Thursday, February 9, 2023

Winter Calm

It is a calm day, and a calm day in winter is a gift for canoeing. By the time that I put in at Ely's Ferry, it has been made clear that there will be no sun, but it is calm. The weather service's prediction of 50F has also gone south and although it is not frigid, the day feels quite chilled. But, it is calm.

My start is fortunate to coincide with the crest of the high tide. I have a minor upstream current as I get going, but most of the trip will be on slack water, or at least water that is moving so slowly that I won't notice. And, it is calm. There is ice in the water, but it is small pieces that have broken free of the shoreline or come down out of creeks or marshes. Mostly it is tinklers - herds of saucer sized ice pieces that can be ignored. I just have to avoid anything that looks white or sticks up above the surface - that is the thick stuff.

I head upstream. A look into Hamburg Cove shows it to be iced in - no surprise. An immature Bald Eagle overtakes me. It will continue to leapfrog ahead of me all of the way to Selden Island - a good hour upstream. There are a good number of scattered Common Merganser flocks. They are easy to spot from a distance with the male's striking tuxedo. There are also quite a few Canada Geese. In the stillness, their calls travel quite far and I often hear them without being able to spot them.

In Selden channel, drifting off in the meditative repetition of paddling, a muffled bang brings me to alert. It sounded like a distance shotgun blast or maybe freight trains connecting - although filtered by distance, trees and landforms. I look left and watch flock of seventy five ducks fly off. The bang was the entire flock taking off at one time. Something startled the them in a single moment. They were too far away for me to be the cause, and I suspect, but cannot prove, that my immature Eagle had something to do with this. Farther up is a pair of Red Tail Hawks sharing a tree on river left.
There are also a couple of well used beaver feed zones, each associated with a lodge.

I round the top of the island and resume drifting off into paddling. Geese continue to try to disturb me. I stop counting except for the two mature Bald Eagles that I see on the way downriver.

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