Friday, February 11, 2022

Beat the Tide

I catch the middle of the falling tide and ride a strong current down to the marsh.  But, I paddle steady the whole time as I figure that I can just barely make it around the inside of the marsh before the water gets too low...and I get stuck.

It is the finest day of the year, with almost no wind, clear sky, and temperatures in the mid 40's.

There are very few birds about, just some Mallards and Red Breasted Mergansers, so the paddling is uninterrupted.  Even in the marsh, it is surprisingly quiet.  

Common Loon
The "height of land", so to speak, is the area north of the the Audubon Center.  More or less, this is where the tide waters meet or diverge.  It is just a few inches deep when I get there, so there is no time to lose.  I try to read the water, looking for a bit of current - that's where the deepest water will be.  I get through with just a bit of poling with my "rock" paddle.

I head out into the river mouth, but there are still few birds other than Gulls and three Mute Swans.  I head back through Nell's channel.  I spot one Coot, three Buffleheads and a Common Loon, and then a Harrier that has taken off from Nell's Island. Farther up the channel I spot of flock of Geese.  They don't move as I approach...apparently, it is Goose hunting season.  Lousy day for Goose hunting in the marsh as I have not seen one during the entire paddle. 


I spot one more Loon as I head back up the river on a slack current.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Winter Factors

The winter factors - wind, temperature, and ice.  Most of the new year has been less than good enough for canoeing.  Many days were almost good, with only one of the factors out of step - sunny days with 20mph wind, calmer days with temperatures in the teens, and the dreaded 35 degree rain days.  I prefer being outside on a nice 20 below zero day to being out in 35 degrees and rain.  

Finally, sun and light wind with reasonably warm air.  I put in under the big highway and headed down to the marsh.  I know the water will be open, unlike many of my other favorite spots which will still be iced up for a few more days.  The only shortcoming is that the tide is low and I won't be able to circle the big marsh.

We had a snowstorm about a week ago.  It only dumped a foot of snow here, but it came with 24 hours of 30mph wind.  The spartina grass in the marsh has finally been knocked down.

Red Shouldered Hawk...maybe
When I reach the top of the marsh I head up Beaver Creek hoping for half of the bird action that I saw on my last trip.  I almost miss it - paddling in and looking ahead, and there is a Red Shouldered Hawk sitting and watching me pass from a piling not fifteen feet away.  As I hit the meanders, I start spooking Black Ducks and Mallards, the usual mix that I expect in here.  Then, a couple Hooded Mergansers, then a Hawk swoops in and makes a try for the hen Merganser.  She dives and the Hawk immediately retreats to a tree perch a hundred yards off.  The hen plays it safe, swimming low - thinking small, and near the shore so that a second attack will have to come from a predictable direction.  But, the Hawk has given up for the moment.  I can't identify this second hawk even though I got a pretty good look at it.  It might be a dark morph of Broad Shouldered Hawk...but that level of birding is out of my range.

A couple more meanders and the low tide runs me out of water.  As I turn I spot a Sharp Shin Hawk streaking through the nearby trees.  I pass the Red Shouldered once again on the way out.  Unusually, it is just not perturbed by my presence.

I head up and just a bit past Cat Island where I run out of tide, as I expected.  A good enough trip I start back.  As I leave the marsh I find a mature Bald Eagle in a high tree perch and a Common Loon working the current near the lowest bridge.