Thursday, July 18, 2019

Changing of the Birds

It is overcast and humid - a somewhat murky atmosphere that makes the marsh look spectacular.  It is great for the eyes but my camera might not catch it.  The warm air brings out the understated citrus scent from the spartina and with the low tide it is mixed with a subtle earthy odor from the exposed silt.  Fortunately, the temperature is down 10 degrees from yesterday, and down 15 degrees from tomorrow.  It is a short pause in a week of hot weather and a good day for canoeing, as long as I don't get hit by lightning.

J arrived at the launch just ahead of me for his practice session of casting.  We chat a few minutes and then I'm off heading up the East River as the tide is far too low to get through the Sneak.

This time of year is the "changing of birds".  Not that they are migrating yet, but more that the behavior of many of them has suddenly changed.  Now, the only difference with the Osprey is that the young ones are standing on their nests.  They can't yet fly, which will be their big change.  But, the Willets are few.  In fact, I get up to the railroad bridge having spotted only three.  They are still around, but their young have advanced well enough that the adults don't have to vigorously defend their nests.  Just past the railroad bridge I flush two Green Herons, and not much farther a third.  This too means that their young don't need to be watched.  My Green Heron sightings in this marsh never happen until late July and they are fairly common until the fall migration.

There are more Snowy Egrets than today.

Marsh Wrens are everywhere from the salt marsh all the way up to the forest - their young must be out of the nest and flying.

At the Big Bends a Glossy Ibis flies past.

I spot a white tail doe on the little island at the top of the Big Bends. After a couple of photos, I snap my lens cap on and then, and only then does a beautiful spotted fawn appear quickly following the doe into the brush.

I decide to jot down a bird tally, excluding the Osprey and the uncountable Swallows and Wrens.
This is a one way total from the sea to Foote Bridge.
Green Herons - 5
Snowy Egrets - 6
Glossy Ibis - 1
Great Blue Herons - 6
Great Egrets - 4
Willets - 6

At the bend below Foote Bridge I spot a doe and a spike buck still in velvet.

note the velvet antlers on the second one
I turn back at Foote Bridge.  The tide is well enough up now and late enough in the flood that the current against me won't be much.  I learned recently that Foote Bridge (at least the site) is quite old.  It was on an early stage route.  Foote Bridge is the first narrow spot as you come up the river from the sound.  It is the first place that the early colonists could've forded the East River.

I return via the Sneak where I finally get harassed by an aggressive Willet that might still have young at the nest.  This one almost made me duck as it buzzed me.

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