Calm Days Before the “Storm”: 9/24 – 10/7

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Confident paddler- and yes the board needs more air

Oh give me a home where the paddle boards roam and the waters are calm all day; Where seldom is heard, “Oh crap I fell in”, and the SeaDoos don’t come out and play.

Yes, we know a place like that; Harness Creek off the South River next to Quiet Waters Park. We’d anchored there for nearly a week 5 years ago for weather and to get Ms. Ortolan’s screecher repaired after Russ lost the race with s/v Pride of Baltimore off New Jersey. 🙂

And first off a few good boat pics as we headed down the Bay.

Time to clean

Time to clean. Too messy and LOUD to do at the dock.

We keep out of the channel, which is for the big ships, but at one point just before I took this shot, it sure looked like we’d be meeting up head on. The day was overcast and not very pleasant so we were surprised to find lots of local boats anchored in Harness Creek.

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft

Perspective- 600ft vs 27ft. Prometheus Leader – probably a car carrier, left a negligible wake. Good boy

Sunday was sorta warm and quiet pleasant so why not practice? In the top part of the photo you can see the yellow rental kayaks, (SUPs too) at the floating dock. It’s where you can leave your dinghy to walk through the park.

Looking good!!

Looking good!!

The resident blue heron kept me busy but I missed a good in-flight shot.dsc04099-800x584

Monday brought breezy and a chance of showers but we bravely walked through the park headed for lunch at Main Ingredient, another great dining spot only one mile away.

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Deer show no fear as we walk through Quiet Waters Park

Because Main Ingredient also caters, the dessert offerings are extensive and from our booth I could hear them calling out to us. The Andes (Mint) chocolate multi-layer cake served us for two dinner desserts.  We share. 🙂

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Lunch at Main Ingredient. Tempting desserts taunted us from our booth

Next stop Solomons, where we’d re-connect with our friends Mike & Ann of Traveling Soul, now also owners of a beautiful condo unit. Spot was more active than we usually have seen her, as she’s got more leg room (even though Traveling Soul is a large Defever motoryacht) and an attentive audience.

Spot is mezmerized by the garbage disposal

Spot is fascinated by the garbage disposal, but you should have seen her with the Soda Stream!

Do you know you can grow more romaine lettuce from the ends?  Ann told me you just do like in the photo below and soon you will have more for your money. Nice uh?

The lettuce whisperer

The lettuce whisperer: growing more from the bottom hearts

We were invited not only for dinner and Vodka & Tonics made with Ann’s magical formula homemade tonic, but to do a load of laundry. I know some of you can’t imagine how great that was, but it was pretty special.

My best new laundry helper

My best new laundry helper

We got to spend three nights at Calvert Marina (same place as this past June), but they were booked for the weekend due to the upcoming Krogen Rendezvous and a Defever Rendezvous after that. Rain was the word, especially Wednesday which of course was errand day. Ann took me to shop and we both got some things off our lists.

After leaving the dock we moved less than 1/8 mile up Back Creek to anchor. The wind was still honkin’ in the Bay although we felt little all tucked in, and rain came and went through Saturday evening. During our Solomons stay the wind display function on our wireless weather station crapped out. I don’t think you will be surprised to learn that the one year warranty recently passed.

The last hurrah of a line of scattered heavy rain. Was so narrow you could see brightness beyond.

 

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann's Solomons Landing condo

Behind the trees and tall flag pole is Mike & Ann’s Solomons Landing condo complex.

Early on during our Solomons stay we began reading about Tropical Storm / Hurricane Matthew. The models disagreed, the spaghetti strands fanned out like octopus tentacles and we devised several plans, each based on severity and guestimate location of the storm as it headed up this way.

Top Rack was a planned stop for diesel and dining but they’d kick us out if a hurricane warning was in effect, so we had to cancel. I mean did we want to just assume we could find room at a protected marina close by? Not many choices for those.

One option was to head way up the Potomac as far in as possible; either find an acceptable anchorage or protected marina with floating docks.

One suggested marina could only offer us the outside of a T head, so even though it was a floating dock we declined and kept calling.

Then I came across Sunset Boating Center in Hampton, VA. Up the Hampton River and down a dead end canal, it met all our criteria.

We arrived on Monday Oct 3, well ahead of the very slow moving hurricane. The NE Bay winds were forecast to pick up mid week so why endure a rough trip when we can avoid it?

Never visited Hampton before, so a few days of settled weather allowed us to explore by dinghy and by land.

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Sunset Boating Center- no frills lots of protection. Before removing cushions and closing bimini top

Over by the side street entrance sits the Barking Dog where we ate dinner. Casual atmosphere as you can see. Hot dogs, several types of sausage grinders are menu’s focus but they also make a fantastic crab cake-super thick and virtually all crab. Hush puppies were great too.

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog

Fantastic friendly service at The Barking Dog. Our waitress was an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10!

Tuesday morning we walked approximately 1/2 mile to a nearby Food Lion. At the checkout the woman ahead of us pegged us for boaters (lugging a cooler bag) and offered us a ride back. She told us of a great dining spot downtown, “next to Goodys” with pizza, tapas and more. She even gave us her name and phone number should we need anything.

After stashing the groceries we head for downtown and well what do you know? we stumble (ya right) upon a doughnut place. If you dinghy up the Hampton River to Hampton Public Piers there’s a place to tie up and walk one block to downtown Hampton. The area is small but has many restaurants, a few gift shops, the Air & Space Museum Hampton History Museum, water access, tour boats and a restored carousel.

We easily scout out the dounut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

We easily scout out the donut shop, but alas closed Tuesdays

Intersection of Queen & King

Intersection of Queen & King

We find Goodys and next door is Venture. (hidden behind the trees)  The posted cocktail menu was all we needed to lure us in. Priced to entice with Classic and Crafted Cocktails averaging $7, you can see below these were not eensy teensy drinks.

One size crafted pizzas made with their own dough, sandwiches, salads and seafood; tapas items served starting at 4pm. But what are Tots? Our waitress- phenomenal- plopped down this free sample. Cook potatoes and skins, add just the right amount of seasoning, spread in a jelly roll pan, chill, cut into small squares and fry em up fresh!!  Served with a side of spicy mayo, they were out of this world delicious. Some entrees are served with a side of Tots but you can also order them as an appetizer.

Venture's signature Tots- to die for

Venture’s signature Tots- to die for

Another great spot with a view! Excellent menu and cocktails too!!

Another great spot with a view!

 

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

This gorgeous restored carousel has a Connecticut connection

 

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy, Watch Hill and Greenport (especially)

Reminds me of the carousels at Quassy (CT), Watch Hill (RI) and Greenport (NY) (especially)

Each day small boats arrived to be hauled out and placed into rack storage. We had a front row view. The only other transient boat here was the blue sailboat you can see a bit of in the below photo.

Lifting up and into storage building

Lifting up and into storage building

Matthew was due to be at its closest to us sometime Saturday night-ish, and Friday’s weather was pleasant so why not one more trip into town? This time we walked and before ending up at Venture for an early dinner, we popped into the Hampton History Museum for a side of culture.

At this point any of our considered options would have been fine, even Top Rack but we were happy with Sunset as many days in a slip can add up those $$$$ and this place was “B2G1F” and only $1/night for 30amp power (only had 30amp). It’s a smaller boat place lacking nice scenery; even across the water is a huge barge. But the power was great; many places cause our ground fault warning to sound, the wi-fi worked well and we could easily get to downtown,groceries, pharmacies and yes, ok doughnuts!

Thank you to all who checked on us. 🙂   Next up; fun times during and after Matthew.

 

 

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Drunkard’s Dream: Triple Cays

sitting prettyDrunk on beach combing that is. Happy to have several days after leaving Green Turtle just perfect for island hopping and exploring. The three cays lie in a line heading NW of Green Turtle and since we were heading west toward the banks (Little Bahama Bank) before crossing, these cays were along the way. Although a mere 22 nm separated the first and third, each was distinctive in formation, beach quality and treasures. Best described as a blend of Berry Island Cays and Exuma Cays sitting out-of-the-way enough for some privacy with few neighbors.

Manjack Cay (aka Nunjack): anchorage large enough for two dozen boats or more with Crab Cay nestled near the eastern end. Some years ago when (believe it or not) bringing building supplies, equipment and provisions was easier than now, several homes were built overlooking the harbor. A wide, well-kept trail was blazed that leads from off the harbor’s tiny beach, around the mangroves until you get to low dunes and voila, the ocean beach. The owners created artistic signs to lead the way.

This way!  The path is long enough for a healthy leg stretch

This way! The path is long enough for a healthy leg stretch

The trail is a solid and flat ¾ mile and we spotted tiny birds, air plants and butterflies along the way.air plant

A long stretch of sandy beach with virtually no shells at all, but I gathered 3 hamburger beans and that made the trek worthwhile.

A common sight- Lori searching for sea beans

A common sight- Lori searching for sea beans

The chickens are an English breed (I forget the name) and love coconut! Near the Tiki hut just off the beach sits a tree stump with a device on top to help you remove coconut husks and crack open the coconut. How great is that?

Chicken came over to Mama for a hug

Chicken came over to Mama for a hug

Beach chicks. Very domestic and sooo big!

Beach chicks. Very domestic and sooo big!

The beach on the inside (harbor) of Crab gave up a cleaned and sun-bleached sea urchin and a handful of small shells. Met a man who was house-sitting for a friend on Manjack and Russ talked with him while I hunted. He explained that supplies and large freight items got to the island by a local man who ferried them out from Green Turtle (5nm away) after the freight boat delivered. As of about five years ago, the freight boat no longer stops at Green Turtle, leaving only the mail boat to bring food, mail, and small freight items.

Powell Cay: shaped like letter Z with a short middle piece that angles more right than left, the Cay offers good protection from north through south. Its best features are numerous accessible beaches and the white-tailed tropicbirds that entertained us in the morning. Several were curious about the dinghy as she floated behind the boat, even landing in it briefly. They breed in Bermuda and can be spotted here and there in Florida and Bahamas.

White-tailed tropicbird

White-tailed tropicbird

The trip from Manjack was 9nm and we arrived at 10:30. Except for a lunch break the entire day was devoted to beach combing, trail walking and dinghy exploration.

Russ finds the trail that leads to the ocean beach

Russ finds the trail that leads to the ocean beach

Along the trail that led to the ocean beach we came upon the largest granddaddy hermit crab ever- at least 5″ long, he looked ready for a larger shell.

The godfather of all hermit crabs

The godfather of all hermit crabs

He stopped and kept an eye or two on us as we watched and photographed him for posterity. The ocean beach was long wide and not entirely flat. It gave up a handful of sea beans and small shells.

The four non-ocean beaches were each quite different. Between them we saw huge sea biscuits, several legal queen conch, milk conch shells, live sea biscuits in the shallows at low tide and a type of conch that we have yet to ID. The large sea biscuits are so heavy that instead of floating up past the sand to the wrack line they get lodged in the sand, their distinctive sea star-shaped tops barely visible. They are typically discolored and have some marine growth; all discouraging to the collector.

Turtles, fish and rays showed themselves if you happened to be looking.

Allan’s-Pensacola Cay: within living memory they were once two, now one. A hurricane closed in the narrow channel between them and now you can’t tell where as it looks much like the rest of the cays’ terrain; bush, grass and skinny-trunked trees. This joining up formed a small harbor where 10-12 boats can easily fit. The trick is to find a sandy spot to drop the hook for good holding. Our sandy spot gobbled up the Rocna so well that when we tried to find it with the viewer, we only knew it was there because sections of chain were visible.

The 13 nm trip took two hours motoring in light wind, running the watermaker to fill the port tanks. Turtle sightings along the way; none surfaced long enough for a portrait.

Don't follow this sailboat!

Don’t follow this sailboat!

 

The A-P Hilton- new carpeting, free Wi-Fi, A/C and all the fresh air you want

The A-P Hilton- new carpeting, free Wi-Fi, A/C and all the fresh air you want

 

Hanging out waiting for you-know-who to do her thing

Hanging out waiting for you-know-who to do her thing

Hard to miss the path leading from the harbor across to the ocean

Hard to miss the path leading from the harbor across to the ocean

A path leads over to guess where? – yes the ocean beach and the signing tree. The tree got so filled up that now 4 or 5 trees have “sign” hanging from them Kinda like Boo Boo Hill plaques only you make them from any possible material (recycled beach junk is best) and hang it from a tree.

Signing trees at Allan's Cay

Signing trees at Allan’s Cay

We came partially prepared with a black permanent marker. While I checked out the beach (hey, this would be our last beach stop in the Bahamas) Russ found a red and white-striped float and was adding the finishing touches as I returned with some blue nylon line I’d picked up.

Ortolan sign for the signing tree.  Nice work Captain!

Ortolan sign for the signing tree. Nice work Captain!

 

Jumpin’ Jumentos! : Perils at Water Cay

Heading west with Hog Cay off to the right

Heading west with Hog Cay off to the right

“Be Prepared”. The wise Boy Scout motto applies also to cruisers, travelers, and just about everyone alive I guess. When cruising outside the U.S. or Canada which for us means, “in the Bahamas”, one must think two steps ahead of today’s needs and desires. Chances are the ONE time you don’t plan ahead will be the one time you end up SOL, or close enough for a stinky whiff.

This little ditty is about our intrepid cruisers, Russ and Lori, aboard s/v Ortolan, accompanied by water taxi m/v Bunting, as they take a chance and make it happen further south than they’ve ever ventured before.

Sunday and the 8:30am cruisers’ Net compliments of Mike, not only with weather and local events but always ends on a happy note with a great joke or funny story. After the weather checking ritual is complete and with at least four days of favorable winds and NO cold front predicted, the captain proposes a short trip down to the northern Jumentos. Time enough to stop at Water Cay and Flamingo Cay… and we know there be lobsters in those waters just waiting to jump in your dinghy.

So, you didn’t get those extra food items at the market yesterday, no cell service to get updated weather and the propane is dangerously low, but hey we can motor-sail and make water on the way. Me thinks that with half the boats having already departed for “somewhere” perhaps the captain felt a tad competitive …. I’m just saying. At 9:40 the 44nm trip to Water Cay commences. The first 15nm is heading back west toward the back side of White Cay and Hog Cay (not the Hog Cay on Long Island) which sit at the tip of the Exuma chain. At the Comer West way point hang a left to head SW toward the Jumentos Cays. The forecast was sun and clouds with rain showers likely. True enough, although more rain was seen off in the distance than rinsed the boat.

The Explorer Chart book has this to say about the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands: “Self-reliance is essential… go with plenty of food, water, fuel, medicines and weather-reporting equipment…there are no marinas, no BASRA help, little fresh water and few supplies…ocean swells come around the cays.. the only settlement is tiny Duncan Town with a population around 100.”

If that’s not enough to alarm even experienced cruisers then what would? So why come here? Pristine remoteness, abundant coral reefs, great shelling and well, lobsters. A bit of adventure just to prove you are not simply another chicken in the harbor.

Water Cay is the first place suitable to anchor and when we arrived at 4:20 two cats were anchored with just enough room for us. Virtually no ocean swell and the following day was odd as the wind was low and variable.??????????????????

The next morning the exploration began in earnest. First, we headed toward Little Water Cay which sits just above Water Cay with approx 1/10 mile of water separating the two. Low tide prevented a beach landing and a large swell kept us off a sandy spot further up. ????????????????????????????????

So we turned south to check out the cut through the island and low tide proved to be a blessing for landing the dinghy.????????????????????????????

The distinctive cry of osprey caught our attention; sure enough two osprey ruled their territory and became very unhappy that we’d invaded their space?????????????????????????????????

I took this photo as the angry osprey was intent on forcing us away from his home. They both flew over us, at times quite close. We read the message loud and clear; good thing the shells were on the beach further away from the nest.?????????????????????

??????????????????????????????

So much for a favorable forecast.  Silly us to believe that “sun” meant “no rain” and certainly no waterspouts!! Shortly after lunch we saw this one about 5nm to our east, moving north.?????????????????????

Two minutes later it had diminished and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. Right as we spotted the spout (the most fully formed one we’d ever seen) another cat was heading into the area from the south. “Catamarans at Water Cay, water-spout warning” boomed the Scottish voice from s/v Sam the Skull (isn’t that a great name?)  We acknowledged and assured them the spout was heading north (not west toward us).

A short time later, the sky not making any promises, we jumped in our water taxi to check out further south along Water Cay. Not much to see, just an old fishing trawler wrecked up against the rocks, not even in enough water to make a good fish haven. As we turned back, guess what was visible between the island’s small hills? Wouldn’t you know it- another spout- this one closer and way more menacing. Zooming as fast as our puny 8HP outboard (with duo fins assist) could go, we covered the mile+ quickly stopping to warn Sam the Skull who was lobster hunting and had no way to see the spout. As fast as we moved, he beat us to his boat and raised his dinghy.

Oh boy, at this point I’m wondering do we raise anchor and move?  If our Scottish friend does, do we?  If a hard-core cruiser is worried, then I am too. Because of our nearness to shore, the spout was too close to see but we checked the radar to confirm it was indeed less than two miles away, heading north. I guess spouts travel in a straight line pretty much, plus we had land between the anchored boats and the spout. Positive thinking anyway.

Eagle Alley

Anchored behind Butler Island in the Waccamaw River approx. 10miles north of Georgetown, SC

Anchored behind Butler Island in the Waccamaw River approx. 10miles north of Georgetown, SC

After leaving Barefoot Marina we spent three days making the 100nm to Charleston and a two-night stay at the Maritime Center. Thanks to continued shoaling, some quite severe along the last 65 mile stretch, we needed to travel certain sections at mid tide or better. No way was a repeat of our Halloween adventures on my dance card and when I glanced at the Captain’s, his looked the same. When the tide range is seven feet you’ve got a lot to work with but some spots, as strongly attested to by ActiveCaptain reviews, had a little as 3 ½ ft at low tide. Now that’s bad. With no funds available, dredging will not be forthcoming.

Much of those last 65 miles takes us through the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge where, you may recall, my spy-glass gets a workout thanks to the plethora of, well, wildlife. The camera zoom was stretch to its limit more than once.

If you look closely you can see the camera shy eagle below the one on top

If you look closely you can see the camera shy eagle below the one on top

Osprey and eagle share a prime perch

Osprey and eagle share a prime perch

This one strikes a commanding pose at the water,s edge

This one strikes a commanding pose at the water’s edge

Eagle count: 9  Plus osprey, egrets, herons, pelicans and various small birds. No gators this time though.

Monday night before heading in to Charleston on Tuesday was a tad windy and the anchoring is your choice of creeks on either side of the ICW. To the east lies the marshes and ocean, to the west, marshes and mainland. We chose a creek with plenty of swing room on the mainland side and one that was a creek off a creek. Wind do your worst, we are snug near the creek’s edge. No fetch to slam us around. I like it when 25kts feels like 10kts.

Came upon this camper house boat thing on our way to anchoring in Long Creek

Came upon this camper house boat thing on our way to anchoring in Long Creek

Cormorant Circus

Late summer and the feathered ones- swallows, geese, ducks as well as those piggy cormorants, gather together before heading south. Safety in numbers is not a theme lost on any of them.

During much of the summer the cormorants went about their business of eating (fish, water snakes) and eating and well, doing their business! Then they decide- mostly because there’s more of them- that a boat mast top or spreader is the place to spend the night. Fortunately they are creatures of habit and when the captain waved his paddle they right got the message and only made a try or two to land on our mast top.  I’m thinking their little butts and webbed feet would be mighty hurting thanks to the spike strip we had installed at the top a few years ago.

Russ takes up arms against the cormorants

Russ takes up arms against the cormorants

Slip sliding down the backstay

Slip sliding down the backstay

Early on their motto was “one per boat” unless the newcomer was extremely determined. The first one would have a few choice words with the next occupier and that generally ensured that #1 had the night’s lodging all to him/herself.

By mid-Sept the small mono on the mooring south of us was the evening’s berth of choice for three cormorants. For the next two weeks the nightly circus routine was predictable enjoyment; for us anyway.

Each one would fly a huge oval pattern before attempting to land on the spreader or mast top. The first one was so punctual you could set your watch by it. The second and third acts often had trouble nailing the landing and would slide off, flapping their wings to maintain balance-futile effort that.

The pain I put up with just for good night's sleep!

The pain I put up with just for good night’s sleep!

Don't you dare crap on me!

Don’t you dare crap on me!

I'm sure I can balance here- all night??

I’m sure I can balance here- all night??  Wait- this isn’t a sail boat; not gonna work

We are ever grateful to the mono next to us.  That boat was plastered in cormorant guano and we were spared.  The owners never took the boat out, and only showed up once to check on it for 5 mins; it sat as a perfect bird roosting spot all summer long.

Preferred by Deep River cormorants 3 to 1

Preferred by Deep River cormorants 3 to 1

 

Swallowed by the vortex

Did I get your attention with that title? The reality is that the swallows make the vortex and we enthralled humans congregate on the river’s edge in various types of vessels to watch this amazing display.

Starting some time near the end of August, during the entire month of September and into October, thousands of birds congregate in the lower Connecticut River Valley on their migration route south. One massing in particular is an attention-getter. Each day at dusk in late summer and early fall, hundreds of thousands of swallows fly in from all directions and gather over a small island in the Connecticut River. There, for perhaps no more than 20 minutes, they mill around in an enormous, undulating mass of life, specks of black in the fading late-day light. (you can read this as: difficult to snap a clear photo in fading light)

Primarily comprised of tree swallows, it is speculated that these birds fly in from as far as 50 miles away. As many as half a million may come in at dusk where they converge just before sunset over the island, often creating a spectacular “ballet” in the sky. Then, just after sunset, following the lead of one swallow, they form a huge dark cloud that within seconds becomes a funnel and whoosh, they all settle down into a communal roost in the reeds for the night. The vortex happened at least four times while we watched; imagine if all the swallows formed one huge one; a truly spectacular event to photograph.

The boats gather to await the swallows

The boats gather to await the swallows

The dark area is the swallow vortex about to descend into the marsh

The dark area in the center is the swallow vortex about to descend into the marsh

You can just see the large dark mass in the upper left and the long funnel down

You can just see the large dark mass in the upper left and the long funnel down in the photo’s center

The large mass forms, then funnels down into the marsh below

The large mass forms, then funnels down into the marsh below

The weather gods smiled kindly upon us all week and after we engaged in a day of boat cleaning at the dock it was time for a short trip down river. On the way back Sunday we’d planned a fuel and water stop at Old Lyme Dock Co. where the diesel is less costly, probably fresher and the water very drinkable. Thanks to a longer than usual wait for the train bridge to open- oh did I neglect to say “Old Lyme Draw? – time ran out on that plan. No worries mon; Friday we’d head down river to Old Lyme for an all-tanks fill up, stopping by Goose Island to watch the swallows then anchor off Nott Island opposite Essex harbour for the night. Don’t you love it when a great plan actually works out just perfect?  Oh, me too. As a bonus the wind and current kept us pointed bow north so we could sit on the roof and take in the view.

Duck, osprey, goose! swan and egret too

Our mooring home enables us to maintain a near-constant watch into the daily lives of an osprey family, several pair of canada geese, ducks, great egrets and for a short while a few swans. Each with their own voice and habits, they’ve become somewhat predictable and same as we, they seem to hunker down in lousy weather. ( like today- bleakness reins)

Soon after we arrived, the osprey made themselves known with that easily identifiable, sharp, annoyed whistle cheep, cheep, yewk. A mated pair was raising junior and boy was he noisy! A couple of days later he was flying and learning to fish; feet first of course. Young osprey spend 50-60 days in the nest after birth and then they seem to be very ready to take on the world. A couple of weeks later we saw the young osprey transporting nest materials; looked like he was establishing residence close to the old homestead. Such a good guy.

Tree branches- no flight problem mon

Tree branches- no flight problem mon

One of the family in flight between us and the island

One of the family in flight between us and the island

The geese are very vocal and honk if other geese even think about entering “their space.” They honk a lot and we don’t mind it- yet.

When not honking, can be seen perfecting ostrich imitation

When not honking, can be seen perfecting ostrich imitation

The local mallard ducks just began producing those adorable little puff balls we love. The other day mama duck was out for feed walk with her chicks along the mud bank while two geese meandered behind. Just after I snapped this shot one of the geese snapped at a duckling- goosed him actually!  Baby was unharmed- just a bit surprised. Mama picked up the pace after that.

Watch out for that goose little duckling!

Watch out for that goose little duckling!

Several great egrets hang out around here too. The pose they strike is so still, so perfect for that instant snap to grab an unsuspecting fishy. So slender, stately and quiet 🙂

Doing the great egret stretch to feed pose

Doing the great egret stretch to feed pose

I was very happy to see a pair of mute swans take up nest-building on the banks practically opposite the boat. How great to see first-hand how the nest is made and then the whole process following.  The cygnets would be the cutest- not ugly- creatures to watch. We’ve read that both male and female participate in nest-building.

I'll leave you to it and critique your work later

I’ll leave you to it and critique your work later

Nest building one mouthful at a time. A long neck comes in handy

Nest building one mouthful at a time. A long neck comes in handy

I’m willing to bet that the one on the left is female and the one building is the male. How do I know this?  Because when she got up part way through the process, she looked around, they waded into the water and swam away. They did not return to that partially built nest and we are so bummed. If she could speak, the words might have been, “I told you it was too exposed! And see-that big white thing over there is too close. We need more privacy.”

Naturally, we have gulls and cormorants, but what can I say?  They are what they are.