Jeremy

Not Quite Sunrise

I had a vague idea that I would get up this morning and head over to Hammonasset State Park for a sunrise walk with the dogs. The new camera is so much more sensitive to different kinds of light that I really wanted to see what the results would be.

However, I utterly failed to get out of bed anywhere near sunrise, so I had to settle for taking the dogs there late morning, after their 6 month checkups at the vet.

I also met up with Jeremy for part of the walk, and we went out the "nature trail" all the way to where it ends, overlooking a marsh plain.

Here's Comet in front of those same rocks.

Afterwards, I went over to the Supply Ponds because the dogs needed a good rinse, and there's no fresh, clear water for them to dunk themselves in at Hammonasset.

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Bluff Head


Today, Jeremy and I continued our exploration of Guilford Land Trust land by heading up to Bluff Head. I realized that I'd actually been up here more than a dog's age ago with my old friend Jill, but I wasn't sure until we reached the part of the path that goes along the edge of the cliffs.

Comet and Jax were a bit too eager about roughhousing close to the edge while Jeremy and I were taking a break, so they had to practice down stays a little ways back.

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Stealthy Cervids and Gymnast Canids

Since we both had Columbus Day off, I went over with Jeremy to the Jared Eliot Preserve in Guilford. Before we had even gotten down the gravel track to the parking area, we saw three deer. One was cooperative enough to wait while I reached back for my camera bag, got out my camera, changed lenses, opened the window, and took a series of pictures.

I think she was only this cooperative because she was relatively certain that we didn't see her through the brush. Clearly she doesn't know about manual focus.

I didn't actually take any pictures at the preserve itself because the dogs were so muddy, but I stopped at the local dog-friendly park afterwards. There were no other dogs there to play with, so I amused myself by throwing a tennis ball high in the air and then trying to get the camera up in time to snap a few shots of the dogs making catches.

The lighting wasn't consistently bright enough for fast shutter speeds, so I only got a couple of good action shots.

I did, however, get the great shot below. Comet misjudged the ball slightly and tried to recover in midair. To his credit, despite the fact that he landed on his back, my next shot shows him holding the ball.

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Friends and Peeps


Jeremy and Ben joined me today for another outing on the Hammonasset River. It was, after all, Jeremy’s idea in the first place. We rented them kayaks at a place on the river and then paddled up almost to Jeremy’s house and back down.

The last couple of miles of the river are essentially a grassy tidal flat, so the lowering tide exposed lots of mud on the banks.

I originally thought this guy was a Sanderling, but I’m not wonderful at identifying peeps, and now I’m not so sure. It’s nice that he and his friends were so cooperative about letting me take a series of pictures that could be reviewed later.

He’s definitely in the Calidris genus, but that’s where it gets more tricky.

If it’s not a Sanderling, which its brown color and face marks make less likely, it’s either a White-rumped or Least Sandpiper. I was able to rule out lots of the similar peeps based on the color of the legs (many candidates have black legs and could be ruled out), the size, the location (CT seacoast) and the behavior, but I’m really stuck between these last two. Pretty guy, nonetheless.

After reviewing the photos together, my dad and I have decided pretty firmly that these guys are Least Sandpipers.
 
We also got a chance to see a pair of Belted Kingfishers scoping the river for their lunch. They were a bit wary of us, so we never got too close. Fortunately, as they’re the only CT Kingfisher, they were an absurdly easy ID.

Ospreys are also an easy bird to shoot, but this one had half an enormous fish up with him in his tree, so I had a good time trying to frame the shot with the tree.

This guy is an old friend, the Saltmarsh Sparrow. There’s really nothing else it could be, but I worry that I may be wrong anyway, since all the entries I’ve read on these guys talk about their secretive behavior, and the two I’ve met have been quite unconcerned about my boat as it drifts closer and closer.

The crabs are definitely some kind of Fiddler Crab, but if you take a second and look up that genus of crabs, you’ll find a dizzying array of species. I gave up after a few minutes.

Regardless of the species, I like the composition of the shot.

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Hammonasset River Solo

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.


I underestimated both the heat and the distance: the map shows a big channel of open water in Hammonasset Point that doesn’t actually exist, so I had to travel a mile or two farther than I thought in order to go around a point to get to the open sound. Fortunately, Jeremy was a patient pickup, and it really was a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon—albeit a longer, hotter one than I intended.

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