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Archive for July, 2011

Updated September 2016

For me the West Reservoir is Cape Cod. It’s a beautiful dammed up cedar swamp that is in the middle of the Bell’s Neck Conservation Area.  I found this gem in my Paddling Cape Cod book.  There are two great put-ins.  One on Bells Neck Road which is a small sandy beach area on the west side of the pond, the other is on the east which is accessed from Depot Road look for a small Hiking sign for the entrance.  A small rutted dirt road leads through a cranberry bog to the parking area. Here the first thing that you’ll explore is the Herring Ladder. We’ve seen herring in the ladder on a few occasions, the kids really enjoy seeing them.  The ladder and an overflow empty into the Herring River. We’ve kayaked there as well so look for my blog if you’d like to read about it.  When launching at the parking area the best spot is over to the left where a small channel empties into the run. As you enter the reservoir from underneath the treed canopy the beauty of this wonderful place opens up. The Reservoir is small enough to see from one end to the other but big enough to allow a large variety of experiences. There were no houses in sight of the water when we first started kayaking here, now there is one. Many times there may be no other humans  other  than yourself. The shore is green with pitch pine, black oak, white oak, sassafras, and red maple. There is a greenish white fungus growing on many of the trees. Along shore sweet pepper-bush, bayberry, and swamp azalea are all you’ll see. In the water you see arrow arum, and reedy weeds. It was in the middle of a large patch of the reedy weeds that I sat with Andrea one summer morning when we noticed a black bird flying in front of our kayak from reed to reed. It wasn’t just a blackbird; it had a red and yellow stripe on the shoulder of its wing. Later to find it was a Red-winged Blackbird; the beginning of my bird watching career had begun. On that trip, we also saw Mute Swans, Painted Turtles, and Double Crested Cormorants.

Here’s lookin’ at you…

Each year we visit this gem about 3 times, and sometimes I go it alone when no one else wants to get up at six o’clock! It seems that it’s on some of these solitary trips I’ve had some of my best experiences. It’s so quiet all alone on the reservoir in the morning, alone not a soul in sight watching the  sun rise, lighting up the shoreline and watching the birds.

On one trip in 2011 I saw three Ospreys. I sat under underneath one that sat in one of the stunted oaks; I sat just watching him watch me. Every once in a while he called out with his protecting screech as he may have had a nest near by. I’ve read a great book about Ospreys called “Return of the Osprey” by David Gessner. David’s book taught me a lot about Ospreys, you have to be on “Osprey Time” to watch these guys. Wait long enough and you might catch one plunging into the water feet first after a meal.  Let me tell you it’s great seeing them go in and experiencing the power of the liftoff is amazing.  I’ve caught a great sequence on camera that I’ll post on my Nantucket Sound blog.

IMG_1894

IMG_7794aAs I sat alone on this day, several Mute Swans came gliding into the reservoir, honking loud enough for anyone on the reservoir to hear, but it was just me. There were three Cormorants sunning themselves and a Gray Catbird singing a symphony in a nearby tree, what a beautiful complicated song he sings! If you have 44 seconds turn your speakers up and give him a listen!  I captured this great little movie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jENjLTvplb8

Now, if you’ve just taken the time to view my little recording of the Gray Catbird just give this one a listen to, it’s from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, it’s about 5 minutes long and completely blew me away!  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KRgvpjcSNcM&feature=youtu.be  So now I wonder just who my little Catbird was mimicking? I thought I was amazed then, I can’t wait until I hear another one!

Great Blue sunning…

On another morning I just drove out to the herring run while the rest of the world was sleeping. Alone at the run I noticed something out of the corner of my eye up in a tree… Holy mackerel! It was huge! It look prehistoric… It took me a few minutes to figure out that it was a Great Blue Heron sunning himself in the morning sun. Of all the Great Blues I’ve seen, never have I seen one with it’s wings turned out like this! I wish today that I had a better camera then.

Osprey with Herring...

Osprey with Herring…

Another morning trip I saw an osprey land in the middle of the reservoir on a stump. Great!!! I made it over to him as fast as I could paddle, and as I neared I began taking pictures. It was breezy and wavy and I was afraid I’d scare him off so I took it slow. Just before he flew off I managed to get a great shot. This one is hanging in my living room! Satisfied I got a good shot I made it across the pond to take a few more pictures.

Osprey with half a Herring!!!

Then looking at the pictures on my camera I saw he had a herring in its grip! How exciting! What a shot! Still early I began shooting a Red-winged Blackbird along the shore. Then as luck would have it I saw the osprey flying back. Wow, another chance for another shot. As I got closer I saw it! The herring was now a half a herring! With the waves I was lucky to get the shot I did!

Painted Turtles having a get-together…

Painted turtles are also very abundant here. Early mornings you’ll see them poking their little noses up all over the reservoir. Then when the sun comes out they’ll climb up on logs to warm themselves. What a sight. Trying to get close enough to get a picture without scaring them back in the water is not that easy. On one trip I saw a deceased stink-pot turtle (musk turtle). He had been tangled in a fishing line. So sad…

Every return trip I make here is always rewarded with something special. This,,, is the type of neighborhood I’d love to retire in.

All the way across the reservoir there is a nice beach area to get a stretch with a short walk. Walking down a nearby trail with my brother Don we found a deer spraying station off the road. That was pretty neat. Looks like they lured the deer in with food and while they were feeding they got automatically sprayed for ticks. Through the years I’ve kayaked here with many members of my family, mostly my daughters Danielle, Andrea and Megan and my brother Don, but  also many other family members and friends. Once Danielle asked why do I always take her here? Well cause I love it?!?!?

I just keep going back and I must say I’ve even found that I have a few favorite coves to hang out in. On my August 24, 2016 visit in this one day I watched about 8 Osprey, 12 Great Blues (many were adolescents) , a Green Heron, a Black-crowned Night Heron, a young Mute Swan, a Baltimore Oriole, a Sandpiper, a Great Black-Backed Gull, an Egret, and a few Painted Turtles! Outstanding!  The kids have all gotten older and I’ve even had the opportunity to kayak here with my grandson Jake!  It’s just the best.   Here are a few new pics to enjoy!

 

I’ll keep coming back to this little gem!

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