Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rivers and rewards

As I had hoped, I got out on the kayak today. But instead of heading out to Pelican Lake, as I had originally planned, I made way for the Crow River just east of Saint Michael. I didn’t go far. I put in at the landing where Nabor Road crosses the river. Without an up-to-date GPS, I went the safe way… paddling upstream about two miles, and then letting myself drift back. (A bad experience on the St. Croix River taught me to not drift down on the first leg and then paddle back upstream on the second leg. Always good to know you’re spending fuel on the way out, and then gliding on the way back!)

It was a lot of work heading against the current today. I was a bit surprised by the strength of the Crow’s current. But I was rewarded significantly. Today, I saw my first otter. I’ve been wanting to see one for a long time… but I’ve been zipped until today. They are curious creatures; the little critter was as enamored with me as I with he. He’d peak from the shoreline, then scurry into the grass and run downstream to take another look, as if to see whether I could keep up with him. I was able to keep pace, but I didn't successfully get a shot of him with my camera. (Some animals simply do not stop to pose for human popperatzi.)

As if I needed it, I got a second reward a few yards further down the river. I had seen an egret on the way up the river down the second bend. So, I lifted my paddle to drift with the current on the way back down, thinking I could get much closer to the big bird on my way back, using the element of surprise. My plan worked. I was able to study the huge crane as he fished from his perch on a log. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge it. Then, hit your "Back" button to return to this spot.)
Finally, as I got a little too close, he took flight… screeching at me for invading his territory. I was amazed by the loudness of his call… and delighted to snap a second shot of the huge bird as he became airborne. It was cool enough that I turned around and paddled back upstream to get a second look, where he had come to rest on a sand bar upstream. It was worth the effort… this breed of fowl is an amazing bird to study.

You can see these creatures in a zoo. But so much better, it is, to see them in freedom of their element.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

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