Mount Sunapee Hike

Dave Gardner led a group of 21 humans and 3 dogs up to the very top of Mount Sunapee yesterday kicking off the summer series of SRK Greenway hikes. It was a beautiful day, and the hike was perfectly timed to miss the rain earlier in the morning.

We hiked the Rim Trail from the Campground, then up the Newbury Trail (SRKG 1) to the spectacular White Ledges above Lake Solitude. One of us took a short detour down to the lake along the way.

After a 1 PM lunch on White Ledges we hiked to the summit, pausing for a group photo along the way.


Here are some of the photos from this wonderful hike.

Favorite Pond

I spent a very pleasant two hours Thursday morning kayaking on my favorite pond. After visiting it often for many years, this was only my second visit in the last five years. My previous recent visit was at the end of September 2015. I got some great light that morning. I also got an unusual photo, in the “back behind” area of the pond that folks rarely visit, of an immature loon swimming directly at me with a bow wake of bubbles.

When I pulled into the parking area there was a truck with a trailer and a car with Connecticut plates and two kayak racks. The sky was a clear blue and the pond was like glass for the first hour. I saw a group of 7 loons. Here are 5 of them.

I noticed two kayaks hanging around one spot. I could not figure out why; no loon was obviously present. Eventually I saw that they were near a loon chick.

I headed to a “secret”, “back behind” area that I like. It has a hidden narrow entrance at one end and a broader exit on the other.  I normally enter through the narrow part to make sure it is passable. But the water level in the pond was high so I decided to risk entering through the broad part hoping I could make my way out at the other end.

I spotted a beaver. One loud tail slap and it was gone. I took a photo of an interesting “monster”. If you can’t figure it out, I’ll reveal the secret in a bit.

I came across a Common Grackle feeding its young.

Then I noticed a lone loon hidden in the dark shadows. I was confidently shooting at ISO 6400 at this point, something unheard of  a few years ago.


Here is another view of the monster rotated correctly.

Time to search for the way out. It was easy. The passage was filled with several dozen Blue Flag Iris islands. 

Back out on the large part of the pond I noticed the pair of kayaks still around the loon chick, but a parent was now nearby. The second parent was preening quite far away. 

A woman in a kayak paddled by the couple, it looked like she said something, and then all three left the area. I headed over and drifted a considerable distance away as both parents fed the chick.

Suddenly both loons started screaming. I was pretty sure they were not disturbed by my presence. Then I saw an osprey fly over.

But osprey only eat fish and loons seem to know this so ospreys do not upset them. It turns out the loons were warning another loon that was flying high overhead to keep out of their territory.

There was no indication that the chick would ride on a parents back. It already knew how to “stand”  and stretch its wings.

I was still drifting quietly at a considerable distance when the loons decided to move out away from shore. In doing so they swam almost directly at me passing my kayak within a few yards. Clearly they did not view me or my kayak as a threat.

 

 

On the way back to my car I saw a small snapping turtle that I photographed from my kayak. This was the fifth snapper I had seem in the last few weeks.  It is egg laying season. 

 

 

In the parking lot I met the woman who had spoken with the couple. She told me she told them they were hanging around the chick for too long and should move on. She was not a monitor, just a concerned person.

Driving away from the pond I saw my second porcupine in a week. You can see the first one plus a snapping turtle and some colorful birds if you CLICK HERE.

It was a good morning. That is until the front of my car got noisier and noisier. I actually correctly diagnosed it as a front brake problem. I headed straight to the only mechanics I use, my wife met me there, and, even though they were very busy, by later that afternoon I had my car back and was about $600 poorer.

 

Lupines in Etna

I photographed a beautiful field of lupines in a neighbor’s yard yesterday. I’m told this field is the natural result of four lupines transplanted from a friend’s driveway where they were “weeds”, 18 years ago. It is mind boggling how the huge variety of colors and shapes could develop when many lupine fields are a fairly uniform purple.

I took some group “scenic” shots with a lot of depth of field, shooting both verticals and horizontals.

 

Then I worked in closer with shallow depth of field. 

 

I personally like the shallow depth of field ones better.

While there I was able to photograph some bees. The orange mass on the bee’s legs is a pollen basket or corbicula. It contains the pollen that she has gathered from the flowers. Female bees feed their offspring with pollen carried by this special adaption for holding and transporting pollen.  After the bee visits a flower, she begins grooming herself and brushes pollen gathered on her body down toward her hind legs and packs the pollen into her pollen basket. A little nectar mixed with the pollen keeps it all together, and the hairs in the pollen basket hold it in place.

Be sure to check out the Orange and Black Birds in the preceding Blog.

Orange and Black Birds

I spent an hour or so along the Rail Trail at Ice House Road in Lebanon on June 14 & 15, 2017.  I was sorry I couldn’t join the walk there led by Jeff and George recently, but this was second best.

Orange and black birds were everywhere — orioles and redstarts to be specific. Here is a tiny American Redstart leaping off a branch.

 

There were two Baltimore Oriole nests and deep inside the young were being fed.  Here are some of the oriole photos I took.

 

Not to be outdone, American Redstarts put on a good show.

 

Male and female Yellow Warblers made an appearance.

 

And there were some less colorful birds like a Warbling Vireo, Grey Catbirds,  Kingbird, and Flycatcher, most likely a Least.

 

Along the Rail Trail snapping turtles were laying eggs. This was very near the spot where I photographed snapping turtles mating years ago.

 

Also along the trail were hundreds of columbine, perhaps escapes from gardens?

On the way home, I got a porcupine.