Saturday, August 10, 2019

Canoeing With Artists

August 9
We put in about 2:30 on low water with a rising tide.  For me, it was a rare afternoon start.  The day was warm but the air was pleasantly dry and a cooling breeze was coming off the sea and it would be far more of a comfort than a hindrance. 

The water was too low to pass through the sneak, so we headed straight up the East River.  Osprey, all of the young now flying, were active.  Most any other birds were out of view due to the low level of the water.

F had some good canoeing experience behind him and after not more than a half dozen strokes I told him to put the store bought paddle away and use the hand carved paddle that I brought for him.  He recognized it as one of the paddles I had exhibited in a show that he curated earlier this year. 

I talked my usual lessons on the different types of spartina, high marsh versus low marsh, bird behaviors...things like what Willets are like during nesting, which is not at all like the quietness that they are currently showing. 
Egrets in the trees at the Gravel Flats
The birds started to put on a show as we got near the forest.  Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets and Green Heron sightings became frequent.  We saw at least  a half dozen individual Green Herons and as they did not seem particularly shy, we had a chance to see them over and over again.

Snowy Egret in the Gravel Flats
We made it almost to the Foote Bridge where the water ran thin, the upper river still catching up with the tide flood. 

On the way back we diverted into the side channel where the ruins of the Parmalee Sawmill dam stand.  I also pointed out the approximate location of the smallpox graveyard, which is up in the forest on the opposite side of the river.

By this time the sun was getting lower and the marsh was taking on the beautiful golden tint that comes with autumn.  

In the Big Bends we stopped and talked with Dave, who was docking his small skiff.  He's been clearing deadfalls up above the Foote Bridge, an area that is a bit of limbo and tangle to canoe through.  We traded a few river tidbits...but mostly just finding out that we both knew the same secrets.

The Sneak was well flooded by the time we got back to it so we cut through into Bailey Creek.  F liked that stretch of narrow meanders.  The tide was also high enough that we could now scan across the broad high marsh and see just how many birds, mostly Egrets and Great Blue Herons, were around.  The final bird note of interest was that the Laughing Gulls have returned.  The black headed gull is a late summer and autumn visitor to this marsh.  There were at least a couple dozen along the lower part of the Neck River, where I am used to seeing them.

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