Sunday, May 29, 2016

Return for Status

S and I set out from the usual place in the large marsh at the mouth of the big river.  We came here to check on the things that I had seen earlier in the week.  When we put in the tide was still rising with about 3 hours to go, so we had a little bit of mud to push out through, but we could be sure of returning with the water high.

We crossed over to the point, watching the shore birds as they fed on the mud bottom that was still exposed in many places.  Besides the numerous sandpipers, there were a several least terns, the smallest of the terns, actively fishing...flitting and hovering and then diving headlong into the water after small fish.

We returned to where the fox skull was recovered.  With the water 2 feet lower than it was, I missed the spot, but only for a moment.  At this level there is a second lower ledge of spartina that was not noticed before.  We backtracked a short way and drifted right up to what was left of the skeleton.  This time I could reach in with a bare hand and retrieve it.  (backbone, pelvis, leg bone, few ribs, three bones from a foot)
Red fox bones
The next point of interest was the area around the swan nest where we had seen the cygnets go leave the nest for the first (and last) time and enter the water.   The swans were farther down the channel, the nest unattended as expected and as it should be.  In the nest were five unhatched eggs and one dead cygnet that could not have lived more than a few moments past hatching.  I was surprised that this swan laid eight eggs in order to hatch only two. 

mute swan nest (abandoned May 24)
But, I rarely have spotted swans with more than one cygnet and the most I've seen is the pair on the Mattebasset who had 3 last year, which grew to full size as well.  We found the swans upstream two hundred yards, the six day old cygnets looking healthy and well guarded by both of their parents.  We gave them time to swim away before passing.

cygnets hatched about May 24
The swan nest at the upstream end is still occupied.

We started to spot glossy ibises at the upstream end of the marsh although they are not in the big flock of 50 as they were on Tuesday...that may be due to lower water level during this trip.  A few were in mid marsh, but most of the ones we spotted were aloft.

yellow crowned night heron
The SW wind came up as the water rose... a bit more work to paddle into but a bit also more pleasant on a warm day.  We returned through the narrow diagonal channel to the point and then rounded the marsh towards the put-in.  We spotted one black crowned night heron and a half dozen yellow crowned night herons as we went.

1 comment:

MyrtleMeander said...

Lovely shot of the yellow-crowned heron, and nice job finding the remains of the fox skeleton!