Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Red Throated Loon Waits

The red-throated loon is waiting at the mouth of the harbor as it often does when the tide is flooding into Gulf Pond. It does not approve of my arrival and flies off seaward out through the two stone jetties, its white underside showing me from some distance what bird it happens to be.

But, it is not yet high tide and I have an appointment to keep, so I turn straight away into Gulf Pond turning my back on calm seas and a thin fog that doesn't hide Charles Island, which is 2000 yards distant.  The current sends me under the rusty bridge with ease and my rate continues to be faster than I expect as I continue up the middle of the pond.  This could be tide, but I suspect it might be my schedule-to-keep in the back of my mind.

I arrive at the stone bridge having seen a few dozen buffleheads, a kingfisher, a great blue heron and several black ducks.  I have arrived before high tide and I ride a fast current with foot high riffles down a six inch drop into the Indian River.  The flow is upstream, but for how far I don't know.

At the highway bridge where I spotted the raccoon a couple days back, I stop to inspect the muddy shelves on either side of the underpass.  Not only are raccoon tracks present, but on both sides there are fresh deer prints.

I continue up to the log jam where I have always turned back.  I think I can go farther, but would rather wait for when I have my rubber boots.  I notice that I happen to be where the downstream flow is meeting the upstream tide.

Before I get back to the stone bridge, I turn into one of the little openings that branch off of the river.  It is ten to fifteen feet wide and goes much further than I expected.  It is a constant meander, a tight bending left and then right through low grasses and leafless hedges.  It takes me right up to a cooper's hawk, which takes flight as I approach.  I have hit the end of the road and turn back.

I go back over my route with little change from when I came except that the fog has come in.  I can still see the length of half the pond, but at the harbor entrance Charles Island is no longer there.

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