After a week of unusually cold weather, I was finally able to get out on the water this afternoon. I decided to head up the Sudbury River and began paddling into a light but steady breeze out of the south that didn’t feel too bad compared to what we’ve experienced lately.
Almost immediately, I encountered a belted kingfisher that flew across the river instead of providing me an escort like the one last Monday did. Shortly after this I came upon a group of Canada geese and mallards that were resting on the thin ice that had formed along the sides of the river. Mixed in with this group was a pair of ducks that were strangers to me. The male had a white neck/chest, brown head, and two bands of color near the rear. The female looked like fairly similar to the mallard females. The only duck in my field guide that looks similar is a northern pintail but I can’t be sure. Also there was a solitary duck that may have been a merganser but it preferred to keep just far enough away to prevent identification. After passing under Rt. 2, there was a lone cormorant and at Martha’s Point I noticed the ice was becoming thicker along the sides.
Upon reaching the entrance to Fairhaven Bay, I was surprised and disappointed to see the whole bay was iced over. I pushed my way through the thinner ice for about 50 yards but then found my paddle blades would no longer penetrate the ice and decided to turn around and head downriver. On the way down, I recovered three cans and a soft drink container.
At Egg Rock, I entered the Assabet River and its steady current while listening to Tom Rush sing Joni Mitchell’s song Urge for Going. Some of the lyrics seemed most appropriate: “When the sky turns traitor cold and shivering trees are standing in a naked row, I get the urge for going but I never seem to go”. Yup, that pretty well sums up recent conditions!
About a half mile upriver from Egg Rock, I saw the body of a Canada goose that rested on the river bank just above the water. The head and neck were gone and many feathers were on the ground. Perhaps the work of a fox or coyote? Or maybe a hawk? Another quarter mile upriver, a mink emerged from the water and onto a tree root where it strained to see me and figure out what I was. The mink I’ve encountered all seem to have very bad vision when out of the water. It occurred to me that quite possibly the mink staring at me was the goose killer. A little ways past Willow Island, I turned around again and headed back to my take out location, arriving with only 4 empty containers, bringing my YTD total to 2340.
Sure hope we get some more 40 and 50 degree days before ‘Old Man Winter’ settles in for the duration. This is just too early for my liking!