Monday, May 5, 2014

Something New and Something I Should've Known

A lesser yellow legs walks ahead patiently on the left shore until I drift too near and then it begins its sentinel call, which alerts the nesting osprey on the right shore, and it begins its sentinel whistle.  "Beware the man in the canoe."  I'd say there is no peace, but this is the peace of any wild place, no matter how small.

I have both a stiff headwind and a strong current to work against.  The water level is still above normal from last week's rains and the low tide compounds that into a steeper gradient.

Quinnipiac River
Snowy Egret - left bank - What mechanism of evolution has caused the snowy to have a black bill and canary yellow feet while its larger cousin, the great egret has a yellow bill and black feet?  I'm pondering and paddling...and I notice that I've come to a standstill...time to move over into the slower water behind the sandbar.

I notice something that in five hundred some canoe trips I have never noticed before.  A shell midden.  But, not a man made shell midden from an ancient village.  This is an animal made midden...enough shells for a few good meals under a small root ball that would provide good cover from hunting raptors.  My eyes in tune, I find a dozen more in the next half mile.

Then, a herring gull swoops up to 50 or 75 feet and drops a pencil sized stick, and swoops down and catches it in midair.  It repeats this five or six times until it drops the stick nearly straight above me, and it thinks twice about swooping towards the man in the canoe.

Black crowned night heron

After the wild apple tree bend, I begin to push a pair of black crowned night herons up the river, hundred yard hops at a time, until I finally see them no more.  Just after the slate roofing tile midden, I find a third black crowned night heron.  Its right leg is broken and when it flies the damaged limb dangles.  I don't know how this will effect the birds survival, but it seems to move well enough and it doesn't rely on talons to catch food.

At the highway bend, two baltimore orioles criss-cross the river.  I don't care what they are doing, they are too pretty to not watch.

I turn back just after the highway bridge.  Here, the river current is stronger.  It is a lot of careful maneuvering during normal water levels, but today the high and fast water is creating a menagerie of strong eddies and whirlpools and unpredictable currents.  It isn't worth the effort or risk to go farther.

The trip back is fast, the bank speeds by, but the rate is most noticable when the water is shallow and I can see the bottom as the canoe races over.  It was a 3 to 1 river today...2 hours up and about 40 minutes down.

1 comment:

Randall Mikkelsen said...

Always some thing new and cool. In 500 trips, no less!