Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Change in the Weather

I put in on the Lieutenant River with intention of heading down to the sea.  The first osprey nest, just a hundred yards down the river, is occupied by three chicks with an attentive adult on a nearby snag.They have most of their adult coloring, but appear to not yet be ready to try their wings.  When I reach the Watch Rocks, which are about a mile down, it becomes apparent that the tailwind that I have been riding might not be so much fun to paddle back into later in the trip.  I turn.
Osprey chicks

A bad photo of a snowy egret swallowing a fish

I head out into the main channel of the Connecticut River.  There is a small bear of a headwind, but with the extra effort comes a freshness in the air and a comfort to the skin that has been absent during the past week of high heat and humidity.  I hug the shore, paddling under the long cast lines of striper fishermen and outside of the drop lines of crabbers.

Plastic Owl Party
Before the highway bridge I come across one of the oddities of man..the plastic owl.  The plastic owl (center in photo) is designed to scare shitting birds away.  Now, if one actually takes time to observe birds instead of just checking them off a list, one will realize that birds have much better eyesight than humans AND birds can clearly recognize other bird species.  Willets, for instance, can tell the difference between a hawk and an osprey, a feat that most people can't manage.  They respond to hawks, a major threat, but mostly ignore osprey.  Ducks and coots know the difference between eagles and herons, and ospreys and hawks, etc..  The photo shows that gulls and cormorants (there's a total of ten or so) can quite easily recognize a $25 plastic owl.  This is not an isolated occurrence.

At the upstream end of Calves Island, a waving panel of something draws me over to the tidal grasses.  It is thirty inches of one end of a canoe.  I pry the aluminum manufacturer's plate off as a specimen and leave the rest behind.  Wrecked boats fall into a not quite litter category in my mind.
canoe remains

I continue on upriver into the bottom of Lord's Cove.  The inner passage is hosting several osprey.  Five are aloft while two are on nearby pilings and I'm sure there are more in the area.  If one is not within my view, all it takes is a turn of the head.  The wind is straight in the face and the shallow bay north of Goose Island is choppy.  I take brief rests in the bedrock finger ridges that run off the hills and into the river.

One of the several bedrock finger ridges
At the top of that shallow broad bay I turn back knowing that riding a stiff tailwind in a canoe is still work.  Constant steering is required as following waves overtake while the wind tries to slip the boat sideways to the wind.  It goes quicker than the way out, but it is still work.
wren nest

Back in the Lieutenant, I explore one of the narrow side passages taking it back ten minutes or so until it peters out.  There are a good number of wren nests and red wing blackbirds back here, unseen by those that stay in the main.

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