Sunday, October 30, 2016

Paddling a Document

I set out onto a leaf strewn river, passing under Foote Bridge with the bow of the canoe collecting the autumn litter and rather than a clean slicing of the canoe through the calm waters, I heard the steady pattering of splashes caused by leaves and grasses wrapped around the forward end.

The river is now a document of the surrounding forest, a long meandering scroll, a ledger of elms and tulip poplar and sycamore and oaks... lots of oaks and from a the leaves, a variety of oaks at that.

At he first big bend I spot a pair of hooded mergansers, one male, one female.  At the third big bend I spot two bald eagles, one mature, one immature.  I add a late staying osprey.
young bald eagle

At the Post Road I wave to a police officer who comes over and asks me to watch for a man they are searching for.  He is large, bald, covered in blood and wearing only underwear... a suicide attempt that has run off into the marsh.  I assure the officer that I will recognize the man if I see him.  If he is moving in the marsh, he will be easy to spot.  I meet other officers near the railroad bridge.  I take The Sneak and paddle up Bailey Creek as it is a natural boundary to their search area.  I find several great blue herons, a block of black ducks, and a second late staying osprey.  Not long after I paddle out of Bailey Creek, the police pack up and leave.  They have found him somewhere, they would not leave so soon had they not.

And then, I paddle for three more hours.  I paddle enjoying the effort and the speed at which the canoe travels.  It seems to be more than enough.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The First Chill

Fall arrived at pace a few nights ago, the temperature dropping 20 degrees overnight and staying put, with the October winds showing up for good measure as well.  Today, looked to be a good day with some breeze and a lot of sun.  It is time for my annual collecting of shed swan feathers.

I found most of the swans, some eighty or so, in the bottom of the cove.  Unfortunately, it was windier than predicted, something closer to 20 than 10, and it had been windy for a few days.  So, there were very few feathers to be found, certainly not enough to be worth wetting my fingers on such a chilly day (my fingers were numb from the cold wind alone).  Any feathers that had been shed were long blown into the depths of the marsh where I could not reach or even see them.

I clawed my way into the headwind up the cove, hugging the shore for whatever buffer the forest might provide, and turned up the Moodus, a narrow and relatively protected river.  Once out of the wind, I paddled along slowly and quietly staying alert for fauna and scanning the bottom for the odd rare find of past events.  I spotted 2 kingfishers, heard one distant woodpecker, and saw a flicker. 
The Moodus
Beaver bank burrow in the Moodus

Returning to the cove, I crossed to the far side and took the tailwind boost down that shore.  The late staying osprey is here.  I'm guessing it is the same late osprey as last year, one that stays long after the others have migrated south.  When I cross back over the cove, I notice the silhouettes of two large birds in a bare tree top.  The whistle and chatter ID's them as bald eagles.  I get several minutes to enjoy them as the wind pushes me past their perch.