Friday, October 25, 2019

The Lewis Gut and the Great Meadows

The burned swing bridge
Just as I pass the burned swing bridge a dark hawk skims across the mouth of the gut, its white butt patch confirms it as a Harrier.  Having crossed the water, it pulls up and rolls to the right slipping through the gaps at the tank farm.  Higher up, an Osprey crosses over and perches in a tree letting out its familiar whistling call.  I figure that I'd better perform a visual scan and I locate a pair of mature Bald Eagles perched together in a tree on the south end of Pleasure Island.  But the facts are, what sounds like a good bird day was already a good bird day before I left the house.  As I went out to load my canoe I was surprised to find a Virginia Rail staring up at me from no more than 5 feet away.  This was so unexpected that I returned to the house to check my bird book while it calmly walked under my car.  I told S about it and she came down and got down on her hands and knees to look at the Rail, which was still under the car.  Then we realized that not one bird or squirrel was at our bird feeder.  That only happens when there is a hawk in the area.

Bald Eagles
The Great Meadow salt marsh in the Lewis Gut is the largest untrenched salt marsh in the state.  The trenching in the other marshes was done some 50 years ago to eliminate mosquito breeding spots.  By draining the shallow tidal ponds, the trenchers also eliminated prime shorebird feeding spots.  It's all connected, everything is connected.

The tide was still quite high when I started.  Being a very high tide the ebb had a pretty good current against me.  But, there was plenty of depth as I explored the side channels.  I flushed about 15 Great Blue Herons - there was one group of five that stayed together and I flushed them twice.  Back in the trees were a couple of Great Egrets, and three more out in the meadows, and a few more farther in.

Back in the longest of the side channels I spotted a Hawk and a Great Blue Heron sharing the same small tree.
On the way out I spot an immature Snow Goose (aka Blue Goose).  I've never seen on of these before.  They only migrate through this area.
Immature Snow Goose (Blue Goose)
Looking at the burned turn bridge, I wonder if the bridge was in the closed position when it the Pleasure Island side caught fire.  Did the bridge tender swing the center span to save it?  Did the tender know that it would never turn again?

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