Monday, September 01, 2008

Kayaking, birding, birding by kayaking, and kayaking with a wet dog

After our Idaho vacation, we researched different brands and models of kayaks and settled on the Wilderness system recreational ones. Steve got an ultralite in lime green, and I have a regular one in a color called "mango."

We've been checking out the various reservoirs and creeks in the area and have found Alum Creek State Park to be one of the nicest around here.

We've decided to get out early on weekend mornings to get a couple of hours of paddling in before doing our regular schedule on those busy days.

Here's my attempt at a self-portrait. It's really hard to do any photography from a kayak if you're worried about your gear.

Last weekend while we were at Alum Creek State Park, there was an organized outing by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits. They put in at the same beach where we did and so we had to wait for them to finish launching a large group before we could get out of our boats.

It was a pleasant enough morning that the wait wasn't too bad, and it was fun watching the beginners and more advanced kayakers do their thing.

They were going out for the day with a picnic lunch. We've thought about joining one of these trips, but they get such a late start in the day it doesn't really fit our schedule too well.

The other activity of the week has been birding at Glacier Ridge Metro Park. There were some rare sightings there and we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to see these interesting migrants.

The place was pretty busy with birders and photographers catching the late afternoon rays. The lighting this time of year is beautiful and the wetlands are producing wonderful mudflats.

Great habitat for shorebirds and other migrants that love to eat frogs, fish, crayfish and worms.

If you squint you can probably see all the shorebirds out there.

Hmmmm - there's something a bit off with this picture.

Here is the star of the show - a marbled godwit who came to visit for a week or more. This is a rare bird for Ohio and it drew a lot of viewers.

A Virginia Rail was putting on quite a show as well.

So was the semi-palmated plover. All three of these birds were new to my life list.

Other regulars included solitary sandpipers,

and five, count them, five! Green Herons.

Sunflowers are feeding the goldfinches and other migrants right now.

I decided I wanted to have my good camera along for some of our kayak excursions and so I bought a large pelican case to store my digital SLR and 300 mm lens. Here are the first pics with this set-up.

Steve, showing off a bit.

We're really enjoying these kayak trips. It's good exercise and it gives us a different kind of opportunity for birding.

For example, it's really great to see ospreys from the water rather than the shore.

We pulled up onto a mudflat and watched the shorebirds for a long while. Here's a Lesser Yellowlegs.

This Killdeer got used to us and approached closer to check us out. I liked having my good camera along.

Here's a turkey vulture at another reservoir we check out the next day. I didn't have my good camera along, and I wish I had brought it with me for this trip.

Steve snapped a cell phone photo of me trying out my good camera on shore birds.

Later that afternoon we took our miniature dachshund, Emma, for a paddle on Hoover Reservoir. We had taken her out on her first trip the previous weekend and she was really good about staying in my lap and not rocking the boat. This time it was a different story. She really was curious about the water and kept trying to get her nose to it. I finally picked her up by her PFD harness and dangled her feet in the water. She seemed to enjoy that, and before I knew it she was out on the bow of the kayak doing a major explore.

The only problem with that scenario is that there is no traction for her little dog feet and she slipped off. That was a huge surprise for her as she's never been swimming before. She had a bit of panic in her eyes as I reeled her back to the boat.

Wet dog, dry lap ------ Mom gets a shower!

She went in three times before I put a stop to it. There's only so much water one can take on and still stay afloat. Besides, I was just as soaked as she was and I wanted to get some exercise. She really enjoyed it, though. If you click on the pic, you can see that she has a smile on her face.

So, I'm typing all this narrative from the Columbus airport as I wait for a flight to Atlanta. I'm taking my son to Ireland as a graduation gift and so I will probably not be posting much for the next two weeks. Stay tuned for Ireland pics and stories. Cheers!

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