Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Back from our fishing expedition to Gouin Reservoir in northern Quebec.

Joe and I had a good (not great) week at one of Caesar's North Camps fishing for walleye and northern pike. This was a new cabin/area on the reservoir for us and we had some difficulty finding the pockets that held large numbers of walleye but succeeded in locating at least one area that held enough to keep us interested.

Being one of the southernmost cabins, there were also more boats from other camps/outposts than we were used to. What was strange/different was being asked (in French) by some of these other fishing parties where they might find the walleye. A clear indication that we were not alone in our quest. I blame the relatively poor fishing on:
1) the lunar phase (A waxing moon culminated in a full moon on our final day.),
2) the wind (Strong winds out of the south and west passed over a vast expanse of open water creating whitecaps and 2-3' swells--so strong one day (we called it "Windsday") that we were not able to get out 20' boat with its 20hp motor out of our protected cove. We were forced to fish in more protected areas or risk water sloshing over the transom.)
3) the rain (Lots and lots of rain--we had only one day without any rain and several periods where it was a veritable monsoon with walls of rain cutting visibility to 10-15 yards--if that. Luckily, we did not get caught out in those!

It was also clear that some of these folks--if not the vast majority--did not fly in to the area but used a boat launch somewhere reasonably close. One does not show up in a 25' fiberglass boat with a 175 horsepower engine if one has flown into a "wilderness" cabin!

The cabin in which we stayed was snug and warm. It had bunks for four people, a hot shower and indoor toilet, propane stove (with an oven) and propane refrigerator. (A veritable antique of a fridge but it served its purpose even if the freezer was very, very slow to actually freeze anything.) We only had one leak from all the rain and that was, thankfully, in the kitchen area and not the bedroom.

The few from the dock looking west. The Cabin Cove was a long skinny cove protected from the strongest wind/wave action by a pair of sand bars on the south end. It stretched about a half mile from those sand bars to the back end to the north and provided some pike fishing.

The 20' fiberglass boat with its V-hull and 20hp engine was a workhorse as we ranged far and wide in search of the (mostly) elusive walleye. We went about 4 kilometers to the west, 5 kilometers to the east and 3 kilometers to the south shore of our area of Gouin Reservoir. Caught some fish in all areas but, as I said earlier, never found the huge concentration we were hoping for. Perhaps they were around some of the exposed islands a kilometer or so out in the Big Water where we just never felt comfortable anchoring.

We would fish a couple of hours in the morning before heading back to the cabin for lunch and a break--and, hopefully, to clean the morning's catch. After lunch we would head out again, usually in a different direction, for another four or five hours of fishing then back to the cabin for dinner. If we didn't stay out too long in the afternoon, we would go out for another two hours or so in the evening. We usually caught something on each of our forays.

A stringer of walleyes and one pike. That's me in this photo.

Joe with the same fish.

Any walleye we took had to be between 14 and 20 inches to be a keeper. We caught a few shorts and several that were too long. The largest was 22" and weighed 5 lbs. The walleye were our primary target and supplied us with two of our dinners. They also filled some freezer bags so we could bring home our limits of eight walleye each. We caught a total of 60 during our stay.

Pike were also on the list and we would go trolling or cast to weed beds in the many coves along the shores. For us to keep a pike it had to fit the 25-30 inch slot we established. (I don't think there's an actual legal size, but those were our standards.) We caught lots that were smaller (12-20 inch fish) and three which were over 30 inches. The largest was a 34" that probably weighed in the 7-7-1/2 lb range. We did have to harvest a 31" that weighed in at 6-1/2 lbs. It was severely injured in the landing/unhooking process and would not have survived if released.

Our licenses allowed us to take up to 10 northern pike each but we ended up bringing home just three of the 40 fish we caught.

We established a clear division of labor. Joe did all the cleaning of fish, food purchasing and cooking. Joe also did most of the fish catching. I did all the packaging of fish, cleaning (dishes, etc.), and driving--whether it be on the road or water. The 620 mile drive up took about 13 hours including a brief nap along the way. Heading home was just about 12 hours (no nap). And we got through Ottawa with no trouble at all. That's a first for us in some 18-20 trips we've made to Caesar's.

There was a nice fish cleaning station set up in the shade of a fir tree that included running water to clean the table and fish as you worked. Skins and carcasses would go back into the lake or out onto the sand bars. The gulls (herring gulls and ring-billed gulls) and a bald eagle would clean up those. We primarily used the lake as our disposal but our neighbors were feeding the gulls so when they left....

Putting the remains as far from our cabin as possible assured us that no bear would come nosing around. Even so, the one night we put the skins and carcasses on the sand bar to watch the gulls squabble and the eagle swoop in for his share, there was a bear on the beach a half mile or so from the sand bar.

Being an avid surf fisherman, Joe has lots of experience in fileting and skinning fish. His tools of the trade include two sharp knives and a steel to keep them that way. A can of Deep Woods Off can be a necessity if the mosquitoes and/or black flies are bad. The other thing that's a "must" is that can of beer. Sometimes that one can can become two if it's been a productive day on the water.

Saturday evening, we got things prepped for our departure on Sunday. Everything in the cabin got squared away, our paper/plastic garbage got burned as per instructions, the floor got swept, and all our gear--fishing and otherwise--got packed up. We had bee told to expect Ollie between 7 and 8 AM Sunday morning.

When we woke at 5:30 AM everything looked good. The cove was glass. It was overcast but not raining.

By 6:00 AM there was a slight breeze out of the south--the direction from which our flight would come.

By 6:30 AM it was raining steadily and by 7:00 AM it was raining hard.

Our flight did not arrive between 7 and 8 AM. We sat out on the porch and read while we waited--and waited. Joe ran out of reading material. I had found a tome by Tom Clancy and FredrickM. Franks called Into The Storm. It's about the actions of General Franks and the Army's VII Corps leading up to and during Desert Storm. It's very interesting and very long. I started it Windsday morning and was up to page 500 before the plane finally arrived to pick us up.

Joe made another pot of coffee and we sat some more as it continued to rain. We ate some left over kielbasa for lunch. And sat watching it rain.

Finally around 1 PM the rain stopped. Not long afterwards there was the sound of a plane flying from the south--the first we had heard all morning. During the week there were a dozen or more planes flying within earshot--except for Windsday.

At 1:30 PM Ollie's Cessna set down on the Cabin Cove and taxied over to the dock.

Ollie hopped out and apologized for being late as it had started raining at Clova at 6 AM and never stopped until around 1 PM. Two new fishermen got out and they unloaded their gear from the plane. They had packed the plane the night before in anticipation of an early departure!

While Ollie did a quick post/pre inspection and orientation for the new comers, Joe and I moved our gear to the dock so it could be loaded. When Ollie got everyone squared away, he and Joe loaded the gear as I went over the map with the new guys showing them where we had had some success during the week. We were in the air heading back to Clova by 2:00 PM.

At Clova, we quickly deplaned and got our gear into the truck. Ollie was loading the Cessna AND the Beaver with another crew that would be heading out. (He told us he had at least five crews that were supposed to be going in/coming out. He and his third string pilot--number two was in the bush refurbishing a cabin--would be in for a busy afternoon!)

The Cessna back at the Clova dock.

Ollie's Beaver at the Clova dock.

We had flown out to the cabin a week earlier in the Beaver, known as the Workhorse of the North. What a beautiful plane! It amazes me that they actually stopped production of the de Havilland Beaver back in 1967 after just 1600 had been manufactured. Now, almost 50 years later they are THE plane of the back country and deservedly so!

By 2:30 PM we had the Tundra gassed up and were on the road south with plenty of memories and a cooler filled with fish filets.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wednesday and Thursday in California

After a brief visit with Laura and Matt in American Canyon, Terry and I made our way down to the Oakland Bay Bridge, through the southern end of San Francisco and back on to CA-1 on the coast. We drove through Half Moon Bay (former home of Terry's sister and her family and home to The Mavericks, an annual surfing competition) and made our first stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Brandt's Cormorant
(The water wasn't quite that color, but close.) 

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Pigeon Guillemont

Harbor Seal doing some body surfing

Harbor Seals on the rocks

Kelp on the rocks. Look like truffula trees from The Lorax

The wind was really howling out on the point and it was a very chill 55 degrees. I was glad I left my hat in the truck, however, or it would have been blown away.Sometimes, Mostly in the winter months, you can see gray whales out at sea. A few stay around during the summer, but the wind makes it difficult to see their spew when they breath.

We drove on. South along the coast to Santa Cruz, and past Monterey Bay. The scenery continued to be magnificent but the road required a lot of attention as the switchbacks and tight turns were matched by a steep drop on the ocean side. And yet there were houses down there!

When we got down to some flatter ground, just past Big Sur, we stopped at the second place (the first was crowded and touristy) for lunch.

The Roadhouse did look like much from the outside and it had a very small parking lot that was mostly empty but it held the promise of food in a quiet atmosphere. It more than delivered. There were just two couples there on the patio when we arrived at noon. No one was inside in a craftsman style dining room awash with 40s and 50s big band and crooner music. (Satchmo, Tommy James, Bing, Peggy Lee...what's not to like!) They had a limited menu which usually means the chef knows what he/she's best at and does it well. We both jumped at the chance of a bowl of gumbo and it was excellent. So were the coconut upside down cake and panna cotta. If you're ever driving along the coast I would highly recommend you stop at the Big Sur Roadhouse.

Refreshed and ready to continue, we drove on south. Realizing we were going to be getting into Anaheim very late, Terry tried to call ahead for reservations but the phone service was non-existant. As I drove, she kept an eye on the bars on her phone. We waved at the Hearst Castle as we went by and still had just one bar...sometimes.

She finally reported that she had a steady two and even three bars so I pulled into a huge parking lot labeled "Sea Elephant Vista" along with another hundred vehicles. While she made her phone calls, I went out to see what all the fuss was about.

The largest sea elephant rookery on the coast is what it was about. And the juvenile males were hauled out on the beach sunning themselves and molting. These were the youngsters weighing "only" 6-800 pounds or so. The big ones were--going up to a ton--were still out to sea gorging themselves. And the females were up near the Aleutian Islands doing the same. They would return in late summer and fall to reclaim the beach from the "teenagers." (Not much different than the human population when you think about it.)

Hundreds of elephant seals on the beach

A couple of males argue over a place on the beach

No one seems impressed with his sales pitch

This was our last stop of the day as we again headed inland to pick up US-101 and deadhead through Los Angeles (horrible traffic even at 7 PM) and on to Anaheim and our motel just two blocks from Disneyland and a block from Jess' apartment.

We delivered our "presents" to Jess on Thursday and it was like Christmas. She "oohed" and "aahed" over the stuff we had brought--as did her roommate, Shandi. After she had gone through all the yarn, knitting books, electronics (some collectors items there!), DVDs (movies and games) and miscellany, we went out to Bubba Gumps for lunch. And it was good.

Jess went off to work and Terry and I went back to the motel to veg in the hot tub spa for an hour or so.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Monday on the Oregon Coast.

Jeez! Time flies when you're busy driving.

Monday we left Rick and Sandy and drove west northwest out of Portland on Route 26 until we intersected US-101 just north of Cannon Beach. We then turned south. It was either that or get wet.

We followed US-101 along the coast hoping to get to Eureka, CA before we stopped for the night. Didn't happen.

Too many places to pull out and view the coast. Surf, rocks, sand, rocks, a whale or two, a few interesting birds all caused delays. So did our lunch in Newport at Georgies where we had a fine meal (razor clam for Terry and halibut fish and chips for me) and got a tip from our waitress. "Don't miss Shore Acres Gardens outside of Coos Bay," she said.

The coast was beautiful; the whale sighting unexpected; the Bald Eagle an extra; and the gardens a treasure.

Here's just a view of the sights we had along the coast on Monday. I'm pretty sure they are out of order, but...Hey!...YOU weren't there so how would you know?

The D River. Shortest in the world! You're looking at the whole thing 
as it runs from the pond to the ocean. 

It was running late when we got to Coos Bay but we decided to visit Shore Acres any way.

It was nearly 4:30 PM (PDT) when we walked through the gates and began to stroll around to look at what they had. Roses is what they had. Lots of roses. Roses of every hue and age. There were other flowers too, and a few beds were being prepped for summer bloomers after having had tulips and daffodils. Our lunchtime waitress was right: This little state park is not to be missed.

As I said, there were some other flowers out in the beds but there were also a few beauties in the two small greenhouses on the property. These begonias for example.

We never did make Eureka, CA. Ended our day just north of the border still in Oregon and still on US-101.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bear River Refuge Photos

As promised, here are some pictures from today's visit to Bear River Wildlife Refuge outside of Brigham City, Utah.

As you approach the auto loop after a 12 mile drive from the headquarters, there's usually a couple of these old boys waiting around on the Bear River to greet you. We got to watch one feeding just outside the refuge headquarters on our way out. (He was ignoring the huge carp--24 inches or more--that were spawning along the edge of the water and scooping up frogs and small fish the carp were disturbing.)

American White Pelicans

Two birds I will always associate with the Bear River Refuge are the Western Grebe and the Clark's Grebe.
Western Grebe

Clark's Grebe

See the difference? If not, that's okay, apparently they have a difficult time too. There is a cross between the two species on occasion. That's not why they remind me of Bear River, however. The first time we visited they were going through their full mating ritual consisting of a pair performing a side-by-side head bobbing and weaving that was better than any program performed by a synchronized swimming team ending with a foot race across the surface of the water. Amazing!

(BTW, if you didn't notice, the Western's black on the head extends BELOW the bright red eye while the Clark's Grebe's does not. It's eye is surrounded by white.)

Snowy Egrets are common along the Jersey shore so this is not an unusual bird for me. I saw dozens and dozens last April in Cape May. Still, it's a beautiful bird in the reeds with the blue water behind it. And a photobombing White-faced Ibis, too!

Snow Egret

White-faced are rare in the east and Glossy are rare in the west. For years I didn't realize that and spent wasted time trying to figure out if I was seeing a white-faced or glossy when visiting Bear River (There's a 99.5% chance that it would be a White-faced.) And vice-versa for the east coast.

Here's a photo of the White-faced Ibis with it's obvious white spectacles. Note the long curved bill to probe the mud with.

White-faced Ibis

Loud, brilliantly colored and numerous, that's the Yellow-headed Blackbird. It occupies the same niche as the Red-winged Blackbird of the east and, in fact, is slipping eastward a little more each year. It's "song" is not nearly as pretty as the Red-wings but what it lacks in musicality, it more than makes up for in volume. (Kind of like the drunk leaning against the piano.)

And numbers. It seemed like every 10 square yards (that's a little over 3 x 3) contained a nesting pair with one very loud male advertising his claim to territory and female.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

One of the few teal that doesn't migrate to the far north to breed, the Cinnamon Teal is also one of the more brightly colored of the ducks. There were hundreds of pairs of them on the waters of the refuge.

Cinnamon Teal

I try not to take pictures through the windshield of the Tundra, curvature of the glass, glare, reflection, bug bodies, etc, usually spoil the picture. But these American Avocets just wouldn't get to the side of the road and stay in camera distance, so I gave it a try. Sigh. Add the heat off the road and a few million midges flying about.

American Avocet

Black-necked Stilts and their long, bony, very pink legs. 'Nough said. (BTW, I just noticed the blue legs on the Avocet above. Weird.)

Black-necked Stilt

This was the first time in a long time I saw some Wilson's Phalaropes. These small birds just slightly larger than a robin will swim rapidly in circles stirring up the mud on the bottom of shallow pools and ponds and then snatch out any insects or worms they kick up. Their color is very subtle with a reddish blush on the neck and upper chest to go with the red on the sides of the neck. They also have a white stripe that runs from the top of their head down to their back which you can almost see in the second photo.
Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope

Well, that's about it for now. Tomorrow we head west--again. We plan one stop at Hood River Winery on the Columbia but that's it. We should be getting to our motel early in the afternoon and then will go over to Rick and Sandy's house.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Birds of May 19th, 2014

I spent some time today birding at Leonard Harrison State Park, Darling Run on the Pine Creek Rails-to-Trails, and the west end of Cowanesque Lake. All three had something to offer.

Leonard Harrison had some great views of the Grand Canyon as well as numerous warblers. Unfortunately, many of the warblers weren't willing to expose themselves to view and I wasn't able to ID some of their songs. None of the species I did identify were new for this year.

Pine Creek Gorge (aka Grand Canyon of PA) 
from Otter Overlook Leonard Harrison SP

Black-and-White Warbler
a small, angry bird with a voice like a rusty gate

From Leonard Harrison SP I drove north to Darling Run and Pine Creek Rails-to-Trails. From the parking lot I walked south toward the CCC Camp. Again there were lots of birds but nothing new.

Two of the noisiest birds (and most abundant) were the Gray Catbird and Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Gray Catbird

Chestnut-sided Warbler

While I thought I had the trail to myself, I found out otherwise.


I didn't bother to ask why the bear crossed the road.

The bear was 75-100 yards ahead of me when I spotted it feeding on what looked like skunk cabbage on the hillside. Rather than argue the right of way, I returned to the parking lot.

My last stop for the day was the west end of Cowanesque Lake near the village of Nelson. The lake was still high from the heavy rains of last week and the shore was partially flooded. I managed to get over the one bridge that wasn't underwater and enjoyed a nice walk along the north shore of the lake.

Once more there were lots of birds. I managed to add two new species to this year's list: a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and White Crowned Sparrow. Only the former remained still long enough for me to get a photo.They are very good at sitting still, too.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

I've now 100 bird species on my list for this year. A list I didn't start until mid-February and which does not include some species I know I've seen/heard. I've visited many of the "hot" birding spots in the county but there are more. And, there's also woods roads and state forest lands that aren't usually considered "THE" place to go but which could yield some species now or in the future.