Friday, August 31, 2018


The temperature has dropped some 15 degrees from what it has been for the last few days, which were far too hot and humid do to much of anything.  A pleasant wind comes from the NE and the light has a distinctly autumn characteristic.  I set out at the bottom of the tides and the spartina grass reaches up well over my head.  I follow the east shore up the East River using that wall of spartina to protect me from the wind.
I spot two Green Herons between the railroad bridge and the Post Road bridge.  There are a lot of Sandpipers and Yellow-Legs along with a few Plovers.  Also note that there are more Great Blue Herons than usual.  They are all busy feeding from the exposed silt banks of the low tide.

Great Egret
I spot a third Green Heron in the Big Bends and just upstream from there I catch sight of a Harrier that is flying back and forth across the entire width of the marsh, treeline to treeline, rarely more than ten or fifteen feet above the ground.

Near the Stone Arch bridge I start seeing Kingfishers and as I get into the forest section I find more of them.  There are schools of very small fry in the water, they leap and stir it when a predator fish chases them. 

I expected a wade, but the Gravel Flats have just enough water to float the canoe.  There are a couple large mud flats here and the shore birds are darting about feeding on mud critters.  It's a few Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Yellow-Legs, and one Common Snipe.  Kingfishers are in the overhanging trees and two unidentified mid-sized hawks (possibly Coopers) are overhead.  Definitely busy.
Yellow-Legs and Common Snipe
I continue up to the small cedar swamp, flushing three more Green Herons along the way and harmlessly bumping a large snapping turtle with the canoe.  It's a 150 yard wade from here to the Foote Bridge, and it's a 150 yard wade back, so I turn here.

In that short time, 15 minutes or so, a couple of inches of water have been added to the Gravel Flats...the tide is coming in quick. 

As I return I think about the seasons.  Most of us follow an astronomical meter - the year broken into four seasons based on, at least from our common perspective, the length of day.  A people that is in touch with their environment might see the seasons differently.  The Sami traditionally had eight seasons that were based on the behaviors of reindeer.  The seasons varied in lengths from a 10-15 day calving season to a 5 month winter.  The East River must have its own seasons.  I'll have to think about what markers would be most logical.  I can see the possibility for a Willet Nesting season, maybe a fall migration season, maybe the doubling of osprey season, and definitely the greening of the marsh.  To me, today feels like a change in season.

Near minimum water Sneak passage
The tide is high enough to use the Sneak, and so I do, returning to my put in via Bailey Creek and the Neck River.  I see no Willets until I get into the Neck...they've been hanging out on the docks for a couple weeks.  I think they might be first year birds, hatched this summer.

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