Duck season

Wabbit season!

As I carried my rowing shell down to the river side this morning, a warm October morning with the river so calm it looked like a mirror, and light wisps of fog clinging to the riverside trees, I tried to remember when Duck season was set to begin. I knew it was somewhere in the first week of October.

So it was not too surprising, as I sculled past the Wilder Wildlife Management Area, a half kilometer upriver, that a gunshot rang out. Close by! I looked toward the sound and saw a duck falling from the sky, and a puff of gunsmoke hovering over the wetland I knew was behind the row of riverside bushes. I paused, listened closely, and could hear the murmur of conversation a few hundred meters away, where the duck hunters were celebrating Opening Day.

Good thing I have a bright red shell and wear a bright red jersey when I row. Still, I think I’ll head downriver next time.

Mayfly orgy!

Last night Lyme hosted a massive orgy. Mayflies!

When I visited the river this morning I found it littered with thousands of upon thousands of dead mayflies.

These insects live in the river, then moult and emerge as a winged insect in a massive rush to procreate in their 24-hour lifespan as an adult, laying the eggs that will lead to next year’s batch.  Apparently, for our stretch of the river, the emergence happened over the last couple of nights, though in some years I’ve seen them emerge in late June. 

Mayflies scattered across the Connecticut river after a night of breeding.

You can learn more on Wikipedia and at mayfly.org.

“The lifespan of an adult mayfly is very short and varies depending on the species. The primary function of the adult is reproduction; the mouthparts are vestigial, and the digestive system is filled with air.

“It often happens that all the mayflies in a population mature at once (a hatch), and for a day or two in the spring or fall, mayflies will be everywhere, dancing around each other in large groups, or resting on every available surface. … Because of its short lifespan, the mayfly is called one-day or one-day fly in some languages…. “

Wikipedia [2012]
Mayflies scattered across the Connecticut river after a night of breeding.

Loons

A beautiful pair of neighbors.

A pair of loons have been living along the Connecticut River, near our home. We often hear their plaintive cry early in the morning. I’ve sometimes had time to grab my camera and head down to the river edge, to see whether I can capture the beauty of these creatures. They have a remarkable ability to swim underwater, and will often disappear for several minutes while they feed on the vegetation below. Once, when the two met in mid-river, they spent close to 20 minutes doing a sort of dance, each ducking its head underwater, and then diving under and past the other, almost like a do-si-do.

Loon(s) on the river near our house in Lyme.

My photos are still a bit grainy… I need more light, or a longer lens, to capture crisp images. I’ll keep trying, and adding to the gallery.

More about Common Loons [wikipedia].

Cube again

A climb above the valley fog to clear my mind.

After a busy and challenging work week, it was a pleasure today to return to one of my local peaks for a quick morning outing. I’ve already climbed Mount Cube a few times this year, in winter, spring, and summer, partly because it is close by (less than 30 minutes’ drive) and because it has a remarkably nice view for such a short climb (2 miles). The Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube is a favorite of many in the area, so I was surprised to see only one car at the trailhead when I arrived a bit before 9am.

Map of my route up and down Mount Cube.
Continue reading “Cube again”

American Bittern

Some of our many neighbors.

I was out for a paddle along the Connecticut River near home, this afternoon, and took a side trip among the reeds and brush that form the ‘delta’ at the mouth of Hewes Brook. This area is popular with ducks, herons, geese, kingfisher, beaver, and countless other residents. Today, a pair of American Bittern posed for me in the brush of a tiny islet while I came by. More photos.

American Bittern, in the brush near the mouth of Hewes Brook, Connecticut River, Lyme NH.

Earlier this month I’ve seen white Egrets and Great Blue Herons feeding nearby, as well as Canada Geese, many varieties of ducks, and a pair of loons. Need to bring my camera more often!

Triple tree trouble

If a tree falls in a river…

Last fall, two stems of a large basswood tree finally gave up their desperate attempt to cling to our riverbank, and fell into the river. This massive four-stemmed tree was rotting at the base, and the steep riverbank provided little support. The two river-side stems fell toward the river, laying down at a steep angle reflected the depth of the river along our banks. We asked two tree services about removal, but it would have involved heavy equipment and a large fee. We left the trees for the winter ice and spring floods to remove.

Unfortunately, they remained unimpressed by the spring currents, and yet some of their branches impeded boat traffic along our shoreline. So, a few weeks ago, I scrambled out along their trunks and sawed off whatever I could reach, while the others tied ropes and pulled the debris away from the mess, away from our docks, and out to sea. I inspected the two remaining stems, and the now-exposed rot near their base, and forecast that they would follow soon, perhaps within two years.

Trees fallen into the river along our bank.

One only lasted two weeks (above). So this week I was scrambling out along a new trunk, sawing off what I could, while Andy swam around to pull the debris, new and old, out to the stronger current. I don’t have any photos of the action, but the photo below shows what remains.

Trees fallen into the river along our bank.

The fourth and final stem leans inland… right onto the shed. Hmm.

Spring equinox

Spring is here in the valley.

Today is the vernal equinox – the spring equinox – when the length of day and night are equal (equi = equal, nox = night). Actually, “They are not exactly equal, … due to the angular size of the Sun, atmospheric refraction, and the rapidly changing duration of the length of day that occurs at most latitudes around the equinoxes” [Wikipedia]. Here in New Hampshire, Sunrise was at 6:51am, Sunset at 7:01pm.

For those who welcome the arrival of spring, today is when we are adding more minutes of sun per day than at any other time. We’re on the steep part of the curve! This is great news for our solar tracker, which put in a banner effort today under nearly clear skies, with a total production of 45.57kWh:

Technically, the equinox is “the instant of time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun’s disk” [Wikipedia]. This year, that occurred at 0937 UTC, or 5:37am here in Lyme, which happens to be about when I got up this morning.

Interestingly, it has long been noted this is the “day when the Sun rises due east and sets due west, and indeed this happens on the day closest to the astronomically defined event.” [Wikipedia again].

On cue, the Connecticut River decided it is also ice-out day – the day the winter’s ice breaks up and the river begins to visibly flow. I’m pleased to see open water, because it means that bald eagle might be seen more often in our neighborhood once again, now that it has an opportunity to fish.

ice-out on the Connecticut River, in front of our house

The forecast shows nothing but clear skies, warm days (50-60º) and cool nights (20-30º). Great weather for sugaring! More on that to come…

Bobcat visit

A special treat.

We’ve lived in Lyme for over twenty years and I have spent time in the woods of New Hampshire for over thirty years. I’ve seen nearly every large mammal – deer, moose, bear, coyote, fox, and more – except a bobcat. So I was especially excited to spot a bobcat, at a distance and from behind, at the edge of a cornfield in September. Even then, because of the distance and the circumstance, I was unsure whether it was a bobcat until I’d returned home for close examination of the two photos I managed to snap before it disappeared.

Today, however, I had the good luck to look out the window, across the snowy lawn and the icy river to a dark figure moving along the Vermont shore. A bobcat was exploring the river’s edge, as if to test the ice and consider a move to New Hampshire. I grabbed my Nikon and the 200-500mm lens and collected a couple hundred shots in the two minutes it took him to walk out of sight. Even at 500mm it still takes a tight crop to get a good look, below. See the gallery for a few more, including a nice look at his face while he pauses to drink from the river’s surface.

A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

An uncropped example is below.

[uncropped] A Vermont bobcat explores the river shore across from our house.

Such a beautiful animal. I hope s/he visits again soon!

Mount Cube

The weather this week has been startlingly warm, almost as if summer has lasted into November. Yesterday’s high temperature here at home was 71ºF! It may have been the last ‘summer’ weather of the year – and also the last day before deer-hunting season fully opens – so I was eager to get out for a hike. I try to hike on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.

Despite a dense fog clinging to the Connecticut River in the early morning, I hopped into the Tesla for an all-electric drive to one of my favorite trailheads – the Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube, only 30 minutes away. I’ve been up this two-mile route many times, because it gives one all the features of a “real mountain climb” without the temporal overhead of a long drive or a long hike… a stroll through leafy hardwood forests, a scramble up rugged rock-strewn trails, the pungent scent of balsam firs, and distant views from its granite outcrops and 2900′ summit. In the view below, from the summit you can see the foggy Connecticut River valley in the upper right and Smarts Mountain at upper left.

Seen from Mount Cube.

Sadly, the summit has poor views to the northeast, but if you stand on tippy-toes and peer between the firs you can pick out Mount Moosilauke. No photos worth taking, so here’s the summit trail sign, where the Appalachian Trail passes by.

Seen from Mount Cube.