Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Great Swamp

I set out from the upper end of the Great Swamp.  The water is high, a usual high spring level, and the day is fine, sunny with only a hint of wind.  This might be the earliest that I've been in here.

The tight meanders of the upper section are moderated by the extra water.  In fact, it is possible to leave the river channel and cut across bends paddling over the banks and through the grey stick forest.

Redwing Blackbirds are especially abundant today as are Wood Ducks, although the Woodies spook from a good distance and are either heard by their obvious squeek call or are seen speeding through the grey sticks.

There is some current due to the high water, but from past experience I know that only the forest section will pose any extra effort on the way back.

Coming up to the bridge I spot a mink with a fish in its mouth.  I stop and get my camera as mink, out of curiosity, will usually pose.  This time the threat of me eating its lunch makes the mink disappear in short order.

The well flooded forest section
At the bridge (the halfway point) there is a tangle of deadfall trees.  It is worse than last year, but clearing it will take a much larger saw than what I carry in the canoe.  I find a sneak around the end of the worst and continue on into the forest section.  There, I put my saw to use removing knots of saplings or smaller logs that block the way.  A half hour of work and the route is pretty clear.

Castoreum, the musk scent of the beaver, is all around once I get into the calm air of the trees.  I spot a dozen or so scent mounds, territorial markers for beaver colonies in this mile of river.  Lots of activity.  I spot four white tail deer as well.

Look closely - Goose nest on this lodge
In the lower marsh I find a couple new lodges that are both fairly large.  The associated dams are well below the surface and I only spot one, probably because I was out of the channel when I passed the others.

I turn back from the bottom of the long pond.  As I near the forest I spotted a Glossy Ibis, the first that I've ever seen here.

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