Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last days of summer on the river...

Above: #1 Setting off on the Birds of the Delaware trip with the Lumberville-Bulls Island Walking Bridge in background; #2 Checking out the confluence of the Locatong Creek, Delaware River and Delaware & Raritan Canal.

Today was the first "Birds of the Delaware River" trip and 20 paddlers enjoyed a spectacular day on the river, even if the bird sightings were somewhat limited (albeit seasonally normal, as was the water level).

When we met at 8 AM a thick fog laid over the river valley and the air temp was around 45 deg. By the time we made it around the first bend we were peeling off the layers of fleece and wool. On the last weekend day of summer it felt positively like autumn, a great time of year for paddlers who like cooler weather and fewer people on the river.

We had a mix of members from the Bucks County Audubon Society and American Canoe Association, cosponsoring organizations (and some who were "none of the above"). There was a nice mix of canoes & kayaks (solo and tandem), with a decidedly larger number of canoes and that definitely is not the trend. Especially with several of the group having relatively limited experience. This was a first ever river trip for at least one of our group and I was glad to have chosen one of the easier paddling stretches of the river.

The primary sightings included several double-crested cormorants, 3 great blue heron, kingfisher, 4 common merganser (female), a small flock of ring billed gulls ( we think), and we heard many year round resident songbirds like the Carolina wren, nuthatch and several others. The cliff swallows that nest under the bridges have already headed south as apparently have the spotted sandpipers. This stretch of the river doesn't normally offer a look at the bald eagle or osprey. That is a sure thing above the Water Gap. There will be another Birds of the Delaware River trip sometime in May 2010.