Monday, June 27, 2011


Last week was hectic.  Long days at work.  Travel (early morning flights, delays, and early morning returns).  I had to work on Saturday to catch up on all the work I missed during the week.

I decided to combine two of my favorite pastimes - kayaking and fishing.  On Sunday I put in on the South Slang.  The water is still high.  With very flooded conditions, it is hard to read the structure of the water.  I paddled around and wore my arm out casting, but to no avail.

I put the kayak on the car and headed down the road to Kingsland Bay.  The Slang is very weedy.  Kingsland Bay is more rocky.  I paddled about the cliff faces, casting about for bass and perch.

I had luck getting a few small bass and 1 small yellow perch.  Nothing worth keeping, but I release them anyway.  I then took a few photos around the bay.

Rocky shorelines . . .

. . . forested cliffs . . .

. . . textured stone . . .

. . . and tree roots grasping stone cliff faces.

I continued fishing, and caught a few more bass.  As I was heading back, I cast about a weedy area.  On one cast, something smashed my crankbait and tossed it a few feet in the air.  I cast back to that area, and then hooked a good-sized fish.  I was only fishing 6 pound test, so I had to be careful.  The fish was a good fighter.  After a few minutes I was able to get it close to the boat - a 28 inch northern pike.  I was able to get it to the kayak, but just as I was reaching down, it shook it's head and broke the line.  You win some, you lose some.  (Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with northern pike, I love to catch them, but their mouth full of teeth make it challenging trying to release them when you are in a kayak - I've been bitten a number of times!)

I hope to go camping next weekend.  Some paddling, some fishing, watching wildlife.  I need the quiet time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Happy Father's Day

The wife and I went for a leisurely paddle on the Otter.  It was a glorious day.  Cool temperatures, light winds, blue skies.

We saw painted turtles, . . .

. . . mother ospreys, . . .

. . . and father ospreys!

One of my favorites, red-winged blackbirds.

Baby ducklings.  They came right up to the shore!

I hope you had a Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Into the Hidden Marsh

I decided to paddle at the mouth of the Otter by Fort Cassin.  The lake is still at flood stage, but the road is mostly clear.

The floods are receding.  There woods by the river are still flooded.  You can see the high-water mark on the trees.

The beaver lodge I saw previously has been enlarged.

The osprey are still plentiful and vigilant

I paddled up stream to an area I call the 'Hidden Marsh'.

Entrance to Hidden Marsh

During the summer when the water is low, it is too choked with weeds to paddle into.  With the high water, I could take it all the way in.  I finally found that it crosses Kellogg Bay Road.

The marsh is inhabited with the usual wildlife.  I saw Virginia Rails, Common Moorhen, ducks, geese and muskrat.

Out towards the edges, I saw heron.  There were Great Blue Heron . . .

This one was standing near a smaller heron.  What was it?

A Green Heron!  Pretty common, but more shy than the Great Blue Heron.

Another stately Great Blue Heron.

I am amazed at the green in the marsh.  The Duck Weed was all about . . .

. . . covering logs, . . .

. . .  and by the ferns and cattails.

I came across a patch of irises in the weeds.  Fantastic!

After a few hours of exploring, I headed back.  I came across an Osprey nest I had never seen before.

I then came across another beaver lodge.  This one had a dock pushed against it.  The dock must have been pushed downstream during the flood.

I had heard and seen frogs all about, but I never could get a photo.  Just as I was about to take my boat out, I came across this large bullfrog.  It never moved as I took some pictures.

It started to rain as I was preparing to leave.  The mosquitoes were fierce.  I must have killed over a dozen in my car that got in when I opened the car doors.  Luckily it was windy on the water and they did not bother me when I was paddling!

I hope you had a good day today!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Turtle Time

I can think back to 3 times when I've been out cycling in the morning, and have come across snapping turtles on the side of the road laying eggs.

Yep - they crawl out of their watery homes, struggle up the shore, crawl through fields and cross roadways, all to find a sandy place.

Where is the nearest sandy place - why the side of the road.

Today, I saw 2 female snapping turtles on the side of the road digging holes to lay their eggs.  Amazing.

I wonder how they determine if it is a good day to lay eggs?  It was hot yesterday (our high was ~ 91 degF).  This morning it was around 70 degF.  It was very humid.  The moon is a waxing gibbous at 60% full.

How do you think they know it is a good day to lay eggs?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Peaceful Sunday Morning

I always liked Sundays.  When I was in college, I hated Sundays.  It was the one day of the week I didn't have school or work (full engineering course load + 30 hours of work), but I had so much homework and lab reports to catch up on, that my one free day was taken from me.  When I went to graduate school, I vowed that Sunday was my day.  I would get my homework and projects done during the week, even if that meant I was working Friday night.  But to have a day to recharge - what a joy.  I still keep Sunday as a rest day.

I started my day cycling.  I especially like riding on Sunday mornings - it is quiet and peaceful.  My morning ride took me through farmlands . . .

 . . . with mountain views, . . .

. . . by farm fields (watch out for the smells of slurry!), . . .

. . . through quiet country roads, . . .

. . .  and by mountain marshes.

It's been a while since I went kayaking.  I decided to go see how the South Slang was doing (we are still at flood stage in the low-lying areas near Lake Champlain).  The woods by the lake are still very flooded.

The South Slang is always a great area for wildlife.

The muskrats dens are rebuilt.

One surprise were the yellow irises I saw throughout the marshes.  I was amazed I never noticed them before.  Maybe with the higher water I could get deeper into the marshes and see them better.

I didn't paddle very far.  I spent most of my time looking for wildlife.  I could hear all sorts of bird calls.  The red-winded blackbirds were everywhere.  The frogs were croaking.  I even heard an American Bittern calling out 'oong-ka choong - oong-ka choong'.  I have only seen them twice. They are uncommon and secretive.  I was on the lookout for one.

 I came across a Common Moorhen.

Do you see it?

This character was hard to get in a photo.  It is a Virginia Rail.  They are a smallish bird (~ 9 inches) and quite camouflaged.   It was hard to get a picture of them when they were moving, but as soon as they stopped, they would blend in with the reeds and cattails.  Not a great photo.  I snapped it when it had its head down.

I was happy to get this photo of a painted turtle.

I didn't see the bittern.  Not a problem.  Gives me another reason to go back to the South Slang.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Still Shakin' the Bushes Boss . . .

If you've seen the movie 'Cool Hand Luke', you've seen the scenes where the prisoners are walking down those dusty country roads cutting weeds.  I had my version this past weekend.  The Japanese Knotweed has been growing like crazy with all the rain.  It was over 4 feet tall in places.  I got out my trusty scythe and knocked it back by the creek.

Knotweed - Before and After

We couldn't see the creek before, now we can enjoy it again.

. . .

Update - I've been blogging a lot about all the wild trilliums.  My lone trillium made it through the winter and it is twice the size it was last year.  It did not flower this year, though it can take up to 7 years before it flowers.  In time it will build a colony.  We'll see what happens over the years (you can see I have a little cage around it to protect it from accidental trimming, etc.).