July 4th Weekend

I was in NH over the holiday weekend. It was one of my last weekends in NH before I leave for grad school in a few weeks. Above are a few shots of the fireworks display at Sunapee Harbor. The fireworks were launched from the water, with dozens of boaters nearby in the water. It was impressive.

I had the chance to go kayaking twice, to Little Lake Sunapee and also to Coniston Lake on Sunday evening.

Ripples and bubbles from a loon diving below while hunting
 It was after 8:30pm when I took most of these photos on Lake Coniston. It was a calm and beautiful evening, and I was the only person on the water. Although campers could be heard from the only development on the lake, a YMCA camp which has a  beach and several lodges along part of the shore, it was a quiet and peaceful paddle.
Two loons were hunting on the lake. I stopped paddling at one point so I wouldn’t disturb them and they swam within 40 feet of my kayak. It was already getting dark, so I took these photos with a very high ISO, causing them to be quite noisy.
I paddled into a small cove because there was a small amount of fog beginning to form and it struck my eye. I also enjoy explore vegetated areas along lakes, plenty of plants and animal life to see. Once I was in the cove I noticed a great blue heron perched on a fallen log, hunting for frogs and fish I assume. I let my kayak drift so I could take a few photos but it got spooked and fly off (see photo below). A few minutes later I spotted it again along the shore, below some over-hanging hemlock branches. At this point it was around 9pm and very dark, difficult to get any decent photos. There is a blue heron rookery in a wetland a mile down the road from my house, and about two miles from this lake, I wonder if this heron lives there and this is part of its hunting territory.
I tried to get a panning shot of the heron flying off.
 One of my favorite parts of getting home- the dogs!

Northern Water Snake

On a recent visit to the Fern Glen I spotted a medium-sized northern water snake basking in the sun on a log near the shore of the pond.

 According to the UMass natural resource website, “Water snakes can almost always be counted on to bite, defecate and spray a particularly foul-smelling musk when handled.”
It was really tough to get close enough to get a decent photo without spooking the snake away,  so I had to make do with the 60mm I was using at the time. I startled it several times, causing it to shoot into the water, I had to crouch and wait for a while before he was comfortable enough to get back on the log where I could take a photo.

 They have a very dark pattern of red-brown and black cross-bands and “blotches” down the body, making for a subtle beauty, but excellent camouflage for living along the edges of water bodies.

On a much different note…… Two months ago I had the interesting chance to taste northern water snake. A friend was told of a water snake that was just hit on a nearby road, and instead of letting it rot on the road, he  picked it up, skinned it and cooked it (see photo below before it was prepared).

 As you might be able to tell, it was much larger than the individual I photographed in the Fern Glen. If you are wondering, it had a chewy texture with a very mellow taste, difficult to describe or compare with any other meat I’ve had. They are a protected species in NY, and are illegal to hunt. I hope you get the chance to see a living northern water snake, they are beautiful!