Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Marsh

At no other time of the year is the water so clear.  What looks to be 6 inches deep is 18.  Anything that has been left behind on the bottom is visible.  Today, all I see are goose tracks from the last or last few low tides while the high tide is recorded by a thin band of ice running through the winter tan cattails a bit over 2 feet above the water.  I flush a kingfisher, hear some ducks - either mallards or blacks, true quackers, and at the first widening I flush a flock of 75 Canada geese who fly downriver, their vee formation a long wavering line that stretches all of the way across the river valley, tree to tree.

At the stone arch bridge, I am greeted by a full width ice sheet coming the opposite direction on the flood tide.  The edges of the flow are breaking and crumbling as it fits through the constriction.  I aim the canoe, for once you are in the ice, you don't do much turning, and I slice the 20 yards through.  The ice is only an 1/8 inch thick...night ice that formed in the coldest part of the day in some calmer patch of water.

That flock of geese is just down at the next bend below the stone arch.  I try to sneak by at the far bank, but they scare again.

At the big bend, a favorite with birds no matter what the season, I find some two hundred geese.  They split noisily into two groups, the 75 returning back upstream as a unit, the others heading down and then splitting into a dozen groups that circle and change directions and come back as if they are biding their time until I move on.

In the Sneak

But, in spite of all that busy-ness, it is a gorgeous winter day with sharp sun and contrasts and a blue cloudless sky.  There's hardly any wind until I reach the final seaside marsh. 

The Sneak

I turn into the Sneak to make my way to Bailey Creek and then to the Neck River.  I expected the Sneak to be iced in with the one and two inch ice that has formed in the side channels, but it is open.  Of course, after a couple hundred yards it is not open.  I push past broken cakes of ice for a meander or two and then it becomes solid and it is turn back or portage. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Fog Rolls In

I'm not going through that bridge today.  The basin is brimful, short spartina grass awash with a high tide that turned a short hour back.  It won't be long until most of the Menunketesuck marsh is trying to run through that 20 foot gap.   If I go through, I won't be coming back for a few hours.

It is grey and dark under a thick layer of clouds, one that not even a faint disc of sun will show through.  It sprinkles lightly with temperatures under 40F... nasty stuff if one isn't prepared.  But, it is calm for the first time in several days.  I will have the river to myself.

I pass a dead horseshoe crab, upside down and still with all of its legs and bits.  Usually, you just find the outer shell.  It is impressive how little there is under the huge carapace.  It's a spider in a double garage. (I will find four of these today)

dead horseshoe crab

With the bridge being a self-imposed limit, I have time to explore the two long arms that drain the outer reaches of the marsh.  They are much more serpentine than the main channel, tightly meandering with swirling eddies in some of the bends as the tide flows out.  There is little in the way of birds....the only ones that I can identify are mallards.

As the tide goes out, the fog rolls in.