Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Full Spectrum of Ducks

Weather has kept me out of the canoe for a full month.  When it was warm enough, it was far too windy.  When it was calm, it was cold enough to freeze even the brackish tidal rivers.

I put in on the last hour of the flooding tide and rode a mile per hour current inland.  There were remnants of ice drifting in the current, but nothing that would be of any bother.  The cold weather has kept everyone off the river and I start paddling through a spectrum of ducks, each species in its own area.  Near Cedar Island I spook 15 Buffleheads, the males easily recognizable from distance with their white sides.  The Big Bends is a complete surprise.  I flush three dozen Black Ducks from the main channel, then another couple dozen, and then about twice of what I'd counted.  Black Ducks are shy in my book and I've never seen a hundred one day.  Up in the forest section of the river by Duck Hole Farms, I spot a pair of Hooded Mergansers.  I find the Common Mergansers, about eight of them, at the Gravel Flats just another 300 yards upriver.  Finally, up above Foote Bridge, there are a half dozen Mallards.

This winter has been rough on my spirit.  The state of the world seems to bear heavy on my, the leaders of the world feeling that it is their responsibility to make everyone else angry and anxious.  So, I started hiking miles and miles of trail that is new to me, and I started a large artwork that will keep me focused for the next few months.  My spirit is improved...it's science.

The day is absolutely beautiful.  The first three hundred yards of paddling were in a thin fog of delicate hazy light.  Then, the sun burned through and the marsh and forest were illuminated with the strong low light that creates sharp contrasts.  The wind was light if there was any.  And, it was warm enough to sit in the swamp above Foote Bridge and write without so much as a chill.
Foote Bridge
When it was time to go, I could see by the water mark on the bank that the tide had already dropped a 1/2 inch.  I knew that when I reached the Big Bends I would have a mile per hour current pushing me back to my start.  It was an easy day.

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