Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Black and White Bird Day

I walk the Harrison portage. It has been a week since my last trip, a week of clouds and rain combined with wind.It is a black and white bird day on the big lake. A cormorant (black) surfaces far too close to me as I load the canoe. I wonder how far it has come beneath the water to make such an error. A contingent of buffleheads (black and white) float a bit farther out. Just far enough that I do not threaten them. As I kneel in the canoe and move off from shore, a crow (black) bids me farewell from somewhere inside one of the evergreens. Moving north on calm water I come across some goldeneyes (black and white for all intensive purposes). A cormorant (black) takes off with a pied billed grebe (gray) in formation and I think that I have never seen a pied billed grebe fly. I may be wrong.

At the point of the bay, I stop on the shore of the rich townhouses. I find a plastic 5 gallon pail and half fill it with other debris and then leave it for the groundskeeper amongst a fifteen stored canoes and kayaks. It is kayak and canoe abuse at it's worst. They have left their boats sitting upright on the lawn all winter and now they are full of water. It is a good way to destroy a good boat and a surefire way to destroy a bad one.

I cross the mouth of the bay to the east point and work slowly up the shoreline. Four swans (white)are about 3/4 mile north. I come in slow enough that they leisurely swim wide of me, never letting me closer than 250 yards.

I beach the canoe on the firm ground that once was under the long gone railroad pier inside the NE lagoon. I'm here to retrieve some of my orange survey tape from my map project. I hate finding that stuff in the forest when I am imagining that I am the first one to ever stand where I am.

beaver hind foot

There are good beaver tracks all over and fresh gnawings in all directions. in my element

I push through the brush to the backside of the north marsh, just to see what the north marsh looks like from a different vantage point. I find a small canal that no map other than my own will ever show.

The sun burns through the clouds as I return to my canoe. As I leave the NE lagoon the four swans have become fourteen. Two are immature (gray).

I spend the rest of the day surveying on the north shore. A couple passing by tells me that they saw the last ten swans fly in.

It is a more beautiful day than it was when I started. Many people are out walking and watching birds, as they should be, just as they should be.

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