Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Nice Paddle

My wife and I decided to enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend with a short kayak trip today. It was the first time we had had the boats out this season. Which meant a lot of work cleaning out all of the junk, especially empty boxes, from under the kayaks in the garage so we could get them out. The tide was running high this morning and the forecast was for rain in the afternoon, so after an enjoyable breakfast of homemade bread and coffees, we packed the car and headed out. We wanted to avoid the likely boat traffic of the holiday weekend so we didn't go to our usual put-in. Instead, we took advantage of a friend who had offered to let us launch from her dock. From there, we could ride the high water south through a marsh to a little sandy beach right behind a large marina. The beach is only accessible from the marsh during high tides.

We leave Janet's dock, turn under the road we drove in on and BAM there are two bald eagles, a red-headed woodpecker, and two more kayakers. We point out the closer eagle to them and they are impressed. It is just sitting up there for all to admire. We see what looks like an eagle nest a little further down creek but couldn't verify that it was in use (a missed opportunity to verify them as breeding in the area but I imagine there will be other opportunities or maybe someone has already confirmed it for the VA Breeding Bird Atlas.)

The water was really high today. Sometimes when we have been back here it is tough getting through the winding channel. Today we can occasionally see the tops of grasses sticking above the water along the edge. We probably "off-roaded" several times and didn't realize it.

Sharon stopped and picked up some trash and collected a few friends. Periwinkles were everywhere trying to hold on to anything above water, even an old potato chip bag. They rode with us for a while.

Red-headed woodpecker
 There were also at least a couple of gull-billed terns. These two were waiting out the winds on someone's pier. Until a few years ago, I hadn't seen one. This year I saw 8 on the spring bird count. And now 2-3 back in here. I wonder if they are expanding their range?

Gull-billed terns
We paused for a few minutes on the sandy beach which was our turn-around point. Several years ago we paddled out here and had lunch and then waded into the creek and found a seahorse. Today it was too cool and windy for anything like that. We both had long-sleeved shirts on. And it was a good thing as the wind coming off the bay was quite chilled. We were waiting out a jet skier who had passed us going inland and we could see returning towards the marina. And we waited. And waited. And then he popped out a different opening in the marsh. After waiting for another boat to approach, they also landed on the beach, we headed across the inlet from the bay for where the jet skier had emerged. At least we had some circumnavigation in for the day. We then poked around a few side channels until the wind and clouds told us it was time to had back. Along the way one of Sharon's periwinkles calls out to a friend so we pull over and drop them off. They will be happier here than back on the dock.

It was a nice paddle to get back in he swing of things. And we got home just in time. It turned from sprinkles to heavy rain as we pulled into the driveway. At least it washed the salt water off the boats.

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