Thursday, September 22, 2011

The first fall bird

I put in at the bottom of the Harrison Portage where a lone pied billed grebe dives while I load my canoe.  As I paddle downwind and up lake, a duck sized bird floats a 150 yards ahead.

There are no buffleheads, the season when the bay is decorated by thousands of the most beautiful of waterfowl is not yet here.  There are no geese at this time either, so change is in the game, fall is just here.

The duck sized bird dives sleekly and elegantly in a manner that shows it can only be a grebe.  Too small for the "western", it is probably a Clark's.  It flies off as I near, wasting no effort gathering altitude and following a path as near perfectly straight as I have ever seen any bird fly, never more than 2 feet above the water until my eye can no longer resolve it against the steel gray water.  This bird is fall.  It is a recent arrival.

At Potlatch Point, something dark and about the size of the palm of my hand watches me approach.  It surfaces twice and then is gone. 

I head back into the big dead end of the east marsh only to find that the Corps of Engineers must be trying to reach new record low lake levels.  The final 50 yards is too shallow, the water perhaps 4 inches lower than I have ever seen it. 

As I leave the south lagoon, 3-Stars calls me over for a chat.  We watch a competency-challenged yatchsman fumble his "ship" into some state of mooringness for the pre-football-game act of drunken piracy and high-fiving while we discuss the recent and far more interesting natural events of the marsh.  We are now on a first name basis.

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