Category Archives: Water

The Pond in Winter

Wow, what a warm winter it’s been! Although today is predicted for a high of 37 (F), as those of you who live in this area know, the temperature has been in the 50s for weeks – very warm for December in New England. Christmas is nearly upon us, but the lack of seasonally-appropriate weather seems to have robbed almost everyone I know of a sense of “Christmas spirit”. (At least, amongst those who celebrate Christmas.)

On the up side, the warmer weather means I have gotten to go outdoors at lunchtime and take photographs! I am by no means a professional photographer, but I’ve been experimenting with a loaner camera.  Not surprisingly, wildlife photos are proving to be very difficult (the lag time causes me to “lose” the subject, and focus can be a challenge), but here are some early efforts.

 

Mallard 121315
Male Mallard 12/14/15
Canada Goose 201415
Canada Goose 12/14/15
Black Ducks 121615
American Black Ducks 12/14/15

We also had this unexpected visitor: a red-necked grebe in winter plumage. It is unusual to see this bird on such a small body of water. It was a bit shy and stayed in the middle of the pond.

121415 red-necked grebe Umass Amherst pond copy
Red-necked Grebe 12/14/15

Photos aside, this warmer weather does not signify anything good about the condition of our planet. Here’s to colder temperatures in the days to come!

Connecticut River Valley watershed

Bartons Cove plunge pools

Check out my new article in the local paper on the Connecticut River Valley watershed!

It explains what a watershed is, provides some geological and historical details about the this region in particular, and links to the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Source-to-Sea cleanup. Here’s a preview of the article:

If you’re like I was a few years ago, you may be wondering, “What is a watershed, anyway?”

In fact, the word “shed” is quite descriptive of this geographic phenomenon. Much like rain cascading down one side or another from a shed’s roof, a watershed can be thought of as a geographic area defined by ridges of high ground that determine which direction water travels en route to a major basin, river or ocean.

A large watershed can encompass many smaller watersheds. For instance, the largest watershed on any given continent is defined by the continental divide. In North America, the continental divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Broadly speaking, rivers to the west of the Rocky Mountains flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers to the east flow to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, within these enormous watersheds are many smaller regional and local watersheds. The dominant regional watershed in our area is the Connecticut River Valley, whose drainage basin encompasses five states, one Canadian province and 11,260 square miles.

Approximately 410 miles long and passing through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Connecticut is the longest river in New England. It starts at a small pond known as the Fourth Connecticut Lake…

If you are interested in improving the Connecticut River’s water quality, see here for details and updates on this year’s Source-to-Sea cleanup. (As of last year, the cleanup project had removed almost 900 TONS of trash from the watershed over the last 18 years!) It’s not too late to jump in – the cleanup runs through the end of the day today!  See you there!