Summer paddling continues in the beautiful Ipwich marshes on the long days. Each day, you get three major chances to get on the water: early morning, sunrise about 5:30; a long stretch of day; and evening until sunset at about 8:15 (and beyond with headlamp). This tide cycle (high tide around 9 p.m.), we have been favoring the evening.
Imagine going out with a couple of friends, and arriving on an island with a dinner picnic in full swing. That is what happened the other evening. Most had arrived by motorboat and consequently had tucked in gourmet fare, fine wines, and wood for a blazing fire on this island situated at the crossroads of two towns, so it’s easy to meet up. Also, the current is swift, and there is rock underfoot, in an area of mud and beach, so it’s a favorite spot for both fishermen and terns.
Evening entertainment was watching the terns dive. Then we all put our feet on the club motto etched in stone and buried on the shore. It turns out the motto was put together by a group of lads whose high school Latin recall was a little bent. Here’s what they came up with: Insula Sugit, Viridis Fugit. Island rises, green flies. The latter part refers to the greenheads that plague boaters in the marsh in July. They were remarkably at bay, it has really not been a bad season for the little buggers, at least around here. Cranes Beach has only had up the “Greenhead Flies, No Refunds,” up a couple of times so far this July. Hurray!
The trip home in the gathering dark, with a cooling breeze pushing the day’s heat away, our bows cutting the still, black water, was the perfect end of another fantastic evening paddle.
* Time flies
A wavery moonlit path stretched ahead, drawing me along, like I had been put under a spell. I couldn’t turn around! The evening was so warm and summery, but the lure was the light: Tiny wavelets fractured the moon, the glowstick drew the bow, the fireflies twinkled to the top of the huge fir trees, the moon snuck through the branches, a light spray of stars, bioluminescence slipped off the paddle, the land flew by.
Facts: Full moon July 11. High tide at 11:42 p.m. Tide height ten feet.
I followed the moonlight path to high, fir-covered Hog Island, then around the island, to the dark side. The 17th Century Choate house was shrouded in darkness, its colonial ghosts busy elsewhere. The weekend guest cottage was empty, no one swinging from the hammock. The cabin cruisers on the inner beach, dark.
I stepped up the paddle cadence, and booked, pausing at the empty osprey nest to see if anyone had moved in since my last visit. No. I paddled by Gravelly island, cairns nearly under water, then swung down the Hay Canal. At the landing, I slipped on the wheels and pulled the kayak out, rumbled down the road, up the driveway, and to a sleeping house. It was midnight!
Do you have a place where you have lived and kayaked for more than 20 years and NEVER paddled under a full moon? Then you should change that. The next full moon is Aug. 10, high tide around midnight. See you there.
Viewing an osprey nest from an acceptable distance.
It used to be if you wanted to see osprey in Massachusetts, you went to the Westport River. It was well known for an osprey-recovery program started in the mid-1960s by a local couple, Gilbert and Josephine Fernandez, who took the initiative to build several nesting platforms on tall poles. They theorized that the osprey’s comeback might hinge on nesting spots provided by humans to replace all the trees that had been cut down.
The Westport River is no longer the only osprey real estate. Essex County Greenbelt in our neck of the woods has created a “colony” of ospreys in the past five to ten years. Greenbelt has even launched a popular webcam where you can view the nest of Allyn and Ethel who hatched a chick around June 1. Way to go, Allyn and Ethel!
We were out paddling recently and passed by another active nest (not on TV) near Choate Island, as seen in photo. The platform was installed privately on private property sometime after 2005, and has definitely been active since 2010. Last year, this osprey pair successfully fledged three young.
Dave Rimmer, Osprey Program Director for Greenbelt, noted that after a recent survey, what he and his crew discovered was mostly encouraging: four nests with chicks in them; two nests abandoned.
Accomplishments to date in Essex County:
* Installed eight new nesting platforms and repaired countless others on Greenbelt and other properties
* Created Osprey Watch and coordinated monitoring of approximately 25 active osprey nests in 2013 using Greenbelt staff and more than 15 volunteer citizen scientist nest monitors
* Installed a webcam in 2013 at the Cox Reservation Osprey nest in Essex and fed a live stream to the Greenbelt and other websites
* Installed two informational kiosks in 2013 about osprey biology and conservation
* Banded 13 Osprey chicks and placed satellite transmitters on two juvenile Osprey in 2013 as part of a long-term research project on Osprey migration with lead investigator Dr. Rob Bierregaard
Go the www.ecga.org, click on Osprey Program, and check out the webcam.