Archive for the ‘MASS – CAPE COD’ Category

DSCN2143 The Bass River is great spot to explore. Our first paddle on the Bass River was in July 2005 we put in on the West Dennis side right off of Route 28,  there is a good parking area and landing so it was easy in and out and there is plenty of open space and shore line to explore. We went in one of our larger expeditions as we vacationed with my Brother-in-law and his family that year.  There were seven of us in all. Don, Renee and Matt were there for fishing, this was one of Don favorite fishing spot. Stripers were his goal! DSCN2142Of course he wanted one big enough to bring home for supper but that has eluded him the few times he fished here. The few small stripers he caught kept him motivated!  I was never a fisherman; mostly it was about having to take the fish off the hook. Not my cup of tea. What happens if I caught a river monster!!!

I had the whole family on this trip. We never ventured to far up river as there was enough to see and experience within a half mile from the launch. There was a nice Osprey family nesting close to the water and a big gaggle of geese wading near by. Don, Renee, and Matt fished most of the time while Diane, Danielle, Andrea, Megan, and me explored. DSCN2156This was only Diane’s second kayak excursion. She said she prefer smaller rivers, but this was nice. It’s now 2016 and I’m sad to say she has not been back out with me.  I am thankful she gives me the time to continue my kayaking passion.

I have it in my notes that I did go back to this same launch and went south a few years later.  My memory is it was a tough paddle because of the wind and tide so we did not get far.   I’ve learned since that it is very important to be aware of the conditions when paddling tidal rivers.

The we all had a great time here and I will return. I’d like to go up to Kelly’s Bay someday.  I have paddled Follins Pond further up but launched right in the pond. Be sure to read that blog, I had an outstanding experience kayaking in a heavy rain!


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IMG_2239For years we’ve summered in Dennis Port and kayaked without fail on the West Reservoir. Always looking for a new spot we’ve frequently passed the Swan Pond on the left hand side of Depot Road. As there never seemed to be a put in marked on any of my maps we continued to pass it by.  This year however, I found the town landing pinned on the “Launch Sites” application I just downloaded so I decided to give it a try one morning with my oldest daughter Danielle.  The launch was very nice with plenty of parking and a nice sandy put in. There were no signs on Depot Rd. but the put-in on Clipper Lane is not too hard time find by taking Stafford Circle or Otis Kelly Road.

IMG_7738The morning we launched it was cloudy but calm.  From Depot Rd and from looking at the maps it always looked like a private lake with a shoreline of beach houses. While natural shorelines are always preferable to me it’s nice to see how the other half live, the other half that have water views that is. Needless to say I’d be happy if I owned any of them on this pond. Of course my preference would be one with a per-existing dock, however, I did like the creativity of the house that had its own little lighthouse!  I was somewhat surprised that there was some substantial undeveloped shoreline to enjoy and a small island that we did not take the time to explore.  The natural shoreline was mostly on the south west quadrant that leads into the Swan Pond River. Most vacationers know this river as the place to rent Kayaks while in Dennis Port. Swan Pond River often resembles a great kayak autobahn. I’ve never had the inkling to try putting in here while there are so many other great un-populated waterways nearby.


IMG_7718As with any water on the Cape we saw Ospreys, Kingfishers, Swans, Mallards, Cormorants and Gulls. A few provided some pretty good photo opportunities. After a dozen years of kayaking I know it’s all about being at the right place at the right time to get that picture that you want to hang on the wall. This year that Osprey picture happened on the nearby West Reservoir.  I’ll post that picture on that blog.


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IPhone Pano of the put-in

iPhone Pano of the put-in

In August of 2015 Diane and I tried a new spot on the Cape called Ocean Mist for a few days. It was right on the Sound not but a few hundred feet from the mouth of Parkers River which looked very inviting on the map with several small ponds and a few open marshes to explore. However, when 6:00 AM arrived I found it a bit to breezy to put off from our beach. So as I had to find a Dunkin Donuts anyway, I headed to Route 28 to see if I could find another good put in. On the way I found a perfect spot right near the old ZooQuarium and Captain Parker’s Pub.   I knew this was going to be good when I walked over to the water line to look closer at the put in a Great Blue Heron took to flight squawking as I interrupted his morning peacefulness. Loading up my gear I realized I forgot my camera! What a tragedy! Oh well, not going back now, besides, I had my trusty iPhone so let’s see how it does.

As I was north of Route 28, getting to the mouth of the river and into Lewis Pond I would have had to go through the underpass. As the tide was high and going out, the constricted size of the tunnel caused the water move real fast, I thought there was no way I’d be able to paddle back up so I pushed on up river thinking I’d make it into Seine Pond and maybe into Long Pond further up.

A Perfect Morning

A Perfect Morning for Mourning Doves (iPic)

Pretty quickly I realized I was in for a treat. I was face to face with a Green Heron. He was sitting right in front of me on the boulders leading up to the underpass. Where was my camera? Moving on I see a man-made Osprey stand with a large nest. Then I saw more Green Herons, probably about four or five, more than I’ve ever seen together in one trip.   The Herons held my attention most of the way up the river. Then there was the sound of Ospreys. They were in the scrub pines watching over the calm of the river in the early morning. I saw three natural Osprey nests in the pines as I made my way to Seine Pond. Normally I haven’t seen many Osprey nests in trees as every year when the Osprey return to their nest they add on which increases the weight and they become too heavy for the trees and fall.  Going up river I thoroughly enjoyed watching the receding river expose the banks which were teaming with hermit crabs and mussels.  The sea grass was another sight to behold.  It seemed shorter than other mash areas I’ve observed. In one of the pine trees I spotted a couple of Mourning Doves.  A little out of placed I thought, but then it occurred to me I was the one probably out of place. This was their home most of the year, I was lucky to come by for a visit once or twice a season.


Rounding the bend (iPic)

At the end of Parkers River as I rounded the bend into the pond there was a small windmill. All metal, it was probably put there to monitor coastal wind or water conditions. Seine Pond opening before me was larger than I had expected. All Pitch Pine on the right side, and several nice lake houses on the left. Further back I could several tall reed patches and I guessed that is where the feeder brook or river led up to Long Pond. I never found the entrance; it looked like the northern shore was nestled into a hillside not into other pond. No worries, a flock of swans caught my attention next. Congregated behind a bank of reeds I couldn’t count them, all I could see were long white necks. As they began filing out into the pond I followed and counted. Well over fifty, the largest flock I’ve ever seen in one place. Usually I’ll see one or two families, not fifty adults! I had been wondering why I’ve seen two names for this pond. My guess is the original name was Seine Pond and somewhere along the line Swan Pond came into being because of the large population residing here.

Paddling back I enjoyed a variety of gulls on their way to who knows where. There were Herring Gulls, Lesser and Greater Back Gulls and Bonaparte Gulls. I saw several Cormorants as well. Some were flying high overhead, while some raced across the pond two feet above the surface. I also witnessed a few takeoffs which is always a treat. One cormorant took off directly in front of my kayak, it was pretty cool watching him lift his wings up for that first burst that created the lift to rise him out of the water, from there it was a combination of wing and paddle power as he took off in the running takeoff fashion that is so typical of the Cormorant.


Tree Swallows (iPic)

Back into the river the Tree Swallows became the next important inhabitants to observe. There were a couple of dead scrub oaks with flocks of swallows resting from the morning feeding I had witnessed on my paddle upriver. I heard several Catbirds crying in several spots along the river, and then I saw the Ospreys again. This time two of them were fending off an intruding band of crows. The crows seemed to reside in the woods further back and I was thinking that this must be a fairly common ritual as crows always seem to be the aggressor looking for a free meal.

As I rounded the last bend back to the launch I noticed how much fiercer the current had become under the Route 28 bridge, the tide had quite an effect. Had I chosen to go down river there would have been no to get back to the launch and judging from what I knew the steep banks looked like on the other side the only recourse would have been to paddle back down and out to the sound and around the beach in front of our hotel.

Well, getting out at the landing I was thankful, and the memories of vacations past when my parents took us to the Zooquarium in what was probably its final days.

Osprey in flight!

Osprey in flight!

I did go back the same spot the next morning this time with my camera and was I glad that I did. The second trip was dominated by Ospreys. Both on the way up and back they held my attention. Several times I would just sit beneath them and wait for them to fly off. It’s times like this that your rewarded with a great shot.

Diane and I did take an evening walk to the Red Jacket Inn to look at the mouth of the river. Lewis Pond was right across the river from our vantage point. I looked nice but not enough to entice me to it more than another trip to Parkers River again sometime. I hope the put in remains the same as thinking back on it the bank was really too high to get a kayak no matter what the level of the water. However, there was a perfect little shoot dug into the bank in which my single kayak glided into the water nicely. I’d like to thank that nice person that took the time  🙂



Update: August 2016.

I visited the Cape a few times this summer and on the second trip I once again visited the river and pond with goals of a) trying to find a safer put-in and b) enjoying the river and taking a few more pics!

Last year I paddled north along the east side of the lake and found nothing so this winter I looked at Google Maps along the west coast and found a few possible spots.  I still launched from the Route 28 spot because I knew it however it was a little tricky.  I think the reason I choose it was that I enjoyed the river much more than that pond.  I sat in my kayak with a coffee and breakfast sandwich watching a Green Heron settle into a comfortable position as he waited for his breakfast to swim by!  There was also a great backdrop for viewing in the Osprey nest and perch that held three adults and at least a few offspring.   I could have stayed there for a long time but I had business.

I paddled against the current as the tide was going out. Upriver I paddled by the small windmill. I had done a bit more research on it as well, it’s purpose was not as I thought  but instead it is being used to pump air into the pond to help it’s oxygen level.  Live and Learn!

Paddling up the west bank searching for the potential put-in I actually found two.  The first was a small beach that I was afraid might be private.  I got out to investigate and it turns out it’s an Association Beach.  I asked a gentleman watering his lawn in the house across the  street if it was OK to park and launch from here and he said it sure would be OK.  After thanking him I got back in and paddled a hundred more feet or so and found the road I had seen on Google.  Lake Road ends right in the pond!  Right where I want to be next time out!


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I’ve had a couple of great paddling experiences on the Herring River. There is a boat launch right off Route 28 in West Harwich, and it’s an easy in and out. Being close to where we stay in Dennis Port it’s great for a quick morning trip before the Mrs. wakes up!!!

Launching from Route 28 and heading inland the river winds through a very large salt marsh. It winds so much you’ll soon realize you’re not going to get anywhere fast, but who’s in a hurry when your on vacation? Heading into a tidal marsh you’ll want to pay attention to the tide and launch when the tide can carry you in and back out so you don’t have to work too hard, especially if the sun is out.  More then once I’ve had to paddle against the current and it’s not easy. It kinda takes the fun of the day away.

Looking at Hermit Crabs!

Looking at Hermit Crabs!

Megan, Matt and my brother-in-law Don Croteau were with me on my first trip inland in 2002.  We enjoyed watching all the hermit crabs popping in and out of their little holes in the freshly exposed mud banks. We also saw several Canada Geese as well, but the real memory of the trip was the winding this way and that into the marsh. There were many off shoots and it seemed that it was way too easy to get lost in the maze. I guess we were pretty lucky to find our way in and back out without getting stranded inland during low tide! Now that would be a bad day! Lucky for us that never happened.

The Herring Marsh

The Herring Marsh

We’ve never made it all the way to the head waters of the river, which is at the herring ladder on the West Reservoir (be sure to read my blog) but we did make it to the Bells Neck bridge where we got out and walked up the trail a bit. If your into hiking this is a nice place to explore. The trail goes through the marsh and in-between the East and West Reservoir. Looking around the East Reservoir I could never find a good put in, but looking at one of my kayak books it seems that one of the offshoots of the Herring River goes there… Perhaps I’ll try to get into it one of these years!

On our way to the Sound

On our way to the Sound

On another trips we’ve paddled south, downriver into the Nantucket Sound.  The wind will determine just how this trip will be.  Windy weather will mean one way of the trip will be tougher then the other and when you hit the Sound you’ll be faced with either smooth paddling or waves that could easily swamp your kayak.  On one trip with Andrea in 2003, in our two man Old Town kayak, the waves were about two feet high. We paddled through many a wave with water splashing into the kayak and Andrea loving every rise and fall.  I do have to admit I enjoyed the trip as well, but for my daughter Andrea, who loves roller coasters this was her kind of kayaking.  Now I ask myself, would I do it again? The answer, NOT A CHANCE!  Here’s why, a few years after this trip my brother Ray gave me a kayaking video which described just how impossible it is to get back into a kayak without the proper equipment.  If your thinking of doing an Eskimo roll that can only be done if your hips are form fitted tightly into your seat and you have a kayak skirt that is capable of holding out the water.  As all my kayaking to date has been in an open kayak that is out of the question.  Next, if you do tip over your kayak, the only way you’ll be able to get back in is if you have a paddle float. I’ve yet to have purchased one.  So thinking back on how far we were out there, if we had been swamped by a wave, I shudder to think of the outcome.  I’ve been back a few times in this direction but never out to open water.  It is a nice trip even if your not going to do the ocean kayaking. Just looking at the waterfront properties and the boats moored is a nice morning.  Maybe someday I’ll hit the Powerball!


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ImageIf you paddled in from the Sound and up the Bass River you would end up in Follins Pond.  A few years ago I had scouted the area and found a Town Landing on Follins Pond Rd, which is off Mayfair Rd.  It looked like a good spot to put in so I added to the list for a future visit to the Cape.  This year I decided it was time.  The weather was half of the story here as it had rained in the morning, but the iPhone said 0% to 5% chance of rain so I was off.  When I arrived at the landing the sky looked quite ominous but it was not raining.  Perhaps it would stay south of me, so I took the kayak off the car and loaded up.  Just as I was about to shove off it started to sprinkle so I put on my trusty poncho. Who’s afraid of a little rain?  Surely not I…

ImageI was able to shoot a quick picture of a Cormorant before the rain started to get a bit heavy.  As I was also in the middle of breakfast (usual kayaking fare,,, Dunkin Donuts coffee and breakfast sandwich) I paddled to the shore and parked under an oak tree.  For a while I was sheltered from the rain but that quickly changed as the rain soon saturated the tree.

ImageWhile under the tree I heard the familiar call of an Osprey, he was hold up in the trees just ahead of me. It wasn’t long before he came out and circled, and joined by two others!  I knew that I had to see more, rain or not.  I headed out staying along the north shore of the pond.  It’s a fairly large pond with plenty of development around it. Normally, houses really take away from the natural beauty of a lake or pond, not here though. Much of the shoreline here must be protected and the sea grass is flourishing.  The homes that don’t have a beach or dock are built for the view. There was not one house I wouldn’t die for!

Knowing Osprey were here I paddled on, past many nice docks and speedboats. So, here is another good reason for kayaking in the rain, you don’t have to worry about being run over by a speedboat! I was the only one on the pond besides the Osprey, Cormorants, and Seagulls.  One thing was very evident, the fishing was great!  I saw Cormorants in the water pulling out their favorite food, eels.  Second time I saw one toss an eel up in the air to swallow it!  I saw a gull fly by with a crab in its beak. And to top it off, an Osprey with a good size fish sailed by, just a few feet off the water right if front of me. Another Osprey wanting to share was following him, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with that! They flew to the east shore and a little later he came back alone with the fish in tow! I wondered what he did to shake the unwanted company.

By the time I reached the northeast corner of the pond it was really pouring hard. The wind was driving from the west and that meant to get back I’d be paddling into the rain. I wanted to take a picture of myself, as I’m sure I was a sight!  I had my plastic yellow poncho over my lifejacket and my straw hat on. The hat kept my face dry by absorbing the water. Well that was good until I turned into the diving rain to go home.

This trip while it may sound like a washout was far from it. There were Osprey and gulls soaring the whole time I was on the pond.  I would do it again in the rain, in a minute!  And next time I might make it out of the pond and head into Kellys Bay and Dinahs Pond and just maybe into the Bass River.

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Oyster boat

In 2006 on one of my yearly Cape Cod vacations we stayed in Chatham.  Great spot overlooking the sound.  Looking for a new place to kayak I noticed Oyster Pond on a map and just had to go.  So on this trip Megan and I met up with my brother Don and we headed towards Oyster Pond River.  I’d spent many summer vacations in Harwich Port and Denis Port and from there Chatham was a frequent destination, but I never had a kayak on top of my car! Launching on Oyster Pond River from Vineyard Avenue, Oyster Pond was on the left. I thought the river was more like a harbor with so many boats moored there. Oyster Pond is what it is named for, as oyster farming here is what it’s all about. Not only were there plenty of oyster cages but it was the first time I observed an oyster shucking boat. Pretty interesting to see, but I wouldn’t want to work on one! The cages and machinery are sea weathered, dark and dirty. Not sure I want to eat oysters anytime soon either. Gee, I think I said that in my Nauset Marsh post. 🙂

Cormorant with breakfast…

Going out to the bay through the Oyster Pond River was not my idea of fun as this particular day brought hundreds of tiny black flies that we’re biting ferociously! We’ve had better days kayaking. Once we were clear of the river and in the bay it got better. Now there’s a benefit of kayaking that you normally don’t think of unless your experiencing a swarm of black flies or mosquitoes, once far enough out they don’t bother you. We watched a Cormorant swimming peacefully when suddenly his head went down and he came up with an eel! It sure was entertaining watching him toss it up in the air several time as he worked at swallowing it whole! Not something you see very often.

Megan – Harding Beach Point

As I said, in the pond and the river there were an assortment of small boats moored, but as we entered out into the bay they were much larger. There was one yacht sitting by itself near to mouth of the bay that I swear looked like a cruise ship! I felt so small next to it, but took solace in not having that gas bill! We paddled fairly hard across the bay to reach the other side which, looked very inviting with its long white sandy beach facing the bay and the dunes, sea grass and ocean beyond. Once there though, it seemed rather desolate and I could only think of having to battle the black flies again on the way back. However, desolate as it was, we did linger as it was very beautiful as well. I might go back here some day but being as a Great White was sighted in the harbor this year I might think twice and stay in the river and Oyster Bay.

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In 2010 while on vacation at the Cape I met up with Don and Samantha and we took a ride out to Eastham in search of a new experience. I had been looking at my books and maps and this area intrigued me, a salt marsh right along the Cape Cod National Seashore. So, up Route 6 we went. The put in we chose was on Salt Pond Bay. Hemenway Road was easily missed at Route 6 speeds, but after turning around we were soon at the chosen spot. It looked beautiful, picture postcard perfect!

Oysters all in a row

Oysters all in a row

The first sight to take in was the oyster farm. Stretching out in a great semicircles the likes I’ve never seen. Why were they stretch out in this fashion when most times I’ve seen them the cages are usually bound together in tight rectangles? I may never know. These oyster cages and their inhabitants never looked very appealing to me. Peering into the cages the oysters look dirty and slimy. To think they are probably sucking up the nutrients in that mess does not make me want to partake of the delicacy!

Working for supper

Paddling out a little further we could see a few clam diggers working tirelessly in the morning sun. Again digging oysters or clams out of the mud is not my cup of tea. Maybe it takes more then a cup of tea to make me want to eat them? How about a double shot to Tequila? 🙂

The marsh was quite big, looking at the map it looked like there was a few islands to explore but when we were there it was low tide and it was so very low that approaching them was impossible. In fact when we went around the backside of an island called Tom Doan’s Hammock we found ourselves high and dry stuck in the muddy sand. We had to get out and pull the kayaks back out to deeper water. This was the second time we had to do that, the other time on Barton’s Cove. For some reason when Don gets out of his kayak to pull in a situation alike this he inevitably seems to fall in. Poor Don. 😦 Well this was not the most pleasant task but we managed to save ourselves for another day of kayaking.

Hermit Heaven!

I really thought that this expanse of water would have provided a rich assortment of birds and waterfowl, but alas, we saw very little. A few Great Black Backed gulls, a swan, an osprey nest, tons of tiny hermit crabs and what looked like a Ivory Gull. Didn’t get a great shot to really tell but the Ivory Gull is very rare if it was. We did make our way into Nauset Bay by way of Cedar Bank Creek as it was deep enough at the time we were there but to really see more of Nauset Marsh we would have to return closer to high tide. None the less, it was another great kayaking experience and I do think I’ll return some day.

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Cotuit is where Jeff’s Uncle Walter has a summer home that he shares with the family. Andrea and Jeff have been lucky to be able to use it several times. A few years ago they let me use an ocean kayak to try it out. I took it out to the Bay for a spin. To tell the truth it was not very comfortable and I’ve made up my mind I would never buy an ocean kayak. I need comfort! The seat is the most important thing to concentrate on when buying a kayak!

There is a nice launch on Old Shore Road off of Putnum Ave. The only issue is parking, it’s very limited and your supposed to have a Barnstable parking permit. Needless to say I’ve been lucky…

Standing tall in the bay

I’ve been out on the bay once in 2010 on the ocean kayak, once with Jeff in 2011 when we went across the harbor and once with Jeff and Andrea this year. It is great paddling through boats of all kinds anchored in the harbor and sometimes stopping to talk with the sailors aboard. Across the harbor is The Grand Island… It’s grand all right; I’d say the average price of one of the mansions on the bay would be about three million dollars!

Osprey family in nest, Rich family watching!

I especially like one that had it’s very own Osprey nest! Imagine being able to watch the family grow year round through the comfort of your living room, den, or hammock! Jeff and I made it to Sampson’s Island and then half way through the channel that goes to West Bay.

Sampson Island

Sampson’s Island is a protected Audubon wildlife sanctuary. We got out to look for the terns that nest here. You can watch them darting around but they were too fast and far away from me to get good pictures. The interior grasslands are roped off to humans and dog are banned from the island. It’s worth a stop anyway as it’s a great experience; it’s nature at its finest!

When going through the channel with Jeff, Dead Neck Island is on the right, it was here that we really enjoyed watching hundreds of hermit crabs retreating from the shore en masse into the weeds as we moved our kayaks closer then inching back the same way after we were still for a few minutes. Every time we moved, they moved! Outstanding!

Osprey after lunch

On the trip to Sampson Island in 2012, while waiting for Jeff and Andrea to arrive I sat in my kayak and watched an Osprey dive feet first into the bay for breakfast. He then flew up and perched on top a tall pine where I watched him preen his feathers for about a half hour before he decided to fly off to who knows where. When they arrived we made our way out to the Sampson’s Island. For Andrea and Jeff it was about collecting sea shells on the beach. Andrea was happy to get some great ones for her collection. While she was collecting her shells I watched a gull open a clam he had found. After several attempts of flying the clam up about fifty feet and dropping it hoping to hit a rock to break it open he was successful. So fun to watch.

Returning home we found that Cotuit Bay is hard to kayak in the wind so pick a calm day. There was a storm approaching and the wind was kicking up the waves making it a tough paddle back. But as with just about all my kayak trips it was worth the effort.

So if your ever in the neighborhood bring your kayak, camera, and binoculars and enjoy another great kayak spot. I sure loved Cotuit Bay and would not mind living here,,, or anywhere on the Cape as far as that goes!

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The Oyster Factory

This was a great kayak trip! Don and Samantha were my kayak buddies.  We launched from Gray’s Beach at about 2 hours before high tide. (Book advised we launch an hour before High tide, hope we don’t get into trouble…)  As the tide was coming in the paddle inland was pretty easy. We first made our way across the inlet to the Oyster Factory and Oyster Pools. As we arrived before 8:00 AM and the buildings look pretty forlorn I thought they were a thing of the past, however there was a lot activity there on the paddle back.

American Oystercatcher

Paddling into the oyster pools did not prove to be very exciting but coming out we neared a sand bar with a few Cormorants. While setting up for a nice shot I noticed a couple of birds I had not seen before, they were banded American Oystercatchers! Makes sense that they’d hang out close to the oyster pools.
Paddling further into the creek was not hard with the tide coming in. It was like paddling downstream except we were headed inland. We were about two or three feet below the marsh grass, the mud banks were steep and pocketed with holes that I thought would be teaming with hermit crabs but were not.
We then saw a very big Osprey nest. It was at least three feet tall.  This is a sign that this family has been returning here for many years.

Don, Samantha and the Osprey!

We continued up the main creek and for the whole trip in we were going on with the current.  When we did decide to turn back the current was still strong, I had expected the tide to turn, it did not. After paddling a little way we turned into White’s Brook. Once again we were traveling inland with the tide.  In this brook we were increasingly closed in by the walls of mud and marsh grass, however with the tide rising we were not as low and could begin to see how far inland we were.
Each turn we could expect to see something different.  We surprised a few Green Herons, a few gulls and sandpipers.  At one point we stopped to rest in a small pool. It was in here I observed that you could actually see the tide rising almost a quarter of an inch a minute!   Well it was getting late and time to get back.  It was more paddling against the tide and it seemed a long way back.  We did see two other Osprey nests on the way back. All three nests were inhabited with families. The Oystercatchers and Ospreys sure made this a worthwhile trip. I guess next time I’d launch closer to high tide.

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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_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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