Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Duck Flushing

I started up in the forest at the foot of  Foote Bridge as the tide was very high and the launch near the sea would be submerged at this time.  The paddle outward from this forest was warm, deceptively warm for the actual day.  The air was calm and sky filled with sun.

From the moment I started, I was flushing ducks.  A dozen at the first bend, thirty at the well submerged gravel flats, fifty not too far above the stone arch bridge.  They were all mallards and black ducks and if there was anything else in the mix I did not spot it.  It is more ducks than I've seen here before.  Maybe the cold weather up north is pushing them through.  It will be getting colder this week.  I wonder if they will move farther south.

I head up a small tributary just above the big bends.  I'd been in here once before but not at this high water level.  It becomes increasingly more serpentine and coming out of each bend I seem to find two bends ahead compressed into that same space.  Cattails give way to phragmites and phragmites give way to forest.  Here the small flow runs up against the forest bank and peters out as far as canoeing goes.  Now I know.

When I get back to the big marsh I find a chilling wind.  In actuality it is not much of a breeze at all.  It's the 15 degree drop in wind chill that makes it feel like real wind.

The tidal current is picking up.  Very high tides cause higher currents as the land drains.  The water at the railroad bridge is swirling and making the noise of a fast stream.  More bark than bite, however.

I take an alternate channel into the sneak.  Here the effect of a very high tide is more obvious.  All of that water that flooded the spartina is finding its way into the channels.  I paddle against a stiff current in a 4 foot wide channel.  Then I cross over into The Sneak and go a couple hundred yards.  It feels far enough.  I turn back.

It was a good decision to turn back.  The current in the main river is stiff, as fast as I've seen it, and it slows my return.  Nearing the Foote Bridge I can see that the water has dropped 2-1/2 feet already.  I skim over the tops of boulders and logs that were well underwater when I started. 

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