Saturday, April 14, 2018

Great Swamp, Day 1

I spot two fresh still wet scent mounds not more than 200 yards from the put-in.  There is something hopeful and encouraging to me about such a find. The stuff that is supposed to be happening is happening.
I try to be the first person on the river in this area.  The amount of wildlife that one sees drops off with the passing of each visitor.  When the late start herds of kayaks come in one can be sure that almost nothing will be seen.  When I arrive, my car is the only one at the launch.  The only other real put-in is 6-1/2 miles upstream.

Lodge 1.  New last summer
The Great Swamp is noisy today.  Peeper frogs are making quite a racket.  Add to that the squeaking of Wood Ducks, a few bullfrogs twanging, chattering of numerous small birds and the bellowing of Canada Geese.  There is abundance of wildlife all making up for winter on one day.  The noise is rather stunning.
I coast over the first beaver dam, the water high enough to top it.  The associated lodge, which is a hundred yards upstream, has been enlarged since last fall, substantially.  I take this as a sign that the mated pair are have probably reproduced.  The next dam is also flooded out, but the lodge near it looks like it has been abandoned.  The third dam is an easy pass as usual.  There was a very large lodge above it which had looked a bit disheveled during the last year.  Today that lodge has all but collapsed.  The mud has washed out of the walls and all that remains is a beaver brush pile.  However, right in the near vicinity is a brand new and large lodge.  I suppose the old colony has been replaced by new.

Little Blue Heron
My style of bird watching is to take note, but to not take notes.  I don't count or keep a list.  I have been flushing Great Blue Herons at frequent intervals.  When I get to about six sightings I stop counting.  Today, Great Blue Herons sightings are usual, everywhere.  I call it dozens.  The same goes for the Wood Ducks.  While it's no where near the hundreds that I spotted in one day last fall, Wood Duck sightings are normal and everywhere.  Also present are the Tree Swallows, Red Wing Blackbirds, and Grackles.  I spot a Little Blue Heron...a bit of a rarity.  I spot it a half dozen times, but I suspect it is only one bird.

I see no one until 3/4 mile below Patterson where I run into R, a guy who works for the local park department.  We chat and he asks if the river is clear below the halfway point.  It is (because I cut out a low deadfall on the way up).  I continue up and turn around at the Patterson put-in, and pass R on the way down.

I see no one until I am in the forest section.  I begin to run into too large groups of kayakers.  They look like a box of crayons coming up the river...all the primary colors present.  Once I pass them the wildlife sightings drop off to near zero.

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