A Therapeutic Paddle

After several weeks dealing with triple-digit temperatures and a couple of hot, humid days back here in Vermont as I mowed our cow pasture aka lawn and bush-hogged our woods trails, it was great to strap the boat on Mary’s newly inspected car and head out early this morning with the air temperature 60. I was on the water before 6:30 and had the reservoir to myself.

You may recall that we bought our Hornbeck boats last summer

You may recall that we bought our Hornbeck boats last summer

As I drove in, I saw a mama Mallard and her crew foraging along the shoreline. I launched the boat, paddled easily over towards them as she drew them into the lake, and listened to her cluck to them as I drifted, shooting with the long lens, and they motored on. I left them  to enjoy the rest of their morning.

Mama was just ahead of them, outside the camera frame. She seemed calm but attentive to this potential predator.

Mama was just ahead of them, outside the camera frame. She seemed calm but attentive to this potential predator.

Being a weekend, the highway noise was nothing and I just moved easily along with no ear buds, FitBit, or other distractions other than the birding gear. It was very refreshing, physically and mentally, and I listened to the Belted Kingfishers, the Common Yellowthroats, the Veery, some Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of flycatchers, just poking along on a cool misty Vermont summer morning.

The lighting was terrible for photography and I was rusty. I spooked several birds when I brought the camera up too fast, and missed others trying to control the boat speed and direction and doing neither well. It wasn’t a big deal – but I remembered that much of my birding in the last few months has been at preserves and locations where the birds seem more used to people, and tend to sit a little more still.

There was an Osprey perched right over the reservoir on a craggy dead tree who seemed quite uninterested in me. The camera shots were not ready for prime time. The water level was higher than it often is this time of year and so I could cover some areas that are normally mudflats.

The inlet to the reservoir is the North Branch of the Winooski and it offers a short stretch of quiet paddling with ledges, overhanging trees, and on this occasion, a family of beavers. They were very active and I was on their turf and they let me know. I felt comfortable but they were very close, as you can see here.

This guy had a stick in its mouth, then it reversed direction and .....

This guy had a stick in its mouth, then it reversed direction and …..

this image is not cropped. I got wet from it.

this image is not cropped. I got wet from it.

Four Great Blue Herons, probably this year’s youngsters, accompanied me part of the way back, squawking to one another all the way. The boat handled well — it felt good to get a little upper body workout — and Penny had slept after her morning walk and breakfast and was ready for the next item on the day’s agenda when I got home.  The next project turned out to be to remove the hundreds of baked-on bugs 0n the Airstream Interstate that I picked up in the 12,000 miles I’ve put on it since April. But I was in a good mood from the lovely paddle and it went well. Now to get some better early morning light for photography.

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2 Responses to A Therapeutic Paddle

  1. Good morning Dick. Is this an old post? It has today’s date on it, but isn’t this the Hornbeck I bought from you in April? Did you get another? Nothing better than an early morning paddle. I sure love my Hornbeck! Have a great day!
    Debbie

  2. Sally Cargill says:

    Dick. yes early morning on the reservoir is peaceful and a great chance to see nature’s prizes which you so well captured. On an early paddle a few days ago I came across three groups of mallards with young ones at different stages, alarming slaps by two beavers, a spotted sandpiper with at least one white fluffy ball in the grass and an adult eagle fishing and on the paddle back and around the bend he was sitting regally in a dead tree quite close to my kayak
    Sally.

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