Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Game Change

Rain is the game changer. 

I put in near the mouth of the East River, but I time my start better so that I can paddle farther upstream.  Low tide has already passed by an hour and a half, so I will have the current with me.  It is calm and raining steady, but it is also warm.  The rain filters out many of the distractions of modernity.  The sound of the highway disappears and along with it the leaf blowers and lawn mowers, when one is close enough to houses to hear them.  But, perhaps more importantly, it filters out people.  The bird counters and turtle taggers aren't here today and neither are the nice couple in their sea kayaks.  I have the river to myself.  It becomes a wilder place.  Everyone responds in kind.

Egrets - great, snowy, snowy, great, great, great, great

Before I have gone a half mile, I spot thirteen egrets - a mix of snowys and greats, eight of them standing together on the edge of the river.  No one else has been this way this morning.  The osprey are out, but the willets seem to be lying low.  I find an immature black crowned night heron at the bend before the rockpile and I start spotting the occasional great blue heron. After the stone bridge, where the tall thin cattails start to grow along the banks, I spot the first of the green-backed herons. 

I get to my previous high point with plenty of water to move in.  Not much farther, the river necks down and becomes closely tree lined.  The course becomes shallow in places and is strewn with sizable boulders that must be maneuvered around.  Then, I catch up with the tide.  The current, which had gone slack now is opposing my journey.  Catching the front of the tide also means the water goes shallow.  I beach the canoe on a gravel bar and wade ahead on foot enough to see what may come on a later trip.  Further progress on the East River will require timing.  The high water tide marks show that the water was two feet higher at the last high tide.  Like my trips near home into the Indian River, exploring upriver from here will mean arriving here a bit before high tide, and leaving a bit after.

Coming out of the forest

Before I get back to the forested rock that is Cedar Island, I hear a high flying willet piping a steady warning.  A hawk is out overflying the broad plain of marsh grass, but there are few that would not know this.  For several minutes this one single willet flies circles along with the hawk, occasionally flying close, but not too close, and at a rate of several times a second, it pipes its warning without pause, until the hawk decides to hunt elsewhere, as do I.

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