You Can't Miss a Chance to Paddle Here
Wren and I had the opportunity to paddle the Bog River the other day and we couldn't turn down the chance to do so. After all, the Bog River is a great place to explore, and since it dumps into Hitchins Pond with the great boreal and bog habitat surrounding it, the river is aptly named. The day was warming but not overly hot as we arrived mid-late morning to put-in. I often prefer early morning or evening for paddles, but any chance to get on the Bog River is a good one. I chatted briefly with the watershed steward while Wren played in the shallows at the launch near the dam, and we eventually set off.
Breezes and Birds
Even with the later-than-optimal start, bird song led us along the river and I began ticking off species like Blue-headed and Red-eyed vireos, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Hairy Woodpecker, and Purple Finch. Our first warblers of the paddle included Yellow-rumped and Pine, both singing from the tall white pines which overlooked our passage between the rocky outcrops flanking the river. The sunny day was already getting breezy as we left, and I found I had to initially paddle fairly hard to negotiate the wind tunnel these created. The wind would be a challenge throughout our time on the water.
But Wren didn't mind it at all and dozed peacefully while I sweated to keep our bow pointed into the breeze. I found taking photos a difficult task since the wind would blow us off course whenever I paused from paddling to grab my camera. That is a usual conundrum for me when I solo paddle, but we made steady, slow progress despite the breeze, and I wove from shoreline to shoreline to listen to the birds.
Lots of Warblers
We were still accruing a nice list, led of course by the warblers which numbered 15 by the time we were finished. Deciduous portions of habitat offered Ovenbird, American Redstart, and Black-throated Green Warbler, while Nashville and Magnolia Warblers sang from the conifers where they were joined by Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. The river also features open, grassy wetlands lined with alders, and we found the likes of Common Yellowthroat and Chestnut-sided Warbler in them. In one of these thickets, I stopped for the choppy song of a Canada Warbler and achieved quick views of the bird. That is one of the difficulties of birding while paddling — it can be tricky to get great looks at things. On the other hand, padding allows us as birders and explorers to access areas we couldn't otherwise reach, and it gives us a different perspective on the world as we go.
The marshy, open areas were also home to species like Red-winged Blackbird, Alder Flycatcher, Common Grackle, as well as Song and Swamp Sparrows, and I was sure we'd hear both Lincoln's Sparrow and Palm Warbler if we continued far enough up to the bog which surrounds Hitchins Pond. But my time was a bit short to get all the way into Hitchins itself, and we contented ourselves with the margins of that boreal habitat, finding a fishing Great Blue Heron and a soaring Osprey overhead.
We turned around to find the wind somehow still in our face but it cooled me in my efforts, and Wren alternated between watching the scenery and dozing comfortably in the pleasant air. Even with the strong breeze in my ears I heard a Black-and-White Warbler singing a somewhat strange song, and we poked our bow into the edge of the marsh and the trees which lined it to investigate and confirm that the bird was, in fact, a Black-and-White. It is always good to verify these things, and I was glad to make sure my ears weren't deceiving me in the wind.
We eventually made our way back to the put-in, where Wren played in the water while I battled what was a ravenous greeting party of mosquitoes and black flies as I loaded up the boat, suddenly missing the wind on the water. Wind is a great bug repellent, after all. We headed off to find lunch, a new adventures down the road.
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