Monday, August 21, 2017

Observation of a Partial Eclipse

I put in just after the top of a very high tide about an hour and some before the moon would cover a good portion of the sun.  The water was up to the base of the trees and even in the shallowest of places my paddle never got near the river bottom.  I rode a gentle ebb flow seaward.
Snowy Egret (note yellow feet)
Almost immediately I came up on a Snowy Egret sitting on a deadfall in midstream.  When it flushed, two more rose up with it.  Two hundred yards ahead were seven more Snowy's all sharing one bare limbed tree.  This is not an eclipse behavior, but just something that I notice in late summer. (I would see about 15 during the trip)

Marsh Wren primary nest (note bird shit on door sill)
I paddled down river with the ebb current continually increasing.  The tide coefficient is very high today...very high and very low tides with stronger than usual currents resulting.  When I entered the Sneak, the narrow cut between the river and Bailey Creek, I was getting the hunch that the light was changing. 

The Sneak

Since I've never seen an eclipse, I am unfamiliar with the effects, so my observations became, "it seems..."  But, science is repeatable results.  By the time I got into the Neck River I definitely could tell that the light had changed.  It was as if a gray wash was over the landscape, the greens and reflected blues had lost their intensity...dusk.
The Neck River
Bird behavior seemed off as well.  Birds that should be on the ground feeding - such as gulls and songbirds, were perched high off the ground in protected spots.  The Ospreys were neither flying nor scolding me with their whistles.  There was a general hunkering down going on.
Song Birds perched when they shouldn't be
Gull that has settled in for the night
Fortunately, the eclipse reverses itself and the "it seems" get to be observed returning to normal behavior.  By the time I'd returned to the Big Bends the Osprey were back in the air, the Yellow-Legs and Herons were feeding again, bird calls returned (that's when I really noticed that they had been absent.  The intensity of color returned and it was most noticable.
I beat the fast ebb back to my take out point without having to wade, although I did have a bit of mud to wallow through before starting my portage.

If birds had a sense of humor you'd wonder if they gotten the joke that the Solar System just played on them.

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