Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Migration

I set out downstream to the big marsh with a bit more than an hour to go before the tide peaks. As usual with the flood tide having reversed the river current, I hug the shore making use of a series of long eddies that build behind what seem to be relatively minor obstructions. It is an easy paddle if one knows how to play it. 

A Yellow Legs welcomes me at the top of the marsh. It has been awhile since I've seen one. It flies off scolding me for the disturbance. It is the only Yellow Legs that I will spot. I spot a Harrier working the spartina. The Harrier is a good quarter mile away.

With that, I head into Beaver Creek. Normally well populated with wintering Ducks, today it is mostly quiet except for the first Red Wing Blackbirds of spring. It starts to sprinkle.

Exiting the creek and continuing down the east side of the marsh, I find the action. I flush some Mallards and Black Ducks, but the big deal is the two dozen Teal that get up. That two dozen flushes another two dozen. They all settle down not far away near the central phragmites patch. Most days, I paddle near the patch because it is a good place to spot birds, but today I decide to leave it to the Teal. 

With the tide near high, I have a good expansive view of the entire marsh, which is a mile in diameter. Every so often, I spot large flocks of Ducks from long distance. The migration is definitely on. I also see some Canada Geese and one Oystercatcher. As I near Milford Point, I spot another Harrier. It works over the dune before heading out into the marsh.

It begins to rain hard and steady. As I head back upriver, I paddle my way into a broad dead end. Rising up on my knees, I spot a dark line in the spartina that suggests the edge of a major channel.  It takes a ten yard drag to get into the channel. Fortunately, the top of the spartina marsh is firm, a composite of silt and a hundred years of roots and stalks.

Back in the main river, I pass a Loon that is out in mid channel, fishing in the current as they do during the winter. My return is easy - perfectly timed for slack tide.

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