Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wheeler Marsh

I put in at the Feral Cat Park after a totally delightful talk with H, a Environmental Conservation Officer (aka game warden).  She stopped by to safety check me.  Anyway, we talked about nature, art and so forth.  Such things seem to happen more often than not around here.
Canada Goose Nest
The tide is just starting to come in but there is a small difference between high and low today, so there are also small currents.  The downstream paddle into the flood current is easy.

It is the season of "Swans don't swim away"  and I a reminded of this just a 1/4 mile into the trip.  A swan off to my right starts swimming slowly toward me, very casual as if it didn't see me (bird vision is so superior to ours that if you see a bird it is an almost sure bet that it has already seen you).  At about 30 ft distant, it begins the pulsing power kick.  It's an aggression signal, strong kicks that raise a 2 inch high bow wave in front of the bird.  Usually, they will lower the head and raise the wings over the back, something akin to the stance that a boxer takes when the bell rings.  This time, at about 8ft, it turns and parallels me until I pass.  There's no nest within a 100 yards, so this is probably just hormonal rage, so to speak.
This pair is being chased off by a third Swan
I flush a couple dozen Brandts just above the marsh (I'll spot about 60 on my tour), and spot a new Swan nest on the island.  For the last two years there has been a nest nearby and I suspect it is the same pair except that they've moved to a safer location across the channel.

As I circle the marsh I spot a few Yellow Legs each hundred yards or so.  Add a couple of passing Great Blue Herons and a few Snowy and Great Egrets. 

On the right might be a Long Billed Dowitcher.  Not sure about the other.
The grass is down and having not been here in a few months, I miss the entrance to Nell's Channel.  So, for about 20 minutes I am off course somewhere trying to weave my way back on course.  Most of the channels in this marsh dead end, but often not until you've paddled several hundred yards.

Appears to be a Western Sandpiper.  Note drooping bill
I spot a Willet and while taking a photo notice two Western Sandpipers.  As I said a couple days ago, my eyes are still tuning for shore bird spotting. 

The water has come up enough that I can see across the full expanse of the marsh.  There seem to be a lot of Osprey, more than I can remember seeing at one time.  All three of the nest boxes are in use and a fourth has been built on a stranded dock section. 
New Dock Section Nest
I spot two more Willets at the top of Nell's Island.

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