Friday, October 30, 2009

Remembering How to Paddle...

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me...
~Steve Miller

This has definitely been the longest interval between paddling trips for me for years, for a couple of reasons. I will spare you my whining about our endless summer heat. This was also the time for my North Carolina (non-paddling) trip, so that kept me away for a week.

Despite the weather, I took advantage of yesterday being rain-free, if hot, and headed to the Wacissa. In my absence they have applied some paving compound to portions of the parking lot, which will eventually harden and be very convenient. It was nice to see that. Otherwise, the only cars were three with kayak racks on top. A good sign!

A less favorable sign was the lack of flashes of white along the top edges of the river, as seen from the ramp. Where are the egrets? I saw fewer on this trip than I have for a long time.

It was great to be back in the boat, and I still remembered how to paddle it. I drifted down to Blue Spring, which was bright blue, clear, and very peaceful. When I got there, three paddlers were exiting out the back way. I paddled around the spring and then headed back to the river. This little bird (I can never recall what these are--some kind of flycatcher?) was perched on a tree limb in the channel leading out.

They are so small and cute.

Eventually I caught up to the paddlers that had been exiting the spring and drifted a medium distance behind them. They were unusually quiet as they moved downriver (no nonstop chatter), which was fantastic. After awhile I came to this juvenile ibis perched on a tree branch above me. His body feathers are starting to get their adult white coloring.

There was a similar juvenile on a lower branch. As I got closer, they flew together a short way downstream, where I caught up with them.

They were very close to an adult ibis, which may have been one of their parents.

I turned around shortly after passing them.

There are yellow wildflowers lining the river on both sides. When the sun shines on them, they seem to be lit from within. Very nice effect.

There had been an egret standing in one place for a long time--I spotted him across the river when I was photographing the ibises. He stayed standing as I approached him. Maybe he was meeting an egret friend there and was waiting patiently.

I decided to work my way over to the other side of him. I gave him a wide berth as I did so, but I guess he started to wonder what I was up to. Or maybe he just got tired of waiting.

And so I paddled back upstream toward the boat ramp. When I was in the top section, which has a lot of surface growth on it now, I saw a sign that winter may actually get here this year--the lesser yellowlegs are back on the Wacissa.

As I was approaching Duck Island, which is nearly across from the boat ramp, I saw the shadow of a large flying bird cross the tree tops just ahead of me. I looked up to see what it was. Imagine my surprise!

The eagle continue to circle right above me and fairly low. I took many photos of it, needless to say.

It swooped lower with each spiral and I wondered if it was going to dive for something. I had just enough time to back off on the camera zoom and find it again in the viewfinder to get one photo as it splashed down and then lifted off with its prey.

Now that's a fine ending for a paddling trip!

The forecast promises cooler weather next week. I hope to not have such a long time between trips any time soon. Stand by.


Beverly said...

What a feast for the eyes, Peggy. I love your ibis. The photos of the eagle are magnificent. I've been in Virginia this month where it has been cool, yippee, but I'm headed back to Florida on Sunday...don't know about the heat. I've been spoiled.

A friend I've met here has started blogging, nad I directed her to your blog, so you have another viewer.

Heather said...

Wow, those bald eagle photos are fantastic, especially the last one. Such a majestic bird! The bird in the first photo is an Eastern Phoebe, one of my very favorite birds. If you watched it for any length of time, I'm sure you noticed it "wagging" it's cute little tail! Have a good weekend!

T said...

Amazing photos. I truly enjoy your Blog and check it often. I have a kayak and camp at Three Rivers too.

Island Rider said...

Beautiful! Welcome back. We missed you!

Sandra said...

In that last photo you captured the Majesty of the Eagle perfectly. what a shot. I love the color along the water shot to. Your Ibis look like cousins to my Ibis. Great post, keep clicking

Kimberlee said...

Hey, Peggy! Great to see you back again! Hope you had a great time in NC. Your photos are really spectacular in this post...which isn't unusual, but continues to surprise and delight. Your blog is my first and only exposure to many species of birds (such as the ibis), yet your photos are so beautifully detailed that I feel like I've known them for years! :)

Nature Girl said...

WOW!! Amazing photos!

Crayons said...

These are breathtaking -- especially the full-action photo of the eagle. How did you know when to snap the shutter?

So I learned a new bird: flycather. He is beautiful.

You know, whenever I visit your blog, I am able to transcend the relative ugliness of my neighborhood. You give me permission to enter a hidden land of exquisite beauty, order and calm.

Thanks also for your really insightful comment about mindful play. It made so much sense to me.

Peggy said...

Thanks, Caroline! The eagle at the water was pure luck--all I could do was point the camera and press the shutter when autofocus said it had it and hope for the best. It's still got a lot of motion blur to it....

I may have been wrong about that flycatcher--it seems it is an Eastern Phoebe. I'm not up on my songbirds much at all!

Heather said...

Hi Peggy. Saw your comment about the Pheobe, which, as it turns out, is a member of the flycatcher family!

Mike said...

Hi Peggy!

Welcome back! :-)

You mentioned that you recently took a non-paddling trip to NC. Have you ever done paddling in the "Old North State?" I'm curious if you have and if so, can you share? I'm always interested in finding another "favorite" NC paddling area!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

The eagle on the last shot practically flew out of the screen at me. Really great photography, as usual, and good to see you're back on the water.