|The red X is where I put in. The blue is Matt's Flats around A'eron Island. The black is "The Point" of Triangle Island. The green is where you can put in in Gardiner OR.|
On Friday I walked from Sparrow Park road, which is located where the small creek runs out to the Pacific Ocean on the very north part of the map, three miles up the beach to Tahkenitch Estuary, and back, for a nice 6 mile slog. I was expecting a nice variety of shorebirds, but I only found two species: 1 Semipalmated Plover and about 1,550 Sanderlings.
I was happy to find some Elegant Terns later that evening, a bird I was pretty sure I had seen earlier in the year but hadn't gotten photos of.
|Elegant Terns. The top bird is a juvenile.|
|The view of the dunes from the west side of A'eron Island. The Pacific Ocean is just over that there hill!|
As I walked north I had to intimidate a bull to leave me alone, and then realized that there were actually a lot of shorebirds on "The Point." My scope was about a half mile back through muddy flats, and I was fighting time, between making sure my boat didn't get taken out with the tide, and making it back before the powerful afternoon winds picked up.
I decided not to go back for my scope, and took some "spray n' pray" pics with my camera.
|Dowitchers. Notice the straight bills and lighter "eyebrow."|
This worked against me as the lighting in the first few shots I took made some look like they had upturned bills. I thought these were Marbled Godwits, but now realize they are presumably Short-Billed Dowitchers. I also took some poor shots of distant Black-Bellied Plovers.
|White undertail coverts = Black-Bellied Plovers in this case.|
I tried getting closer, but the birds kept spooking, and the clock was ticking. I trudged back through the mud to my kayak, and started paddling. Fortunately the wind hadn't picked up too much, but there was enough wind and current to create some nice little waves to paddle through. This was a fun instance to test my kayak's sea-worthiness. I handled the natural waves perfectly fine, but the wakes kicked up by some of the fishing boats I was sharing the water with made me have to turn bow or stern first into them to avoid the possibility of getting swamped.
I don't think many of the boaters are familiar with sharing the water with kayaks, just as I am unfamiliar with how to share with them. Most every one gave me a wide berth, but a few would start to pass on one side, then change their mind and pass on the other, causing me to have to turn about again and again. At one point I was passed concurrently on both sides, which caused some interesting wakes to come at me from both directions. It took me about an hour and a half to paddle back, and my shoulder was starting to hurt quite when I got back. But I was happy to have seen some target birds. I partially re-inflated my boat to dry it out and took a short nap in the afternoon after a morning of hard paddling. I birded the bay later that day but didn't find anything interesting.
The next morning I was up bright and early to check Triangle Island again, but this time I was going to put in from Gardiner (Green "X" on map). However, when I started to pump up my kayak, I was horrified to hear a faint hissing noise, I had developed a small tear along one of the seams! I tried to patch it with only rubber cement, but had no luck. I had to call it a day and came home, where I bought some clamps and put on a vinyl patch. I am going to test it on Tuesday at the respectively shallow Plat I Reservoir, but if it doesn't work I need to pick up some "Tear-Aid Type B," which is evidently a super-patch for my problem. I will also contact the company who made the kayak, I believe it is still under warranty, and I should be able to get a new tube without having to replace the whole kayak. Not a great way to end the weekend, but it is an inflateable boat, and tears will happen.