Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bird Day Too

I returned to the East River with S to take in the birds that I had seen on my last trip.  We set out from near the sea on a falling tide with mostly sunny skies and a temperature in the upper 60's.  The falling tide would be good for bird sightings with the silty mud banks gradually being exposed and drawing the Willets and sandpipers out of the higher grasses.

I was content to keep my camera stashed on most of the trip up river, concentrating on pointing out and observing what we saw rather than recording it. 

 When we reached the inlet leading to the old sawmill dam I spotted a Yellow Crowned Night Heron, within about 15 feet of where I spotted one on my last trip.  I suspect they are one and the same.  While watching I detected a distant and nonrhythmic hammering.  S listened and heard it too.

 As we continued I heard the weird call of a pileated woodpecker and I quickly spotted it in a riverbank tree some thirty feet up working away at the bottom of a pre-existing round hole.  After a few seconds it decided that we were not a threat and returned to hammering and flinging chunks of wood and occasionally stopping to eat what I assume were ants.  True to nature, the new hole was pileateds do.

 After a good ten or fifteen minutes we turned back knowing that the river above would be getting close to being too shallow to pass.   We rode the ebbing current back into an occasional and mild headwind that when necessary, was canceled out by the current.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Full Contingent

The one thing I notice is that I don't hear the usual calls of the Osprey that nest here in the salt marsh.  Their chirping/whistle is being drowned out by the omnipresent hee-haw-haw's of the Willets that must be getting ready to set up house.  And while quite a few Willets can be seen picking at the silt as the tide recedes, they in no way account for all of the noise.

It seems that the full contingent of summer birds has finally arrived.  The Willets and Osprey have been here for awhile, and there are a good number of least sandpipers...small sparrow sized. And, while I watch a Willet, a Least Tern calls out as it flies over.
Least Sandpipers

I headed straight up the East River today, the tide already down far enough that I sensed the opportunity to get stuck halfway through the Sneak.  The portage out isn't bad if one ignores the boot sucking sailor cussing experience of getting up the bank to the top of the firm spartina plain.

I catch the call of a Marsh Wren as I approach the Post Road bridge....just one. 
the lower big bend
At the lower big bend a Bald Eagle is perched in one of the trees that line the outside of the curve.  It flushes and leaves as I paddle past.  The Willets peter out not far above the highest of the big bends, but I trade that for several Marsh Wrens, which are none to obliging about having a photograph taken.
Near the Duck Hole Farms there are three Osprey busy fishing, and a splash to my right draws my attention just in time to see a Kingfisher flying up out of the water, no fish, a miss.  A hawk crosses the river too far off to be identified other than it is not an Osprey. 
Marsh Wren

I turn at Foote Bridge, which by the way is a foot bridge and as I leave the short bit of fast water I spot a hubcap sized snapping turtle drifting with the current under my boat.  I give it a playful tap on the back, just to wake it up.

At the old dam I spot a Yellow Crowned Night Heron.  Other than that, there are a few more egrets out and about than when I came up the river.
Yellow Crowned Night Heron

And an Oyster Catcher at the take-out.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017



A friend of mine tipped me off to a fine article on Polish mountain climbers.  One short line stuck during the morning read stuck in my mind, "They are captives of their dreams."*

We should all be captives of our dreams.  We should all have more Walter Mitty in us and less Mr. Potter (It's a Wonderful Life).  It is dreams that make us go, that carry us through the mundane parts of life, that make the mundane parts tolerable.  It's what we all have in common.

a large beaver scent mound

I put in at the top of the Great Swamp, the water still high, with the sky partly cloudy and the air still cool in our long drawn out spring.  Even before the canoe is loaded the blocky head of a beaver swims into view not more than 20 yards down stream.  It scopes me out and then casually dives and disappears.

I head out.

Wood Ducks

And I dream of setting out to discover the source of a distant river.

And I dream of canoeing my yearly supplies to my wilderness trading post.

And I dream of bears and caribou coming into view at the edge of the forest.

I live those dreams and I let those dreams live, and I see a bit of my soul.

*Michael Powell, NY Times, May 9, 2017 "Scaling the World's Most Lethal Mountain, In the Dead of Winter"