Monday, February 27, 2012

Love is in the air (at least for the waterfowl)

Approaching an old Railroad Trestle

Love seemed to be in the air yesterday afternoon as Jim and I canoed the Thornapple. Along the way, as we’d round bends in the river, we’d flush up pairs of ducks. I think I only saw one lone duck, the rest were paired up or in a group. It was a few degrees above freezing, but due to the recent warm weather there was little ice. At times, the wind blew hard and it sounded colder than it was as it swirled around in the tops of the bare hardwoods. Yet, here by the water, we saw buds on some of the maples. It’ll still be a good two months before the foliage returns, but Spring is coming. Of course, it still seems like winter never arrived. When we got to the mill pond at Middleville, we were greeted with dozens of pairs of waterfowl. The sandhill cranes are back as well as mute swans along with what Jim believed to be a pair of trumpeter swans. And of course, there were plenty of Canadian geese, although most of them I’m sure wintered here (as did the swans). We spent some time exploring the mill pond, fighting against the cold wind which had increased drastically in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I only brought a point and shot camera and wasn’t able to catch the pairs of birds flying. I wish I had my SLR with me, for to see a pair of swans take to the air is something to behold.
Mute Swan (his or her partner wasn't far behind)

 Jim is the only friend of mine who is crazy enough to canoe in winter and this was a mild day for us as we have canoed with the river being half frozen.  I have jokingly said to him in church that it looked to be a good day to be on the river.  He responded, “Let’s go!”  This time he asked if he could take along his dog Patches.  I am always leery with my dog in the canoe in cold weather, but Patches is a little guy and he had fun, leaning out of the canoe and sniffing the air.  It was a nice afternoon. 
Thornapple River

Patches checking out the bank as we approach Middleville
Looking South from the bridge in Middleville (take out on the point to the right)


  1. I'm just happy you caught these photos! What an exceptional ride! ...and Patches body appeared like he wanted to hop off the boat and check out the land! It's a dog thing you know! I pulled over last week to take some pictures of two trumpeter swans behind a fence on private property and while I was shooting and being careful the traffic wouldn't run me over (kind of a corner) two white geese came honking over ...kind of like saying..."Hey we deserve being (photo) shot too! Life is so just have to venture out...on a canoe or whatever! Have a great week! I've got a few busy days ahead after today....and did you know we might finally get the winter storm of the year!

  2. I have never seen a swan fly. That is amazing that you got to see that. It sounds like a cold outing, but what nice companions!

  3. The crescent moon has been especially vivid the past few evenings, along with Venus in the Western sky. I thought of you when I noticed it, in a Sage-is-probably-appreciating-this sort of way.

    This really had nothing to do with your post, I suppose. But nice pics anyway.

  4. I shall think of you the next time I notice the moon, which is often, in its many phases. Watching a moonrise straight ahead of me on the highway home a couple weeks ago, I felt like it was close enough to read out and touch.

    As usual, enjoyed your descriptions of being out and about in the woods and along the waters. After a few sentences, I feel like I'm there. Thanks.

  5. Jeff, you can keep all the snow over on your side of the creek if you want. I'm fine not seeing another flake this year (of the atmospheric kind, the other types are unavoidable). Though I did see the first portent of spring yesterday doing 85 MPH on his Harley on I-75.

  6. It would never occur to me to get into a canoe in winter. You and Jim are gutsy. Then again, I'm probably missing out on some wonderful experiences. Thanks for sharing yours.

  7. As long as dogs are well trained, they're great on float trips.

    BTW, I always enjoyed winter floats, because of the solitude on the river. A lot different from the drunken frat boys that come out in the summers.


  8. sage--Awesome buddy! We are having an influx of all our Spring Birds- and even the Squirrels are still out in pairs! Spring- which is still a ways off is teasing us with a prequel!

    Love the trip my friend. I assume you are prepared for hypothermia just in case????? Brrrrrr Bro!


  9. Thanks for dropping by. If Tommy ever shows up (its been 40 years!) I will inquire as to whether he has put his life down in writing. I always look for him hitching but not many do it these days.
    I am patiently awaiting spring here in Mid MO.

  10. Looks like a fun time! Thanks for sharing your outing with us. Still pretty spring like here. Saw my first daffadil blooming yesterday.