Friday, December 7, 2012

When the sky and ocean are one

The day is flat, a level and even overhead of clouds that runs to all horizons and joins seamlessly where it meets the ocean, so seamlessly in calm air that one can not see where the sky ends and the water begins.

I find the red-throated loon at the head of the harbor not far from where the fresh water enters from the Wepawaug River.  But on this day, I walk past the bird on my portage to where I put in.  There is an eighth inch sheet of ice in the quiet places in the harbor where the water is recharged with fresh water from the river. 

I am heading for the feral cat park, which is a near half day trip from here.  It is a good trip to take when the air is so still.  The tide is low and dropping and when I turn the point at the mouth of the harbor, I head west aiming for the midpoint of the bar that joins the land with Charles Island.  I may have to portage ten feet or so when I get there...a fair exchange for the longer route out and around the island.  The low tide can create some lengthy detours as it exposes sand bars and groins along the shore, but when I get to the river I should have some of the flood current pushing me along.

The clammers are working their allotments in the near waters.

When I get to the bar, I coast over it at a low spot on just 4 inches of water, and then I continue paddling. 

greater scaups - a flock of 500+

A half mile from the bar, there is a very large flock of ducks.  I photograph them several times as I close distance on them as I would like to identify the species.  They are skittish.  These ducks are migrating.  Still 200 yards away, they scare splitting the flock in half as they take off.  It is 500 ducks or more.  As I watch them head south out over Long Island Sound, the two halves join.  Their flight away is not casual and it is not to get distance on me.  They are Greater Scaups and they are going somewhere.  I think about how large flocks of birds were once common and not something to be overly impressed with.  I am impressed.

I have paddled this route once before during a falling tide that was higher than today's water.  The sandbar at the mouth of the big river is many times larger than it was on my last trip although in the flat light and overcast, it is difficult to see the extent of it until one gets very close.  I find that I cannot shortcut the jetty like I did last time and I make a long detour out and around the wall of rock.  A portage would've been faster, but it would have left me with cold wet feet on a cold wet day.

I spot a common loon in the river.

It begins to rain, and it rains all of the way up the river.  It is a fine day to have to oneself.

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