05_21_2012 Minesing by Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_black-crowned-night-heron-004-05132012.jpg]Black-crowned Night Heron
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_canada_goose-004-05132012.jpg]Canada Goose
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_common_grackle_f-001-05112012.jpg]Common Crackle
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_common_grackle_m-001-05112012.jpg]Common Crackle
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_greater_yellowlegs-003-05112012.jpg]Greater Yellowlegs
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-001-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-002-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-003-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-004-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-005-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-006-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-007-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-008-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-009-05132012.jpg]View from the Kayak
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-010-05132012.jpg]Canoeing on the Nattawasga River
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_minesing_swamp_kayak-011-05132012.jpg]High Water Line during Spring Flooding
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_otters-004-05132012.jpg]Otters Mating
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_otters-005-05132012.jpg]Otters
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_otters-009-05132012.jpg]Otter
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_racoon-001-05132012.jpg]Racoon
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_red-winged_blackbird-001-05132012.jpg]Red Winged Blackbird
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_red-winged_blackbird-003-05112012.jpg]Red Winged Blackbird
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_solitary_sandpiper-005-05112012.jpg]Solitary Sandpiper
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_solitary_sandpiper-007-05112012.jpg]Solitary Sandpiper
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_tree_swallow-003-05112012.jpg]Tree Swallow
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_tree_swallow-006-05112012.jpg]Tree Swallow
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_wood_duck-001-05112012.jpg]Wood Duck
Minesing Wetlands[img src=http://www.ttlphoto.com/wp-content/flagallery/05_21_2012-minesing-by-kayak/thumbs/thumbs_yellow_warbler-001-05112012.jpg]Yellow Warbler
Since we moved to the Barrie area I have photographed quite often around the outskirts of Minesing Wetlands and have desired to venture into the interior via kayak or canoe. My good friend David Hemmings of Natures Photo Adventures kindly loaned me his Hobie fishing kayak (with pedal drive) so I could have a first hand experience at this style of photography. On the water gives you a much better and safer approach to birds and waterfowl that frequent marshes and if the lighting is right the photography results can be amazing! From a kayak, photography can be challenging, you are navigating the kayak, sometimes with the pedals other times the paddle, looking for subjects and scenery opportunities at the same time keeping an eye out for snags, logs, and most important staying on your intended route.
After a couple of hours of testing out the kayak (placement of gear, ease of use, etc) in our dog diving pool I was excited to be planning a day at Minesing Wetlands. With camera gear organized in a Baja Bag, snacks and water packed and route planned out I was ready for an early Sunday morning kayak/photo adventure at Minesing Wetlands.
About Minesing Wetlands, taken from: The Friends of Minesing Wetlands“ The 6,000 hectare site provides habitat for a large variety of flora and fauna, many of which are rare, sensitive and/or near the limits of their geographical range. Over 206 species of birds inhabit the wetlands, including 114 known breeders and Ontario’s fifth largest Great Blue Heronry”. Many more details, trip planning and maps can be found at the website.
Mother’s day morning was a perfect +12 c with slight overcast, the days weather was predicted to be perfect for this outing. My planned route would begin at the Willow Creek entry point on George Johnston Rd, head West then North via the Nottawasaga River to exit at Edenvale on Hwy 26, with the sun rising behind me it would make for some great morning photography. I estimated this trip to be 4-5 hours as I would be covering between 12-15 km with all the S bends in the wetlands.
By 7:45 am the journey begins.With a slight breeze and the current with me, it was only several minutes before the sounds of traffic where over taken by the silence and sweet notes of the many song birds perched in the trees and throughout the willows, Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Ducks, Geese, Red-winged Blackbirds and more where visible and very busy on this spring morning.
The Hobie Kayak has a pedal drive system which is excellent for a quite approach at birds and wildlife. You also have the option to use the paddles, however to a bird or any wildlife I would think you might look like some awkward creature with wings flapping in the wind, certainly not going to get great photo opportunities with that going on! So, with the pedal drive and drifting in the current I was able to take in the sights and sounds for the first 90 minutes or so, a few good photo opportunities of birds along Willow Creek where captured with the dslr gear, the scenery photos and video where taken with an iPhone.
I continued west when the creek became narrow and quite fast in a few spots. With the water high and fast moving the Hobie was extremely stable and I never feared an upset that would put me and camera gear in the cold spring water. After navigating these spots and 2 portages I arrived at the most peaceful location I have encountered in years, it was magical. I spent the next couple of hours drifting with the current while taking in all the sights and sounds, around every bend was another amazing scene, with geese, ducks and many over birds filling the air with song. What was really amazing was I was less then 5 km from home where I certainly did not expect this beauty to exist at a wetland. The iPhone scenery images do not due justice for the true beauty of the area, next time a wide angle lens will be making the trip.
Now, 3 hours later I was on the north bound leg of Willow Creek heading towards the Nottawasaga River when I came to a very large swamp area. I call this a swamp area because there really was no distinguished route, it looked like trees being over taken by water, such is the case here in the spring when many smaller tributaries feed into Minesing en-route to the Nottawasaga and then Georgian Bay. Using my iPhone map and gps I determined I was still on the correct route and took my time using the current and basic sun compass skills to continue to the Nottawasaga.
There was quite a lot of shade in the swamp area, so I anchored to a tree for a snack and noticed something swimming across a large open area about 100 yards away. I decided to make way to where it had headed and was quite surprised when I found a raccoon a few feet up a tree from the water line, there was no solid land for 100′s of yards in any direction, where this guy was coming from or going too I have no idea, he was however very wet!
Immediately after snapping a few photos of the raccoon I herd splashing and turned to see 2 Otters playing in the water. They climbed onto a nearby log and it didn’t take long for some Otter “fun” to take place, “fun” = mating! A couple of times they would fall into the water, climb back on the log and once again have some “fun”. Then in a split second she decided to take off and he gave chase, under the water they went and where gone… then not 50′ from the kayak he appeared all smiles (check out his grin in the photo, those teeth!), after several seconds of checking me out he disappeared again and was gone.
After 2 more portages and plenty of navigating around fallen trees and stumps I reached the Nottawasaga River. The current in the river was much quicker then the previous creek and swamp area, I packed the dslr gear away and paid more attention to navigating and the water then to photo opportunities. I heard some voices along the river and saw 4 people in canoes in a marsh area to the east of the river, as I was looking for an entry to their location I heard quite a few birds overhead, which turned out to be Baltimore Orioles. Quickly I anchored to a tree and was able to get the camera gear out and snap a few photos before these beautiful birds took flight and headed up the river.
The people canoeing where very familiar with the wetlands and river and gave me some advice where to look for herons and other points of interest. I learned that the heron rookery along my route has basically disintegrated from time and the herons have relocated to another location in the wetlands. One of the gentlemen in the group has done work with The Friends of Minesing Wetlands and informed me to contact them or the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority and they together will clear the portages. It is nice to know that this place is taken care of so many people can enjoy this hidden treasure.
My exit point was now about 3km away and my scheduled pick up time with Katherine was approaching, I needed to get moving. With the Hobie pedal system and the faster moving Nottawasaga River this distance was covered in just under 45 minutes. Katherine arrived about 10 minutes after I did, which gave me a few minute to lay on the grass and absorb the experience I had over the past several hours.
If your a nature lover and would love to get out and see this beautiful part of Ontario, please visit the above website and let me know hen you are going. I will certainly be venturing soon into the wetlands via other access points and blogging about the adventure.
My first iPhone Video clip of the swamp… they will get better