Monday, August 11, 2014

Bird Show

We put in at the top of the Hamden cornfield, a huge marsh that has been taken over by invasive phragmites.  I tell S that the canoe guidebooks send people down river from here, into the cornfield, and how it is a sticky hot lifeless paddle.  Just like canoeing in a cornfield.  We go upriver under a low overcast that will burn off with the sun.

The tide is just coming in, but not so much that there is an upriver current, yet.  The mud banks of the Quinnipiac are exposed, showing decades of abuse.  I suppose they would show a couple centuries of abuse, but the artifacts of the pre-industrial age tend to dissolve, and are less numerous for sure.  At the first broadening where the river opens up and is bordered by modern highways and landfills, I point out the shell middens left behind by muskrats and other asian clam eaters.

This is one of those rivers that penetrates the wilds of civilization.  Bricks from a brick factory line the bank for a distance, car parts for another, a patch of roofing slate, and left behind railroad materials.  But, for all of that, its inaccessibility to people returns it to a wild place.  And, in return for our meager efforts, we are rewarded with a fine bird show...not so much in numbers as much as in variety...night herons, egrets, swans, osprey and hawks, a female red breasted merganser, a cardinal, several kingfishers, a great blue heron, and a duck I didn't recognize in its off-breeding colors, but it sure could swim underwater.  And, a woodchuck runs away off of a low overhanging tree and back to the safety of the bank.

We turned back earlier than usual because of a new deadfall tree that has crossed the river since this spring.  The choice of a high drag over it or a messy portage on a greasy mud bank didn't appeal...and I know that there is more of that upstream.

So, we turned back and talked about art and poked into an inlet that I'd never bothered with that turned out to be a decent sized bay, and S worked on the stationary draw stroke that I had just taught her.

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