The first bird of note that I see is an osprey that comes down the big lake from the north, head on at me. I identify them from a distance where there is nothing to gauge their size by the flapping of their wings. They fall somewhere between a heron and a bald eagle....and I always go through the process of thinking, "that is not an eagle, that is not a heron."
When it passes, I spot a dark object ahead 100 yards. It moves and it moves not like a duck, which makes it a mammal. It dives and the bight of its smooth tapered tail lifts clear of the water for a second before disappearing....an otter. I stop when I get closer and get a few glimpses of that otter, but it is too busy to stay on the surface for more than a few seconds. But while I watch, a second osprey comes my way, perhaps drawn in by the otter's activity, which it may see as a signal of fish in the area.
I continue another couple hundred yards up the lake and a third osprey (or is it one of the others returning) overtakes me, and I watch it fly a mile ahead while I paddle.
A middle school class of Canada geese come by chaperoned attentively by two elders. Sometimes, people wonder how they can fly such precise vee's while migrating, but when you watch them from the day they hatch, you realize that their whole life is carefully ordered. They are continually guided and watched until they become part of the flock.
In the east marsh, I paddle the long dead end to see if anything has changed. The original route in is now closed to the narrowest of boats, but the other way still goes. The light is good at the edge of the beaver forest, the strong sun of today casting contrast on the thousand beaver gnawed limbs that come up out of the water. An agonizing piercing "skreek" announces the coming of a green backed heron. It almost lands in a branch before seeing me and continuing away.
And, I continue away, paddling the crossing under place, Portage Bay, ducking the NW wind in the dead lake until it suits me...when it is a quartering tailwind. It pushes me down to the south end and I walk up over the hill to home.
Historic Paddle Photo: 1907 - With Gun and Guide
7 hours ago