Thursday, April 8, 2021

In the Wheeler

 Perfect spring weather arrived for a second day in a row.  I thought about heading up into the Indian River, but instead put in under the bridge over the big river and paddled down into the marsh near its mouth.  It was warm and sunny.  The wind was lightly blowing up the river with the tide just starting to fall.  

In the river still above the marsh I saw a flock of Red Breasted Mergansers.

The marsh was well flooded and a rather unusual view.  This is a low salt marsh with the taller variety of spartina.  Low salt marshes flood on a daily basis.  In the green season, the flood marsh still has the tall spartina grasses creating a form of topography.  But nothing is yet growing and winter snow and ice has crushed the grasses to a stubble.  For the next half hour or so I can paddle almost anywhere I want, but soon I will have to stick to the channels.

Yesterday, I wrote about naming features so that I can keep track of my observations.  This marsh has escaped that only because the features disappear and reappear with the level of the water.  Many times I have come in here planning to follow a route that I used before only to completely miss any remembered landmarks and having to start fresh.

Oyster Catchers

There is a good scattering of Brandts and Ducks.  It appears that almost all of the resident Osprey are in place with pairs at or near each of the nests.  Closer to the bottom of the marsh I spot two pairs of Swans and quite a few Brandts in three flocks.  A repeated nasal whistle alerts me to a pair of Oyster Catchers speeding across in front of the canoe.  I find more Oyster Catchers working over shell fish on higher patches of spartina.  I spot a pair of Northern Shovelers.  It has been some time since I've seen one, long enough that I have to consult my bird book (I was too far away to see the obvious shovel bill).

Northern Shovelers

I circle the marsh and head back upriver.  The ebb tide is running strong but I have a nice gentle wind at my back.


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