Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Short Trip, Big Marsh

It was a gray fall day, the clouds a smear with touches of orange from the sun filtering through.  The tide was still up although it had been dropping for an hour or so.  I put in and cross the small channel and immediately flush a Harrier from an unseen spot.  It flies away low across the spartina.

With a late start I the trip was not intended to be too long and I set out to explore some channels that I had not been in, or at least didn't remember being in.  I am usually quite keen on finding and remembering landmarks, but big marshes put that skill to the test, a test that I fail often enough.  I tried to find the long diagonal.  I remember it because for a couple of seasons it had a good Swan nest at about the midpoint.  Sometimes swamp channels shift and close off.  I've seen that in fresh water marshes where cattails can form floating islands.  Salt water spartina seems to be more stable, at least according to the old maps.  Anyway, I can't find the east side entrance.  I head to the upriver end.

There are two openings in the upper end.  I know the west one well.  So, I head into the east one and it takes me at an angle back to my put-in.

When I set out into the big marsh the wind was light, but now it has freshened up a good 10mph or more.  As I head towards Milford Point, it reaches whistling speed - when the wind running over my ears is whistling.  It's a tough grind.  Three separate flocks of Canada Geese get up as I grind.  The first two are about 120 birds each, and the third about 75.  The winds is really pushing and I turn back about a quarter mile from the point.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Bridge to Bridge

I shoulder my way through the usual throngs of people who are out to canoe in 30 degree temperatures.  The tide is dropping and has been for the last hour.  The day is sunny and the wind is only noticeable because of the cool temperature.  I cut out across the river weaving through the pilings of the two bridges that cross here.  Then I head up the big river taking the back route behind the Peacock, Carsten, Long and Pope's Island complex leaving the mass of humanity behind.

It is a quiet day with only a few wildlife sightings and those are mostly at long distance.  First is three dozen Canada Geese flying off well before I can be blamed.  Then, passing between Carsten and Peacock Islands I flush a few Black Ducks.  Above the Islands are a couple dozen Buffleheads.  And that's it for wildlife.

I follow the east shore up to the next bridge.  It's just a paddle with a cluster of thoughts passing through, such as canoe trips cause.  I do note that I have followed the shore upriver for an hour before I get to the first advantageous eddy and it gives me an upriver boost for 75 yards.  I cross the river at the bridge and pick up a good downstream current.  The shore speeds by at a trotting pace.

 I take out, muscling my way through the crowd of cold weather canoeists.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

To the Long Tailed Duck and Back

It's sunny and calm and forty degrees, it is about as casual as winter canoeing can be.

I put in at the End of the Road, a proper name for the launch site as the yellow warning sign that stands about 15 ft from the water suggests.  It takes five minutes of paddling to get down and past the last bridge on the river.  Coming out from under the arch, I catch the trilling of a Common Loon.  I scan and strain for a short time until I finally spot the culprit some 500 yards away.  Loons winter here and they don't call out very often unlike when they are in their nesting grounds.  Focused on the Loon, I almost miss the Bald Eagle that is circling just a hundred yards to the right of the Loon.  I've seen this circling many times before when Eagles were hunting Coots.  Tight circles, twenty to thirty feet above the water, the Eagle has forced its prey to dive.  Now it circles with intent to time its dive with the prey's gulp for air.  The Eagle circles for 4 or 5 minutes, but the prey has made an escape to somewhere.  The Eagle retreats to a tree perch for a rest and to late the hunted calm down.