weather

A Dog for All Seasons

A Dog for All Seasons

There's no such thing as perfect weather...

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A Short Jaunt on the East River

Today I threw the boat on the car for the first time this year and headed out to do a little exploring on the East River in Guilford, the same East River that runs through the preserve I visited last week. It's apparently possible to take a kayak from the Guilford Marina—to which I now have a $20 season pass—through to the preserve at high tide.

Within seconds of shoving off, I'd found a Willet working the shallows.

A hundred yards later, I found a mixed group of Willets and terns bathing in the shallows. The terns were all Common Terns, and they hopped in and out and splashed around.

I'm having a bit of a rough time ruling out Forster's and Roseate Terns in some pictures, but I'm pretty sure these are all Common.
Within minutes, I had dozens of action pictures of terns in full breeding plumage.

The Willets were bathing too, and out of a few dozen exposures, I captured this neat sequence of three.

As always, I try to set myself upwind of the birds I'm photographing, so I can get closer and closer while causing as little alarm as possible.



As I finished my drift toward the mixed flock, I took one more series of exposures of a male Common Tern preening. Or, potentially, doing tai chi.

Just as he stopped preening and looked worried, I put my paddle back in the water and halted my approach. It's great to get good shots of birds, but it's not worth the expense of disturbing their habits.
Sadly, when I was only about a half mile from the marina, a microcell thunderstorm got itself whipped up to my north, right up the river. I tried to rationalize staying out on the water and going up at least a little father, but when I saw a bolt of lightning in the middle of that downpour, I turned around and hightailed it back to the dock.

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Sebago Weather

As part of my project to bring the kayak back to tippykayak, I took it with me when I went up to Maine for a teaching conference near Sebago lake.

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.

I only got in about a half hour before the southwest sky began to make less idle threats. There were no rumbles of thunder, so I felt comfortable cutting it fairly close, but it started to get windy, and I was out for a leisurely paddle, not a soul-testing duel with the elements.

I’m continually amazed by weather. Despite the threats to the south, the northeast sky remained light until it faded to pink. Still, I was glad to be off the water, since the wind got stronger the entire time until I was packed up and gone.

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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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Snow Is Fun


Some of Comet’s first memories are of snow, and when this big winter storm dumped a whole mess on us, he was in heaven.

He eats it; he chases snow balls; he wants it kicked into his face or thrown at him with a shovel. He frolics in it, slides into it, and flops down in drifts. Now that it’s on the ground, he can’t believe that we would spend even a moment indoors and gives long, plaintive looks, sighs, and the occasional whine to go back out into this most glorious of substances.

I swear, I didn’t have this much fun even when I was a kid in a big snowstorm. I loved building forts, throwing snowballs, sledding, jumping into drifts, and the whole nine yards, but you have to envy a fur coat that’s so adaptable and water-friendly that throwing yourself onto your face and then wriggling on your back is not only comfortably but actually feels awesome.

This is joie de vivre at its finest. Demonic shining red eye joie de vivre.

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