Tuesday, August 16, 2016


The lower marsh is alive with birds - willets, young willets, yellow legs, least sandpipers, and a pair of oyster catchers all in sight all at the same time.  The biggest group is at the inside of the first big bend of the Neck, where the exposed mud is always heavily littered with fragments of shells.  All of the osprey chicks have been flying for over three weeks now, so the sky has two to three times as many of them as it does during the spring and early summer.  It is no longer easy to identify the chicks, their flying, at least over short ranges, looks the same as the adults.  I can only tell them apart when the young ones are goofin' around. 
willet, willet, willet, willet, willet, willet, willet, yellow legs, oyster catcher, willet

I ride herd on that pair of oyster catchers pushing them up river for four bends or so until they make a big wide circle around me and back to the river and back to near where I first saw them.

Then, as I enter Bailey Creek, I flush an American Bittern. I flush it six times, the last just as I enter the Sneak.  I am no longer convinced that it was a single bird.
The Sneak, swallow overhead

The spartina alternaflora is full height and encroaching on the Sneak, as it does every summer.  But, the path stays at least five feet wide at high tide, the water in the center too deep for that grass.  The spartina has also gone to seed.  I spot a large flock of dark songbirds out over the marsh that have probably come here for just that reason.

And so I paddle on, aided by the gentle current of a flood tide and refreshed every so often by a breeze from the north and east.

I paddle on alone and in quiet and turn around at the bend just above Foote Bridge.  I return exactly the way I came and when I get to that first bend in the Neck I find that all of those birds have returned to that spot.

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