Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

♬ 15 Miles on the Erie Canal ♬

Tuesday August 2, 2016                                                    Most Recent Posts:
Cayuga Lake State Park                                                     From Audubon to the Hall of Fame to the Sculpture Trail
Seneca Falls, New York                                                     Montezuma Wetlands Complex Howlands Island



The original title was 15 Years on the Erie Canal but Bruce changed it to miles.  We probably don’t do 15 Miles on the canal itself but the song sticks in my head as we paddle today.




We’re into our last week here in Seneca Falls and we haven’t gotten out for any paddling until today.  We have checked out a number of put ins recommended by the Refuge staff at the Visitor Center but many of them aren’t possible now with the water levels so low.  They are “car top” put ins which means “right off the bank”.  We actually like those better than more formal “docks”.   We have found three that we can use.  Today we start out on the Clyde River which snakes back and forth by and into the Erie Canal.   We put in just south of Lock 25 on the map to the left and paddle west to the canal and onto it before eventually circling back to the lock and Ruby.



It’s a beautiful day on the river which seems to have plenty of water.  I guess the controlling of the canals is why.



We haven’t gone very far when I spot this usually ellusive Green Heron.  Of the shots I took of him here.  I like these two the best.





Singing overhead is an LBB (little brown bird).  He’s a sparrow but Judy will have to tell you which one.





Because it is early morning, the dew is still on the beautiful spider webs making it possible to take a picture










A Great Blue flies over my boat and beyond  him a flock I cannot identify.  It always makes me smile to see flocks of birds in or out of formation flying through the sky.






The river has lots of little dead end arms which have to be inspected.




Two Green herons in one day is wonderful.  Don’t think this is the same guy I just saw but who knows.



I know this one isn’t the same since he is not too far from the first one who hasn’t flown away. This one looks almost burgandy which is why I notice him in the brush.  The count could be up to three.





This is definitely turning out to be some day for photographing the difficult.  This kingfisher which has always been a real challenge, sits here and I get 4 or 5 shots before he scolds me and flies off. 





I’ve never seen anything like this before and zoom in for a closer look.



No problem here.



But what’s this?  I’ve never seen turtles shed their plates. I wonder if he’s been injured.  But I look it up while writing this and find out that indeed turtles shed.  The plates on their shells are called scutes and are made from keratin.  Turtles don’t shed their skins like snakes or geckos, they never leave their shells which are permanently fused to their body.  But they may shed pieces of their shells periodically and this is apparently what I saw.    Isn’t Nature amazing??




Down another little side arm I see a building so I go in to take a look.




Seems to be a fancy control house with sky lights for letting water into or out of the river apparently.




We run into lots of dead ends and have to turn around but it’s the exploring that’s fun.




A picture like this seems to need a story about The Three Turtles.  How would Goldilocks fit in?



Boy does this guy fly around or he has lots of fellows out today. Perhaps I should have called this post our day with the Green Heron.






I know, I know but he’s so attractive.  Look at those colors and designs.  What a living piece of art.






Lest you think the Green Heron is the only bird out today, I also see a sandpiper.  He doesn’t look spotted but I don’t know who else might be in upstate New York.  This seems an odd habitat for him.


The Great Blue is around in the water as well as in the air.



Or maybe the post title should be My Lucky Day with Green Herons and Kingfishers.  I can’t believe this. Look at that color.  Isn’t he grand?




Great bill.



Great hair.



Here we are out on the canal.  Maybe by the time we get back to Ruby we will have paddled 15 miles all together.
I can’t remember any of that song other than the chorus….





We paddle for a while seeing not much of anything other than the water and banks.  No boats, no birds.   We do see Old Orchard Campground which has three cottages along the canal and then RVs in the background.  When I look them up on the internet they claim to be on the Clyde River so I guess they are on one of those sections that is the river AND the canal.  You can see them on the map.




Paddling a bit further on the canal we do see a few ring billed gulls.  Somehow I always associate them with the ocean even though we’ve seen plenty on the Finger Lakes we’ve visited.









I spot this Great Blue Heron hunkered down with his neck folded in.  He takes off when the canal boat gets close.




I actually  see two canal boats on the canal before arriving back at the Clyde River connection where we came in.
The first one David sees too and thinks is a tour boat and captained by a woman.   The second one that I see later may well be a rental.








Just as I’ve turned back into the Clyde River to head for the take out, I hear a continuing loud noise.  I turn around to look and see just the end of what is clearly a barge on its way to Lock 25 on the canal.




I turn around and paddle back out into the canal to watch it go through the lock and there I see the second Canal Boat waiting for its turn.





By the time I get close enough to see, the lock is open and the barge is being pushed in by its tug.  I wonder if the locks are run by the Coast Guard.  Paul Dahl will know.




The gates are closing.


They are closed and  the water is either raised or lowered, I don’t know which at Lock 25.



Here’s the patiently waiting canal boat with what appears to be its captain and lone passenger. It’s not the exact same canal boat we saw docked behind the vistor center at our lunch spot yesterday but an exact duplicate as far as I can tell.   If you are come here and are interested in renting one or going on a cruise you can contact Mid Lakes Navagation Company using this link.




Time to catch up with David who has no idea I’ve turned around for this.  He was too far ahead to let him know without losing the opportunity to see the barge go into the lock.


We started our paddle with a Great Blue Heron on the wing
so it must be time to finish when another flies over on my way back. 
Can you see him in the clouds on the right?


I close in on him just after the above shot. 
Boy would I love to be able to take off an fly any time I chose.


David must have stopped for something because amazingly, there he is just approaching the take out.  You can see it is simply a tiny little path beside the bridge over the Clyde.



What a wonderful day on the water with birds and boats and turtles.
Haven’t had a The End picture in a long time, but the multiple Green Herons have provided one today.







  1. Thank you for sharing. Yes. Your bird pictures are wonderful!

  2. The spider webs are exquisite! I don't think I've ever seen any that pretty before. The bird photos were especially good today, and I loved "The End".

  3. Thank you for a very nice post of your morning on the river. Loved all the bird pics, wifey enjoyed it also.

  4. Yep you had a special day. All those Green Heron's and the King Fishers who stood still for you...what fun!!! But the shedding turtle is my favorite find...who knew????

  5. you are so lucky to get the shots of the kingfisher. . .those little suckers are fast. . .

  6. Beautiful paddle! The birds were spectacular, especially the green herons and kingfishers. I would've enjoyed exploring those dead ends too.

  7. So much to comment about! Love the spiderweb like that. I don't ever think I've seen one so pretty! I never knew that turtles would shed their shells. I thought that turtles ages were told by their shells? How cool to get a great shot of the Kingfisher. They are so skittish! Lucky to be in the river when the boats were going in the locks.

  8. What a neat thing to see the shedding turtle! Who knew!

    Green herons and kingfishers...you did have an excellent day!

  9. Interesting that turtles do shed their shells, once again you've taught me something I didn't know about Mother Nature's magnificent creatures.

    Nope, the Coast Guard, while doing many things, doesn't operate canal locks. I presume that is a NY State controlled operation.

  10. Great place for a paddle and no alligators:)

  11. I'm catching up after two weeks with no internet. Looks like you had a great time in Seneca Falls!

  12. I had no idea turtles shed parts of the shell!

  13. Lots of great pictures, starting with the spider web still wet from dew drops. And you are so lucky the Kingfisher posed for you. I still have to get a good shot of that skittish bird! And of course those Herons enjoyed your company as you are with them :)
    Like you Im surprised turtles shed!

  14. Love the Kingfisher picture have lived on Kingfisher Road in Levittown for many years and NEVER ever seeing one (or course, I never really looked very hard). Never saw turtles shedding their plates before either. Enjoy the little tidbits of information you throw in along the way.

  15. What a fun day on the canal!! How cool to see the turtle with a shedding plate! The canal boats are so neat. Love how they carry their bikes:) We followed several people on vacation in them as we biked along a segment of the canal. Looked like a great way to visit several towns along the canal.

  16. Beautiful birds (love the first two shots of the green heron too) and webs and turtles - glad the shedding is a natural thing!

  17. Oh yes the Green Herons are wonderful - that burgundy color is amazing. Kingfishers always look like serious old men with messy hair :-) How fun to learn something new about turtles from seeing it "live"! Thanks for sharing your discovery. For such a quiet looking paddle I'm surprised by the size and number of pleasure and working boats. Always interesting to see such different ways of life in this big country.

  18. Nice to take a historical paddle. Your bird shots are always amazing but that dew on the spider webs is just over the top Superb! Nature is amazing! And so are you two.

  19. What a fabulous day! So glad you were able to get out and kayak in such a beautiful spot. Your jeweled spiderweb photo is magical. And your photos of the Green Herons and Belted Kingfisher are spectacular! I didn't know that turtles shed parts of their shells—very interesting.

  20. Fantastic nature shots! I am especially fond of your politally correct "Green" heron, the kingfisher and especially the turtle shedding a scute, but there are many runners up in the best picture category on this paddle. Yes, Nature is amazing. Equally amazing to me is that mankind globally does not take more seriously the need to protect and preserve nature, not just for nature's sake, but for our own survival & well being.

    I think your 3 turtles are playing "I'm following the leader, the leader" a little too closely perhaps. ;)

  21. When I was a boy growing up in the area Montezuma Swamp was my eastern border. That was back in the days of the pesticide DDT. Try as I might I was never able to spot a Bald Eagle and so I am thrilled to see them return. The fact that avian life there is so abundant now is also a pleasing bit of knowledge.



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