Sunday, May 6, 2012

On the River, Again!

 Oh, it was sweet to be back on the river again!  I can't believe how lucky I am to have such a beautiful place to paddle, a stretch of flat water between the Spier Falls and Sherman Island Dams on the Hudson River at Moreau, where forested mountains come right down to the water, and little islands beckon a paddler to stop and explore.  And now, as the banks begin to bloom, it was time to haul my little Hornbeck out from under the porch and get back out on that river.

It wasn't the nicest day for a paddle on Saturday morning, cloudy and cool with a brisk breeze riffling the water,  but I was eager to check on the Early Azalea that grows abundantly on the little island that lies just off the Sherman Island boat launch.  This native shrub doesn't usually bloom until late May, but so many flowers have bloomed extra early this spring, perhaps the azaleas will too.  But I soon learned that it's going to take a good long while before most of the shrubs on that island will be putting forth flowers again.  Almost very single one of them has been lopped to the ground by beavers.  And not just azaleas, either.  Dogwoods, viburnums, even standing trees have all been leveled by some very busy brushhogs.

I did find a few little spindly shrubs that the beavers somehow missed, and these were bearing nice fat buds, so it looks like we might have just a few flowers, although we will have to wait a few weeks longer.  Ah, but Early Azalea is worth the wait, with its showy pink blooms and heavenly clove-like fragrance that wafts across the water, signalling its presence before you can even see it.

Yes, I was saddened to see the azaleas so damaged, especially after they had survived so well after the terrible flooding we had a year ago, when raging, flotsam-filled waters roared over the island to a depth of 5 feet or more. But I'm counting on their tested resilience to see them through once more.  And in the meantime, the river banks offered many other beauties in compensation, such as these charming little bluets studding the rocky, tree-rooted banks.

I paddled beneath the overhanging boughs of an apple tree and stopped to admire its pretty pink blossoms.

The boughs above me resounded with sweet birdsong, and I could see two colorful birds flitting about the branches.  Trusting my camera to focus on the birds better than my eyes can, I pointed and shot and then when I looked at this shot on my computer, I discovered this beautiful male Baltimore Oriole.

Another surprise was a massive bloom of Wood Anemones that I'd never noticed before, although I wonder how I could ever have missed them, growing in such profusion.

Well, speaking of profusion, migrating flocks of Red Admiral Butterflies have been absolutely filling the air of late, all over the county.   My own tiny back yard was alive with them Saturday morning, a dozen or more visiting the Dandelions in my grass, and then when I reached the parking lot for the boat launch site, about 15 miles away, I saw dozens more basking in the sun on the hard-packed gravel.  There were six more butterflies in this shot to begin with, but by the time I clicked the shutter they had flown away.

One stayed put long enough for me to take its portrait.  Thanks, dear butterfly.  You are very pretty.


Jackie C said...

Yes! I've seen quite a few Red Admirals as well, also Painted Ladies!
Your blog looks beautiful, by the way!

kirstallcreatures said...

What a great way to travel through the landscape, lovely views of your journey.

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, Jackie and kirstallcreatures. So good to hear from you. I have never in my life seen so many Red Admirals as I have this spring. I also never knew before that this species of butterfly migrated in flocks. Always something new to learn!