Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Industrial Margins

I've neglected the full spectrum of waterway environments and so I head to someplace that has been on my list but too often pushed aside.

I put in in the next town east in the bay that forms New Haven Harbor, such as it is.  Much of it is far too shallow to be a useful harbor, but some large seagoing vessels do come in on the east side.  I follow the west shore in to the mouth of the West River.  I have paddled a higher section of the river and while most people overlook it or joke about it, the upper part is a rather nice creek type paddle bounded by marsh and forest until it finally becomes a cement lined canal.  This lower section is more industrial.  Old warehouses and factories with the usual associated pilings begin the journey. 

Wildlife is scarce but varied, at least as far as birds go.  I spot a couple terns and a couple of egrets right away.  A pair of completely unexpected willets are flushed from the narrowest of spartina grass margins along the bank.  The warehouses yield to old landfill, a scrap metal yard, and a gravel operation.  I spot a green heron.

The river does a couple big meanders where kids from a daycare center all come and wave and scream, "HI"...until I am out of sight.  I spot a swan nest on the bank and I keep an eye out for the usually aggressive mate.  The swan stays on the nest while a newly hatched cygnet peeps from behind her.  (Only after I look close at my photos do I notice a dead cygnet in the nest as well).  Staying on the nest, not all of her eggs have hatched yet.  The mate is at the next bend, wings raised as it threatens a pair of Canada geese.  Other than giving me the stink eye, it ignores me.
tiny cygnet to right
I turn at the Post Road where a set of idiotic tide gates block my passage.  (Since the tide gates don't prevent rising and falling of water levels above the gate, the only purposes that I can think of is to reduce salt water intrusion and speed of the current into what should be a saltwater marsh and prevent passage by canoe).

Back in the bay, I head east a bit on 5-8 mile per hour winds.  I find a large flock of non-migrating brandts and then head out aiming for the long sand point that nearly cuts the harbor in two.  I figure it to be a short mile out.  The winds rise when I get halfway, doubling in strength and slowing progress to an arm breaking crawl.  I quarter the wind to make progress and then turn to the other quarter to drift to the point.  Progress increases dramatically when I get out and tow my canoe along the shore.  But, I add an threatened piping plover and a couple of oyster catchers to my bird sightings.

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