Monday, August 20, 2018

Atomic Canal

Rather than heading straight away up Salmon Cove, I rounded the point and went up the Connecticut River.  I'd not been out on this side of the long spit, actually a cedar swamp that separates the cove from the river, so I felt it worth the time.  For a good fraction of a mile the shore was lined with a bed of wild rice that was about 2 canoe lengths in width. Not long after that I came to the man-made canal that I have named Atomic Canal.  This was the cooling water outflow from a nuclear power plant that has been very well erased from the landscape.  I haven't been to this spot in a few years and then it had a barrier boom stretched across it to prevent any access.  Now, it is open with only a few warning signs that you are not to set foot on the banks.  I've done my research on this area and know that the spent fuel rods are stored somewhere up on the hill.  On the good side, this large area is now a no entry wildlife refuge.
The canal is longer than I supposed, perhaps a half mile.  It's either forested or brushy with a road running near the bank for about half its length.  It does have some nice patches of wild flowers that have attracted some large deep red butterflies.  I also spot a few Great Blue Herons and a couple Kingfishers.  I turn at the rather industrial, or formerly industrial dead end and head back to something a bit more natural.

I cross the river and find a strong current on the far side.  Then, I cross back over and head up Salmon Cove.  I knew of three Osprey nests at the bottom of the cove.  Two of them were blown away during an early summer windstorm, unfortunately when the Osprey chicks were quite incapable of flying.  Two new nests were built afterwards, and although I can't be sure, I figure that it was the same pairs that had lost their nests.  They did not, however, reuse the original sites.  One is across the water from the old spot, and the other is near the point where the cove opens up.  In both cases these nests appear somewhat unfinished.  They are small and the branches are less dense - somewhat airy compared to a nest where eggs are being tended.  I'll see next year, but the nests almost appear to be territorial place markers more than anything.
One of the new Osprey nests
I head up the cove and into the Moodus River.  It is a narrow river with trees overhanging in most places.  With the cloudy skies, it closes in and gets quiet and moody.  I find some almost ripe grapes growing on the banks and a rudimentary beaver dam that is easy to pass.  I turn back at the shallows where I would have to wade and head out.
Dark clouds are moving in and the sky is becoming dramatic.

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