Kayaking on Red Mill Pond

Today was unseasonably warm with the high around 65 Fahrenheit! Can you imagine 65 degrees in the middle of February? I took the opportunity to go out on the pond in Ann’s kayak, to see what I could see. I saw cranes, geese, ducks, and fish jumping right out of the water even! I also got to see the bald eagles, which were beautiful and majestic – as usual. I also ran into a couple who were also out on their kayaks. It was a beautiful day…

Kayaks on Red Mill Pond

Oh – that is a bald eagle you see in the picture. It is so far away though you can’t make it out… I tried to get a good picture it as it flew right over head but, it’s all but impossible. And as much as I love my new iPhone 7 plus and its lovely pictures, it’s not very good at taking real-life, action pictures. Grabbing the phone quickly usually turns on an unwanted feature or renders completely useless. By the time you get it sorted, the bird or other thing you were trying to take a picture of has passed. Aiming it accurately too, especially with bright ambient light, is very impossible. Very frustrating indeed! I think that from now on, I will always bring my Nikon DSLR along with me. I guess I’ll have to pay to get my telephoto lens fixed after all.

Beautiful Winter Day on Red Mill Pond

It started snowing late last night and continued all morning.  It’s beginning to taper off now and the sun occasionally breaks through the murk overhead.  There is still a dark and looming overcast.  I can’t help but wonder what the clouds look like from on top.  They are so full of snow, they must look like some kind of brilliant white fluffy blanket.

Fresh Snow on Red Mill Pond
Fresh Snow on Red Mill Pond

The temperature has been hovering just below freezing for days.  And the pond appears patchy now because while the surface is frozen, some areas are not able to maintain the fresh snow on top (due to melting).

Although you can’t see it in the picture, there is a large group of geese hanging-out in the middle of the pond just to the north.  They always seem to have a sixth sense for when the river is going to open-up again and give them their pond back!  Even if the opening is only the size of a bath tub, they will take turns swimming in it.  It is the most adorable thing to watch…

Bald Eagle Spotted on Autumn Day Canoe Trip

So I walk past the kitchen to check on my son, and our exchange student.  They are both heads down over their electronic devices.  Nothing new there!  One is on his iPhone, while the other is on the computer.  They have been going at it for a while now and I feel a bubble of frustration peculating up inside me.  I can’t help it!  It’s a beautiful autumn day outside.  Don’t they see that?  I’ve have had to work at my desk all day.  They have a choice.  I don’t!  And this is what they choose to do with their time?  There won’t be too many more days like this one.  Finally, I can’t help myself:

“Okay.  That’s it.  We are going outside.  I don’t care what we do but, we are going outside.  It’s your choice.  We can go for a walk along Indian Crossing Trail or we can take the canoe out on the pond…”

Groans can be heard but, the two agree on the canoe.  Great!  We can get out on the pond before the sun sets and get a twilight paddle in before dinner time.  I grab the life jackets, oars and camera and we head on out.

Heading north, coming around the peninsular that is my neighbor’s yard, we sight a huge formation of geese.

A Gaggle, a Skein, and a Wedge of Geese - Red Mill Pond
A Gaggle, a Skein, and a Wedge of Geese – Red Mill Pond

Did you know that according to Wikipedia, the collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump.

We head north.  I am secretly hoping to see some of the cranes.  They are so elegant but, unfortunately they are nowhere to be seen.  Then we see it – one of the bald eagles.  It’s definitely an adult because we can see it’s white tail.  It flies directly in front of us and makes a long graceful arc, heading south along the length of the pond.  There’s no question who the apex predator is in these parts!  What a grand presence this majestic creature conveys.  We are awed.

Bald Eagle over Red Mill Pond
Bald Eagle over Red Mill Pond

Although the eagle seems far away, he is actually quite close to us.  If you click on the photo, you can see a full size view of the picture.

In the next few days, I will try to upload some more photographs from this excursion…

Autumn Geese in Flight

I can’t help but be hypnotized by these graceful flyers.


Autumn is definitely here as temperatures continue to cool off.  This morning the sky cast a wintry pall over all.  Even so, activity on the pond continues to increase every day now and there’s quite a cacophony going on. The geese pictured here have decided to fly over Red Mill Pond and head over to Standish, or Globe Mill.  All this in spite of the loud calls from their brethren to come and join them.

I took a little artistic license by pushing up the contrast in this picture.  Even though there are seven geese, it’s almost like a time-lapse photo of the same bird in flight. In order to get the full effect, I recommend clicking on the picture to see the full-size version…

Geese and Crane

Although some people might not care for geese I actually like them.  This is a picture taken against the west bank of the pond just north of the masonic temple.  The bank is steep and there’s plenty of shade from low-hanging branches.  Here the geese are wondering whether they ought to be concerned about a bright red kayak drifting towards them.  Notice they are actual standing in the water there. 

Geese hanging out in the shade on Red Mill Pond
Geese hanging out in the shade on Red Mill Pond

I paddled up to the north end of the pond where the water fowl really love to hang out.  I could see a half-dozen or so cranes wading about by the reeds.  It is extremely shallow here and my kayak got stuck in the silt several times.  The cranes are quite skittish but not nearly as touchy as the herons.  I took some pictures of the herons but, they didn’t come out.

A crane standing on a sand bar on the north end of Red Mill Pond
A crane standing on a sand bar on the north end of Red Mill Pond

I am fairly pleased with my pictures however, if you look at them, you’ll notice an eerie hue about the birds – especially around the color white.  I believe this has to do with “chromatic aberration” from my camera lens.  Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about that for right now.  Maybe I can try and save up for a better lens one day?

Juvenile Bald Eagle Sighted

While canoeing on the pond, we paddled by one of the bald eagles’ favorite hangouts – a dead tree on the waters edge.  We have a couple of dead trees on our property and have not cut them down for this very reason – the bald eagles love to hunt from these high perches.  Today, instead of an adult bald eagle though, we spotted this youngster:

Bald Eagle - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Bald Eagle – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

Initially, I was a little confused.  Was this really a bald eagle?  Aren’t they supposed to have a white head, white tail and yellow beak?  What kind of bird is this?  An article on Wikipedia says:

The plumage of the immature (bald eagle) is a dark brown overlaid with messy white streaking until the fifth (rarely fourth, very rarely third) year, when it reaches sexual maturity…  Another distinguishing feature of the immature bald eagle over the mature bird is its black, yellow-tipped beak; the mature eagle has a fully yellow beak.

So what we have here is an immature bald eagle.  I have no idea how old it is but, it must be less than five years old.  And apparently, while adult eagles are proficient hunters of live prey, immature eagles are more likely to obtain their food from scavenging.

Here is a picture of the same eagle, taken just before it landed on the woodpile (above).  Notice the impressive wingspan and its yellow talons:

Immature Bald Eagle - Impressive Wingspan - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Immature Bald Eagle – Impressive Wingspan – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

We were careful to keep our distance from the eagle.  As a general rule, I try to keep far enough away from the wildlife on the pond, so as to not create a stress or disturbance for them in any way.  I know that this is their environment and we are just guests.

We paddled away, as quietly and carefully as possible.  The eagle turned away from us, spreading its wings out slightly to bask in the warm sunlight.