Its a Beautiful Day on Stellwagan Banks

Sun, Seas and Stellwagan BanksWhale Tail

Taking advantage of  a beautiful day I climbed aboard another Captain John Boats Whale Watching Tour to Stellwagan bank. I’ve had a tough time seeing Breaching whales when I’ve gone out. They seem to come around  on every trip except the one I’m on! Very frustrating! The trips have been good. There are whales every time but not doing really exciting behaviors.

View from the BowWhere to ride? Top deck or bottom?

I’ve been riding the top deck thinking I’d get a better angle for my photos. The problem is that if I’m on the right, the whales are on the left. Ugh! It’s just the luck of the draw. Usually when the whales show up on one side, everyone runs across to that side of the boat. I’ve stopped doing that. But today I think I have a solution.

I’m King of the World

I grabbed the middle seat in the front row on deck one. This is right at the bow. I can run out to the tip of the bow and watch the whales on the right, left and front. About the only view I don’t have here is off the stern. I made myself comfortable for the hour and a half ride to Stellwagan Bank National Marine Sanctuary,

 Gurnet Light

WOW A 10- Plus Plus Plus tripWhales slpashing a boat

The first whales we found were doing “close ups” for another Whale Watching ship. There were a lot of small fishing boats in the area too. As we approached a whale did a full body breach right next to us. Of course I missed it.  I only saw the splash. The next breach practically landed on one of the fishing boats. There were flipper slaps and tail breaches and multiple body breaches! It was during all this activity that I managed to catch a full body breach. We’d only just begun and the trip was already a winner.

 

Breaching Whale

A Disappointing Truth

Egret with a hot dog

Hungry Egret with Hot Dog, Gatorland, Orlando FL

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

When I learned this secret truth I felt so let down! As an amateur photographer my favorite subjects are animals. (They don’t complain about how they look.) I can spend hours pouring over books with animal photos. I love National Geographic shots. Although I know I will never be that good, I still use them for inspiration.

Nat Geo Photography Specials

Red Fox 2016

Red Fox , Audubon Sanctuary

I watch all of the Nat Geo specials especially the ones about how they got the shot. They always show the poor photographer trudging through the rain forest or freezing in the Arctic while they search for another iconic photograph worthy of a National Geographic publication. The photo magazines are full of trips and tours with (drum roll please) National Geographic Photographers! Take our trip and you too will learn to take worthy photographs.

 

 

White Tiger

White Tiger , Southwick Zoo

The Sad Truth about many animal photos

So it was a real let down when I spotted in the tiny print at the bottom of the credits a disclaimer. It said photo taken at XYZ Zoo! What!  Sure enough. Credits include zoos, sanctuaries, and preserves. Of course some are legitimate but far more than I expected are in controlled environments.

endangered gray wolfIf They Can so can I

With my new knowledge I looked into wolves. I’d love to get a great photo of a wolf. I’m sure that even if I go to Yellowstone any wolves will be too far away for a great photo. So my search began and I located the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey. I was so excited. This was a couple of years ago. They recommended a winter shoot when the fur is thick and photogenic. I immediately booked a shoot in February. It was snowed out. Then we got ice. In the end I didn’t get there but it’s on my bucket list.

Think Local

That’s why I was thrilled to hear about a wolf sanctuary right here in my homeWolves in winter state of Massachusetts. Located in Ipswich, MA I can’t wait to check it out. Its called Wolf Hollow and they have photo shoots too. You can be sure you’ll be hearing more about this place as soon as I can get a day to drive up there! Stay tuned.

The Road Less Traveled

I picked the road less traveled

To paraphrase Robert Frost I took the road less traveled. Heading back home from New York I made a quick decision to take an alternate route. Traffic on the Mass Pike has been horrendous the last few trips so even if the route is longer I’ll probably make better time. At least it will be more interesting than the car bumper in front of me.

Sometimes Slow is Better

With no time deadline I headed toward Vermont on Route 4. I planned to stop at Quechee Gorge for lunch. There’s snack bar and a gift shop as well as the gorge. If you are in a hurry or just don’t want to walk far you can look down into the gorge from the bridge. But, if you feel ambitious, the view is better from the bottom. There is a well maintained trail that takes your down to the river. The gorge is 165 ft deep and the deepest gorge in Vermont.

Quechee Gorge

Woodstock Vt covered bridgeI found a covered Bridge

When you figure that there are over 100 authentic covered bridges in Vermont I shouldn’t be surprised that I found one. Actually I found 3 along my chosen path. The first was just outside Woodstock Vermont. No relation to the famous Woodstock Music festival of 1969. That was a farm in NY. I’ll call this covered bridge #1 because it didn’t have an ID name or number.

Covered Bridge #2Taftsville Covered Bridge

I’ve passed the 2nd bridge many times. I just never stopped to look. This one has a marker identifying it as Taftsville Covered bridge. This is one of the oldest covered bridges in Vermont and the nation as a whole. It’s only one lane so you have to wait your turn to cross. It was a a busy place. Lots of people with cameras and lots of cars lined up.

 

The Covered Bridge in Quechee

Quechee Covered Bridge

The surprise bridge was one in Quechee just before you get to the Gorge. OnStar told me to leave Route 4. I thought it might be taking me to a different section of the gorge so I went along. Almost as soon as I made the turn I spotted the bridge. Kids (teens) were climbing on the railings to jump into the river. Ugh! Scary drop! Lots of rocks! I guess I’m getting old because I’d never try that jump.

Quechee Swimming Hole

 

I turned around and headed back out to Route 4. The Quechee Gorge Snack Bar was calling my name.

Lunch

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Isn’t Nature Amazing?

Nature just keeps on amazing me.

Nature is continuing to WOW us on and around Cape Cod! I turned my back for one minute and we had “Air Jaws” stealing fish right off the fishermen’s lines! It was just a small Great White, a juvenile, but it came awful close to landing in the boat. As if that wasn’t enough a few days before that a big great white also stole fish off a line. He was just less showy. He snuck up and chomp, half the fish was gone in one bite!

http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/Great-White-Shark-Jumps-Out-of-Water-While-Crew-Fishes-Off-Cape-Coast-440153163.html

Great White Moose spotted in SwedenMeanwhile in Sweden

The Swedes aren’t dealing with great white sharks. No, they have the great white moose. Talk about amazing. I had trouble finding a regular old dark brown moose and here is a beautiful snow white Moose, with antlers no less!

 

 

 

Look What’s right in our own backyardBlue Jay with Peanut

While all of this nature news was making headlines here in Massachusetts, I was visiting my sister in New York. In her little suburban backyard we were entertained by all sorts of little critters. The Blue Jays were the first visitors when we came out. Sandy was prepared with peanuts to encourage them to visit. She’s such a good hostess. Did you know that Blue Jays love peanuts? The kind in the shells. They swoop in and snatch them, After they go back to the trees you can hear the shells cracking.

 

A Flash of Yellow

America Goldfinch

A little American Goldfinch ignored the fuss the jays were making to make a visit to the bird bath. He took his time getting a drink. No bath today! No time for a snack either. He had his drink and flitted away. 

Harry WoodpeckerThe Little Star of the visit

I knew Sandy had a bunch of little chipmunks living in the yard. I was anxious to take their pictures. They had other ideas. A Harry Woodpecker came along but no chipmunks.Squirrel in a tree

 

 

Then a squirrel stopped by to scold us and grab a peanut. But still no chipmunks.

 

 

 

Finally we had a visitor. The peanuts were just too much of a temptation. Only one came out to play but he was quite entertaining. 

Chipmunk with stuffed cheeks

 

Its Breaching Whales and Hungry Sharks

The Whales are Breaching!

Breaching Whale off Cape Cod

Breaching Humpback Whale Stellwagen bank 2016

Last year was the first time I ever saw a whale breach here in New England. I’ve see lots of other behaviors but I always thought breaching was only in Maui, HI or Alaska. So with that in mind I went to Alaska but no breaching there. Finally last winter I spotted a breaching calf. A 2000 lb baby was leaping for joy. It was dawn and the day was still very gray. A good picture but not what I’ve been envisioning. My quest continues.

Breaching Humpback Calf

Breaching humpback calf in Maui, HI 2017

They were Breaching before my tour and after

I follow Captain John Boats on Facebook and all season I’ve been seeing posts about breaching whales on their tours. I finally got out on a tour last week but as you know from my last post, no breaching. In fact, right after my tour, there is was! Another post about a breaching whale. I know they aren’t trained performers but just the law of averages seem to favor my chances. How is it that I keep missing this amazing behavior?

Up the Stakes for a Trip that will be hard to top!

As I was sulking over my continued misses the Whale Watching trip to beat all whale watching trips hit my feed. How about whales and sharks? Yup, a recent trip delivered on the whales and then found a whale that had recently died from entanglement injuries. According to the news report it was a dead minke whale. Its always sad to see an animal that has died but nature is very harsh. But this time the passengers got to see how nature recycles. The death of one animal sustains another. What was being sustained this time? 2 Great White Sharks, that’s what!

Great White Shark

It’s Shark Week on Cape Cod

This is amazing. There is a tour company that advertises great white viewing but the folks on this whale watching trip never expected to to see a shark. This tour would be off the chart if you rated it. It delivered everything advertised and then dished up 2 great white sharks. What I would have given to be on that trip! Rating 10 +++++++ Way to go Captain John Boats!

Great White photo provided by Google Search