Sunday, November 18, 2018

Getting Used to the Cold

It has been a breezy autumn, one of those where you wait for a calm day and go when you get it.
I set up the East River with the tide already too low to make the passage through the Sneak, but still with a stiff ebb current.  There was almost no wind and the temperature was somewhere near 40 degrees.

 I cut straight across the confluence of the East and Neck to the far shore, where I found a whelk egg case adrift at the bottom of the tall spartina.  After looking it over, I dropped it into deeper water having no idea if the tiny whelks will hatch or not.

Whelk egg casing
There seemed to be no birds at all in the marsh until I came across a lone hen bufflehead near Cedar Island.  She flew ahead of me in hundred and fifty yard jumps for the next 1/3 of a mile.

 I christened a recently carved maple paddle.  It was maybe an inch to long for me, but otherwise was good.  Maple makes a tough paddle but you pay for it with some extra weight.
New paddle
 Data point - I've been pondering the rate of deposition in the salt marsh.  Unfortunately, salt marshes vary widely, so there are no set values.  Today, I spotted a piece of plastic bag sticking out of the bank about 18 inches below the marsh surface.  I've never seen that before in this area and it surprises me that 18 inches of marsh might build up in less than about 50 years.  It is possible that the plastic settled into a crevasse or hole and was covered.  I'll need to see more of this phenomena.
plastic sheet - similar to kitchen garbage bag material
 I headed upriver seeing few birds until reaching the Big Bends.  There, I scared up 3 Hooded Mergansers from a good distance.  At the Gravel Flats I find a small herd of ten Dunlin and a few Yellow Legs.   At Pocket Knife corner I hear a Kingfisher a far distance off, the scolding call muted by a few acres of cattails.  Then, it flashes overhead, the call as distinct as the pulsing flight pattern.

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