Friday, July 5, 2013

Mapping the East River in My Head

I ask S where she wants to go.  I have three new rivers for her to see.  They are all worthwhile, and all a bit different.  One is freshwater with forests and meadows and lots of tight meanders.  Another is tidal, but above the brackish water, and well treed with lots of shade for a hot day.  The last is tidal and open land starting near the sea, but the bird life is excellent - the East River.

We set out from the state launch on a long sand point that is way too exposed for the dozen houses that are built on it.  The low tidal flats marsh has the short variety of spartina grass, the kind that prefers places where it doesn't get inundated with every high tide, only with the highest of high tides.  The willets and osprey are active, and when we get upstream to the second osprey box, which is well back from the river, we spot 5 great egrets and eight glossy ibises all in one small area.  The sparrow counting team is on the opposite bank and they report a slow day, only six of the sparrows that they are counting in three hours.

Glossy Ibises

The tide is near high and the current in the river is slack.  The ocean wind pushes us upstream when the river hasn't turned to one side or the other.  We notice that the river changes character with each bridge.  Passing under the railroad bridge, the ocean tidal flats give way to a wide marsh valley that is constrained by rising forest lands.  Passing under the highway bridge, the valley narrows more and the surrounding land rises higher.  The willets disappear and the singing of marsh wrens dominates.

We continue pass my previous turn around point and come to a older stone bridge.  The river valley narrows more, and now the osprey are gone, although they surely come here.    I spot a stand of miniature cattails.

"We'll just go up to that flat topped tree and see what the river looks like." And, it looks like it will go a mile or a few farther as far as any canoe is concerned. But, we turn and paddle with the current, back into the ocean breeze when the river isn't turning to one side or the other.

We both agree that this might be the best tidal rivers that we have paddled in Connecticut.

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