As I circled some of the small islands, the Oystercatchers circled a few times. I do my best not to disturb them and to shoot from a respectful distance with a telephoto lens, but they still moved about a bit as I searched for a place to stop and have a snack.
The gulls took off en masse before I even got close to this island, the first unowned rock that offered enough downwind shelter for me to disembark. That's a bit of a trick with an expensive camera and a kayak whose cockpit is only a few inches clear of the water. I do keep the camera in a drybag in case there are any wayward splashes, but even so, I needed some shelter from the two-foot swells in order to pop off the deck without being swamped.
Before I embarked, I stopped off in downtown Branford to fill my thermos with some coffee from Common Grounds. I also grabbed a burrito from Tacuba. Despite the fact that it took me over an hour of paddling to find a suitable island, the burrito was still warm and completely delicious.

I set up the camera on a mini-tripod and used the remote shutter control to stage a little self-portrait of myself enjoying my goodies.
I had never even heard of Long-tailed Ducks until today, but on my way back to the boat ramp, I saw this little male, still in his winter plumage. I was completely lost in terms of IDing him on the spot, but I was able to capture a good enough photo to look him up from the comfort of an armchair later on. That's one more duck on my life list.


  1. When you disappeared of the forum yesterday I figured you were out having a blast somewhere. Looks like I was right!

    I don't know how you take your camera out with you, I'd be scared to death. You're probably pretty confident in your kayaking skills though.

    Just an aside, do you have a rider policy for your gear? You're starting to amass enough to make it potentially worth the few extra $$ per month.

    And lastly, is the black streak behind the duck on the surface of the water an extension of his tail too? If so he reminds me of a duck version of the scissortails we have down here.

    1. The camera is a bit of a crapshoot. I have a drybag, but shooting birds from the water means making the judgment call that I can open the deck of the boat, crack the drybag, and get the camera out without getting swamped or sprayed too badly. And then I'm shooting the bird with a 3 pound long lens one-handed as I bob on the waves, and control the boat with the opposite hand levering a kayak paddle against my torso. It's a literal and figurative balancing act.

      So I probably should have some kind of policy that covers me if it tips out of my hand and drops through 50 feet of salt water. But I currently don't.

      And yes, that's all tail! I thought it was a shadow on the water until I looked at the bird in the book and saw how much tail he was supposed to have.

  2. Ha! That does sound like a sight to behold!

    The duck picture is kind of deceiving, his wing tips pop over his body right where a tail should be.