Tuesday, March 31, 2020

First Osprey

An Osprey hovers high overhead, whistling without a break as if to scold me for my intrusion.
I put in near the mouth of the river on a cool and cloudy day as the tide reached bottomed out.  There was a light wind that didn't add to much to the mid 40 temperature.  I headed straight up the East River knowing that the water level would be too low to use my preferred route through the Sneak.  The first Osprey have arrived and while I don't make it scientific by counting, I guess that 1/5 to 1/4 of the birds are here.  There are about 10-12 nests in this marsh - again, I've never bothered to count.  When the nesting pairs, who often stay together for life, migrate south, they separate and don't see each other until returning to the nest, which they repeatedly use as long as they are together.  I don't see any obvious pairs yet.

At the lowest of the Big Bends, I spot a whitetail doe and yearling, but then further movement reveals that it is a small herd of eight or ten deer, the brush making it difficult to count.  They amble up and over a rise without excessive alarm of my arrival.

Above the Big Bends I spot a pair of Yellow Legs.

Yellow Legs
Just upstream of the Duck Hole Farms I spot a subtle wake on the smooth surface of the river.  I follow fifty feet behind and note a small burst of bubbles coming to the surface every fifteen feet or so.  It's a pretty sure sign of a swimming mammal and after six bubble sets a muskrat surfaces.  It looks around and dives again.  I can stop looking for it as it is going to change direction or tuck under somewhere until I am gone.

I paddle over the Gravel Flats with ease as the tide is not especially low.  I suspect that recent rain has also raised the water level some.  This is confirmed when I get to Foote Bridge where there is a genuine current running through the constriction.  It is time to return.

The tide is coming in and the Sneak is passable on the return.  There a column of 30-some large Gulls soaring over the lower marsh.  The clouds parted about a 1/2 hour ago and I wonder if they are catching a minor thermal off the spartina marsh.  The nest just below where the Neck River and Bailey Creek meet has a pair of Osprey in it.

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