Friday, May 1, 2020

Birding it

I woke in the middle of the night to hear pounding rain on the roof and wind ripping through the trees.  When I woke again, all was still and a quite overcast day predicted some time in the canoe.

My start was late enough and my interest in traveling any distance low enough that I set out for the East River to check on the bird life.  I put in about a hour before low tide so much of the silt bank was exposed.  This always draws the Willets and other shore birds to the water's edge.

Willets were quite active around the put in with far more of them audible than visible.  I like to think that I see most of them as I paddle up river, but that may not at all be true.  If a Willet holds still you can miss seeing it from 10 yards.  The feather color blends in well with the silt.  If they lift their wings it's easy to spot them from 200 yards with the broad white and black bars exposed.

Common Loon in summer colors
I take a short side trip up the channel that leads south away from Cedar Island.  This brings out a sentinel Willet that flies high above calling out warnings.

Two bends up I find a Common Loon in summer colors.  Loons winter in this area, but it seems late to see this bird here at this time.  In fact, I can't recall ever seeing a Loon in summer colors in this area.  I observe and it seems healthy enough.  It is diving and when I near it takes a long evasive dive.

Just below the Big Bends a Hawk sets into a tree and begins ripping its lunch apart.  Looks like an immature Red Tail, not particularly large and with fairly light coloring, but it has a red tail.

There's still a good number of Yellow Legs.  They'll move north to nest.

Yellow Legs strutting its stuff
The Big Bends has more Willets than I remember.  I've never counted, but when I first started paddling here I would see 2 or 3.  Last year it was perhaps 6 or 8.  It's clearly much more and it seems that they've colonized this spot.  I always thought that it looked like Willet nesting ground.  The island in the middle bend might have a couple of nests on it.  There's been several Willets on the island each time I've come this way.

Far enough, I return.  I spot the Canada Geese pair just above the Post Road Bridge.  Both are head low and not moving, so the suspected nest is an actual nest.  It is not far from the top of the bank.

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