Saturday, June 17, 2017

First Boat In

I arrive early enough to be the first canoe heading into the swamp, almost.  One vehicle with a roof rack is at the put-in and I hope that they are doing a ferry trip...starting up top and finishing here.  First boat into the swamp always sees the most wildlife.  It is worth waking up for.
It is dead calm and humid, but also cool enough to be comfortable.  A very heavy overcast is above, the bottoms of the clouds just halfway up the 300 ft high hills that define the valley.  I surprise a white tail deer at the first sharp bend.  It bounds a few leaps and then stops to see what I am.  I shoot two photos, the camera shutter goes to 1/6 of a second...practically twilight conditions.  Then the deer heads deeper into the forest.
I catch up with the first boaters, a pair of kayaks, after just 15 minutes.  I figure by their speed that it's taken them 30-45 minutes to get this far.  We greet and I let them lead through a gap in the first beaver dam and then I pass and paddle off.
Swallow nest
When I get into the first of the gray sticks (the flooded dead trees of beaver habitat) I spot a swallow feeding its babies.  The nest is in an old woodpecker cavity in a dead snag at the water's edge.  The beaver built a dam, which created a pond, which killed some trees, which brought woodpeckers to eat the wood eating bugs, which built a nest for a swallow, which feeds its babies flying insects that it catches over the beaver pond.  Anyway, I peep into the nest.  It is lined with feathers with a 3 inch long egret feather as the headboard.  The little ones are tucked down deep...I am not their mother.  I move off quickly.
 I step over the best built of the beaver dams on this section of the river.  Right now there is just a foot difference between up and downstream.

When I enter the forest section that connects the upper and lower gray sticks, I flush two more white tail deer.  The larger one, which is also quite large, bounds for 75 yards, stops to eye me and then bounds back into the forest.

Of note is the quantity of great blue herons... enough that I don't bother to count.  Sometimes I flush them, sometimes they are just crossing my path.  Of note as well is that I haven't seen any osprey, not today and not at all this year, although I have seen them in past years.  Perhaps they moved during last years drought.
Great Blue Heron
I meet up with M about 1/3 of a mile short of my turn-around point.  We're happy to see each other...and off he goes.
From the turn-around I paddle steady for the 2+hour return trip.  I pass M again, at the halfway point.  I see a few people in the lowest section.  The foot high beaver dam stymies the majority of visitors.  Go figure.

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