Sunday, December 29, 2013

Calf Pen Creek

The first bird drifts 50 yards off of the mast, a sixty foot tall wood pole, actually a whole tree bole, that serves as a flag pole for a neighborhood.  Old sea charts show a mast in that area as a navigation landmark for ships.  It's possible that the mast has been replaced as need be since those days, a holdover from a tradition of not fooling around with seafaring landmarks.  I have to look at the bird several times, distant as it is and the waves not letting me hold a glass on it, but finally, it turns its head just so and I can see white on the throat and breast and with its head held as it is, I know its name to be, Loon.  It dives and stays under for a good part of a minute surfacing fifty yards farther out - loon.

In the distance, the terminal moraine of the Wisconsin Glacier -  AKA, Long Island

Four ducks float together a 100 yards out to sea.  Dark shapes in a bobbing chop, their names go unknown.

But, just after I have passed the mast, I see a lone male long-tailed duck bouncing in the chop, the color pattern unmistakable.

There is often a chop of unknown origin as I round this short section of shore coming up to Pond Point.  Today is just that.  But, as I sit near the point, it seems that the water is flowing north, a possible trick on the eyes played by the light wind and shallow waters.  But, as I write some notes, I see that I am, in fact, drifting slowly back.  Apparently, in the ebbing tide, the waters in the small bay at Calf Pen Creek sweep around the point rather than out to sea, as common sense would tell me it would.

I work my way into Calf Pen Creek, paddling upstream against the draining tide and using the underside of the low bridge to propel myself past the narrowest and fastest flow.  It is quiet, as usual in the small tidal marsh.  Just past the second bridge, I sight a kingfisher on an old piling before it has time to get up and scold me.  Rounding the next bend, I surprise two hooded mergansers, spot two Canada geese, and flush a few black ducks and mallards.  Tracks in the mud show that there were more geese here, and I find them as I spin the canoe to exit, a dozen geese watching me from where the first two were...and a hooded merganser swims out of a side channel, spots me, and flies off.

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