Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Indian Summer

I started at the west end of the ferry route, surprised to find that the ferry was still running, although I imagine that it might be in the last few days for the year.  It is a glorious fall day and a fine one to set out in after a week of having a nasty head cold.  The air is almost calm, the sky cloudless, the sun low and casting the contrasts that one would expect, and the temperature climbing, already to shirt sleeve status.

I cross the river, head down and into the cove where I find two mute swans call back and forth, the nasal whistle and fart vocalization being heard clear from well back in the calm.  At the first big bend I flush a medium sized hawk...maybe a red flies a short distance to a new perch and I don't get a good look.  Just below that, two kingfishers are busy hunting and a short time later a coopers hawk sits high as I pass.

I slow down, softening the paddle only to make less noise, and listening for motion in the forest on either side of the channel.  Much is going on on such a nice day, but sound cannot be relied upon as a clue to what is there.  With the leaves on the ground a squirrel makes as much noise as a cow would.
coopers hawk

As I near the osprey nests, a dog squeak toy call signals the arrival of a pileated woodpecker, which lands only for a second in a tall dead snag before it thinks twice about sharing the area with me.  It flies back in its signature pulsing motion to the forested hillside across the marsh.  I turn up the long dead end channel that splits the lower tip of the island. 
three beaver scent mounds
It is a few hundred yards up to the first fork, and a bit more to a small somewhat ramshackle bank burrow that is worth keeping an eye on.  I've seen little beaver lodges like this triple in size in short order, which I believe is a sign of the beaver reaching breeding age.  Anyway, once at the fork, it is clear that the beaver are still active as it takes no effort whatsoever to spot eight rather large scent mounds, the territorial markings of beaver.

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