Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Last Spring and the First Nest

I leave the house on my portage thinking about this being my last spring here in the marsh.  If all goes as planned, next spring will be in a different marsh in a river that is new to me and that seems to be an awful long ways off.  It takes little time and few steps for waves of emotion to overtake me.  At times, the waves come as tears and I am thankful to not be having the usual conversations that occur on portages.  At one point, I block the narrow street as I walk, two cars ahead and two cars behind, waiting for me to get out of the way.  But, instead of being angry, they smile or wave when I finally let them pass.  I take my pencil and notebook out when I get to the big cedar that sits on the outside of the big bend in the switchback section of the Harrison Portage.

The big lake is calm under the high thin layer of clouds.  It is a grebe day here, for some reason.  There is one pied billed, a pair of large westerns, and a dozen or so of the mid-sized, which are either eared or clark's...I cannot distinguish them without the binoculars that I never carry.  An eagle appears sweeping out from behind a cottonwood.  A male bufflehead bobs his head in a dance designed to impress his mate.  Four cranes stand on the opposite shore, their long necks visible from this distance as they lift metal, gravel and cement for the new bridge.  They are the harbingers of doom for the marsh as I know it.  Folly on a dozen counts.  It is one thing that makes me look forward to this being my last spring.

as far as I can go into the beaver forest
I stop at the big lodge to check for a goose nest.  There is no nest yet, but there is a pair of Canada geese staking claim.  I push as far as I can back into the beaver forest and the two geese fly in and land and then watch me through the hummocks and wood tangles.  As I paddle out, one of them comes straight at me, near hovering just a few feet away, making itself look quite huge.  It is a threat for sure, and it lands and then circles me closely, the glare in its eye can not be mistaken for anything other than warning.

The cattail island of the east marsh is once again on the move with the high water.  I find it wedged under the bridge and the western channel has opened up once more.  Paired geese are all around in this area, but none have a nest, yet.  At the opening of the big dead end, there is a male marsh wren on either side, announcing there many nests.  I find one that is unusually out in the open, for a marsh wren nest.

marsh wren nest

As I near the workbench lodge, I spot a nesting goose.  It is high on the south side, very close to where a pair nested last spring.  She does not move a feather as I observe.  Because of this first nest, I head over to Broken Island, a usual nesting spot, but the geese there have not nested.

I take out and have the first of several conversations with people as I portage home.  Everything is as it should be today.  It is enough.


Kathleen Faulkner said...

You will be missed.

nsarmila said...

scott, you again captured me with such a beautiful heading !