For the Birds

Huron River, around the Obama and Foster Bridges

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14 August 2016

Let me not mince my words, readers: in a summer already oppressively hot, this past week has been over-the-top, ridiculously hot with a side of extreme humidity.  We finally did get some rain–about 1/2 inch fell over the course of two days, according to our backyard rain gauge–but it’s not really been enough to offset the months of so little rain that have depleted the river.

But Ellen and I really miss the river this summer, which has been too hot and too dry to allow much paddling. So when we saw it got a little boost from the rain, we made it a point to get out before Mother Nature turned up the gas on the temps for the day.  The cloud show was beautiful, as you can see above, and the river flora was decked out with a lovely peachy-pinky flower we don’t remember seeing before.  And we were out there with a nice assortment of birds, which Ellen got nice pics of: a family of swans, a green heron, and an egret.

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110

Huron River, around the Obama and Foster Bridges

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1 July 2016

Friends, it has been a bad year for paddling in southeast Michigan. We’ve had such wicked hot spells that parts of my grass are burned–they crunch when I walk on them.  And rain? We’ve had virtually none for a month, likely a little longer.

Even in these circumstances, the river trickles along, but it really is just a trickle; before we went out for this evening paddle last night, I checked the online river gauge.  It read 110 CFS.  Now, likely, you’re asking, “what the heck is a CFS?” That’s cubic feet per second, which is the unit of measurement the USGS uses to monitor river flow.  Still, you’re probably thinking, “well, what the heck do know about what the normal flow rate is for the Huron River?” Let me break it down for you: typically, in July, the river is at three or four times that, and even then, the river seems low.  In May of this year, the river was at 1000, and it has gone steadily down since then. Even 1000 isn’t crazy fast; one particularly wet spring a couple years ago, Ellen and I waited for the river to calm down to 1500 CFS before we would get on it. So, 110? That’s seriously low.  I think have more water pressure than the river does right now.

So we haven’t been paddling a lot in so far this summer, and here’s hoping for some rain soon.  But sometimes a low river is a still river, and a river is always good.  Last night during our sunset paddle, the river reflected back the adjacent forest with amazing clarity–would you even know it was a reflection without the ripples caused by my oarstroke?

Even the low river is a good river; but let’s be honest:  we really need some rain.

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Finally Fully Green

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park

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2 June 2016

Ellen and I hopped on the river for a quick morning paddle to find that everything had totally leafed out since our last trip on this stretch.  So, green was everywhere, but the river, though livened up by last night’s rain, was still running very low, especially for this time of year, when usually it’s positively clipping along. But the shallow water made riffles that twinkled in the sun, the honeysuckle was in its full glory, and there was nothing short of a baby waterfowl parade between the geese and the ducks. A great start to the day!

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Wildlife Bonanza! Plus a Spaceman

Huron River, around the Obama and Foster Bridges

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12 May 2016

Ellen snapped the awesome photo above of a muskrat who joined us for a little morning paddle-around before some rain comes our way later this afternoon. I think it’s an excellent shot: The whiskers! The vegetation it’s hauling across the river! The furry little rump! But it’s only one of several amazing animal pictures Ellen took this paddle. Check out the slideshow below, which has an oriole, a wood duck, and a swallow or swift we cannot identify and are hoping our bird-savvy neighbors (you know who you are!) can help with, plus some coy deer and more!

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And one last one–this fantastic spaceman located under the train bridge!

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There’s something you don’t see on the river every day.

 

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Nature’s First Green: Finally Coming Along

Huron River, Hudson Mills to Dexter Metropark

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3 May 2016

After 3 days of consistent low-grade rain, the sun came out in Ann Arbor this morning, and Ellen and I took advantage of it to hop on the river for this 6 mile paddle.  Turns out April showers really do bring May flowers, and also tons of tree buds and, finally!, more green on the river. We shared the river with literally a million turtles, songbirds of many varieties, and two nice fly fisherman after small-mouth bass.  An excellent spring paddle!

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Nature’s First Green: Still Mostly Brown

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park

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27 April 2016

At long last, after a winter that wasn’t so harsh weather-wise but that came with its own special trials for our house, Ellen and I finally got out for our first paddle of the year. Spring has sprung all over Ann Arbor, making it hard to do something as simple as walk down a sidewalk without wanting to quote the start of Robert Frost’s great springtime poem: “Nature’s first green is gold.” On the river, though, as my title suggests, we’re mostly still waiting for the green, a fact most evident if you compare the photo above to the one in the post immediately previous, taken on Christmas Day: except for some baby leaves on the lower trees, they’re pretty similar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, nature was mostly brown based on what we could see from our boats, but there were places where it was, though still not green, surprisingly hot pink.

As awesome a concept as nature sporting punk colors is, I’d just like to say: come on, spring! Shake a leg!

We’re weren’t the only paddlers on our stretch of the river, but our company was scant–only three other boats.  But we had tons of excellent sightings, starting with one before we even got on the river, when Ellen spied most excellent pet-sitter Sue negotiating rush hour traffic near our put-in spot! Then we saw the menagerie of animals Ellen caught on film below, including a duck trying to blend into the landscape and a righteous mink action shot.

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A Merry Paddle

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park

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25 December 2015

Late December in Michigan, sunny, 48 degrees, and no wind to speak of? Heck yes we’re merry!  We did this short, in-town paddle and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather immensely.  And we weren’t the only ones with the idea to get outside today; the path along the river was chock-full of runners, bikers, dog-walkers, and, remarkably, a cat-walker.  We even saw another paddler on the river!

We are leaving the boat racks on the car, just in case the nice weather holds. . . .

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