Friday, November 15, 2019

First Autumn Loon

The local art festival season just finished and that along with inclement weather when I did have a day or two free has kept me out of my canoe.
I waited for high tide which arrived not long after noon.  That extra time also brought the temperature up from freezing to about 40 degrees.  I made the short drive across town to marsh put in.  And, for the first time since spring, I put on my cold water gear - my drysuit.  I set out into a fairly steady stiff west wind.  I suppose it was 12-15 mph.  But, with the sky clear and sunny and the cord grass spartina having turned gold, it felt much warmer.  I paddled the grind into the wind to Milford Point seeing no birds other than a few Ducks.  They were all true quackers - either Mallards or Black Ducks.  From Milford Point I turned upriver into a channel. 
 This marsh is a low salt marsh - about 90 percent cord grass that floods daily.  On a higher than normal tide like today, it is possible to push the canoe through the grass, but it is also more difficult to figure out exactly where you are as it tends to all look the same.  I;m heading for Nell's channel, but I miss the correct turn.  So, I follow the long blue fingers of water deeper into the grasses.  When the path splits, I follow the one that looks longest. When none looks good, I peek up over the grass for the next patch of open water and forge on through the grass....just keep heading west.  Without warning, the broad Nell's channel appears.

Upstream a hundred yards is a wintering common loon.  It has already lost its speckled back colors and I need to scope it to make sure its not a cormorant.  It stays a hundred yards ahead of me all of the way up the channel until we go in different directions.

To add to the Loon and the dozen or so Ducks, I spot 3 Great Egrets and 2 Great Blue Herons.

I try to round Cat Island, but the spartina is too dense and perhaps the water is just a couple inches too low.  Anyway, it doesn't go.  I back out and continue to the take out.

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