Monday, January 13, 2014

I lay in bed and tried to sleep but the mornings image of the flying whoopers kept me awake. I saw them flying in a group of three, their dark black primaries and red crown clearly visible as they passed by. Each beat of their wings drove them toward the town of Lamar and I wondered if they were heading to their usual feeding area near eight street. Giving up on sleep I arose to write of the days paddle.

A little further another group of three also flew by and I wondered if they were groups of juveniles, as all were displaying the white plumage and red crowns of mature birds but still flying together. Other birders told us that they had flown from a field after posing for images from the many cameras.

Launching our kayaks at the Big Tree shore, we quickly paddled out. Both of us so excited that we forgot our life jackets and so had to return for them before we got too far, (of course Renita realized our mistake). Passing a boat canal and the remnants of weathered aged docks posts we spotted a reddish egret frantically wading about and feeding on tiny fish and crustaceans.

We stopped to fish the edge of an oyster bar but nothing hit our dead shrimp. The water was still too cold and there were no jumping mullet, which is a really bad sign as no baitfish means no red fish. Tying up to a post we cast out again and rested but no takers.

Renita suggested the place at the back of the canal as the mud bottom would be quicker in warming the water. Entering the narrow confines we spooked two night crowned herons before spotting one that posed in its favorite brushy perch.  A brilliant red cardinal flew by but wouldn’t stop long enough to cooperate for me to snap his picture.

As soon as we stopped Renita cast out and quickly had a fish on and it was our first fish in our kayaks. She smiled and posed with the undersized black drum, before she released it. Our poles went off as fast as we threw in and we caught black drum after black drum, as mullet jumped about, (who knows why they make their repeated leaps).

Sorting through the little drum two larger and legal black drum went on our stringer and a fish dinner was assured. Dark clouds to the south moved in and the paddling became more difficult and we fought a head wind as we hurried back to the take out point.

Beaching near the truck, we loaded the kayaks just as the rain started and our timing had been pretty good as we stayed dry. It had been a great paddle, with whooping cranes, great blue herons, reddish egrets, and black crowned night herons to name just a few of the birds we had spotted. This is the kind of day we search for in our travels. Clear skies.

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