Saturday, June 29, 2024

Swan Cowboy

I stay in the local waters as there is a prediction for strong afternoon winds. There is a thick overcast and the air is cool and humid. The tide has about 2 hours to go to hit low. I put in under the highway and head down river to the Wheeler Marsh. With low tide, my route options will be limited, but it does make for good bird watching.

Rollin'  rollin'  rollin', keep them dogies rollin'....

The Swam pair at the top of the marsh have two cygnets, and one of those is white. Cygnets are usually gray, but I see a white one maybe once a year. I head into the channel leading to the phragmites patch, but I surprise another Swan with four Cygnets and a Mallard with a few ducklings. The Mallard does the wounded Duck decoy thing that is so common with Wood Ducks. I decide not to head up in the channel as there seem to be too any young birds about. The Mallard plays decoy for a ridiculously long distance, and then circles back to where she ditched her youths. The Swam leads her young away, except for the slow one in last place. It turns around and starts swimming in the wrong direction. So, I circle around and get it turned around and headed in the right direction. Around the bend are a couple inlets that Swans like to take shelter in, and I suspect that is the plan. The Cob should also be there, as mated Swans do stay together. This is a 10 minute slow paddle with the little goof paddling steadily. And, as I round the bend, there is the big Cob looking as big as he can by standing on the bottom in a couple inches of water. The little one swims up to the Cob and once I turn the canoe, the Cob saddles up and takes over.

Virginia Dare Extract bottle
I head down Nell's Channel instead. There will be fewer young birds in here as it is more open water with fewer places to hide. I find a bottle in the cut bank not much more than fifty yards in. It is a Virginia Dare Extract bottle at a depth of 19 inches. That should make it about 75 years old as my estimate of soil deposition, based on bottles recovered from cut banks, is about 50 years per foot.
Black Crowned Night Heron

Great Egrets and Yellow Crowned Night Herons are numerous today. I spot two Snowy Egrets, and a total of six Black Crowned Night Herons. I usually don't see more than a single Black Crowned, if any. There are several Willets near the top of Nell's Channel as well.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Hidden Industry

I haven't figured out this section of the river. For a few years the O'Sullivans Island launch wasn't available due to a massive amount of road construction, and some brown field issues with the island. That meant a 16 to 17 mile round trip to see this part of the river. The official boat ramp is still closed, but I can put in from the shore without any problem.

This is the top of the tidal section of the Housatonic, at least since 1871 when the dam just upstream was constructed. I put in and head downstream. It is noisy, it is always noisy. Several busy roads converge here, all trying to squeeze over the Housatonic and the Naugatuck, which meet at O'Sullivans Island. Three old mill towns, Shelton, Derby and Ansonia are clustered in the fray. As to the noise, once you are a 1/3 of mile downstream, the noise disappears, and the river becomes something else. There is a marina about an hour down, but few motorboats come into the river above it.

This part of the river is in a valley some 200 ft deep. It is a forest shoreline with few houses in sight at all, and those are mostly up at the top of the valley. A rail line on the east side creates a trick of non-nature. The rail right of way prevents any shoreline development. If one doesn't look to close, it seems fairly pristine. Paddling near shore I notice the man-made left-behinds. There are artifacts and features spanning a 100 or 150 years. In some places the shoreline is bedrock. Where it isn't, it might be rip-rap, or wooden cribbing. The wood cribbing I expect is rather old. Building it is a labor intensive job that would not happen if machinery was available to drive pilings or dump thousands of tons of rock. The rip-rap is ther to protect the rail line. There are also some wharf remnants and cut stone masonry structures. Once upon a time, barges and steamboats did come upriver to the mill towns. There are a few old docks - homeowner sized things, and a tin shack that is quite well hidden in the trees. 

I see five Great Blue Herons, a mother Wood Duck with four ducklings and a mother Merganser with six or seven ducklings.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Selden Against the Wind

I head out into the big river through the breach in the North Cove bar. It is somewhere near low tide, but the water is just high enough to make it out without wading. Three Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, and an Osprey are nearby.

I have misjudged the current. Expecting something a little more slack, there is a stiff downriver current. This is probably due to the low tide and the river having to descent that extra few feet. I cross over to the east side of the river on the old route of the long gone Ely Ferry. This side of the river is just a little wilder and shadier with lots of forest to peer back into. There is a steady 10+mph wind coming straight down the river. This with the current slows me to a crawl, especially where the river gets redirected by the bedrock bank.

The Selden Channel gives me some relief from the current, but the wind is still there. The Osprey are active and busy around their nests. I flush a surprisingly colorful Great Blue Heron from one of the side channels. Then, there is a large splash behind me...wrong place for a turtle, but there is a bunch of old beaver sign. I pull over and wait. And, a beaver surfaces and begins with its beaver behavior - swimming slow circles or side to side. They have bad eyes, but no doubt it can see my shape, and catch my scent. I wait and watch, but it is not going to climb out of the water until I am gone. 


I get back to the big river at the top of the channel. There is not much in motorboat traffic, so I opt to return in the main channel. I have the current with me, but as it happens, the wind, which would have been at my back, has dropped off. I paddle down the island until crossing the river at the bottom of Eustasia Island. I follow the west shore back.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Pomparaug Musings

I have a few sections of various rivers on my explore list. Unfortunately, the weather today does not favor my plans. An expected hot day with gusty winds pushes me toward something shorter and closer to home.

I put in on Lake Zoar, the second reservoir on the Housatonic above the sea. It is on my short list of places I least like to canoe in. The lake is popular with motorboats and jetski things. It also features a delightful stretch of beach-blanket-bingo houses wedged in between the lake and Interstate 84. But, if you get an early start...

I paddle up in the shade of a protected patch of forest, cross the wide bit below the highway bridge, and head up a tributary, the Pomperaug. It goes quiet in no time flat.

I've been up in here several times, and it is the best bit of paddling on the reservoir. There are some modest cabins, but there is also a lot of forest with the river down in a deep valley. I go as far as the boulder garden.

I've never seen enough water in the boulder garden to even line a canoe through. I have yet to get up enough gumption to portage/line the canoe up through what looks like at least a quarter mile of boulder garden. It looks like such a great river to paddle in a great location, if there is enough water upstream to float a canoe. This time, I decide to do some land (automobile) based exploring and see what the river looks like up higher. I turn around and paddle out. 

The Three Stooges are launching their personal water crafts just as I get back to my put-in. Moe is yelling at Larry and Curly. I timed this perfectly.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

To Nowhere

The heat will come on this afternoon, but right now the day is a humid haze with just a little coolness left behind by yesterday evening's rain. I put in under the high bridge with the flood tide pushing a good current upriver.

I cross the river beneath the drawbridge and head up to the four islands, Peacock, Carting, Long and Pope's. A Black Crowned Night Heron overtakes me on my left flying low enough that I can see its back and identify it. Before I can get into the narrow channel between Peacock and Carting, I have spot five Yellow Crowned Night Herons. By the sound of things, there are a good number of Marsh Wrens in here.

I come out of that narrow channel and paddle down the east side of Long Island spotting four Willets along the way.

I cross the river again at the draw bridge, then head down to the Wheeler. I go in using one of the inner channels. Most of the way in the channel, I am escorted by one or more Willets. They call out letting all the birds in this area know that I am there - that is one of their jobs. I flush a total of 50 Mallards in this area, and my daily quota of Green Winged Teal, a pair.  

I take one of the eastern inner channels back up. There are no Willets over here, but I see a half dozen Yellow Crowned Night Herons and a few Great Egrets. My daily quota of Green Winged Teal gets doubled as another pair flushes and heads off into Beaver Creek.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Up to Potter Hill and the Mystery Bridge

I put in on the Pawcatuck using a rough access near the Gingerella Sports Complex. The plan is to paddle 4 miles upstream to the Potter Hill Dam, checking off another section of Pawcatuck. 

Below this put-in is a section of whitewater where an old mill dam was removed. It can be paddled downstream, but I have no idea if it is reasonably passable going upstream. I leave that for a later date. Even here, the current is fairly quick. I put in and hug the shore as I head upstream. It's not as bad as it looks.

The usual method of ascending - heading for shallow slower water on the insides of the bends doesn't work on this river. Clearly, the bottom geology has a different idea. The river bottom is a series of gravel bars and rocky shelves and it takes a little reading of the water to find the easy path. The half mile takes about a half hour and requires a bit of wading and a few boulder hops to get past some fast water. But, after that the space between fast sections gets longer and easier and about a mile up it becomes pretty easy paddling with a minimal current. Great Blue Herons appear on a regular schedule - to me, they always seem to be territorial in feeding keeping a quarter mile or so to themselves. There is also an occasional Osprey and several Kingfishers.

This section of the river is forest with no significant attached marshland. There is some farmland on the north shore, but except for one pasture, it is atop a fifty foot high forested hillside - not only unseen, but also buffered from the river. The other side (river-left) is all forest and only once does a road come near. All in all, it's has a wild feel. The only people I see are two fishermen near the bridge at Boombridge Road.

The Post Office Lane Bridge

Potter Hill comes a bit quicker than I expected. I recognize Post Office Lane, a bit of state owned access land. I did not know that there was a bridge at Post Office Lane. It is a curious structure. The foundations are stone and I would not be surprised if there had been a covered bridge here at one time. But, now there is a concrete deck on steel I-beams with wood cross bars underneath and a concrete central pillar. It looks like about four generations of various bridge building techniques cobbled together without any plan other than "make it work". It is a narrow one lane width with nothing other than a three inch high curb to keep you from falling fifteen feet into the river.  I do some map research when I get home, and the bridge does not show on the 1889 or 1921 topographic maps. The first time it shows on a map is 1953 USGS topo, and every bit of this bridge predates that, for sure. The 2001 map shows a pond on river-right with the road passing through...the pond is not there anymore, and satellite photos from the time don't show it either. And, it is an interstate bridge, connecting Rhode Island and Connecticut. At least the name, Post Office Lane, has a reason as there was a post office here at one time.

The Potter Hill Dam

I paddle up past the bridge riddle. I find an old riverside trash burn and recover three bottles that I might get a date from. Next, I turn the bend and start seeing the remains of the Potter Hill Mill. 

The first mill on this site was built in the 1760's. In the early 1800's it was converted from a grist mill to textiles and operated until 1958.

The return is a very pleasant paddle with the quick water at the end being easy to navigate in the downstream direction.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

To the Sea

The heat wave doesn't have the teeth here as it does further inland. Even so, it i best to start early and be off the water before the scorch of midday sun adds to the temperature. I start under the highway bridge with a lukewarm plan of heading out to the lighthouse at the mouth of the river. For a change, I cross the river right away and follow the Stratford shore. Because of the way the river curves, this is the long way to the sea. The shoreline is mostly occupied by marinas although there are patches of spartina marsh here and there.

Immature Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Laughing Gull

I reach Milford Point in about a hour, which is double the time it would take if I had paddled through the Wheeler Marsh. I continue on until I get past the Stratford Beach. Then, I get bored with it. Marinas and shoreline houses wear on me. The same thing happened the last time I paddle this route.  I cross the mouth of the river and paddle up past the point and into the marsh.

The tide is still coming in, but there isn't much left of the flood. The spartina is near full height and the channels that I remember from winter look different enough that I have to think a bit to figure out where I am. I have no doubt that the marsh is full of birds, it's just that they can't be seen with the grass up like it is. I see about 75 Mallards, but only after they have taken wing. And, I spot a pair of Green Wing Teal on one of those occasions. There are, of course, a good number of Yellow Crowned Night Herons. Half of those that I see are unseen until they take off, which is the tip that there are a lot of birds in the marsh. After passing the central phragmites patch, I get scolded something fierce by one of the YC Night Herons - it circles around me a few times, constantly skrieking. Three more join in the effort untilI paddle out of their turf. I haven't seen that before and don't know what it was about. 

Monday, June 17, 2024


The wind came up as predicted, but it won't mean anything except for some extra effort, as long as it does not get stronger.

I planned on a downriver trip from the East Haddam town beach/launch thingy. But, since I was last here, the town has added a "Residents Only" sign, so I start a mile and a quarter upriver at the state launch. It puts Selden out of reach on such a windy day, so I head up into Salmon Cove.

There is an Osprey on the first nest, and a Great Blue Heron perched in a tree a hundred yards farther in. 

The Dibble Creek dam

The big beaver lodges in Haddam Neck are now in full seclusion behind a wall of new cattails and I see no reason to bother them. Instead, I head into Dibble Creek, or more accurately, the bay that Dibble Creek flows into. I was last in here on April 9. There is a beaver dam that bisects the little bay. It's only a foot high, but it has a full crop of saplings and cattails rooted in it. The beaver had trimmed most of it during the winter, but today it is a full-on hedge. If one didn't know better, they would assume that this is shoreline. In time, this will probably become something resembling a hedgerow as roots and collected material reinforce the dam with each growing season. I can imagine someone 50 years from now thinking that this berm has some man-made origin. Of course, by then it is also possible that the shallow bay behind it will be a low soggy meadow. (The dam is visible on GoogleEarth, which shows that it was built 2016-2017)

The Moodus

I paddle up the cove and into the Moodus. The water is quite clear today and I scan the bottom as much as what is above the surface. I spot 2 Great Blue Herons. Some deadfalls blocked the river a few years ago, but these have all collapsed finally and once again it is an easy paddle right up to where I always had to start wading. On the way out I scan the bottom, finding an old ceramic electrical fitting, an old can of processed cheese spread, and....Bonus - an old rusty leg hold trap. The trap comes from the last sharp left bend right below Johnsonville. I note that the river is rocky on river-right, but deep layers of pre-peat marsh stuff on river-left. The river lies on the boundary between the rocky hillside and the marsh. There are also a few old tunnels in the mud that are just the right size to be former entrances to long gone beaver lodges.  The trap is a padded jaw variety, which are still legal in Connecticut. The large size of this one is legal only for taking beaver.

An old leg hold trap
Rather than pursue my usual route up to the Leesville Dam, which will entail a long headwind return, I head back to my put-in and continue downriver into the wind. I go as far as the East Haddam launch/beach thingy. This gives me a full hour of wind and wave paddling. Always good to keep the wallowing skills up to snuff.

Friday, June 14, 2024

A Calm and Rainy Day

I set out on Pond Brook for a trip up to the Shephaug cascades and back. There is a thick overcast, the air is humid and it is calm. It is a rare calm and a silence that is rare without being out a long way from the man-made. I become aware of the little noise that my paddling makes and take the care to make as little disturbance as possible. I slip the tip of the paddle into the water and ease up just a little on the power to avoid the swirling eddies that come off the edges of the paddle. 

There are few people out today. I spot from a distance a couple of paddle boarders, who are probably just far enough from their put-in that they are wishing they had somewhere to sit.

After rounding the point and starting up the Shephaug, it begins to sprinkle. It will sprinkle or, briefly, rain for most of the trip. But it stays calm. Not only does rain filter out distant sounds, but it also filters out other boaters. This reservoir has numerous fancy water ski boats and the conditions could not be better for water skiing. I come to the conclusion that no one is water skiing during on this rainy day because they don't want to get wet.

I pass 3 kayakers and a single fishing boat before getting to the cascades. The water is low and the river-right channel is all rocks. Earlier in the spring, there would be a good flow coming through, but only the left channel is running today.

The Shepaug Cacades



Wednesday, June 12, 2024


I put in and head to the southwest corner of the lake where the Quinebaug enters. It is easy to spot as what looks like a large cement bridge spans the inlet. It's dated 1958 and I suspect that it might not be a bridge, but rather structure for a reservoir depth that wasn't used. There is a foot high cement dam spanning the river just a few yards up, but it is an easy step-over.

The river goes wild as soon as I push off from the dam. Shrubs run right to the water's edge with a good crop of pickerel weed and arrow alum (or some other arrowhead swamp plant) separating the water and the shrubs. The river is deep enough and wide enough and flows with a small current that is no bother. A Great Blue Heron waits just around the first bend.

I had delayed on coming here for some time, mostly because it is a bit of a drive. But, looking over the map last week, I noticed that much of this section of the river is running through the center of a broad marsh. The lower section is enclosed by some forest, although it becomes big sky marsh soon enough. It is a very typical northern marsh and if one ignores some distant hills, it could be in north-central Minnesota or lower Michigan.


There are a good number of Redwing Blackbirds and Kingbirds along with Great Blue Herons on regular intervals.

I get to what I think is Holland Pond. There is a launch here with a US Corps of Engineers sign with a good map. The Quinebaug is an official river trail project overseen by the federal government and the additional funding shows in good condition of the waterway and ease of access. However, the sign says East Brimfield Lake, which I am pretty sure I left some 4 miles behind. I paddle the perimeter of the pond, finding a USACE building labeled Lake Siog. A fishermen tells me that both names are used for the one pond.

Holland Pond is the headwaters of the Quinebaug, so I head back down. I make a short side trip into Mill Brook. I cross one low beaver dam, then the brook splits in half, in all ways - it becomes half as wide. Then, not too many feet farther, a second beaver dam. I stand up for a looksee. The beaver dam is going to have to be a couple feet higher to back up enough water to paddle in. (On the map, Mill Brook is somewhere off to my left, in which case it is small enough that I didn't notice it.

Kingbird nest
I spot an occupied Kingbird nest on the way back.

You can see the kingbird in this photo

 Back at my start point, I continue past and locate the tunnel into Long Lake. With some time to spare, I paddle up to the top of the lake, about a mile and a quarter. It is forested with just a few houses well back in the trees, a worthwhile extra to the trip.

Monday, June 10, 2024


I'm not long in the water before realizing that I've neglected this river. It's been a few years since my last visit (only visit?) and while I remember it as a good one, I didn't remember it as this good.

It's a nice day with temperatures in the mid 70's, a less than 10 mph wind from the west and northwest, and partly cloudy sky of puffy scattered cumulus, which lets a lot of sun through.

I head downriver toward the lake. out of the places that I paddle, this might have the densest population of beaver. Just as one lodge disappears from view, another comes into sight. And, the lodges are large - these are mature breeding colonies. 

I meet two women in kayaks and they warn me of a beaver dam before the lake that turned them back. That is the disadvantage of kayaks over canoes. Kayaks stem from seagoing use - one gets in and stays in until returning to shore. People don't think about canoes this way, but they are designed to hop in and out of and carry them when necessary. The dam is about a foot high and pretty much where I remember a dam from my last trip. There is an older submerged dam nearby and closer to the lake, but I can't spot it. 

I head out into the lake. I was planning to explore the Bantam River where it exits the lake, but the lake doesn't match my memory from glancing at the map, which I do not have with me. Later, I find that I overestimated the distances rather wildly, passing the lake exit and wandering around the next point. The lake is not half as big as I was thinking.  I turn back when I see that I have to run a long gauntlet of shoreline houses. I just don't have it in me today. However, all of the northern shore is quite nice. Most of it is White Family Foundation Preserve - a large expanse of forest and ponds open to the public with lots of trails. This has a lot to do with the excellent condition of the river, which has few non-native plants.

The noisy beaver lodge

Back in the river, I recross the beaver dam, and then run into the two women again. I have a delightful chat with R and L for about 20 minutes. As I'm telling them about beaver scent mounds and winter food stashes etc. they ask what beaver sound like. "Oh, you heard that too?" I am impressed. There was audible murmuring coming from one of the lodges. I paddled halfway around it to be sure that it was coming from the lodge. I once saw a mother beaver nuzzling a kit - and that was similar to the sound I heard. I don't think 1 in 50 people would have noticed the sound coming from the lodge.

I continue up to Little Pond. I cross 3 low dams and 3 other submerged dams on the way. Spot two Great Blue Herons, a Wood Duck hen with 4 Ducklings, and one Green Heron. I head out of the pond and up the now shallow river, but run into a log jam about a 1/4 mile from the pond. It's a good point to turn around as the river will start traversing a golf course pretty soon, and I remember that being uninteresting. I spot a young raccoon just above the lowest dam.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Unsettled Weather

I get a late start. The weather is unsettled. It's not bad, just unsettled and unsure of what it should do next. I check the weather service - wind with gusts, then a few minutes later, wind, then a few minutes later, wind with gusts. I go when the wind decides to pick a direction.

So, there is some wind and minor gusts, but it is coming down river and not likely to change. There is also a little rain, but I don't care one bit about that as long as it doesn't come with lightning, which it is not.

Last time I came in here, I spent an hour on shore waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. 

At the rock garden
I head up river thinking about what this section might have looked like in 1875 before it was dammed. The "natural" river starts somewhere near a place that I call the Shelf.  The Shelf is a cobble bar that runs bank to bank at a slight angle to the centerline of the river. It's possible that there is some bedrock down there somewhere. I sidle across the river over the Shelf and find the deepest point to be about 4 feet, today. 
I spotted this iron ring bolt with a broken chain link. It's about 18 inches tall. Just to the left of the canoe in the above photo.

I continue up to the rock garden. This is definitely original river level and it lies about a 1/4 mile below the Stevenson Dam. Paddling upstream through the rock garden is water level dependent. If the water is too high, there are no eddies or slow water to use for making headway. If the water is too low, a couple of necessary gaps between boulders disappear with the only remaining opening too fast for me to power through. Today is the latter. I get about halfway up, then turn out of an eddy and catch the current back. 

The sun comes out, the wind is at my back, the day improves.

Friday, June 7, 2024

The Other Missing Link

Paddling alone most of the time, my river routes require that I can paddle them upstream as well as downstream. Funny thing about canoe guide books is that they are rarely include any information about paddling upstream. Today, I set out on the Bradford-Potter Hill section of the Pawcatuck. On the map, it looks like it should be fairly placid as the river runs through swamp and bottom land forest. But, one never really knows - a drop of a foot or two in the wrong place can make the upstream

I put in at Potter Hill, the site of a dam and an old falling down mill. There is a small gap in the shrubs at the Flora Whitely Preserve for launching the canoe. That is one of the draws to this section of river - there are no public boat ramps. The only other access is at the Bradford end where a hundred yard portage is necessary to get past the series of ramps that were put in to replace an old dam. The ramps hold the water level, but allow fish passage.

It is an excellent paddling day There is little wind, the temperature will be about 80F, and the sky is mostly cloudy but with big slices of blue sky. I get scolded by a Green Heron that flies a circle around me while vocalizing. This is a good sign - I am an oddity, much better than to have the bird looking nonchalant, "another human in a canoe." I will spot around ten Great Blue Herons over the distance, and one Osprey. Otherwise in the bird department, it is mostly bird song constantly from the forest.

A mile and a half up, I pass under the RI-3 bridge. There is a short bit of fast water to negotiate, maybe 20 yards or so of stiff paddling. The current varies with some sections having little while the worst is at most 2:1. The last house is at about the 2 miles point. Pretty much, all the houses are back from the river and more of a cabin size - Mr. Moneybags hasn't discovered this area, yet. Although, it might no be to his taste. I get the idea when I am here that this is inhabited by a lot of fishing/hunting types.

There is not a lot a variation in the terrain. The river is a 100 ft or so wide at Potter Hill, and 75 ft or so at Bradford. The lower half is lower, tending toward swamp. The upper half has a 2 foot high exposed bank. Once past the last house, it is clear that there is a broad patch of wildland on either side of the river.

Halfway out, I run into four people from the state. I ask them if they are out counting canoes. The boss replies, "Yes - one." Anyway, it turns out that the Potter Hill dam will be removed in the future to be replaced with something like the ramps at Bradford. This group is out looking over the marsh to see what impact a change in water level would have. They tip me off that there is a walking bridge upstream that will have some fast water under it. 

I get scolded something fierce by a Hawk. I think it is an immature Red Shouldered Hawk. I get several okay photos, and get to listen to its loud keeee-yer call. It really gave me holy hell for being in its space and showed no inclination to fly off.

The walking bridge does have some fast water, but at least today, it is easier than the RI-3 bridge. There is a possible portage on river-right, for future reference. Just beyond that is a shore to shore tangle of downed trees. I manage to push through. Too bad that I didn't take my saw or I could have easily opened up a tunnel for other paddlers.

The next stop is the Bradford ramps. With that, I turn back with the advantage of the current. It took 2-1/2 hours to get here and will take just under 2 hours to return. 14 miles total.

The Bradford Ramps

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

From Bear House Hill Road

I set out from Bear House Hill Road. I especially like putting the canoe in here. For one, it is is not an official launch site, just convenient river bank next to an old unused bridge. Secondly, it is a historical spot in that it is the old stage coach ford, the first shallow and narrow place to easily cross the East River. It's four miles from here to Long Island Sound and until a combination of landfill and bridges was doable, this was the way across. I can't begin to imagine who might have crossed here.

The morning is cloudy with a ceiling of no more than a couple hundred feet. It is clearly a marine layer and it should burn off as the day goes on. Although it messes with any photography, it is ideal for canoeing - cool and comfortable. There is hardly any wind. The tide is almost peaking.

I've been paddling here less than in the past, taking almost a whole year off as I explored other areas. Place names official and self-created run through my head as I descend - Pocket Knife Bend (mine), the Gravel Flats (mine), the Goff house (not mine), the smallpox cemetery (not mine), the Parmalee sawmill dam (that belongs to Parmalee). At the farm, someone is putting a new roof on the silo that is attached to the old barn. A Great Egret takes off, a Redwing Blackbird harasses it for about 15 yards. I can almost hear the Blackbird, "and stay away!" By the Parmalee dam, a Red Tail Hawk comes in chased by a Blackbird. The Hawk flushes an Osprey, which flushes a second Osprey. This is what counts for pandemonium today. Then, under Clapboard Hill Road (not mine), into the upper marsh (logical) and the Big Bends (mine). Five Snowy Egrets are working a panne that lies inside the lowest of the Big Bends. This is also where I start to hear Willets.

Black Bellied Plovers
Once beneath the railroad bridge, I take the side route into Bailey Creek, and ascend the creek to where it suddenly disappears. I turn around and descend the creek. Near where the Neck River comes in, I spot a half dozen Black Bellied Plovers - they're the only ones that I see. The Osprey in this area are quite active right now. The sun has burned through the clouds and it is now a sunny day.

There are several docks along the Neck River just before it joins the East River. Osprey have commandeered two of the docks as nesting spots. The first nest is a pile of branches about 3 feet tall.

I turn up the East River. The big oyster boat that has the allotment on the East River is just finishing. It comes in here once or twice a year. It's leaving with a small dump truck worth of oysters on the deck.