Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Osprey Returning to the Salmon

One osprey stayed long after all of the others had left on their southern migration in the fall.  That osprey was still here on my last trip before the freeze.  Now, one osprey sits on the first nest, just 500 yards up from where I started.  It could be the same, no one would know, but this one seems to be here before the others.

The paddle up the cove is into a headwind.  It's a spring day all around - a little chill in the air, a little wind, and a lot of sun.  The air is clear, the sky very blue.  I follow the edge of the cove, hiding from the wind as much as I can.

osprey entering the water

Just before the mouth of the Moodus, an osprey overtakes me and almost as quickly dives into the water after fish.  I guide the canoe over to shore where I can nestle it in some branches and for the next ten minutes I watch the osprey make repeated attempts at catching a fish.  Unsuccessful, it flies off over to the treed slope of Mt. Tom for a breather.  And as I continue, a woodpecker makes a racket clearly heard over 1/3 of a mile of water and a mature bald eagle sweeps across the front of Mt. Tom.
osprey exiting the water

The Moodus once held more than a dozen twine and textile mills.  For the first couple hundred yards of the river I can count, for each canoe length, two or three pieces of broken ceramic on the river bottom.  It is not particularly modern trash.  The first mill dam, an impassable one, is only 3/4 of a mile upriver from the mouth at Johnsonville.

Rounding the two tight bends, which always have some swift current to contend with, I scare off two common mergansers, and a muskrat swims across the river to evade upstream along the bank.  I turn back when I get to the bottom of Johnsonville and find a pair of tennis shoes stuck 3 feet deep in a sandbar.  You never find pairs of shoes.  The only way you find pairs of shoes is if they are connected.  I steady the canoe in the current well enough to flip one shoe with the tip of my paddle, and not finding a foot inside, I can continue.  The shoes are tied together with the laces.

the mouth of the Moodus

I head up the Salmon River on calmer air, the valley being narrower and protected.  I go as far as the Leesville Dam.  There is a good amount of current, the Salmon being reasonably long and draining a good amount of forested land.  Another osprey flies over.

As I pass that first nest on the way out, I find that there isn't one osprey but instead it is a nesting pair already at work adding sticks to their previous work (ospreys return to the same nest each year).

The count - six osprey, one (possibly two) mature bald eagles, 16 swans, about the same number of common mergansers, a couple wood ducks, a muskrat, and a few swallows.

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