Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tide Race

I planned to return to the East River and push as far up as possible, which is rumored to be about 6 miles.  It will be a long day, but the trip should run with the tide current for most of the distance. 

I get to the state launch at the mouth of the East River about 3 hours before high tide.  The water is already high, perhaps just 2-1/2 feet below the level of the parking lot.  Plans change.  I don't remember the tide chart in detail, but I do know that today is a high high tide and I suspect that the interior of the car will be wet if it is still parked here at the turn of the tide.  I'll go out one hour and return.

The willets are quiet today.  On my previous trips I have been scolded, decoyed and followed.  As I round the first bend, a willet call directs my attention and I find a young flightless bird, about 2/3 the size of an adult on the shore.  It seems that the young are mobile and out of the nest, and the adults are free to go about their business as well.  Such as it is, I see relatively few willets on this trip. 

The bird counters are working a different location closer to the Neck River (they've been counting endangered sparrows).  I consider swinging over there and asking them about the tides since they would've been here in the previous days.  But, I just decide to keep a close eye on the level and guess at it.

Osprey are more active today than in the past.  I don't count, but there seems to be more of them.  It may be that some of the young ones are already able to fly.  Seeing a third osprey in the nesting boxes is pretty common and a good sign.

The canoe moves along well and I arrive in places that I have been before quick enough that it feels strange.  Four snowy egrets perch together in the dead-half-down tree upstream of the highway bridge.  When they fly off, the fly off together.  I lose track of egrets...a snowy or great seems to always be in sight.  But, I am enjoying the snowys most...they are letting me in close and their colors seem brilliant - all white feathers with a black bill, black legs, and bright yellow feet as if they were wearing rain boots.

I turn at the stone bridge.  It is time to get to the car and move it, if necessary.  I paddle steady and hard and take no breaks for writing or photos, except for a couple photographs of the four snowy egrets whose necks and heads are moving together, bodies obscured, through the grass.

Coming to Cedar Island, I pass a couple great egrets with three glossy ibises and while I want a good photo of them, I don't have time, the water now at the edge of the spartina, the mud banks fully covered.  Over the top of the marsh I can see the bird counters loading their canoe on their truck.  The water should be at the edge of the parking lot.  I press on, paddling into a light headwind, using the inside of bends where the opposing current is slowest.

I paddle over the bank and into the parking lot finding the car perfectly safe, standing in three inches of rising water.

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