Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Floating Blind on the Sudbury

Fair skies and recently risen water levels were what I found late yesterday afternoon when I launched into the Sudbury River at River Rd. in Wayland.  At the boat launch I encountered Dave and his dog just heading out in his well camouflaged floating duck blind (photo at left).  I was struck by the boat's low profile and pointed bow.  Dave said it could be sculled and that he was working on developing his sculling technique.  Woodies and teal were his objective.  He went downriver while I went up.  With this year's duck hunting season now underway, I make it a point to wear my blaze orange hat and gloves.

The late afternoon sun was blinding when looking west but provided a backlit effect to the east...
 
After passing under Route 20 I went to the right to where a large culvert used to bring Wash Brook under the long abandoned Central Mass Railroad...

Beavers were allowing only a trickle of the brook's flow to pass through the culvert resulting in most of it entering the river just above the wooden trestle...
Back in the days when the railroad was operating this diversion would not have been tolerated.

Below the Pelham Island Rd. bridge I encountered what, most likely, were the guts of a deer that had been field-dressed earlier. Archery hunting season for deer had begun that morning.

On my return to the boat launch this lone tree served as a reminder of our approaching "stick time"...
I believe it was TV meteorologist Eric Fisher who recently used that term to describe the time after the trees have shed their leaves.

Some trash found along the way...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Headin' South on the Connecticut


With a goal of paddling the lower 18 miles of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, Capt'n Dangerous of Adirondack Pirate Paddlers and I rendezvoused at the Donald W. Barnes Boat Launch in Thompsonville, CT yesterday morning.

Having seen many boat ramps, we were both impressed by this one...good signage, ample parking, paved ramp, clean, containers for trash, a port-a-potty...and the sun was out.

However, after leaving one vehicle there, we drove north to South Hadley Falls, MA where we launched from the Perjovski State Ramp which had little to nothing in the way of amenities, or sunshine.  The ramp is a little downriver from the Holyoke Dam...

We then launched and began our downriver passage under uncertain skies...a little rain, a little sun.  Fortunately air temperatures were in the 60's. 

Numerous old mills such as Riverside Paper pictured below line the banks between the river and the Holyoke canal system running parallel to it...

Jones Ferry was busy with both paddlers and rowers getting out on the river...

Eagle nests were both above and below the river's confluence with the Chicopee River.  At both, eagles were noted to be nearby.  The one above the Chicopee...
...and the one below...
Both were on the west shore of the Connecticut.

Next we approached the Connecticut River's largest city, Springfield...
 
 
Past the Boston and Albany railroad bridge lies the city's distinctive Memorial Bridge...
 
 
Downstream of Springfield we reached Pynchon Point at the river's confluence with the Westfield River.  It was a good spot to take a lunch break before exploring the lower mile or so of the Westfield River (aka Agawam or Woronoco River).  Pynchon Point and the park there are named for William Pynchon who is credited with founding Springfield in 1636.  Pynchon has the distinction of having written the first book banned and burned in North America, and you probably guessed correctly that the banning and burning happened in Boston.  Pynchon's book offered his own thoughts on matters of religion.   Oddly enough the burning of his book took place on October 17, 1650 and we were enjoying lunch at a park named in his honor on October 18, 2014.  He ultimately returned to England rather than denounce his own writings.  Only a handful of copies of his book The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption exist today. 
 
I'm inclined to think Pynchon would have supported expanding our Bottle Bill, especially after  the lion's share of today's trash was recovered from behind a partially submerged tree in the middle of the Westfield River within sight of the point named for him...
Just a few miles further downriver in the State of Connecticut most of these containers would be candidates for redemption.
 
Before exiting the Westfield River the sun nicely illuminated the confluence area in a view looking to the east...
 
Once back on the Connecticut we resumed heading downriver, stopping briefly on Willy's Island, where a few rumbles of thunder were heard and ominous dark clouds approached from the west...
 
 
Just as we came alongside Six Flags amusement park the skies let loose with pelting rain...thus no photos of Six Flags. 
 
We were welcomed into the State of Connecticut by this eagle...
 ...standing watch just upriver from our takeout at the Donald W. Barnes Boat Launch where our day had started.
 
  


Friday, October 17, 2014

Still on the Fence Regarding the Bottle Bill?



...if so, please consider the above batch of litter collected along a 7-mile section of bike trail today.  It is typical of what's seen along both the aquatic and terrestrial trails I frequent, and reflects the change in beverage choices that's occurred since 1983 when our Bottle Bill went into effect.  It seems everyone these days is out and about with their beverage of choice in one hand and their mobile device in the other.

The beverage industry and several grocery store chains in Massachusetts have spent more than one hundred and sixty million nickels to keep litter (such as that pictured on the top fence rail above) from having a modest monetary value of 5-cents.  That's more than 8 million dollars spent on "slick Willy" television ads in an attempt to convince Massachusetts voters to vote no on Question 2 in the upcoming election.  When the ads were recently exposed for gross misrepresentations, such as the claim that 90 % of Massachusetts residents have access to curbside recycling, they decided (like many fibbers) to tell an even bigger whopper, now claiming that it's "more than 90%".

In all their ads they completely ignore the 800 pound gorilla standing right in front of them: the simple fact that in Massachusetts 80% of containers having a nickel value are recycled, whereas only 23% of containers with no value are. 

If they are successful and we allow them to fool us, millions of littered empty containers, like the ones pictured, will remain just worthless pieces of trash.  As such, a good many will end up in our environment and will someday return to us in the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we ingest.
 
On the other hand, we could vote yes on Question 2 giving these containers the small monetary value of one nickel.  That nickel provides a little incentive for the purchaser to redeem it rather than throw it away.  If, however (and this is the best part), the original purchaser does throw it away, there is a small monetary incentive for some one else to stoop down and pick it up.   I'm old enough to remember, back in 1983, just how fast empty beer and soda cans disappeared from our roadsides.  It was truly amazing and was one of the few programs I've ever seen that lived up to its promise.

Grocery chains such as Stop and Shop, Big Y, C & S Wholesale Grocers, and Roche Bros are spending lots of  their nickels (that, I suspect, originated from their customers' pockets) to prevent our 1983 edition Bottle Bill from doing what it was designed to do best: get these containers recycled!  Does anyone seriously think the Vote No on Question 2 folks give a hoot about what happens to the containers once they've left their stores?  Do they mention our "on the run" culture in their ads?  Do they offer any solutions for the ever increasing litter problem our cities and towns have to deal with?  Do they mention how Maine, Connecticut, and New York have all successfully expanded their bottle bills?      

Remember the grocery chain with the fiercely loyal employees that we heard so much about over the summer?  I can't help but notice that they're not listed with the No on Question 2 movement.  For some reason, Market Basket and also Shaw's decided not to associate their good names with the No on Question 2 campaign. That's good enough reason for me to place Market Basket and Shaw's at the top of my list when purchasing groceries in the future.

So, on November 4th, please help keep tons of plastic litter out of our environment and vote yes on Question 2.        

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poking Around the Upper Concord

A morning job at an ice cube plant finished up in time for me to enjoy some of this afternoon's summer-like temperatures on the Concord River.  There were a few others lucky enough to be out on the river.  One was Jane, who only recently began paddling and commented on the river seeming like another world.

With the continued dry conditions, water was being borrowed from the river by US Fish and Wildlife possibly to sustain the marsh ponds at Great Meadows...
 
 
Significant rain is forecast for tomorrow.
 
Trash recovered today ran the gamut.  There was this odd couple...
 
 
...and this visitor from down south...
 
 
...an old time beer bottle from the early days of "No Deposit, No Return"...
 
 
...and this possible 'bottle of the future'...
 
 
They mingled on the beach...
 
 
It may be a while before we experience warm conditions like we had today.






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Low and Slow Sudbury River

Advancing clouds coincided with my ascent of the Sudbury River yesterday morning.  Despite it being the Columbus Day holiday things were fairly quiet.  There was hardly any wind and temperatures gradually rose out of the 40's.  The view upriver towards Route 2 was a peaceful one.

Water levels remain on the low side as can be seen by the inscribed stone at Egg Rock...
It's hard to imagine the inscription being submerged as it occasionally is in springtime.

Before reaching Route 2 a deceased beaver was seen not far from his lodge...

Past Heath's Bridge in the area known as Conantum a cormorant stood erect...
This guy looked different than the cormorants I usually see...
...and I believe it is a Great Cormorant which is considered uncommon around these parts.  According to my guidebook, they're usually found on rocky ocean shores to the north.

At Fairhaven Bay the little stone boathouse sat snugly on the shore...

A pair of ospreys were seen at the bay's south end.  One of them led me upriver for a while, similar to the way belted kingfishers fly ahead from tree to tree.  He paused long enough on one tree for a photo...

A blue heron patiently awaited its next meal...

Fishermen seen along the way reported good fishing, mentioning bass and northern pike recently caught.

Reaching the mouth of Pantry Brook, I found the short channel to the sheet piling dam completely blocked by a series of beaver dams...
Makes me wonder if the deceased beaver seen earlier had possibly worked himself to death!

That fate was not going to befall me, on this day anyways, as I was moving in a slow and deliberate manner. 

Earlier on the holiday weekend, Mrs. Trashpaddler and I attended a wedding which concluded with the bride and groom leaving the reception via canoe.  The groomsmen carried the canoe, with the bride seated inside, down a path to the Charles River...
 
Then the groom pushed off from the shore, jumped in, and the newly wedded couple began their journey together down the river of life...

...and on Sunday we biked from Belchertown to Northampton on the Norwottuck Rail Trail...

...which brought us across the 7 span 1400 foot long bridge over the Connecticut River...
The view upriver between the western shore and Elwell Island...

Meanwhile, back on the Sudbury River, the MBTA commuter rail bridge is getting a makeover...
Note the floating yellow booms that are no longer floating.

Because of the low water levels trash of an older and more mature nature was recovered...
There were several beer cans that pre-dated our 1983 Bottle Bill.  A milk bottle from the 1950's with a very faded label indicating Dairy Products by Buttrick (in Arlington, MA), and an old beer or soda bottle embossed with French Bros Co Lexington, MA dating to about 1915.  It was found in the shallows where the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers join to form the Concord.  Other (newer) trash consisted of glass and plastic bottles, Styrofoam, plastic bags, an empty propane cylinder, and plastic bags.  YTD = 5004

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Dam on the Assabet


Approaching Gleasondale via the Assabet River late this morning I was surprised to find a well constructed beaver dam holding back a good portion of the river's flow.  The nocturnal engineers wisely chose a narrow spot (about 25 ' across) and took advantage of the low water levels of late.
While portaging around their structure I stopped to take a closer look from above...

A few more moonlit nights and they might seal the deal.

This stinkpot turtle (I think) seemed lost in thought...

  Above the dam a small painted turtle was unconcerned by my presence...
 
 
A great egret was seen near Sudbury Road...
 
 
Blue herons, mute swans, and wood ducks were also encountered.
 
Fall foliage was colorful in places...
 
 
Today's trash haul...
 
A 5-gallon Poland Springs bottle stood head and shoulders above the rest.
 
YTD = 4936