Aug 14, 2011

The Jock River, Heron's, Osprey's, Turtles and Frogs

Good day all, hope everyone is having a GREAT weekend!    Once again Ottawa has had another fine weather weekend, this year is going to go down in history as an amazing summer.  I took Friday off work and Jen and I took a paddle in a new place for us both, the Jock River, which is not located very far from Ottawa.  Saturday afternoon/evening we were out with friends and awoke this morning to a lovely morning on the farm.

On the recommendation of a friend, I dug out Google Earth and started poking around on the maps and the internet about the Jock River.    Being a huge Rideau fan myself, I was a bit skeptical as to just how good it would be.  I figured a marshy mud pit at best.   But the talk of wildlife and birds won me over.

We loaded up the boat and I packed my D200 with the big 80-200mm lens.  I figured no landscape stuff for me, birds, wildlife or nothing.  Besides, Jen had the wide angle lens on her camera so our bases would be covered.  She was cursing for having the wrong lens, something I normally do.

We arrived at a little park off Fallowfield and walked down to the launch point, I almost bailed right there.  Muddy water, small dock (that someone had dumped a picnic table on) and just not very appealing looking.   I thought again about by beloved Rideau but stayed the course.

Everyone knows I'm my own worst critic, but I have to get the excuses out right now about the images, even though they are good;

1.  I was shooting from a boat, don't think it's easy till you try.  Having all your camera gear in a tippy canoe is nerve racking!  Not to mention the weight of that big friggin lens.  Hold that in the sky with your hands while spinning in a floating canoe trying not to tip the boat.

2.  The sun was at it's worst part of the day.  This was 11am-3pm.   The worst shooting time.

3.  My 80-200mm f2.8 is a great lens, but bird work needs a 400mm prime!!!!  ;-)

4.  I have no experience with birds.

5.  Cropping images to get the birds does degrade the images.

Ok, caveats over, lets move onwards with the trip.  (click the images for bigger version)

We had heard that their was a weir just to the north of the launch so we headed off in that direction first, sure enough, just around the corner we hit the weir and were forced to turn around and head south having answered the long held question "what's around that corner".   As we proceeded we immediately recognized frogs and turtles EVERYWHERE.  And looking up, I spotted this Osprey sitting in the tree, he'd become my nemesis as the day grew on.

This guy refused to be intimidated by us and was the only turtle who refused to leave his log and swim away.  He just pulled his legs and head into his shell and stayed put.  Seems he liked the sun more then the water.

Trying to be artistic without my landscape lens.   All along the paddle route we came across these old pilings from bridges that were used to cross the river to the farmers fields.  Had a great chat about them from one of the locals who came down to the waters edge to chat with us.

 Caught this Heron checking us out, I couldn't resist leaving his water reflection in the water.

 Same shot, just zoomed in more on the Heron.

 Caught him again taking off from another spot.

Meanwhile, back to the Osprey, he continued to dodge us off and on all day.  It was soon apparent that there was more then one.  How did we know this?  One of them was carrying a fish in his claws all day.  Later we discovered there was at least 3 different birds and I think there might have been 4.   Every time we'd get close he'd take off further down the river.  I suspect he was concerned that we were trying to take the fish away from him.

 A fun bird to watch, but very frustrating to get a good picture off shooting into the a bright sky.

 All along the river are thousands upon thousands of these little frogs sitting on the "seaweed".  Look close, there are 2 of them in this image.

 Note his lunch between his claws.

There is an Osprey stand at the park where we launched.  This was from the waterside but we discovered later that you can view it from land.  I plan to go back with a tripod on a day with better light.   So there were 2 here and at least 1 other flying around.

In the about sequences, I put the original shot on the top and the cropped close in version on the bottom.   Cropping does take away some of the detail but uncropped original shots give the full perspective.

 This is one cool bird that was fun to watch.   They are amazing!

So the Jock River is now on my list of places to revisit and a GREAT place for photographers.  There are birds and marine animals everywhere.  Not pictured but there were hundreds of pipers running around.  I expect the place will have loads of ducks the right time of year as well.   It's an easy paddle and very sheltered from the winds, it was blowing 10km's but it was dead calm on the water.  Also very little current to contend with.   There were no motorboats and I expect all you'd ever see in here is small fishing boats.   I noted lots of minnows and we caught the odd splash of bigger fish.  Given the large numbers of frogs, the river is obviously very healthy right now despite the muddy/sediment appearance.

Expect to see more pictures from this great area in the future, I want to get back and "hunt" those Ospreys with the camera!   I'm going to try and snag a few of Jen's landscape shots to show the river itself.   Very pretty and only minutes from Ottawa.

Hope you enjoyed the images.  Have a great week everyone.


  1. Great photos Scott! Glad you've got another area to add to your favorite haunts. :)

  2. Wow -- what a happening spot ... :D Beautiful photos -- I especially love the frogs. :D

  3. Wow thanks Scott, glad I commented on G+ now