Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paddling in Mississippi

I took the kayak out this morning for a little exercise/birding here at Natchez State Park. There's an impoundment that's about the size of Wrightsville Reservoir where I'll paddle this Spring and I saw many of the same bird species (Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Ducks, Common Yellowthroats, etc.) I'll see in Vermont this summer. But that's where the similarities end.

A Great Egret fished nearby and dozens of Black Vultures wandered around waiting for thermals. The water was greenish and tepid, and several big bass boats were already tucked into coves.

It is Turkey season here but I'm not used to warning signs where I paddle.

As I lugged the kayak down to the water, a good ol' boy setting out in his shiny rig said with his barely-understandable Southern drawl, "you might not want to go up the cricks - I've seen a bunch of 'gators in them. One of them was as long as that boat of yours!"

I thanked him for his advice, noting that we don't see many alligators in Vermont.

As I paddled, I wondered if he, having seen the license plates, was putting me on but I think not. It's funny how floating logs and cypress knees can look like gators. I did see a great-looking "crick," sort of like the inlet at Wrightsville, as was tempted to follow a gaggle of beautiful Wood Ducks up it. But, discretion won over and I cruised back up the center of the lake, enjoying the workout and keeping my heart rate normal.

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