Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Wondered if I Might See Them

Before I can make my getaway, a car with a solo canoe pulls up.  Our boats are what one might call serious canoes...a bit too specific in design and a bit too expensive for someone that isn't, at least, somewhat serious.  Now, I'll chat with most anyone (that isn't exhibiting outright stupidity), but such boats signal like minds and create an opening for conversation.  T and I exchange information about previous trips.  I tell him about the high tide sneak from Bailey Creek into the East River, and he clues me in a bit about the Adirondacks.  The idea of paddling together isn't broached.  I suppose that people who are out paddling solo either want to paddle alone, or they don't have anyone to paddle with.  I don't go with coin tosses too often.

Cedar Island from Bailey Creek

There are not more osprey than one can count, but there are more osprey than I care to keep track of while trying to count.  It seems that all of the osprey that will nest in this area are already here.  All of the nest boxes have been taken and at least five or six can be seen in the air at any one time.  As I head up the Neck River, I spot two willets on the bank.  They are the early ones, because willets nest here in large numbers during the summer.  It might be my imagination, but they look thinner than I remember them, and that might be, their spring migration ending here.  They trot ahead of the canoe instead of flying off as if they have had enough flight time.  A couple of great egrets hunt out in the plain of spartina grass, the high tide placing me at a good vantage to see across the wide, still golden yellow marsh.

I take the turn off of the Neck and into Bailey Creek and in a few full meanders I cut back left into the sneak, a narrower channel that leads inland and back to the East River.  The sneak is only canoeable in the upper two feet or so of high tide.

There is a eight or ten yellow legs at the bend just above the mid-river rock pile, which is submerged but still shows its location by rippling the surface of the water.

Yellow Legs

I pass T near the old dam as he heads back down river.  But first, we pause and talk again.

The tide is with me today, and not just the direction of current, but the timing of water level as well.  I slip under the tree that fell across the river last summer and pass under the Foote Bridge, and over the berm of rocks just upstream of the bridge, and over the thick fallen tree that blocks passage except at high tide, and I continue into the forest until I get to the limbo gymnastics section of the river.  There is only another two or three hundred yards of paddleable water ahead, so it is a good place to turn back.

I wondered if I might see them.  I wondered when they would arrive in the marsh, and whether they would come in numbers or in ones and twos.  But there, on the low spartina island in the bend above the mid-river rock pile are fifteen glossy ibises.  My first two attempts at a photograph fail to focus on their inky dark brown bodies, but they stay near, flying as a flock when they fly and I am surprised most that they are not larger.  I have only seen them from a much greater distance and here, about 50 yards off, they turn out to be about the size of a snowy egret.
Glossy Ibis

I take the sneak back, the water having dropped but not so far as to stop my passage.  I find a fine raccoon track smartly laid on the side of a discarded wine bottle, and I come across two little blue herons, which are more blue than when I saw them last summer for the first time.  Now, the name makes more sense.
a rare example of a raccoon track


Dan McShane said...

Still very much enjoying your trips.

ncmc said...

I see you got past the tree in the river. I also got a good look at the Ibis while heading downriver after seeing them from far off going up. Looking forward to exploring the sneak between the Neck and the East next time.