Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oyster River

There is a light wind coming down the coast when I set out.  It is one and a half hours to high tide, which gives me plenty of time to reach and enter the Oyster River, which is where I first stop to write.

An overcast sky above the sea with the sun filtering through somewhere off to the east creates the special atmospherics that big water and big deserts bring.  Objects on the horizon float above that line, although whether they are there or beyond the horizon or much closer is unknown.  It is distinctly indistinct.

In the Oyster River

(My pencil slips from my mouth as i try to take a photo of a bird and the pencil bounces twice on the gunwale and then does a quick spiral to the bottom of the river.  Fortunately, it is knee deep and with the flooding tide the water is clear.  I get my pencil back.)

Immature yellow crowned (or black crowned) night heron

Watching the great egret standing on the edge of the old stone bridge foundation I fail to notice the green heron that is just below it watching me until I am not much more than ten feet away.  It flies off behind me and then clucks its disapproval.  And while I write that, there is noise in the tree above and an osprey takes wing.

After the fourth bend there is a large tree that came down over the river.  Ten egrets - 4 snowys and 6 greats - perch there along with two cormorants.  As much as possible, I set the paddle down and drift in on them, and they stay put much more than I would expect.  The last two great egrets don't leave until I am a canoe length away, where I needed to take up my paddle to steer my way through the branches.  The cormorants, unlike cormorants, stay put and let me pass with no concern except that one of them throws up three small fish, which does seem somewhat cormorant-like at that.

Great egret

I continue and once I get passed the distractions that nature has thrown at me...egrets as sleight of hand, I realize that there might be two dozen egrets and maybe six or eight black crowned and yellow crowned night herons perched in the fully leafed trees on the south side of the river.  I pass a kingfisher, a flock of small sandpipers, two lesser yellow legs, some mallards, two molting Canada geese, and a red-tailed hawk.  I notice that invasive phragmites reeds are only in the very top of the marsh (probably due to the salinity being low enough for them to survive) and the dominant plants are the short and long spartina grasses that should be here - and this is all connected to the quantity and diversity of the birds that I am seeing.  It is good.

Yellow crowned night heron

1 comment:

nsarmila said...

that immature night heron got so beautiful a costume !