BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise from the kayak at Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

Two weeks back now, on a cool morning that also marked the opening of fishing season here in NEPA, I made my first visit to Fords Pond for this kayaking season.  And, as always, it was anything but disappointing.  For a small pond tucked up into the hills, shallow across its entire length and only about 2.5 miles around, its a veritable paradise for the paddler and photographer alike.

Fords can almost always promise fog in the marsh, which ignites like gold as the sunrises, as well as abundant wildlife ranging from wheeling flocks of Tree Swallows to perched Bald Eagles.  And if nothing else, it’s a comfortable, relaxing place to while away a summer’s morning on the water.

BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise over the marsh at the north end of Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

BRENT PENNINGTON Long roots reach forth from weathered stumps in the shallow marsh at the north end of Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

I tend to spend most of my time in the marshy northern end, where the scenery is a little more interesting, and the land-based fishing crowd is left behind.  There pond makes a deep strike into the surrounding woodland, at the tip of which is a true marsh choked with sedge and rush and populated by herons and Red-winged Blackbirds, by wandering White-tailed Deer, and by a seemingly endless population of turtles.

BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise over the marsh at the north end of Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise over the marsh at the north end of Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

A bit farther around the shoreline is broken with the curves and lines of old stumps, weather-worn and bark-less.  They hulk in the shallows, their roots far larger than you expect as they reach out across the water, frequently brushing against the bottom of the kayak as I slide overhead.  Sitting here about a half-hour after true sunrise, you know that the sun will come up in just the right place to throw them into silhouette against the fog.

BRENT PENNINGTON Sunrise over the marsh at the north end of Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

As I start back down the western shore I leave behind the best of the landscapes, but am rewarded in other ways, as this last stretch is prime birding territory.  I can count on geese nesting on the same few stumps, on the Red-wings calling from the cattails, and on herons hunting the shallows.  And in fact I often wind up spending more time along this stretch than in the rest, and if the birding is really good, my two-hour paddle can become three hours or more.

BRENT PENNINGTON A vintage barn as seen from across the marsh at Fords Pond on the morning of 18 April 2015.

Shooting info: while I had the E-M5 & bird lens with me and used them later, for this first part of my outing I used the TG-3.  It’s a bit of a change, but also rather nice having a wide-angle lens that can sit in the bottom of the boat without fear of it getting wet.  Also, for some of the marsh photos I’m experimenting with some different processing, including some Split-Channel coloring.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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