Saturday, November 01, 2008

Finally Paddling Again!

Let us be silent, that we
might hear the whispers of the gods.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday was my first extended, relaxed trip on the water for a long time! (The puppy, healthy and happy, was napping the afternoon away safely in her pen.) It was a fantastic day, though a bit of a downstream wind kicked up toward the end. That didn't put even the smallest dent in my enjoyment of the day.

I have missed the peace of the river; it's been a long time since I have heard that much silence. What a joy; and it smelled good, too.

I could not resist taking a picture of that beautiful great blue heron that is usually found near the ramp. When I was processing my photos this morning, I discovered that it is virtually the same photo as in the previous post, except he was facing the other way, so I am not including it.

I paddled into Blue Spring. There were three people there who had come into the spring in a small boat with a trolling motor. One guy was sitting in the boat, a woman was sitting on one of the swim rafts, and the younger fellow was going for dips in the water (brrr--seemed like a bit of a nippy day for that...). When I got to the spring I said "So I guess the gator that hangs out on the raft isn't here today?" and, to my surprise, the swimmer said "Oh, he was here when we got here." Call me overly-cautious, but I would not have gotten in the water knowing it was around--that is no small gator. At any rate, on my way out of the spring I was pleased to see an eastern phoebe flying among the low branches over the water. It held still enough for me to get a photo.

(I hope Gene is reading this since he has asked me if I ever get photos of small birds!)

As I was leaving the spring inlet I saw a pair of yellowlegs coming in for a landing near the opposite bank--this is a sure sign of cooler weather; these are the first I have seen for several months, but soon they will be the most common bird on the river.

They settled in the surface growth and began searching for food.

The water level is about 6" higher than it was a month ago, which is good. The current seemed stronger than usual in the first two miles as well, and with the wind coming in, I turned around before reaching the calico hill boat ramp. Just before turning around I saw this egret in the shoreline greenery. It was a bright sunny day, and our leaves are all still in their summer colors. I thought it made a pretty scene.

However, as I was taking that photo, the wind was pushing me rapidly toward the bird, who flew away past me on my right, scolding me all the way (sorry, egret).


I headed back upstream at that point. There was another paddler on the river, and one more fishing boat with a trolling motor, and that was it for this gorgeous day.

I saw a huge bush of blooming flowers along the west side of the river so I paddled over to take a picture. Not my usual fare for this blog so I had fun framing it a little differently.

I came to another great blue heron shortly after turning around. As I approached, it also flew away, also scolding me (sorry, great blue heron).


I went back into Blue Spring on my way upstream, in part to check on the swimming person (they were gone), and in part to take a break from the wind. The other paddler was fishing in the inlet; we chatted for a short time. He had seen the gator on the raft on his way downstream and also had seen the guy swimming--and also thought that was perhaps unwise.

The rest of the paddle was peaceful but somewhat bird-free. Perhaps the birds that migrate out have left but the ones that migrate in have not arrived, except for the few yellowlegs. It's my guess that the green herons are gone for the season. I saw a few coots, which are few in number here during summer but gather in the winter.

Jefferson County bought the 10 acres of land at the head spring of this river, which includes the boat ramp and paddler access. Right now this seems like a good thing--it was previously privately owned and could have been closed off at the whim of the owner. It remains to be seen what the county will do with it, and whether they will use its popularity to produce revenue or will continue to support it as the natural recreation site that it is.

I'll be back. Stand by.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Wow!The birds in flightand scolding,that's awesome.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is Gene and that was an Eastern Phoebe, one of which I have never seen before. He/She is a cute little bugger. Thanks for including.

Stacie said...

Wow...your photo of the pheobe is awsome! All of your photos are, but I don't see you post a lot of smaller birds and the quality of that shot just blew me do all of your shots really.

Boy oh boy..I'd be nervous just kayaking in that water with that gator, no WAY I'd swim in it! YIKES!


R2K said...

So nice!