Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taking the Neighbor Kid

J calls the night before.  I'd offered him a trip and our schedules finally connect.  We do the portage to the aptly named Portage Bay, although we are not using the portage that the bay is named for.  It is a cool wintery day and while the wind is calm when we leave the house, it is coming up by the time we meet the water.  We spend some time before canoeing admiring a very large alder that the beaver have cut during the last month. It is more than two feet across at the base, neatly cut in a cone a foot from the ground.  Since they've taken it down they have removed almost all of the bark from 60 foot of tree.  It is beautifully patterned with teeth marks over the entire length.

I show J the work trails that the beaver leave on the lodges when they do fall home repairs - the 3 or 4 obvious trenches leading from the water to the top of the lodge.  It is how you know beaver live in the lodge even if you haven't seen them.  Then we head over towards the bank burrow, but the shallow water keeps us well away.  this winter the Corps of Engineers has lowered the water an extra 3 or 4 inches, which makes a big difference in marsh paddling.

Wind is still rising as we aim for the 'crossing under place'.  We head up the west islands and stop briefly to look for tracks at one of the muddy shoreline spots.  Lots of fresh raccoon.  Then we make rounds through my usual places in the north end, then cut south across the bay after I make J promise not to tip us over in the under 50 degree water.  We get out again in the east marsh where J teaches me a few things about mushrooms.  He's spotted edible oyster mushrooms here, but I notice that while he's pointing stuff out they aren't so different from some poisonous ones.

In the south lagoons we find some northern shovelers, green winged teal and a northern pintail.  Before taking out, we stop and chat with 3-Stars and compare notes with what he's been seeing.  It is windy.  The day has become raw.

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