Norman Hooper (14 September 2021)

Quiet Morning on the Water

Norman Hooper

It has been 3 weeks since last paddling down at Petrie Island, and yesterday there was a dire need to refresh myself with an outing amongst the conservation area of the isle.

By 7:30 am, I was on the water and Crappie Bay was like a mirror, ideal for skipping stones. The dip and swish of the paddle had me soon entering Snake Channel where I found the plant growth under and on top of the water almost too much for any gliding. In the 22 years I have been paddling in this area, I have never seen such density, more than likely due to the lowness in the water level, with more sunlight entering the water resulting in more growth and cleaner water. My first Blue Heron was standing on a water laden tree log and quite docile as it scanned the water’s surface. I gave him a wide birth……knowing that he was a regular and quite use to passing canoeists and kaykers. Before leaving, I was surprised not to see the beaver in the water or near its abode.

Entering Muskrat Bay, I headed toward the slit in the embankment to enter Middle Channel, but only to find that a beaver had commenced creating a dam. I sure as heck didn’t want to return through the tangle again and around, so I decided, since I was already here, why not paddle within the bay first. At the far end next to the trail, I met up with Michael Rocco and had a short chat…….he was on a mission with his zoom lens camera in hand.

I made a second attempt through the slit by ramming my canoe upon the dam, crawled up toward the bow and disembarked. What a putrid smell from the clayish mud the beavers were using; however, I did manage to haul my canoe up and over this obstacle. On my way again and onto Second Passage, I soon spotted a Blue Heron in the grassy reeds, hunting of course. Again, before reaching the end of the island, there was another Blue Heron hunting for his breakfast, too. It was that time of day when the sun’s light was at its best.

Scanning the shoreline, I noticed a beautiful pink Hibiscus in full bloom partially hidden among the bulrushes. Again, I rammed my canoe in among the reeds towards shore, crawled up and over the bow and hauled in the canoe further. Not only was there this flower, but other species as well not seen from the waterway. I made a good choice to investigate and was rewarded.

Across the entrance of the channel with the Ottawa River, there was another huge Blue Heron along the shallow shoreline. I couldn’t believe I was seeing so many. And as I entered rounded the westerly point of Petrie, there was but a Blue Heron hunting in knee-deep water. Swinging out into the river, I drifted with the current to take in the marvelous techniques used by the Heron to hunt and capture its prey. It is an art! This was the first time this year paddling alongside the isle on the Ottawa River and it brought back a lot of fine sights from years ago, but now I noticed more erosion and missing trees because of the Spring ice break-ups and flooding. Before reaching the end of this stretch of shoreline, I informed an elderly gentleman on the path to backtrack and he would be able to view a beautiful Blue Heron grooming itself in some short reeds. As I passed, he waved and gave a thanks for the heads up.

By this time, I was numb-bummed and decided to rest at the beach where I met up with Al Tweddle and got caught up with the “happenings” on the isle over the summer, especially the scientific research counting, etc with the turtles. Appears that this research with continue on into next year.

After passing through the culvert, I noticed a light breeze and maple leaves were falling upon the water. Fall is getting closer as each day passed. Suddenly, I saw a slight movement out of the corner of my eye, and there, next to the reedy shoreline was another Blue Heron (7th). I think this bird had to be the same one I had encountered along Snake Channel……docile, even when two kayakers approached, although he tried to hide himself within the reeds and not move one iota,

Sitting in Second Passage in front of the entrance to Crappie Bay, I suddenly saw two ducks leave the reeds and swim towards me, their V-shapes behind them growing wider and wider. I wondered what was going on; I had always noticed ducks to be skittish and fly away. Next to my canoe, they gazed up at me quaking as if expecting a hand-out. I hope people are NOT feeding them because ducks are creatures of the wild. Soon, they became bored with me and swam towards the nearby kayakers, much to their delight.

I now decided to call it a day after being on the water for 4 hours. Other than the Blue Heron and the pass-over and honking of skeins of Geese, I didn’t see much other wildlife, but just being on the water, looking and listening, that was worthwhile indeed.