My day began early along California Road near Titusville Mountain State Forest, where I found a list of bird species in the area's boreal habitats, including Swainson's Thrush, a pair of Olive-sided Flycatchers, an American Woodcock which I spooked from the side of the road, and fifteen species of warblers. I also came across a line of moose tracks in the road. With so much to see, I could have stayed to bird California Road for hours longer, but my work there was complete, and so I escaped the growing numbers of biting insects to head to Deer River Flow before the day grew too warm.
A morning paddle
The flow is a beautiful paddle, and I had a beautiful day to do it, too. I pushed off under a partly cloudy sky to the tune of Swamp Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Yellowthroats which sang from the small marsh at the put-in, and I began to meander my way around the curves created by the cattails and logs.
Distracted by the many voices around me, I accidentally found myself lodged on one of the submerged stumps which line the edge of the flow - they are easy to miss in the dark waters, and so anyone going should be aware of them. After I pushed and spun my way with some effort off of the log - a lesson to myself to pay better attention where I was going - I continued north along the water, adding the songs of Pine Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Purple Finches, Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Parulas, and a list of others.
More distractions along the way
I also heard the Quick, Three Beers! song of an Olive-sided Flycatcher, and so I poked my bow into a tucked-away nook along the eastern side of the flow to see if I could find it. I spotted it sitting high on the top of a snag in the distance, and so I sat and waited to see if it would come closer as it moved from perch to perch, declaring its territory and hawking insects on the wing.
I've often found that when I sit and wait quietly, I begin to notice things other than what originally drew my attention. And so it happened again as I waited for the Olive-sided with my camera at the ready. As I sat, I spotted a pair of Northern Flickers visiting their nest hole to feed their begging young - a chorus of incessant chatter which continued the entire time I was there. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and a Magnolia Warbler began to sing from the shelter of the nearby conifers, and I took a few photos of a bullfrog which sat cooperatively on a log nearby - it was much more photogenic than any of the birds. I also began keeping a closer eye on the sky above which was bringing with it a line of gray and threatening clouds.
While watching the Olive-sided (and everything else) was fun, I eventually decided to move on. And while the dark clouds had vacated the sky above as quickly as they had come, I decided I should wrap up my paddle so I could get off the water should more clouds arrive. So I headed back out of the small boggy bay, and after completing a loop further out on the Flow, I began to make my way back.
I soon noticed that the light breeze which had help push me along as I set off (and which had driven those clouds past me) had strengthened, and I had my work cut out for me as I pointed my bow directly into the wind or risk being abruptly spun if it caught me broadside. This happened a few times and each time it did I let my arms rest for a second while the wind abated before I pointed the bow again so that I could make steady progress forward.
As I did this, I noticed an adult Bald Eagle sitting low in the conifers along the western shoreline, so I paused from my efforts to let the wind push me past the eagle while I snapped some photos. The bird seemed unconcerned about me below - and I steadied the boat and sat watching it sit sentinel overlooking the water and occasionally cocking its head to spot birds flying above. I had a similar close experience with a Bald Eagle last year on Deer River Flow - perhaps this was the same bird.
And, like last year, the eagle was still sitting there as I pushed on toward the take-out once I had my boat pointed into the wind again. From there I made continued headway - getting caught and spun by the wind just one more time for good measure - to the car where I loaded up and headed home for lunch.